Tour2014

Tour without a goal – 1 September 2014

On Amtrak near Stellacoom

Bottle in hand,
I climb out on this great rock.
Since Heaven and Earth began
it’s stood a thousand feet above the water.
I raise my cup and smile at the sky,
and the Heavens whirl until the sun shines out of the West!
I could sit here on this rock forever! hanging my hook
    like the wise men of old.
At least I’ll send this to those who came before me here:
may the music I make, make harmony with yours.
 
-Li Po

Day 60
After a fairly fitful night sleeping on my coach seat on the train, I spent the rest of this day riding up to Tacoma. Sunrise was a bit past 6am and in the pre-dawn light we moved on the western side of Mt. Shasta. From this angle the mountain looked spare and barren as when I rode past it’s southern extents but there are a few more glaciers visible on this side. As the sun rose this was quite a striking scene. I ended up having breakfast and lunch in the dining car and there they fill every table with guests. On the border with Oregon the train takes one valley over than the one I rode down on and it was a lush wetland and lakes fed by Klamath Lake. Whereas the valley I’d ridden down was dry, barren and almost desert-like. Water, the staff of life. North of Klamath Falls was some really stunning scenery as the train rode high up on a valley wall over trestles and through tunnels. The valley was filled with trees and the far walls were craggy cliffs. Further on it went to the east of Mount Bachelor and the Three Sisters – neat to see stuff from the tour from this perspective. However best part of the Coast Starlight IMO is from Olympia to Washington.

down from the mountains
only mountains of the mind remain
like dragonflies over water

From Olympia the train cuts across the Nisqually Valley and actually onto the coast. I don’t know if it does much travel on the Coast in CA before San Francisio but this is the only section actually along the open water, albeit the Puget Sound, from that point on. The sun is always setting in this section as the train comes up in the summer and as you pass Anderson, McNeil and Fox Islands the sun was sinking toward the water. Finally after 26 hours on the train it pulled into Tacoma Station right on time. I had to get off at Tacoma because as far as I can tell only three WA stops have baggage service: Vancouver, Tacoma and Seattle. Happily my bicycle came through all right and with no hassles (especially as I hadn’t taken off the pedals as they require) and I very quickly straightened the handlebars and minimally strapped things on to ride the couple blocks to the bus station. There I had a few minutes to re-combobulate the bicycle a bit more and catch the bus to Lakewood where I managed to catch the last bus to Olympia. I can’t say how happy I was to see that that bus didn’t have a full bicycle carrier! Finally just around 9pm I was back in Olympia, exactly 60 days after I left.

beyond the vast expanse
the fiery sun sets
behind jagged hills

This was been a great tour with achingly beautiful scenery the whole way. I’m so happy I did it and now as autumn approaches, my favorite season, I’m happy to be back in the Pacific NW. Over the next days and weeks I hope to write a post-mortem and get some pictures uploaded. Stay tuned for all of that. Thanks to all who’ve read my attempts to capture this trip. I know I couldn’t do it justice and I hope that I at least gave an impression of it.

walking alone in the darkness
light pouring out of windows
one foot after the other

2 thoughts on “Tour without a goal – 1 September 2014”

  1. Great great blog Robert. The type of travelogue that could only be written by someone who traveled it and suffered along the way. A real pilgrimage (sans Monastery Visit)I have read about a 3rd of it so far and really enjoyed will try to get to read the rest which will give me an ample excuse to avoid working.

    1. Hey Kev,

      Thanks much for reading, glad you are digging it. I do really think of these trips as pilgrimages, it’s just for me that the trees and mountains and rivers are the holy sites I’m visiting and the tent is my monastery cell.

Leave a Reply