Thursday, August 18, 2016

North Bound, Our Oregon Adventure

After making our way to Oregon, and home again, by train, I feel like Maria and I have enjoyed a dream come true kind of adventure, and if I could add one more sweet component it would be to have every bit of our travels written up in a scrap book, with all the pictures, and metro stubs, pressed leaves, and a scratch and sniff page with blackberry, and cedar fragrances. Is that too much to ask for? Hopefully, I can at least write a few posts, capturing highlights of what we did, where we were, with loads of edited pictures. Am I wishing for a brain-computer interface, where I can upload the stories I've been holding on to in hopes of retaining all of the goodness we've enjoyed? That sounds really creepy, but also like something that would be irresistibly convenient!

Humph... my weird brain has just made me debate whether to keep my "deep" thoughts to myself, and just post pretty pictures with cute captions, or to continue in the same vein of being my own naturally odd self.

Never mind. I will just begin at the beginning.

Union Station, Los Angeles

Maria didn't know our trip to Oregon was going to be by train until we were almost at the station. Her brothers thought it would make a good surprise and they were right: It was a very good surprise. And traveling by train was a very good idea, versus driving the twenty plus hours to the Oregon Coast.

All aboard the Coast Starlight, with a roomette all the way to Albany, Oregon! It really was first class travel. We fell asleep after Oakland, and woke up in Shasta! I also woke up in Martinez, Davis, Sacramento, and Redding, but that's another issue! The great thing about insomnia on a train is that you can gaze out on the world you are passing by, see stars, and savor the thought that you'll have most of the next day to enjoy cat naps.

Before our chairs were converted into a top bunk and bed, we walked through the coaches, visited the lounge car, and theater, ate lunch, and dinner, crafted in tiny journals, read, embroidered, talked, met new people, and looked for deer in the hills around central California.

We were never bored. Not for long. As soon as one thing felt a bit tired, we moved on to something else, or turned around for a new point of view.

Even on a full train, we had no problem finding room all to ourselves.

Perhaps a theater on a train is passé, what with everyone carrying smart phones and pads. But I think it would have been nice to watch an old movie, or two.

We looked forward to the community seating and meeting new friends with our meals. It's nice to understand the geography and be familiar with the schedule. I made a point of reserving our meal times when I knew we would be having great views.

Our lunch was served in time for reaching the coast, and we rode through Santa Barbara and into Vandenberg, along the beaches, while we dined. It was beautiful.

Sometimes I would feel keenly disappointed because I knew I wasn't going to get "perfect" pictures, not traveling at those speeds, not through dusty and reflective windows. But I never could resist trying, and so I have dozens of poorly focused, smudgy, glare-marred pictures with reflections of people or windows, or bits from inside the coaches... imperfections, I thought. But I feel differently, now. Now I want a camera app. I'll call it Train Filter and it will add all the charm, warmth, and grime of those passing scenes. I love our views from the windows of our Coast Starlight ride.

Some stops are long enough for stepping off and having a walk around the platform, like this time in San Luis Obispo. We enjoyed feeling the local weather, checking for Poké stops, taking in the fresh air. Plus... it's really fun to hear the double train whistle and hear the conductor say, "All aboard!"

Our SLO selfie.

Train enthusiasts know this section of the route for it's long, deep curves where you can see both ends of the train at once. We are near La Cuesta Pass and the Old Stage Coach Road. Next stop, Paso Robles! I can still hear the announcements in my head.

The fertile Salinas Valley, and further west the Santa Lucia Range, where smoke from the Soberanes Fire continues to burn through Big Sur. It makes for a beautiful but sobering sunset.

Train legs. It's fun to become familiar with the arrangement of the cars, to get confident about staying steady through the constant motions of the train. Maria came to love being in the lead, opening the doors, balancing her steps from coach to coach.

The next morning our view was all new and wondrous! And here's a funny bit... we watched these two peaks move in and out of our view, and it was fabulous. Snuggled in the bed, still drowsy and cozy, and absolutely breathtaking views to marvel at, and we felt so special, so lucky. We were lucky, of course, but we kept talking about Mt Shasta, and the good fortune we had to have our room facing this fantastic sight! After all, we reasoned, we might have rooms across the aisle, where we would have missed the view of Mt Shasta, maybe seeing only a logging road, or scrapyards, or any other typical train sights. I even posted to FB: "Our Mt Shasta view... blah blah blah!" But guess what? The attendant came by and asked,

"Did you get to see Mt Shasta?"

"You mean, there?" we pointed, happily certain of our good fortune and geography knowledge.

Liliana crouched down, peered through our window, and said, "Oh, no. That's not Shasta. We passed Shasta early this morning." She wasn't sure which peaks these were, and they seemed were not all too significant.

Maria and I enjoyed laughing at ourselves.

But, I still think we were lucky. Even mislabeled, this was a spectacular sight. Do you recognize it?

Then, we were having our breakfast and riding through Klamath Falls, and by the Lake. I am pretty sure, anyway. I am quite certain we were in Oregon.

And by the time we were going through the Cascades, seeing blackberries, crossing rivers, creeks, and meadows, Maria and I were absolutely certain of our very good fortune.

Even after thirty hours, and a two hour delay, we were giddy and enthused, happy to be arriving in Albany, and eager to see what else our adventure had in store for us...


Jennifer said...

It's all so magnificent! I have loved train travel, and the joys you've described brought back so many warm memories. What an adventure you two have had, what wonderful stories to share!!

Sylvia said...

Thank you so much for sharing it all with us! Lots of lovely photos. Now I want to travel by train!!

Adaliza said...

What a spectacular post - thanks so much for sharing that. I've been transported from a rather drab and wet summer's day here in Winchester, UK through the valleys and amazing countryside with you! My youngest has just booked a one way ticket to Canada and intends travelling the west coast down to Oregon and maybe beyond. I'll be showing him later on! I just hope he takes as many photos and shares them with me back here.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Thank you, Jennifer. I feel like I have this collection of merit badges, earned from riding different rail trips, enjoying the ups, surviving the glitches, and definitely treasuring those many warm memories. Maybe we should meet by rail someday?

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Do it! It's not all lovely and romantic, to be honest, but I found it to be rewarding and in many ways less humiliating than air travel, these days. There are some very beautiful routes and sections to travel between... I hope you will have a chance to go.

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Thank you, for this sweet comment. That trip, down the coast, is fabulous. State side, it's called the Coast Starlight and begins in Seattle Washington. He'd have a fabulous time, with many attractive options for stops along the way! I hope he does take lots of pictures for you... it's so easy with our phones... all of the images in this post are from my iPhone!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Jennifer, Sylvia, Adaliza... thank you, for your comments, for sharing your time and kind thoughts. It gets so I am mostly keeping this up for Maria, who insists she never wants me to stop, and for myself because, frankly, I cannot seem to stop. But blogging gets harder, the fewer people participate. I've heard blogging called "narcissistic," been called "obsessive," and perhaps it is, and maybe I am, but I love blogging best when there is a dialogue, when there are exchanges and engagement, feedback. I don't want it to be 'just me-me-me.' And I am hooked on what we have, in terms of a history, so maybe I get carried away with over-sharing... always overthinking this issue! Anyway, my point... it's a reassurance and a joy immeasurable to connect with people, to share common impressions, and make new impressions, too. Thank you. Your comments make me feel like I am not completely daft, or if I am a bit nuts, at least someone gets me!