This Is the West Coast -- Moments From a Solo 12-Day Train Journey

United States Travel
by Nitish Meena Jan 25, 2017

All photos by the author

My first morning in LA, I went to a restaurant and said — ‘Table for one, please’ with an excitement in my smile. They kindly offered me a seat and asked — what am I grateful for today? Feeling on the spot, I took a deep breath and replied — the time that I’m making for myself.

In life, we often chase the next big highlight or experience, but it’s the moment in between that stick with us for long.

I remember that empty feeling in my stomach every night before my travel, and then the hustle to catch my train, bus or flight.

We keep repeating words like “some time” and “someday”, but one day those words have to turn into “now”.

Travel is the best way to make your ‘now’. There’s something about travel, you wake up in a new home each day, find local places to eat around, and meet new people. There’re no bad days when you’re on travel. If you keep moving, your thoughts move through you, getting refined with each step.

In those twelve days, it was crazy seeing how the landscape shifted from snow-capped mountains to sandy desert, from pacific ocean to hidden lakes, and from gray sky to the sunshine. I enjoyed every single moment of my journey —walking carefully on the snowy roads of Portland, the sunshine after the rain in San Francisco, or people riding on waves in Los Angeles.

This post is my attempt to capture that feeling and show it to the world.

Day 1–3 Portland

Portland is a very easy city to fall in love with. It’s ultimate in the nature experience coupled with shopping. When the sun comes out here, the city transforms. It has an overwhelming amount of outdoor seating space, which gets filled quickly. When you don’t see people on snowy roads, that can mean one of these three things:

1. They are busy eating amazing food,
2. They are shopping tax-free,
3. Or they are out in the mountains

Day 4–9 San Francisco

After the train got delayed by three hours, I arrived in the financial district. And slowly rubbing my eyes, I wondered, why am I seeing people dressing only in gray color? Feels like a scene of Westworld. Busy. Big. Scary.

But away from these giant buildings, SF offers a close access to stunning hills and the Pacific ocean with above-the-clouds views, that holds a huge part of the city’s charm and individuality. I prefer this.

Day 10–12 Los Angeles

I felt good when I arrived in La La Land. Enjoyed another day of sun and winter here felt like a Seattle summer.

Here’re the things that make LA unique — Hollywood, actors who are really waiters, waiters who are really actors, Griffith, the pacific sunset, the beach, street art, traffic, surf, or how everyone is trying to stand out.

Back to Seattle

Just in time to welcome 2017 and enjoy the snow.

There are many things I’ve learned from my travel — taking decisions in the moment, the power of putting the camera down, or making conversations with strangers. But the most important is to get grasp of my patience, seeing it breathing and changing forms.

I tried to control it, sometimes I just stared out of the window for hours looking at ocean and mountains. I walked to unknown destinations just to feel the pleasure of walking. I watched the setting sun and observed how it transformed the landscape and human emotion with each minute.

There’s power in that, understanding the fundamentals of our invisible self. Patience, pleasure, desire, and emotions.

Traveling makes you slow down and gives you enough time to think about things that make you, you.

This article originally appeared on Medium and is republished here with permission.

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