From the Starlight Trip: Breathtaking Vistas through the Siskious, Cascades in Oregon

After a decent night’s sleep, those of us on the Coast Starlight today awoke to blue skies as we looped around Mt. Shasta. The big rock is covered with snow and glistened in the morning sun. I popped into the dining car to enjoy an early breakfast.

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Train 2011: One Rainy Day

Since this is finishing my first round-trip up the West Coast and I’m not a weatherman, I don’t know how fast or big storms are.All I can say is that it started raining and snowing on Monday in Cle Elum, Wash., and here it is Thursday on the train in Paso Robles, Calif., and it’s still going.

This morning while we were stopped in Sacramento, I stepped out for a few minutes. Rain, wind, cold. Kinda nice.

Rain in Sacramento.


Snow in Cle Elum.

Train 2011 — Rolling Along

After the bus trip to Portland, it’s been a nice ride down the west coast.

My dinner last night was a fine piece of halibut in the dining car. Dining on a train is a great experience; watching the world go by and the waiters managing to work from a tiny prep area and never spill anything while the train tosses about.

Train custom seats strangers together (that and a $5 tip brought Eve Marie Saint and Cary Grant together on the 20th Century Limited in North By Northwest) so I was at a table with another single guy, headed to Reno, and a couple headed to vacation in the Bay Area.

Amtrak does a decent job with dining car meals — better here on the Starlight than on the Southwest Chief I took last year.

After dinner it was back to the compartment for eerie nighttime views of snow-covered trees and frozen lakes. The storm covering the west coast had dumped more white stuff than was here last week.

Every once in awhile, the near full moon would pop through the clouds. The snow was everywhere: hanging from trees, clinging to the old telegraph wires running besides the tracks, covering the ground as virgin powder that would delight skiers.

But no ski areas here, no roads, no people, because over much of this route, it is alone. Quite a view as this traveler dozed off for the night.

Train 2011: Bus begins trip home

Who would guess that there’s rain in the Northwest. So a mudslide on the tracks between Kelso and Portland put all Portland-south passengers on buses. The train could get through, but they didn’t want passengers onboard through the mud.

Lunch (included for sleeper passengers like me) was a Subway box lunch.

With no stops (or mudslides) on the way, we made it to Portland an hour ahead of the train.

Now I’m in my roomette, downstairs, and hoping to move upstairs if possible. It’s a raw, rainy day in Portland; my compartment is nice and toasty.

I already have a 6:30 time in the diner.

There’s the whistle and off we go!