Leave No Station Unphotographed: The Blog of SubwayNut.com

 

A Great time in Yosemite and 3 more down the San Joaquin Valley

Greetings from the San Joaquin (posting via its wi-fi) as I ride into the sunset and then darkness from Hanford down to Bakersfield where I’ll transfer to the Amtrak bus down to L.A, for the night.
This morning began in Midpines where I took the one morning YARTS bus down at 6:20am, after the ten minute walk down the Bug’s long driveway, to the Merced train station. The bus pulled in on time and filled with maybe a dozen morning commuters going to work in Merced. I got there an hour before my first train of the day left and had a really rude station agent who was probably in a worse mood because the Quick-Trak machine was broken. I asked if I could check my bag down to L.A. and he told me my baggage now has to travel with me (new rules). I told him that I had checked my bag before on these multi-leg trips but he wouldn’t budge. This meant I was stuck with my large backpack as a northbound train pulled in and out of the station, and when my train left at 8:55am. From there it was a quick ride to the modern station at Madera, located in the middle of a combination of farms and subdivisions and nothing around. I had planned this stop specially for the stopover with the shortest layover. The stop though is an example of a nicely designed modern simple shelter with four benches beneath and a small windscreen with some decorative pillars. I took a little walk to get pictures from different angles, photograph a northbound train at the grade crossing at the end of the platform (but a fence restricts access to it with the legal way to reach it is only form the small driveway to the 10ish space parking lot), and just relax seeing horses nearby and listing to rooster crowing from a nearby farm. The next train came in on time at 10:59 and I hopped on it down to Fresno.
In Fresno I photographed the train stations: the former station now a freight depot a modern Amtrak depot where the agent gladly checked my bag to LAX and when I commented about the unhelpfulness of Merced gave me the look of ‘He was incorrect.’ I wondered around Fresno a bit, went by the old SP depot now an office building surrounded by a cinderblock wall on all sides but also next to a Greyhound station built in the 1960s and looking straight out of it in its décor. I also found Fulton Mall, Fresno’s attempt at urban renewal, full of sculptures by famous artists but now decrepit. I wonder back to the Amtrak station just in time for my 2:10 train one stop south to Hanford.
In Hanford we arrive as a northbound is departing, the trains passing directly in the station (the only stop on the San Joaquin where this is possible), as I am doing my photo essay I see a city bus down to the next Amtrak stop, Concoran but I don’t act fast enough to get on. It turns out it runs only twice a day. Generally I am good at looking things up but today I am a little bit off with scheduling. Instead I go and stuff my face silly (and am feeling my stomach right now telling me I have overeaten) at a Sizzler near the station and manage to spend two hours there downloading photos and eating my only meal of the day (I did have a tamale in Fresno and a quick roll with nutella for breakfast). I got back to the station nearly just before my 5:54 train south to Bakersfield where I am now, the only remarkable happenings in the dark were at 6:15 when we stopped at Corcoran and it felt strange that I was not getting off, at 6:18 pass the lights of something large and fenced off, the State Prison the bus I did not make was going to (It was going downtown). At 6:47 we pass a bunch of flood lights in a field that continue facing the tracks , nighttime track work I wonder. At the stop in Wasco a man runs out to start a smoke and runs back in almost immediately dumping his cigarette, I can smell it rising up to my window since I am directly above it and the door.
Yesterday was my amazing day in Yosemite where YARTS, although running about an hour late (and me waiting with a French couple) due to snow during the night and chain laws in effect, got me to the park and back with a really interesting conversation about photography with the bus driver on the way there. I first went and saw Little Yosemite Falls before going to the Visitors Center, and the Ansel Adams Gallery. Next was a five-mile hike up towards Vernal Falls (that I didn’t make it to because of snow cover and time constraints). This hike (only running into people near the base) gave me the solitude I was looking for the day. It ended with a quick half-hour peak at the Ahwahnee before the last YARTS bus at 5:50 back to the bug. On the ten minute walk I am joined by a Korean rolling her suitcase up the hill, totally lost and disoriented, thanking me for orienting her. I have another good (but slightly expensive) dinner in the café at the bug that I recommend to everyone.