Some Interesting Photographs.

IT’S A GREAT WALL, ALL RIGHT! You have to see it to fully understand what a massive project it was–not just the size, but the terrain it covers–that’s why I chose this particular photo. Should an invader appear, I suppose the defensive tactics were the Chinese soldiers would race to the places along the wall where the attacks were occurring. One problem: the steps on top of the wall leading up that mountain were 18-inches high! Try running up a flight of stairs that are a foot-and-a-half high.I dare you!


It certainly appears that the powers-that-be in Paris want to encourage the locals to get out of their cars and onto one of these brand new bicycles. I believe I actually counted all the bikes in their line-up and, if memory serves, there were 43. As it happens, there was a restaurant just a dozen or so feet from where I took this photo. From my table on the sidewalk, I had an excellent view of these bicycles. For over an hour, not one person took advantage of the free use of a shiny, very green bicycle. It wasn’t much to go on, but it certainly appears that this attempt to encourage the use of bicycles in Paris was what we in Hawaii would call “one bus’ egg!”

NO BIKE LOCKS NEEDED. However, it certainly appears that the Danes have quite a different approach. This was the scene I encountered in front of the main railway station in Copenhagen. If you live a half-mile or so from the train station and have to get to your job in one of the suburbs, you get up, have breakfast, peddle to the station, stash your bike and catch the 7:34 to get to your job by eight o’clock. It’s a system that apparently works well for these folks. But how in the world do they find their bikes at the end of the day?

AND THEN THERE WERE THE PARLOUR CARS. These wonderful rail cars were included in the Coast Starlight consist for quite a few years. (That’s the daily train that runs in both directions between Los Angeles and Seattle.) I confess that I loved the parlour cars! In fact, returning from at least a dozen trips to the East Coast, I would take the California Zephyr from Chicago to Davis, California, where I would spend the night in a hotel not more than 100 yards from the Amtrak station.

The next morning I would board the southbound Coast Starlight, toss my suitcase into my roomette and head for the Parlour Car. I would relax in one of the comfortable swiveling, over-stuffed arm chairs and sip a Bloody Mary, prepared by the attendant..

After about 45 minutes, I was ready for breakfast and would head to the dining car–just one car forward.

Perhaps, after breakfast, I might feel a bit drowsy. In that case, I would return to my roomette, and doze happily for perhaps a hour. Then? Well it was back to the Parlour Car, to relax, enjoying a chat with another passenger.

Come lunch time, there was a choice: regular luncheon service in the dining car or a light lunch served in the Parlour car. (Incidentally, do you see that young fellow in the dark glasses who is about to start in on a beautiful salad? That’s my brother-in-law, Peter, who was traveling with me on this particular trip.)

For years, there was a wine tasting in the afternoons about the time the Starlight was passing through the California wine country. And for about an hour in the late afternoons, the Pacific Ocean was not more than a hundred yards beyond the righthand side of the southbound train and there were always surfers catching waves in the gathering dusk of a California day.

Suffice to say, I loved the parlor cars and, along with uncounted other passengers, went out of my way to ride this particular train because those wonderful cars gave us all a glimpse back into the Golden Age of train travel.

And then, Amtrak acquired a new president–a soulless, cold-blooded, insensitive man, who–why are we not surprised?–was the former chief executive of two major airlines. Richard Anderson knew how to cut costs . . . and he cut the parlor cars. In fact, he sold them so people like me couldn’t raise such a fuss that he would have to bring them back.

I know there are a few folks out there who are tired of me harping on the loss of the parlour cars. I’m sorry, but you’ll have to indulge me one last time. It’s therapy.