West Coast Wander, Day 13: Northern California to Seattle by Train

A great way to end a road trip.

We had a two-week vacation, and decided that it would be fun to drive down the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California and then drop off our rental car and take a train back home. I’m calling this journey the West Coast Wander, and plan to blog about it every other day so as not to totally alienate those who have no interest in travel, and yet allow those who do to travel vicariously with us. Here’s the first in the series, if you want to start at the beginning.  I hope you enjoy it, dear reader.

Considering I was on a train, I slept rather well. The converted bed with its thin mattress was surprisingly comfortable, and being rocked all night long was kind of primal. (I will say that the pillow was the size of a postage stamp, however.) I do vaguely remember a few stops during the night, which put me into more of a twilight sleep, but I soon resumed my normal patterns. I’m sure taking melatonin didn’t hurt, either.

At one point we diverted to a side track to let another train pass. This required us to move backward briefly. That confused my foggy brain a bit, but again, I drifted right back to dreamland.

When I woke with the rising sun, I looked out the window and beheld a forest primeval in Northern California. Lush evergreens, rocky outcroppings, rivers and streams, and very little sign of human habitation. It was like waking up in the middle of a Pacific Northwest Eden. It made me smile.

And then, holy smokes! Mount Shasta. I don’t even know how I knew it was Mount Shasta. I’d never seen Mount Shasta. But Mount Shasta it was. I knocked excitedly on the bottom of the upper bunk to wake up dear husband. We stopped at the dining car for breakfast omelets, then moved to the sightseer lounge for more stunning views.

After all but circling Mount Shasta, we headed into Oregon for more awe-inspiring sights, including a drawbridge near Portland. (I do love my drawbridges.) After that, we skirted Puget Sound, so we switched to the ocean side of the lounge to enjoy the water views. Interspersed with the gazing was much reading of books.

In the midst of all this, and since our ETA to Seattle wasn’t until nearly 8 pm, we had lunch and dinner in the dining car. I had pasta and meatballs for lunch, and for dinner I had the shrimp and lobster sauce again because it was so darned good the day before. Incidentally, here’s the menu.

We also saw quite a bit of cool art and architecture at the various train stations we passed.

Our train passed right through the town in which we live, but didn’t stop. I thought quite a bit about how close we came to seeing our dogs. But jumping off a moving train only works in the movies. We did get some friends to come out on their porch and wave at us, which was fun.

I did learn a lot during this train trip. For example, according to this interesting article in the Smithsonian Magazine, the reason so many train stations are called Union Station is that the stations in question are transportation hubs that serve multiple train companies. I had no idea.

Some tips for those who book sleepers on trains: First of all, check as much baggage as you possibly can. It’s no fun climbing over luggage in a tiny little room. Next, bring a sleep aid in case you don’t sleep as soundly in strange environments. Go to the observation car with a book as early and as often as possible to avoid claustrophobia. Bring an extension cord if you plan to do more than charge your phone. (Our roomette had one outlet.) Also bring some duct tape. The swaying train means that your electronics will unplug themselves with annoying frequency. It’s also handy to tape your extension cords up and out of your way while you sleep.

And then, just like that, we were in Seattle. Pulling into King Street Station was a huge relief, especially since we knew a reliable friend would be there to pick us up. I couldn’t wait to see the dogs back at home. But it was also bittersweet, because our amazing vacation had come to an end. Meanwhile, we were treated to many more beautiful sights in and around the station.

I wrote about the trip’s aftermath two days later. There was still so much to say! Check it out here!

The best way to travel vicariously is through books. Try mine! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

Author: The View from a Drawbridge

I have been a bridgetender since 2001, and gives me plenty of time to think and observe the world.

3 thoughts on “West Coast Wander, Day 13: Northern California to Seattle by Train”

  1. Broadway and Steel Bridges, both of which are world-unique–one as the last survivor of its kind [Rall], the other as the only known double-acting vertical lift. Both are centenarians.
    Now, try and stay cool! This is serious, as you well know. Let’s come out of it alive and then we will all have bragging rights.

    1. Yes we will. I already got heat exhaustion yesterday, stuck in traffic on my homeward commute. Scary, not fun. Hope to never experience that again. But it is going to be 112 in my town tomorrow. Drink lots of water.

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