Holidays in California, By Car, Train or Plane by
(25 Stories)

Prompted By Pandemic Holidays

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Like everyone else, this is my first pandemic holiday season. I certainly hope it is my last pandemic holiday season. To increase my odds to experience more holiday seasons, this Thanksgiving will be with my girlfriend and I, and no one else.  It’s sad, but it’s the best choice. Of course, I will miss my sons and granddaughter and special friends. I will think of some of the past holidays I have had, and I will summarize some of them now.

My previous holiday travels

When I was a young boy, I remember Mom cooking the turkey as the aroma filled the house.  Of course I and all others stayed out of the kitchen that day.  No need in risking Mom’s wrath or even worse, especially since there were fire and knives in the kitchen.  Dad would get an early start on the feast by eating the turkey neck and maybe the giblets. We would watch various football games and engage in interesting conversations and banter.

Off to college and the work world, and generally, I went home for the holidays before I was married. After marriage, my family generally went to  Los Angeles where my wife’s family lived.  Sometimes we flew to avoid the awful holiday traffic. San Jose Airport was often a better choice than Interstate 5. Of course, ticket costs sometimes prevented this option. When going by car, many times we would stop at my Dad’s house since it was on the way to LA. Other times, when we were in LA, we went to my step-mother’s house in LA (Mom passed away shortly after I left college). It was always a nice break from work.

After my wife passed away, I generally had dinner with my brother in Sacramento or with friends in San Jose. I always had a nice time with my brother. I would travel by BART to the Oakland Coliseum station, then by Amtrak to Sacramento. The trip takes about three hours, versus two via car. However, on Thanksgiving day, the car trip is much longer. My brother from the San Jose area drove it once on Thanksgiving day, and it took over five hours.

One interesting story about my train trips to Sacramento happened shortly after I meet my girlfriend. We had just met, and I informed her that I would be taking the train to Sacramento.  She was surprised. Why would anyone take the train?  Maybe, there will be lots of alcoholic beverages, and he is just using good judgement.  After all, he is part Irish-American (an unfortunate stereotype, but sometimes true). Little did she realize that this was the smart choice, no matter what type of beverages were served. In subsequent years, we both took the train to Sacramento.  In fact, last year, we took Amtrak to New York City. As San Jose State alums, we got to see SJSU beat Army and I saw my first New York Broadway play.

Finally, Christmas and New Years will be the same this year. However, it’s the best choice, and it’s a choice I hope most Americans make this year.

The best thing I am thankful my family, girlfriend and my friends are healthy now. Also, I give thanks that 2021 will end Trump’s residency in the White House

Profile photo of Joe Lowry Joe Lowry
I was a child that moved so often, (8 elementary/middle schools) and finally went to to high school in Arroyo Grande California. I ended up at San Jose State University graduating in Chemistry, minor in Biology. Got married, and had two sons. Unfortunately, my wife passed 35 years later. I worked initially in the pharmaceutical industry. After being down-sized, I ended up in the aerospace field, working on satellites. I still live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Tags: Thanksgiving Car Plane Train


  1. Marian says:

    Joe, I’ve taken that awful 5-hour drive on Thanksgiving from San Jose to Auburn. It’s a major reason why I was burning out on the holidays, so I like your suggestion of using the train (post-pandemic, of course). Enjoy your Thanksgiving day.

  2. Joe, your story triggered my own childhood memories of the aroma of roasting turkey. My dad called it “the bird” and, like your dad, he loved the neck!

    You have much to be thankful for…stay safe!

  3. Laurie Levy says:

    Wishing you and your partner happy holidays this year. I know we are all looking forward to a different story for 2021.

  4. I love train travel but seldom get to experience it, I look forward to future submissions, where relevant, that we might get more details of the sights, smells, tastes, and conversations of train travel? Happy safe holidays.

  5. Betsy Pfau says:

    I think you are smart to avoid all that traffic and leave the driving to Amtrak or BART! My daughter is in San Jose, so we’ve witnessed terrible traffic just trying to get into SF sometimes. But like you, this year it will just be the two of us. We will chat with Vicki on the West Coast and David in London at 4pm EST, which works for all of us. Then having a Zoom with close friends around dinner time (but we will probably have eaten by that point). We’ve celebrated New Years with these friends for more than two decades, but not this year. At least we will see a new president in 2021! Have a happy holiday season, Joe.

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