Tight grey curls and a wide-open face introduce the gentleman across from me in the Parlour Car. He has recently awoken, joining a scant five of us who are snapping photos of fog-laced forests and fields. Clad in a yellow and white bicycling jersey, this is a self described native Texan by choice, originally from somewhere in Mexico. I never discover his place of birth, as our stories dip and weave with the white pelicans swooping over a passing bog. As both take a breather from this photographic feast, we delight in having been awakened at five-thirty to a snowcapped Mount Shasta. The mythic magic of this mountain is confirmed for us by the synchronicity of the event.
After taking a twenty-five hundred mile bicycle excursion across the South, my new friend is in current anticipation of another endurance ride near the Idaho border. As thoughts place him somewhere in his sixties, he relates in a lyrical accented English his fervent wish to be reincarnated into the body of a cellphone. They get far more attention than any human being these days, he quips.