Over Memorial Day weekend I took the Amtrak Cascades to Seattle. And although it may sound cliché – train travel really is more romantic than air travel, and in some ways, car travel too (unless you’re on some life-changing road trip with tons of tunes on your iPod).
This whole train thing was pretty easy and fun. I purchased my ticket online in advance. ($85 round trip – about the same as the gas now that we’re at $4.00 a gallon) and parked in the nearby Station Smart Park (two nights cost me $14.00 dollars). I took my laptop and logged into Amtrak’s wi-fi – which works OK if you keep your internet activities simple.
The retro hit I got from the railway was also cool. Hurrying into the historic Union Station, greeting the clerks in their hip little caps, the hustle-bustle to board. Why, even slipping your ticket into the nifty little slot above your seat has a charming vintage feel.
Plus, I don't feel like I'm going to die on a train. They just seem more friendly and approachable than planes. For some reason, a head-on collision with another train seems less likely than plunging into a death spiral at 30,000 feet.
Really, the only tough part was that, since it was a holiday weekend, the dining car was crowded on the way back. After standing in a line that wasn't moving, and while straddling two cars, motion sickness set in. So, fearing I might toss my cookies, I returned to my seat empty handed. Next time, I'll remember to bring my own snacks.
And You Can Meet the Darndest People
On the way up to Seattle, I sat next to a musician/writer by the name of John Roderick, a witty, intelligent fellow on his way back from performing a reading at Back Fence PDX. During the ride, Mr. Roderick was nice enough to introduce me to Klout scores. So, in honor of that, I’ll mention his band’s site, (The Long Winters) and his Seattle Weekly column. (Although this guy’s Klout score probably doesn’t need much help from me.)
The highlight of our chat was when Mr. Roderick described the Seattle Public Library designed by Rem Koolhaas as “a wayward space station on a planet that nobody likes, and that nobody wants to trade with.”
This guy is funny. I know I’ll be at his reading next time he takes the train to town.