Train browsing by tag


Coastal Contemplations day 15

Monday, June 20th, 2016
Amtrak Cascade train captured on a stop in Portland

Amtrak Cascade train captured on a stop in Portland

in beads of dew
one by one
my home village


all things must pass
I made one last stop in The Whit at the New Day Bakery – which was great – before I made my way to the Amtrak Station. This being the beginning of the Amtrak Cascades route the train was ready and waiting for me. I pulled off my bicycle bags and helped the porter left it into the baggage car. I found a seat with a table where I would spend the next seven hours.

amidst blue skies
clouds obscure The Mountain —
traveling northwards
It was a fine day with cloud strewn skies and plenty to watch as the train made its way north: Mount Hood, Mount Adams, Mount Saint Helens and finally Mount Rainier.  When I finally got off the train and reattached my bags it was late afternoon. It felt good to do even the short ride home after seven hours on the train.  Back home I unloaded the bicycle, put everything way, cleaned up and cooked some dinner. As the sun set over the city long spine-like clouds lit up with dark purples, reds and oranges. Tomorrow is the first day of summer.
the sinking sun
lights clouds on fire —
last day of spring

Photos on Flickr: todayall days

Tour without a goal – 1 September 2014

Tuesday, September 2nd, 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

Tour without a goal – 31 August 2014

Monday, September 1st, 2014


all day I said nothing
unable to sleep
the moonlit night

this train is bound for Oly
My train didn’t leave until the evening so this meant I had most of a day to kill in Bakersfield. I was close to the central downtown and let me tell you there isn’t much action on a Sunday in Bakersfield. I found the most active coffee shop in the “arts district” and hung out there until the Art Museum opened. My plan was to spend the afternoon there and then ride to a store to get some supplies for the train trip and the head to the station to box up the bicycle. Well the best laid plans &c – the art museum was closed to install new exhibits. So I went to the natural history museum instead. This was a bit more kid oriented but there was some nest stuff there. Not far from Bakersfield is “Sharktooth Hill” a large fossil bonefield from when the Pacific Ocean ran into the San Joaquin valley. They had many fossils of sea creatures both extinct and still existent. They also had a quite interesting mineral collections with beautiful examples of petrified wood particularly standing out. I spent as much time as I could there but eventually I’d seen it all and I headed out

Fox Theatre

I rode around town checking out the Fox Theatre, public art, the Aquatic Center – the most active place in town on this hot day – but eventually I headed toward the closest store. Apart from the small central downtown Bakersfield seems to be all edge city of check cashing places, pawn shops, hairdressers and fast food. Needing to eat I was at a Subway when a guy pulled into the handicap spot, didn’t stop and went through the sign and into the window of the next door Panda Express. I took it as commentary on Panda Express’ menu. I got some supplies at the store and headed to the Amtrak station. There I struggled mightily to get the pedals of my bicycle, but the seemed to,have gotten bound on. While I was engaged in the struggle four cops showed up, entered the woman’s bathroom and removed a woman in handcuffs. Welcome to Bakersfield.

Changing trains in Sacramento

I finally just stuffed my bicycle in the box and wrapped in all in duct tape and checked it in. Not long after I boarded the San Joaquin train that would take me up to Sacremento where I’d board the Coast Startlight at midnight. The San Joaquin is a wide flat valley with small hills far in the distance to the west and the Sierras towering to the easy. All cultivated farmland it seemed really flat all the way to the hills. The sun set a fiery red ball over the hills and later on a wavery crescent moon was reflected in the train windows to the east. Only an amazing ten minutes late I arrived in Sacramento and transferred to the Coast Starlight, which was already running twenty minutes late, so technically I left Sacramento the next day.

on the train north
three weeks of travel in five hours
— crickets

Tour 2009 Index

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

A mere year and a month after the tour I have finally have completed my update for 2009, wrapping up my documentation of this tour.  This post is the index to the tour with links to all of the blog entries, which have been updated with better (though of course still flawed) grammar and improved syntax and all of the photos that I have recently uploaded to Flickr.

Tour 2009

Tour 2009: Itinerary
Tour 2009: Packing List
Tour 2009: Resources

Ten Year Tour
Day 01:  Kirkland To Shelton: blog entry, pictures
Day 02:  Shelton to Twin Harbors State Park: blog entry, pictures
Day 03: Twin Harbors State Park to Bush Pioneer County Park: blog entry, pictures
Day 04:  Bush Pioneer County Park to Cape Disappointment State Park: blog entry, pictures

Day 05: Cape Disappointment State Park to Cannon Beach: blog entry, pictures
Day 06:  Cannon Beach to Cape Lookout State Park: blog entry, pictures
Day 07:  Rest Day on the Oregon Coast: blog entry, pictures
Day 08:  Cape Lookout State Park to Beverly Beach State Park: blog entry, pictures
Day 09:  Beverly Beach State Park to Jesse M. Honeyman State Park: blog entry, pictures
Day 10:  Jesse M. Honeyman State Park to North Bend: blog entry, pictures
Day 11: North Bend to Humbug Mountain State Park blog entry, pictures
Day 12:  Humbug Mountain State Park to Harris Beach St. Park blog entry, pictures

Day 13: Harris Beach St. Park to Elk Prairie Campground: blog entry, pictures
Day 14: Rest Day in the Redwoods: blog entry, pictures
Day 15: Elk Prairie Campground to the Eureka KOA: blog entry, pictures
Day 16:  Eureka KOA to the Burlington Campground: blog entry, pictures
Day 17: Burlington Campground to Standish Hickey State Park: blog entry, pictures
Day 18: Standish Hickey State Park to Van Damme State Park: blog entry, pictures
Day 19: Van Damme State Park to Gualala Point Regional Park: blog entry, pictures
Day 20: Gualala Point Regional Park to Bodega Dunes State Beach: blog entry, pictures
Day 21: Bodega Dunes State Beach to San Francisco: blog entry, pictures
Day 22: San Francisco day 1 (SFMoMA): pictures
Day 23: San Francisco day 2 (Yerba Buena): pictures
Day 24: San Francisco day 3 / Train home: blog entry, pictures
Day 25: Train to Seattle, ride to Kirkland: blog entry, pictures

Final Thoughts
Pictures from the road set at Flickr
Tour 2009 photoset at Flickr

Tour2009: day 24/25

Monday, August 24th, 2009
Atlantis and Alcatraz

Atlantis and Alcatraz

I promised one last post about the final few days of my tour and I apologize for the delay.  I’ve found that on returning from tour I tend to focus on all those things that one neglects on touring to the exclusion of tour (and cycling for the most part) related things.  I should say I was right back to my regular bicycle commute to work on my return, but I have been spending my weekends at art galleries, concerts, art festivals and just relaxing.  Starting to get the itch to ride around again as summer is feeling on the wane.  Anyway this is a record of the return trip home, which was mostly by train but also added a few more miles on the bicycle.

The City

The City

Day 22/23
I spent two whole days in San Francisco in which my bicycle never left my hotel room.  I should say that I had no trouble with the bicycle at the Hotel Triton and the staff was really great. The day I left I saw another cyclist pushing his bicycle into the elevator and on seeing me he commented “I thought I was the only one!”. It wasn’t a cheap hotel by any stretch, but it was about the cheapest I found at its fantastic location. I walked all over downtown over those couple of days and saw a concert, visited SFMoMA, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Cartoon Museum, City Lights Books, the Beat Museum, saw a couple of movies, walked all over China Town, the arts district, North Beach, ate at the Stinking Rose, downed many an Anchor Liberty and Anchor Steam and caught up on my sleep. It was a good couple of days, look for writeups on the art galleries on my other blog, but Monday rolled around and my stay in SF was coming to an end. Now the Amtrak from SF to Seattle leaves from Emeryville (right next to Oakland) and it leaves around 10pm, so I had a whole day to kill.  I’d originally thought I’d go up to the de Young Art Museum and spend the day there, but it turned out to not be open on Mondays. So I ended up just riding around the San Francisco waterfront and around town a bit which was actually quite nice.

The Bay Bridge

The Bay Bridge

day 24
Checkout time at the Hotel Triton is noon and I pretty much lingered until then, having breakfast and walking around a bit before I checked out. I was able to store my bags at the hotel, so I wasn’t too encumbered and I headed straight down to the waterfront. I wanted to get my ferry ticket and work out where I was leaving from right off so I wouldn’t be scrambling toward the end of the day. It was an easy ride through the city down to the waterfront, fairly trafficked but downhill and the cars seemed used to driving with bicyclists. Right across the street from a the Ferry Building, which is full of tourist type shops and restaurants, was a the Embarcadero plaza, a nice open park like space where I had lunch. People were taking down craft booths  and tables being set up for a movie shoot – pretty active for a Monday morning. After lunch and walking around the park a bit I crossed the street to the Ferry Building where  I was easily able to pick up ferry tickets that could be used at anytime and scoped out the terminal. Then I mostly just rode around the waterfront. there is a long wide boulevard along the water with a mix of tourist activities and port buildings. I rode up this boulevard checking out things as they interested me.  The crowds got pretty large as I approached Fisherman’s Wharf where I spent about 5 minutes before I decided it was too tourist trappy and too crowded for a guy with a bicycle.

Telegraph Hill

Telegraph Hill

I continued up the way until I reached a pier I could ride out to. There I was able to take the above picture, as well as the initial picture of Alcatraz. There was also a beautiful schooner berthed just across the way. From here I rode up a steep hill into the SF Maritime National Historic Park. Down the hill from there was Fort Mason where I’d spend several hours.  There was a place that sold discards from the SF Library system, galleries of local artists, the Long Now Foundation who had an interesting museum and Greens Restaurant. I really wanted to go to Greens (I have their cookbook and love their recipes) but they didn’t start serving dinner until 5:30 and assuming it’d take an hour or so I felt I’d be at risk of missing the last ferry. So I walked around the fort checking out all of the ways they put the old buildings to use as well as walked out to the end of the piers there, fighting a stiff wind the whole way.  Eventually I decided I’d head back to my hotel and get my bags then have dinner at some place by the ferry building. I ended up doing a cross city ride to the hotel, navigating with my iPhone. This was pretty fun, I got to see bits of North Beach, Chinatown and Russian Hill as I cut back to my hotel. Of course I did end up hitting a few of those hills SF is so known for.

Atlantis and Cable Car - can you be more SF?

Atlantis and Cable Car - can you be more SF?

I returned to the waterfront the same way I’d done earlier in the day and cruised around the vicinity of the ferry dock for a restaurant where I could watch my bicycle which I locked up on the boulevard. I had a nice leisurely dinner at the Market Bar, whose outdoor seating allowed me to be only 20 feet or so away from my locked up Atlantis. I had a caesar salad, grilled Mahi-Mahi and of course a couple more Anchor Steams.  I’m going to miss the fresh Anchor Steam readily on draft. Every day I was in San Francisco it was the same story- it’d be sunny and clear all day getting fairly warm (say mid 70s) by the afternoon. Then right around 5-6pm fog would roll in and it’d cool right down. This began while I was at the restaurant and I was glad that I was able to zip on the legs to my pants and put on my light flannel shirt that I had in my day bag.  It was getting close to the time the ferry departed so I paid my bill and walked the short distance to the terminal. I had cut it just right and the ferry arrived within 5-10 minutes and I boarded and was zooming across the bay to Oakland. The ferry took about a half an hour with a quick stop at Almeda before Oakland.  There was nice sights of the sun setting behind the city and industrial shipping and its services on the edges. I was able to enjoy another beer on the ferry but soon enough we were arriving at the Oakland terminal. I unlocked my bicycle,  zipped off my pant legs, donned my day bag and set off across Oakland.

The ferry terminal in Oakland

The ferry terminal in Oakland

I’d setup this route using Google Maps Pedestrian routes (my guidebook had a BART based route which seemed way more of a PITA then using the ferry) and it turned out to be pretty great, winding through the back streets of Oakland.  There were bicycle lanes on most of the bigger streets, but I only hit those at the end. Away from the city the fog was gone and it was nice riding through the late evening. People were out and about in the sun at least until I went under a freeway and was in Emeryville. Now everything looked a bit less used and lived in like Oakland had, but it was devoid of human life. It was mostly warehouses and light industry admittedly, but the contrast was interesting. Around 7:30 pm after a mere 15 miles of riding, I arrived at the Emeryville Amtrack.  I picked up my ticket, got a bicycle box (a free one that had been left there) and spent the next half hour or so boxing my bicycle and checking my bags.  I was all done by about 8pm and thus had two hours to kill before the train left.  Well as I said there was nothing around the Amtrack station but I walked around a little bit trying to find a place to buy some snacks for the train ride. I found a gas station and loaded up on various bits of junkfood.  Then I returned to the station and read until the train arrived. Finally it pulled in and I queued up outside to get checked in.

Emeryville Station

Emeryville Station

They lined us up based on destination and how many people we were traveling with.  Most people were heading to Portland or Seattle though there were a few people getting off a various stations all along the way. I got my seat assigned and headed into the train. This was my first train ride and I really didn’t know any of the tricks. I’d assumed that it’d be like flying – you could get pillows and blankets and there’d be some sort of steward like person. Well they handed out pillows right off but they had no blankets. Wish I’d know that, I did of course have a sleeping bag in my checked luggage.  I settled in my seat (I was solo in the seats at this point), but on my iPod and read for the next few hours.  Behind me was a college aged kid and an older man who drank beers and whooped it up until the older guy got off a couple of hours later.  After that I was able to relax and try to sleep. I have a hard time sleeping in general and have never been able to sleep in cars or trains.  I put on a book on tape (William Gibson’s Count Zero) and gave it a try.

Miles ridden today: 15.1
Miles ridden to date:  1165.77

All pictures from this day can be seen here.

day 25
I did managed to catch a few fitful hours of sleep on the train ride, but also made it a good ways into Count Zero. I awoke before dawn as the train sat at some station in bumfuck northern California. It turned out that a freight train had broken down and we had to wait for over an hour before it was on its way.  I hadn’t really explored the train much so at this point I was low on batteries on my iPhone so I set out looking for a place to plug in. I found one in the forward lounge car and I saw there reading as it got some juice. It turned out that about 45 minutes after I was sitting there they opened the dinning car for breakfast. Well that sounded good so I got in on the first wave of breakfasters and was sat at a table with three other solo guys. Most of us had slept poorly and we kept the (bad and weak) coffee flowing. I had french toast and most of the others had omelets.  We talked a bit, several of the guys had done the train trip several times and filled me in on some of the tricks. We passed Mount Shasta during this time and the views from the windows were pretty stunning. We talked Tour de France a bit which of course led to me mentioning that my bicycle trip had coincided with Le Tour. This interested them quite a bit so I talked a bit about the trip and camping along the coast.  Eventually I headed back to my seat and spent the morning reading and looking out the window.

For the last week in the Pacific Northwest there had apparently been a heatwave.  The railroad that owned the rails that we were on as we tracked through Oregon decreed that when the temps are above 90 degrees (F) trains can’t exceed 55 miles per hour. So we really crawled through Oregon, it was disheartening when at times we’d parallel the highway and cars would just blow by. The train trip was mostly just sitting around and reading. I of course looked out the window a lot, but at times there wouldn’t be too much to see as the train would go through cuts in hills or dense trees. I got lunch from the snack bar instead of the expensive dinning car and discovered that they had Sierra Nevada Pale Ales (the menu only showed bad domestic beers) and I had a couple of those throughout the day. I spent some time in the lounge car to charge the phone back up and also to enjoy its large windows with seats that faced outward.  Just past Portland I had dinner in the dining car, this time by myself at a table. However across the way was this total nutjob who went on and on about completely sketchy eschatology to his mostly silent companion. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.  I was really burnt out from lack of sleep and I spent probably the last six hours of the trip just looking out the window and listening to my William Gibson books.

Mad wrote curtains of poetry on fire -Jack Kerouac

After Olympia the train wound along the coast on a bit of Washington I’d never seen before (though I’d often wondered about it as I drove up the I-5).  The sun set at as we approached Tacoma, which was the only picture I took from the train windows. I generally dislike pictures taken from windows, but this one came out pretty decent I thought. Tacoma was the last stop until Seattle and after 23 hours on the train I was finally on the last stretch.  We pulled into Seattle at 9:30pm almost 24 hours total on the train. I waited for my bags to arrived and the box with my bicycle but only one front pannier turned up. The bicycles were out back and I got that (they chewed me out a bit about the weight – I’d stuck my rear bag and contents in the box with the bicycle) and asked about my other bag. Well they couldn’t find it so I had to file for a lost bag. I put together my bicycle, which wasn’t too bad as I had to just put on the pedals, straighten my handlebars and hand my bags. There was another guy there putting a Long Haul Trucker together which looked like way more of a hassle – he had one of their Nice Racks which wouldn’t fit in the box so he’d had to remove that. Score one for narrow racks.  I went and filled out the form and they told me they’d send my bag to me by Cab if they found it. And if you don’t I asked? well then you have to fill out another form I was told. Great.

Leaving the office I found the bicycle a bit unbalanced with only on front pannier so I ziptied my day bag to the front to balance it out and then headed out.  I’d been sweating as I did all of this and I thought it was just the labor and stress. But no it was still 80-90 degrees as there was this ongoing heatwave. As I got outside the station was thronged with people – a Mariners game had just gotten out and I was right by the stadium and the nearest freeway entrance. So I walked the bicycle past this entrance and set off. Only to find none of my lights working. If you recall I’d setup the Ride & Charge to charge up my batteries as I rode. Well it was supposed to run my normal lights when unplugged but this never worked. It also was supposed to let you use its Ixon light from the generator but this didn’t work either. I tried running this light on batteries but all mine were dead. So I ended up ripping the wires out of the Ride & Charge and twisting them together. This worked and now well lit I set off.  I’ve done this ride a bunch of times so there isn’t much to say. Uphill to the I-90 tunnel and then on the I-90 trail across the bridge, Mercer Island, the second part of the bridge and then onto the Lake Washington Loop. It was pleasant riding for near 11pm with it being so warm and I was filled with energy from all that sitting around the past 24 hours. About an hour and a half later at 12:10am, I pulled into my house and my tour was over.

Miles ridden today: 16
Total miles for the tour: 1181.76