Getting to Emeryville Amtrak station from downtown San Francisco was not straightforward.
We somewhat reluctantly signed up for Uber and sure enough our taxi drew up exactly one minute after we placed the order. The driver, however, advised us that the Bay Bridge would be gridlocked at that time and we’d be better off if he took us to an underground station and we used the Bart from there.
So that’s what we did, but the ticket machine proved to be way beyond complex and, after it had rejected my card and a ten dollar bill, a nicely-tattooed young lady took over and made it work for us.
There was a long leg under the Bay, then off at the second stop, and then we had to find a taxi to Emeryville. And that wasn’t easy either. When we did find the rank, again with the help of a friendly local, he took us snaking through a dystopia of concrete highways – Emeryville only appearing on the roadsigns at the very end – until we arrived at the Amtrak station.
And, thanks to having left in very good time and the train being an hour and a half behind schedule (notified by text throughout the day), we had no less than three and a half hours to kill in the spartan waiting area.
Nothing there but a friendly, rueful clerk and a cold drink vending machine that took my money and then said every selection except grape soda was unavailable. Specifically, there was no coffee.
It was 11.30 when are last we heard the train horn and saw its lights approaching slowly round the corner. and after that everything was great and it was a brilliant trip…
The great bonus of travelling this way was the company. Placed on tables of four we had our breakfast with a couple who invited us to join them in their grace and gave us a little Bible; lunch with two Bob’s, apparently a generation apart; dinner with a couple heading for their third Alaskan cruise who were almost too overweight to get in – we couldn’t imagine how they had managed the bunks for the night.
Then there was the less structured environment of the parlour car. Everyone friendly and interested in our trip and the whole experience was quite delightful.
The morning started with snow…
…then a great many trees (when we could see them for the trees) and none of them dead like so many in California.
Another big reservoir lake, pretty low for the time of year, even up here.
One big train
We approached Seattle, still more than an hour behind schedule, in spite of earlier assurances from the driver that, “We’ve got a bunch of padding at the end of the trip”.
Civilisation became progressively more apparent with green, tidy fields and smart houses.
The train went right under the Tacoma Narrows Bridges – which replaced the famous ‘Galloping Gertie’ which developed dramatic oscillations in a high wind in 1940 and collapsed (the only death being a cocker spaniel left in an abandoned car by its owner)
Quite a few of our fellow travellers had got off before the end
And the sun was setting…
…as we passed the Boeing and Starbucks headquarters and pulled into Seattle station.
The station was a cool, well organised and beautiful building and we felt we liked Seattle already.