Every two weeks or so, I take a bi-monthly business trip to Seattle on the Amtrak Cascades. On this particular train, Amtrak has installed a bike rack in the baggage car - so I'm able to ride my bike from home to the train Portland station, pay the extra $5 fee for a bike, then ride from the Seattle train station to my office in the Washington State Convention Center. Three years ago, I used to drive this trip - and dread it. Switching from my car to a bike and a train ride has made this trip something I actually look forward to. (And do me a favor, don't mention that to my wife...)
This week, I thought I would chronicle my trip in pictures.
Packing the panniers the night before. After three years, I can do this in my sleep.
This time of year, I leave before the sun comes up. There's my trusty Kogswell P/R, loaded with panniers, and waiting to leave. She loves this trip.
Stopping at Stumptown coffee to grab a cup with the regulars (and fill up my thermos for the train). When I first started taking the train, I had a tradition of getting a cup of coffee and some oatmeal in the dining car, but the Amtrak snack service uses, I kid you not: a styrofoam bowl with a styrofoam lid for the oatmeal, a cardboard carrying tray, a paper cup with a lid for the milk that comes with it, a little plastic ramekin with a lid for the nuts, fruit and sugar that go on the oatmeal, a napkin, a spoon that's wrapped in a plastic sleeve, and then two paper cups and a plastic lid for the coffee. It's almost a pound of landfill for a single bowl of oatmeal and a cup of coffee. This hurts my soul. Now I bring fruit and pastries from home, and/or stop at Stumptown on the way into town and fill the ol' thermos up before I get on the train. No landfill (happy Vaughn).
At the PDX train station waiting to board. This is usually where people come up and ask me about taking the bike up on the train. In under 2 minutes I have usually converted them from ever taking a taxi again.
Outside the baggage car waiting to load up.
Mike (who keeps things running smoothly at the PDX station, certainly more smoothly that the SEA train station) seen here hanging bikes up in the baggage car. They have room for about 6 bikes. After the train gets moving, you can see your bike (but the door's locked. I've checked.)
My regular seat in the dining car.
Off-loading in Seattle. Just like Portland, the Seattle train station is right down town, which makes zipping up to the office a snap.
Bike parking at the convention center is pretty nice.
Certainly better than bike parking at my hotel down the street. The valets don't know what to do with me when I pull up on a bike. After 3 years, they're finally getting used to me though.
Heading back to PDX - in the Seattle train station getting my seat assignment.
After getting my tickets squared away, I have about an hour till we board - so I ride up the street to the International District to get cream cheese buns at the yummy house bakery.
Then I grab a quick dinner at Shanghai Garden chinese restaurant (one of my favorite chinese restaurants in any city).
Waiting to load up on the SEA platform.
A brief station stop in Tukwila as the sun is setting. The ride down during sunset is usually amazing. The later in the season (towards summer) the better. The train tracks run along the waterside of Puget sound from North of Tacoma, all the way south, almost to Olympia. Watching the sun set over the bay, as the Tacoma Narrows bridges are passing by is a sight to behold. Just a beautiful ride.
Union workers hard at work... ahem. :-) Kidding - these are the regular conductors on the Tuesday night Cascade line. I sit with these guys every trip. After a few years, they're like family. And boy do they have stories to tell.
I can't speak for other train lines in the country, but if you ever find yourself needing to travel between Eugene/Portland Oregon and Seattle Washington, the Cascade line is a beautiful ride. More than that though, they've made the trip extremely friendly to bike travel. Check it out yourself - and bring a bike!
All these pictures in hi-rez here on Flickr.