On the second day, I'm having breakfast in the observation car. Opposite of me sits a man who first only throws me some looks but finally starts a conversation. When I tell him I'm from Amsterdam, he nods: "You all speak English in Denmark, right?" I nod too. We talk about the surroundings, where he grew up in. Then, the blogger from last night joins us. He takes pictures of everything that can be seen. I try to help him and point out other photo moments.
Then a guy from New York joins us. He carries several cans with vegan food. The conversation switches to food and what is healthy to eat. The guy is a raw-follower, he only eats food that hasn't been heated over 40 degrees celsius. The man from Denver keeps repeating that humans are carnivores. "Cows eat gras, we eat cows, why not cut out the middle man," the Raw guy says. I keep quiet.
We start talking about cars, and all three guys find a mutual interest. The carnivore shows us pictures of his seven cars. Flashy colors, a lot of convertables and of course all made in America. One of the pictures is of a real American pick-up truck, taken from down below, with the Stars and Stripes waving over it.
"A real American car, the American flag, taken on the fouth of July," he says, full of pride. I ask him if he's a patriot. "Very much," he answers. The Raw guy and the blogger look at all the pictures and keep saying: "that is so sick!". The carnivore looks up: "Is that something bad?" he asks.
The others tell him that it means it's very cool.
In one of the short breaks, I'm standing outside on the platform, catching some fresh air. Then, Ben starts talking to me. He is as high as my waist, has a crooked face and wears clothes that remind me of the Little House on the Prairie. He's from Pensilvania and is Amish. This is the first time he travels by himself to the west coast. Normally, his wife travels with him, but since their garden needs to be harvested these days, she decided to stay home this time.
He tells me he wanted to talk to me on our way to Chicago, because he likes to talk to tourists. He and his wife even started a small B&B, to accommodate visitors to the Amish area. He talks about his family - he has six children - and his life style. " I love to meet people with different life styles, because I always learn new thugs," he says. I ask him how hard it is to hold on to their way of living, with all the new techniques forcing themselves into our society. He answers that he likes the piece and quiet. "I see all these people on th train using electronic devices. But I like looking outside and talk to people."
Later, I'm writing on my laptop when Ben passes me and gives me a friendly pad on my shoulder.