September 2, Train -> Seattle

I Want My Futon.

Actually, it's not that bad, these seats are soft, but I'm used to my rock-hard (as it's been described) futon.

I wake up early, not long after sunrise. We pass what I think is Mt. Shasta around 7am. Northern California is a lot of pine, scrub, trees and marshes -- diverse, but overall drier than I thought it would be. We go through several tunnels, entering Oregon around 9am, and reach our first stop at Klamath Falls. It's nice and cool outside the train, where I take several pictures (a common activity throughout the trip, as it turns out).

One of the passengers made the lounge car morning rather pleasant by getting out his guitar and singing a few folk songs...sounded like a cross between James Taylor and Harry Chapin. Very mellow, very nice. I did my crossword puzzles and took pictures.

Our conductor should be a tour guide; he tells us bits and pieces of information about the area, most of it intelligible despite the PA system. We pass Klamath Lake, the largest body of fresh water in the NorthWest, about 40mix8mi across, 25ft deep. It has an extremely high kelp growth rate, and acts as a migratory thoroughfare for everything from Canadian geese to ducks and cranes.

We climb through the Cascades, through more tunnels and along the mountain slopes, up into Summit, where we have our second stop. It's much cooler here! We pass Odell Lake, which attracts many visitors, but the usual way in is by seaplane.

Note: The Superliners are cool, they have a Lounge Car, next to the Cafe and Dining cars, which have huge windows along the sides and rounded-top edges, top and bottom. It's nice and sunny and a good place to meet people, although at this point the Entertainment Coordinater is about to be strangled. The balloons for the kids were cool (no pregnant mice, Chris!), but now she's doing some warped version of Trivial Pursuit. No offense exactly meant, but she must be an ex-cheerleader.

1pm, we pass Lookout Point Resevoir, about 35 minutes south of Eugene, OR. I stretch my legs/take more pictures at Eugene, then again at the Albany stop around 2:30pm. It's warm and breezy, but very humid, and no visible sun!

There are lots of bridges in Oregon.

There are also a lot of tree mortuar^H^H^H^H^H I mean logging centers.

Salem is more of a normal suburb, but it follows right after Logging Central, lots of mills, factories. Wood houses, shingle roofs. Lots of Queen Anne's Lace (maybe yarrow?), fewer pines, lots of big drooping trees. Small lots, but they look like good neighbors. Fences or not. Several murals, the most noteworthy read "A man leaves his darkness when he follows the Son".

We follow the Willamet River, pass the Falls near Oregon City. Lots and lots of paper mills. Just north of that we pass the end of the Oregon Trail, which they've marked with three oversize Conestoga Wagons to denote the settler's western endpoint. 4:20pm.

The meals in the dinner car are done well; they fill in tables 4 people at a time, so since I was travelling alone I got to meet a lot of different people. This dinner I sat with the guitar guy from the morning and a couple from Auburn, who were just taking the train around for the day. The guitar guy turned out to be a real-estate smooth-talker make-a-deal kind of guy who was trying to tell me he could get me a job which would make me a lot of money in Oregon. He didn't quite understand my requirement to actually like my job. Hmmm. The other couple was quite pleasant, but I think Guitar Man scared them a bit.

I started talking to a couple of the guys who had been practically inhabiting the lounge car all day (as had I): Robert and Steve from Preston, England. We discussed the geographical traits of the Brits, stereotyping like crazy but it correllated well with what I have experienced. Which isn't all that much, admittedly. Their soccer team is the North End soccer team; they were going to arrive back in Preston the morning of one of the game nights, and were very excited because they'd already missed a couple games while on travel. I gave them my cards, hopefully they'll get in contact! (Note: Steve did! Got email from him 10/28)

We arrive in Seattle just after 9pm, where Dan (Fineman) and his roommate (now ex-roommate, Dan has since moved) Tom pick me up -- just before the Mariner's game gets out, which is lucky because we have to go Right By the Kingdome to get out of the train station! We drove over to the Fremont district, got some coffee at the Triangle Tavern. Tom took off, having to get up early the next day, so Dan and I eventually walked back towards his place (in Wallingford).

We stopped by this park area which used to be a natural gas refinery and is now a rather hilly park with a way-cool circular thing atop the main hill -- what are those called, I know the answer but it's not coming to me. All sorts of cool 3-D symbols on it. The metalworks are still there, fenced off but looking oh-so-tempting to climb. The park overlooks Lake Union, directly across from downtown. What a lovely skyline! It's like the Bay Area, but smaller across and more circular. The city founders apparently wanted to evoke ancient Rome (seven hills, etc.) with the names of the hills, and the location of the city center. I didn't expect to like it as much as I did!

However, at this point I was fading fast, so we headed back to Dan's, and as we passed under the bridges I realized something else that Dan had mentioned -- Seattle is extremely art-oriented. Under every bridge is some sort of artwork, from metal to cement sculptures or murals. My favorite was the troll which took the entire underside of one of the bridges, which was holding a crushed VW Bug in one hand!

We get to Dan's, find my stuff (Tom had dropped it off), and go to sleep.