So I finally got to Merced after spending what felt like forever on a train, despite the lack of sleep I really did enjoy the ride. I would totally do it again and despite my little gripe about the prices that Amtrak set for their food I would potentially go more prepared next time. it was interesting to be involved in people’s lives for a brief period of time. One fellow traveller, a lady called Candice was on the train for what was 50 hours by the end of it with her 11 year old son Christian. I not only really respected but admired Candice for what she was doing. She was moving in with her new boyfriend who lives near Fresno, California, apparently she had got the call one day, her guy had paid for her tickets, she grabbed what she could and up and left the east coast to travel all the way over to the west coast. It all sounded deeply spontaneous, she is starting out with a new life and all I could do was be amazed by the fact that she didn’t think about it and got up and went.
This made me think about my own life a fair bit, how I sometimes think that I am trapped by London, how I believe it holds me somewhat captive which is of course utter rhubarb. London does not hold me captive it merely provides everything I need and I have had no real reason to leave it. I have thought about leaving a hell of a lot, packing up a bag as I have done now and heading into Europe to work someplace like Germany, I have toyed with the idea of doing this for a while but never actually done it. I have had the money to sustain myself for a period of time and if I took up a place in a hostel until I could find a flat share I realise now that I could of done it really easily. Here I am traversing the world with one bag and all the stuff that I currently have in storage does not mean very much to me at all.
Anyway, today bought a bit of a new challenge to this trip. I found a cheap place to stay in Merced by using my guide book, so it has actually proved useful for a change, usually it’s not very useful and I find the answer to my problem on the internet before the book even has a chance. The hostel I stayed at is run by an old couple as part of the Hostel International chain (which I need to have a little winge about) I called them from the train and arranged it all including a pickup from the station. All went swimmingly well, they had a curfew of 10pm so I managed to get out to a local restaurant, grab something to eat before heading back to their house to crash out. I had not slept that well on the train as I pointed out so I slept like a log as soon as I got comfortable. Larry, the old guy who runs the hostel with his wife told me that they were going to church at 8am but will drop me back off at the station before then, the YARTS bus up to my next hostel arrives at 11am. Just before 7am the lights in my hostel room go out and I wonder if the power just tripped. No, more serious than that, part or all of the town lost power. I thought that this would be no issue until I had a look in my wallet to discover I only had $10 in it. I asked could we perhaps pass an ATM before hitting the bus station and so we did, it only occurred to me at the first ATM that was dead and the penny dropped, shit… no power. Larry drove me to downtown Merced to try another bank, same problem. He left me in downtown with instructions as to how to reach the train station so I could get the bus. I tried 2 more ATM’s walking with my bag around the downtown area both the same result.. dead. Of course I began to worry, Larry thought the bus trip might cost something like $10 but could not be sure. I had about a dollar in change in my pocket so that made $11 but was it going to be enough I could not be sure. I walked a little more and saw two people standing by another bank a bit further down the road. I walked down and asked them if it was working… it was *phew*. So yeah the trouble with power is that you never really realise just how much we rely upon it until it removes itself from you. Maybe the bank that I tried had their ATM hooked up to a backup battery and other banks should take note of this or maybe they were just the right side of town so that thy did not get affected by the power outage. Whatever it was I was very grateful that I could at least have a bit more than $11 in my pocket.
So after what seems like forever I have stopped moving for a few days. I write this from a hostel up in the hills of Yosemite National Park life is good and I need to do boring things like washing and so on, then tomorrow I will probably head to Yosemite itself and hike up a hill or something.