A Steamlands Wanderer

1/30/10  at 3:38 PM
It has recently come to my attention that a Certain Tourist has arrived in New Babbage. He seems determined to fully explore the Steamlands, and to my great interest, he is keeping a journal of his adventures and impressions! I am pleased to say that I have convinced him to share his writings with us, dear readers. Please note that the photographs are also the work of this intrepid explorer, who is named Criss Caiben. I do hope you enjoy his journal, of which this is the very first entry.

"Discovering New Babbage"
by Criss Caiben

It seemed as if this was as far as I would go. Well, that is, if I was reading my train ticket correct; reaching into my empty pocket confirmed that same need to exit. The brisk, chilly air hit me with a rush as I buttoned up my burgundy jacket as I stepped down the slippery, cracking stairs of the train car. Searching the pockets of my jacket I thankfully found my black gloves that leave my fingers hanging free at the ends…how wonderful; my day seemed to be an endless streak of good fortune!

My eyes wandered as the train moved along into the distance. The noise assisted the tension of my current situation and the snow flurries that caught my rosy-chilled face seemed to beg for a bit of warmth. From my first view of the city, glimpsed from the train, I felt that any direction would suit my needs at this point. So without considering direction and with the spirit of exploration and discovery, I trod forward optimistically, well let us hope at least.

As I began walking eastward on a street named Academy Downs, the city began to reveal its icy edging. My attention was grabbed by the ticking of a large clock hanging at the center of a large stone building to my left. As curious as I was to take a peek in the building, my body was craving the idea of a warm fire. My drive was renewed for exploration when I saw a small group of people down the road. This city was beginning to be a small quest, perhaps the first of many cities I have yet to discover. I was confident that if it weren’t for the cold weather I could easily be lost in a sea of inventions!

The five gentlemen seemed to be unloading some tools and supplies. One of the men made eye contact and gave a hearty greeting. The other followed suit as the first man asked if I required assistance. I couldn’t help but ask if he know of a place where I could find a bit of warmth. He began to describe a place by the name of the CocoaJava Café. It was clear that he'd noticed I was not a resident due to his detailed, yet colorful way of directions me to the quickest route.

He explained the wonders I would find on the remainder of the street, and made it clear that if I kept walking I would find the Cafe on the left side of the road. I was reminded of a place I called home years ago. Residents sharing history and details with a newcomer with explanations that would impress the very founders who had the vision. He encouraged me to follow that slippery, snow covered road and I would find myself at the Cafe.

My body temperature and urge to explore seemed to be having an endless silent debate. Unfortunately, because of that debate, all I could muster was a 'thank you' and 'have a good day' as I marched off into the distance along Academy Downs. His friends slipped into talk of plans to meet up later for a warm drink as I walked away. As their conversation became small, barely noticeable whispers, I knew I would be able to meet others and hopefully soon find some much needed work.

I walked a bit farther, taking in the engineering marvels near and far. I arrived at the Café and immediately walked in the direction of the fire blazing and took a knee. It wasn’t too long before I realized my body had won that debate over the urge to explore further. As my face and fingers began to lose that stiff feeling, a young woman spun me around with her polite hello. Her inquisitive nature was soothing and very welcomed. She asked if I had acquired a taste for the sweet cocoa offered. Due to my empty pocket, she continued to showcase the town spirit of generosity that assured me this was a place I could easily relax and settle into.

After I spent a few months on the open roads, and traveling between here and there, this was a welcomed experience. She gave me a small, but descriptive summary of the city, and called it New Babbage. As she left, I reflected on my short journey and I realized I had only spent twenty minutes in New Babbage. I couldn’t imagine what the next 20 minutes would bring…

To Be Continued…

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