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A strange passage, this. Boarded in KC last night @ 10:45 p. I had intended to stay up a while and watch Kansas roll by in the moonlight. But my bed was already made and proved too tempting once I’d settled in. The result — I almost missed Kansas entirely. Awoke shortly after 6 a.m. as we pulled into Garden City with the dawn a mere hint on the eastern horizon. Stumbled to the dining care as they were just revving up for business and had the chef’s surprise (when will I ever learn?). Twas an egg mixture and too much cheese on sorta sourdough bread. It was edible, the sausage was likewise (and Oh, Wow, I have to digress because we’re going through a tunnel. A long one, judging from the amount of diesel fumes leaking ba … ok, now we’re back) Just passed a sign telling us it’s the Raton tunnel, highest point on the Santa Fe railway. Too cool.
Anyway, I could have made the breakfast story shorter by saying I apparently had a McTrain.
Now descending the western slope and the vegetation, obvious even in winter, has changed dramatically. Cedars have given way to pines and the dry, tufted shrubs of the eastern slope have languished in favor of small trees whose leaves, now a reddish gold, are still attached. The land, even up so high, looks more fertile, but dry, very dry. Some snow in shady spots. The pines grow larger as we descend.
Oh, the snow on distant peaks. I’m in the west. Next stop, Raton, New Mexico. And it’s not even noon, except in New York.
It’s extraordinary the effect of elevation, even a little, on the vegetation. The pines grow taller, and little coves and breaks in the monolithic mountains are crowded with aspen. It’s like the guy talking about the magical nature of the Thermos bottle, able to keep hot things hot and cold things cold. “But how does it KNOW,” he marveled. More deciduous trees now, all unidentifiable. I’d be telling this in pictures, but the train windows are fogged with dirt. Perhaps I’ll have better luck on the return trip. Even with the haze, it’s beautiful. I never realized how much I missed these mountains, and the rugged, primitive architecture of these old Mountain towns until I returned.