A Trip to San Francisco

The Yellow Mountains and Evening Glow paintings

I left for San Francisco in June. My trip included taking a train to Chicago first, and then changing to another train which went to San Francisco.

I thought that Chicago had a quite different atmosphere than NYC. The buildings I saw from the train looked more industrial, and there were many black people at the train station. As the second train arrived and I was getting on it, a white male staff member at the platform wished me a great trip. And he waved at me and said loudly and in a very friendly way, something like “Matane!” (See you!) I felt that this trip to San Francisco had started very pleasantly and smoothly compared to the one to New York from Cork City, Ireland. It was probably because I was heading in the right direction in my life.

Train station

The whole trip was supposed to take about three days. On the train that departed Chicago, I was able to see the Mississippi River. I was familiar with the name of the river from an animated TV show that I had watched regularly as a child in Japan. It was called “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”. I remember I really liked the show but I didn’t recall the content of the story very much as I was very small when I saw it. What I remembered most was the nice theme song that played at the end of every show. It was about someone who wanted to take a big journey. While my favourite theme song played at the end of every show, the picture showing on the TV was Tom and Huck running along the massive Mississippi River. I remember that image and the song well as it really captivated me. So, I was happy to be able to see the river.

Mississippi River

Here is the song at the end of the TV show I watched in Japan.

It was a long train ride, but it was packed with many chances to see the beautiful landscapes across the United States. The weather throughout the ride was beautiful also. I enjoyed looking at the Rocky Mountains, which were sometimes blue and sometimes multi-coloured, and the extensive land of the desert. Also, I often saw a group of people kayaking on a river. The river was a relatively small one, but it ran along the soaring Rockies for many miles. The train also went through tunnels that were carved into the Rocky Mountains. As the train went slowly through the meandering tunnels, it reminded me of an attraction at Disneyland. It was fun. I made many sketches on the train.

Yellow Mountains 1

Yellow Mountains by Chiho Yoshikawa, 2003

Yellow Mountains 2

Yellow Mountains by Chiho Yoshikawa, 2003

As the train got closer to California, it stopped at some casino cities like Reno, and many people got off. Also, many people got off at Sacramento. The train was full when it left Chicago, but many people started to get off once the train entered the state of California. So, even though there were still a lot of people who stayed on the train until San Francisco, there were many empty seats in the car I was in. So, I moved there and lay down and made myself more comfortable.

The train was finally approaching San Francisco. It went through beautiful grasslands and the evening sunlight created a multi-coloured sky.

Evening Glow

Evening Glow by Chiho Yoshikawa, 2003

I went to the bathroom and then took my suitcase and stood in between cars by the exit. Then, a male passenger, who looked like he was in his late 40’s or early 50’s, asked me what my occupation was. I asked him what he thought I did. He answered, “Artist?” I said, “Yes”. He explained to me that he first thought I might be a musician, like a violinist, but, from my eyes, he thought I might be an artist. He had probably seen me pass on the train when I went to the bathroom and he wondered what I did. 

The train arrived and that male passenger helped to carry my suitcase out of the train. And then he said, “There is nothing in here”, because it was very light. And then a young woman who was beside me said, “We have to leave space for shopping. It’s gonna be heavy when we go back.” I didn’t bring much to SF. In fact, it was because John had recommended that I travel light. After the train arrived in San Francisco, most people walked to the bus stop and caught a bus to the city centre. It was dark when I arrived.

San Francisco city

As the bus arrived at the bus stop, I saw a couple approaching the bus. It was a young white woman and an older white man. The woman was peeking into the bus and smiling at the bus driver. They seemed like they wanted to get on the bus. I thought they were funny and they seemed like nice people. As soon as I got off the bus, I asked this couple if they knew where I could find hostels in the city. Then they gave me a small amount of cash and stopped a taxi and asked the driver to take me to a hostel. I thanked them and said I hoped I could give them back the money, but they didn’t seem they wanted it back. I was amazed at how generous and friendly people in San Francisco were.

The taxi driver was a middle-aged Latino man. When the taxi came to the streets where there were many hotels around, he drove on the same streets twice. It looked like he had made a wrong turn. After that, he stopped in front of some hostel and so I got out. There were many people surrounding the reception desk at the hostel when I walked in. They were all trying to check-in. I got a dormitory room with two bunk beds. The interior in the hostel looked old and had an antique-like atmosphere. There was an old antique elevator in that hostel and I thought it was beautiful.