On my way out of Austin, Caroline and I went to Phil’s house so that she could meet/abduct the kitten. While the abduction was delayed because she decided to do the honest thing and ask the kitten’s family if she could take it, I have full faith it will one day be hers.
Phil wanted to take me to Barton Springs as kind of a ‘Goodbye to Austin’ experience, but once I told him I had gone the day before and we both admitted we didn’t really want to swim, we went and ate veggie burgers and drank margaritas at Shady Grove instead. I think that was a better way to say goodbye to Austin. Speaking of goodbye Austin, this was my final image of the city-proper as I rolled out of the station over Lady Bird Lake:
The train ride from Austin to Maricopa, Arizona was much more stimulating than the one from Chicago to Austin. No hate on Springfield, Illinois or anything, but seeing a southwestern sunset disappear into the mountains on the Mexican border totally beats anything that the Midwest had to offer.
ALSO (!!!), I saw what I know now is the infamous Prada Marfa! We were riding along and I see this on the side of the road:
Now, I know I hadn’t eaten anything since the burger and margaritas yesterday, but I didn’t think I was at the point of dying and going to heaven yet, or even this strong of hallucinations to be seeing high-end designers in the middle of the Texan desert. Apparently this is Prada Marfa, a social commentary/art installation. Quoting Caroline, “All hail West Texas!” (Editor’s Note: Big up to Miuccia for licensing out her name and products for this.)
I also saw the country’s largest natural bridge, some bitchin’ landscape, and the aforementioned sunset, but because bombarding you with pictures of these things is the modern day equivalent of making people crowd on the shag carpeting around the projector in your living room to look at vacation slides, here is a condensed version of the anti-Midwest sights:
Again on this train I have refrained from too much socializing or even eating in the dining car. I’m totally that creepy girl who doesn’t take her sunglasses off, sitting alone eating only ClifBars while listening to her iPod*. I know its “part of the Amtrak experience” to chat it up with your fellow vagabonds, but I’m really enjoying the time for introspection and catching up on all the new albums I’ve been meaning to listen to. Plus, the only people that want to talk to me are creepy dudes with prison tattoos who I later catch watching me sleep at night. Hypothetically.
*Do not try listening to Fuck Buttons on a 30-hour crowded mass transit ride. I thought I would give it a shot to wake me up, and I just ended up freaking myself out and having to switch to Neutral Milk Hotel and Belle & Sebastian to reach any kind of emotional equilibrium again.
But I arrived safe and sound in Maricopa, Arizona with Brian Kelly and Fran, who were waiting with open arms, laughingly bitching in their coats about how cold the 60 degree weather is as I’m wearing a strapless dress. Back at Fort Tits & Bits, Brian gave me some Arizona beer that looked like a movie prop (and I suspect might kill me as soon as I digest it) and Fran made me vegetarian sloppy joes as we reminisced about Chicago (Yes, I was there four days ago, but its been years for Fran and transplants need a good Giordano’s recollection once in a while. Editors Note: Fuck Lou Malnati’s.)