Almost to Donner Pass

Amtrak bus wiggles and shakes.  Soft comfortable seats lure us toward sleep.  Rain patters against the wide front window.  We’re almost to Donner Pass.

Such comfort brings us here.  Even though passengers among us mutter about slowness, unscheduled stops, schoolchildren visiting the state capital.  A truck driver asks to sit next to me.  He asks if I smell alcohol on him.  “No,” I say, sniffing, but unsure.  “Good, he said.  Because Grandpa is an AA Nazi.”

He proceeds to talk down the long stretch of “The Five”.  He tells long convoluted stories and then pauses to insert a question.  I smell the alcohol now, but do not inform him.  He thanks me, at least twice, for allowing his talk.  He seems to need to share.  I am surprisingly at ease, comfortable, not disturbed.  He points out trucks and shares their secret inner loot.  “That one hauls wine,” he says.  “That one hauls rice.  They bring it to Budweiser.”

I am surprised that Budweiser beer contains rice.  He nods, knowingly, happy to share a secret ingredient of the King of Beers.

He gets off in Sacramento, aimed for another Amtrak bus toward Redding and Grandpa and a sixteen year old son who he’s secretly teaching to drive without a license.  He offers to let me off before the schoolchildren, but the bus has detoured to deposit the children directly in front of their destination.

I wonder if I should be nervous about missing the second bus.  Missing Donner Pass until too late to meet my friend.  But I surrender immediately to the fear…let it go, let it go.  The Universe will not eat us, even though we’re late.

It’s snowing up farther in the mountains, perhaps.  Fresh clean white snow, the grandchild of rain.  Will the bus plow through, unafraid?  If we get stuck will the bus driver pull out chains?  Will we fast as we wait for the snow to clear? Will we share the rest of our snacks?  Will we watch the snow grow deep in late April?  Will we eye our fellow passengers furtively, remembering another century before Amtrak prowled the nation?

Up we go now.  Up toward Truckee.  Time for a peanut butter and honey sandwich.  Life doesn’t get any sweeter than this.

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14 thoughts on “Almost to Donner Pass

  1. This was such a tender, gentle, ruminative post, Kathy. I felt as though I was right there with you on the bus… thank you for sharing this. And clearly he needed you to be there and listen without judging. Bright blessings, Kathy: may the rest of your quest be magical. Thinking of you. 🙂

  2. Dear Laurie and Reggie, hello, friends! Thank you for reading this post about a slice of time on two Amtrak buses. It was so fun to actually write like this again. Sharing snippets of moments. I’m now settled in Lake Tahoe after an evening of meditation with my friend. Wow! What a trip this has been. Thanks again for reading this.

  3. Kathy – I’m just getting ready to head out the door on a little adventure of my own. I’m heading to the Writers’ Institute at UW-Madison. I’ll be offline Apr 22-25; back online Apr 26.

    Here’s a link to my blog, “The Writers’ Institute” – but could just as easily have been titled, “Why Writers Write.” http://holessence.wordpress.com/2010/04/22/the-writers-institute/

    I’ll catch up with you when I return. In the meantime

    Listen with your heart,

    Laurie Buchanan

  4. Pingback: Meditating at Lake Tahoe « Lake Superior Spirit

  5. Thanks for sharing this wonderful depiction of your trip.
    I too felt like I was right there listening to this gentleman share his story.

    I do believe there are reasons for these things that are truly out of our control and teach us to be in the moment and go with the flow of life…

    safe travel to you.
    Kim

    • Good morning, Kim! What wisdom…that we can simply let go of our control and flow with life’s gifts. Unexpected encounters can give us so much. Thank you for the safe travel wishes.

    • Dawn, it was so much better than driving up from Merced to Tahoe. So much more peaceful! And the best part was to be able to sit down on the bus and write a story. that was so fun! Thank you.

  6. I have memories of Donner Pass AS a truck driver. I learned to drive “illegally” too, riding in the cab of someone else’s responsibility. Everyone (including others on the road) were protected by guardian angels and survived.

    You are such a willing, open soul. No mistakes, still the driver was lucky to receive your listening.

    I am sure you will enjoy your adventure. Now I know why I missed you, with my most recent attempt.

    Vaya con dios
    and come back home safely –

    Deb

  7. Oh, I just caught that you are visiting Cheyenne. I have said so many times to her, that someday I will come and we will hike together and drink tea.

    Now, reading this, has added meaning. Wishing you the visit, I have only imagined.

  8. Deb, you were a truck driver?? Oh my goodness! Amazing the things we don’t know about one another… It was very good to be with Cheyenne. Very very good indeed. I came away with so much! She is a very special person. Would love to connect with you on the phone one of these days when you’re out & about. Saturday (11 a.m. your time when you have yoga) I have a coffee date, though. Hope we connect some time soon!

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