Austin to San Antonio

8:55AM Sunday December 27, 2015 (time of writing)

Last night in Austin, I had to move again because more new passengers showed up in Austin. I sat next to the grandmother of the Five Guys family from earlier in the day yesterday. 

I went down to the cafe on the lower level of the lounge car. There, I enjoyed microwaved cheeseburger and white cheddar popcorn. I decided not to do dinner reservations this time.

  
We finally arrived in San Antonio at like 8:30PM last night, but I didn’t realize that Amtrak circles around downtown San Antonio slowly for like an hour. I guess we were running ahead of schedule and stopped at the normally scheduled arrival time of 9:55PM.

I also didn’t realize that we would have four hours between arrival and departure. Fortunately, San Antonio Station is only a fifteen minute walk from the River Walk. So, I obviously had to go.

  
I was actually here back in September when a buddy of mine and I used our nonrev standby flying privileges to do a downtown San Antonio day trip. Because I only saw it during the day, it was pretty cool to check out downtown and the River Walk at night with the Christmas decorations still up.

I haven’t done a good job of studying the schedule for stops, but it’s good to know that some stops have opportunities to explore for a bit. Although, San Antonio has the longest layover for this trip.

I grabbed some McDonald’s fries and a drink to go on the way back. 

When I neared the station, a young Chinese woman stopped me asking where the nearest hotels were. I figured that she was Chinese because she asked me if I spoke Chinese. Lo siento, pero no sé. She had just arrived via Amtrak from Los Angeles. I pointed out some of the nearby hotels within visual range, but ultimately escorted her to the Best Western next to the station. After she went in, I headed back.

When I arrived at the station, I didn’t realize they had been working on switching train cars so I didn’t immediately find my car. I awkwardly stood around for a bit and even awkwardly walked around the train that connected in front of my car. I eventually found it, and got ready for bed.

-JD

Ft. Worth to Austin

2:36PM Saturday December 26, 2015

I initially sat by myself, but the conductor called for solo travelers to sit together so that families can sit together. I didn’t mind, so I nonchalantly went across the aisle to join a guy very engrossed in Clash of Clans on his phone. During a break between rounds, I had the opportunity to meet him. He was real nice and asked about my final destination so I told him. Because of my long trip, he offered one of his ham sandwiches. I didn’t take it, but I appreciated the consideration. He made his way to the sightseeing car because it was warm in our car.

The family who replaced me in my initial seat brought Five Guys so it smelled like hamburgers and French fries for a good long while.

Restrooms are difficult on trains. ‘Nuff said. In Japan, it’s easier to use a restroom on 180MPH train than on this however-fast-it’s-going-but-it-ain’t-Japan-bullet-train-fast train.

I took an opportunity to go down to the lounge car at the suggestion of the guy sitting next to me. I didn’t think to grab a picture then, but I will later. I found a seat facing the right side of the train.

I brought my Kindle with me to continue reading the adventures of Tris and her band of survivors in Insurgent (I read Divergent on my last trip to Japan). I couldn’t focus on reading because I kept staring out the window. Nothing out of the ordinary. Lots of cows, goats, trees, fields, and pastures. Because you know, it’s Texas. I swear I just saw that same goat 256 fields ago…

I thought about how cool it is to be up in the air in an airplane and see the world from the sky. However, there is a lot going on here on the ground, even as it whizzes by. I thought back to my experience driving to/from Colorado earlier this year for a snowboarding trip and how creation is beautiful because it points back towards its Creator. I’m sure I’ll be staring out the window a lot whenever it’s daylight.

After a while of staring and “reading”, I decided to head down to the cafe and grab a bottle of water. I sat around some more, but it started to rain as we hit the first wave of thunderstorms rolling through the area. We eventually had to stop for a while because the weather got pretty bad.

 

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View from the back the train

I busted out my (actual and not smartphone) camera to make it more accessible to take pictures later. Who knows what Kodak kaliber pictures I’ll get to take along the way!

-JD

Sense of Adventure: Ft. Worth to San Diego

1:35PM Saturday December 26, 2015

Several months ago, I read about the dude that traveled across America via Amtrak for less than $500. A few Japan trips ago, I started becoming more ambitious with my travel goals. Inspired by that guy’s Amtrak adventure, I decided to go on one myself. I’ve never ridden trains in America. Only in Japan.

I estimate that I’ve spent over 220+ hours on airplanes this year (thanks to eight trips to Japan and a few other places) so I guess I’m looking for something different. A month ago, I booked an Amtrak ride between Ft. Worth and San Diego (changing trains at Los Angeles). I figured that my holiday break from work and the fact that I’ve got family on the west coast were good enough of reasons to go take a train. 

This is going to be an interesting experience for sure!

It was really easy to board as I only had to show up on the platform and have the conductor scan my e-ticket on my Wallet iOS app. It’s weird because I’m used to go through TSA so it was nice not having to empty out my bags of liquids and laptops for checking.

I’m on the last car on this train, and I found an empty seat.

  
Some thoughts going through my mind:

  • I made the unintentional mistake of booking this train ride without thinking about what I’m going to do about Mass this weekend. If I see a Catholic priest on board, we’re so doing liturgy.
  • I somewhat rushed in packing for this trip so I probably forgot something. How do I pack for 43 hours on trains across several different climates and for a few days in California? If I forgot something, that’s alright. #LiveUncomfortably2015 #OneJeansToRuleThemAll
  • What sort of people will I meet? I’ve heard that it’s easy to engage in conversations with fellow passengers on trains.
  • This is not a Japanese bullet train. I need to keep reminding myself.
  • It’s going to be a packed train and being a solo traveler, I’ll probably have to sit with multiple other solo travelers.
  • I’m curious what restrooms, the sightseeing deck, and the dining car will be like.
  • I’m riding coach so no fancy sleeper car rooms for me. I wonder how this will be…

Anyway, I’ll probably start occupying my time with reading and staring out the window.

-JD

An Example of Catholic and Filipino Hospitality

During my seventh trip to Japan this year (and at the time of this writing, my most recent trip), I went to Mass on a Saturday evening on my last weekend for this trip. I elected to go Saturday evening knowing that I had to go to work the following day, Sunday. This particular Catholic church has a fairly strong Filipino presence, most likely because one of their priests is Filipino (the other is Australian!). It’s pretty small, but then again my home parish is huge.

Because I’m in the middle of renewing my Total Consecration to Jesus (through Mary), I brought my book with me to Mass with the intent of going through the day’s prayers and reflections after Mass. So I did. Continue reading “An Example of Catholic and Filipino Hospitality”

Executive Decision: Going to Poland

Back in 2011, I made the executive decision to somehow get myself to Rio De Janeiro for World Youth Day 2013. That became realized in 2012 when I found out that my own parish would be going to Rio with another parish in the diocese.

So then, last summer I was able to go to Rio De Janeiro for World Youth Day. And that. was. amazing. Really awesome trip! I was the unofficial blogger for our group, and you can see our stories, pictures, and videos here: SEAS & St. Thomas Aquinas @ WYD Rio ’13.

We weren’t able to go the closing Mass at WYD Rio, but we were able to see some of the live stream at our hostel a mile away from Copacabana Beach (where the Mass was).  When we heard that the next World Youth Day would be held in Krakow, Poland in 2016, I immediately made the executive decision to go.

I kind of figured that attending these World Youth Days is a good excuse for me to travel the world and renew my joy for the Catholic faith as I deepen it with millions of others through an event of grand scale such as World Youth Day.

This time around, I already know that I’m for sure going (God willing!), and the wheels have already begun turning for me to go to Krakow in 2016.

Can’t. Wait.

A teaser video:

-JD

WYD 2016 Krakow // Seton Magazine