Amtrak to SF Bay Area

Frozen Fountain at Port Angeles Fine Art Center

This is how it was when we left for the Amtrak Station.  Snow and the possibility of black ice turned a two hour car trip into three and a half.  But no worry — we left plenty early. Right?

We arrived at the train station with 14 minutes to spare.  Then waited for the train for another hour.  Warm, clean and cozy inside the station, but the weather was not auspicious.  Slow progress due to snow, mud slides, flash flood warnings, heavy rain, waiting for freight trains, and

Floods in Northern California

It’s the end of a long drought.  But not without its problems.  Least of which being that we arrived 8.5 hours late.  From which other problems ensued, which I will not go into here — other than to mention being stranded with night coming on with no rental car and having to be rescued by my calm and generous sister and her sidekick who had never driven through the ‘hood!

Art took a low priority on this trip.  But I did get some sketches on real paper with a real pencil.  You can click on any image to enlarge it.

We got back ok.  Only two hours late on the return trip.  Oola sends wonderment and love.

Heading South on Amtrak


You are looking at some lovingly restored, turn of the (19th) century corbels spaced on the corners of the Olympia-Lacey Amtrak station. How do I know they are “corbels”? Because the sign says they are “corbels”. Actually the word jangled a hardly-ever-used synapse formed in my art history days. So dusty was the memory that I had to look it up. According to the Apple dictionary a corbel is a projection jutting out from a wall to support a structure above it. — Makes sense. Another useless bit of information revitalized.

Two things about this little gem of a railroad station: It is run by volunteers, people who really love trains. They seem to love helping clueless travelers like me. And they seem to love things like cheering, describing to each other, and counting aloud how many cars on a freight train from Canada.

Two things I have noticed in my short stay in Washington: Maybe it is the influence of the neighboring Canadians, but the people we have met have been kind and generous.

For example, the Mysterious One – who is a little short of his sell-by date — and a friend of similar vintage were unloading some heavy particle board sheets in the alley by our back door and causing a blockage in the thoroughfare. A “youngster” drove up in a pickup truck. Now, where we come from there would have been some honking, maybe a rude finger or two, and scornful disapproval. But this young man got out of his truck and asked to help load the wood. He made himself useful, then he drove on.

I had similar experiences. And while shopping for our supplies, we received info and assistance from all ages and colors of knowledgeable sales clerks. Nary a surly one among them. We were amazed!

We have heard funny turns of phrases. One that stuck was by a man who disapproved of the design of a car. “It looks like an upside-down up”, he said.

So, the people, while generally conservative in this area, seem to be people we will like and want to work with. But all is not choruses of angels, even in Port Angeles. There is homelessness and heroin addiction in my new neighborhood. And the seagulls aim with devastating accuracy.

pigeons on a roof
pigeons on a roof

I climb aboard and begin the trek home, with plenty of time to ponder the imponderables, like why do all the pigeons sit atop one house and avoid all other roofs in the neighborhood on this rainy day?

PS  At the moment of this posting the train is stopped. I hear the conductor announcing “we have the situation under control”. That is comforting, I guess. There are people with walkie-talkies. HMMMMM.

Amtrak to Olympia

Amtrak station, Emeryville
Amtrak station, Emeryville

We are traveling on the Coast Starlight, but won’t see much of the coast since we are getting aboard in the Bay Area instead of LA.  This is not a good way to travel if time is your major consideration.  But if you want to experience the old days, with sleeper cars and full service, this is one of the last.

Our trip would take 20 hours and there was much to see.

Bridge and Reflections
Bridge and Reflections

So much that at first I didn’t notice that Oola was missing.

Getting into the upper bunk requires the skills of a contortionist but we finally fell asleep to alpha waves produced by the rhythm of the train climbing into Mt Shasta territory.  The shadows of trees pointing to a misty moon were mesmerizing.

I awoke to a stunning sunrise.

sunrise and irrigation canals somewhere in Oregon

And when I could finally start putting one thought after another, I realized that we had forgotten to bring Oola.  I think she overheard the Mysterious One’s comments concerning the pillow, crawled into one of the packed boxes of art supplies in the Oakland studio, and will not be found again until we are all safely in Port Angeles — permanently.

Snow in the Cascades
Snow in the Cascades

The scenery was stunning.  Too bad on her for missing it.

Mount Hood
Mount Hood

The other passengers pleasant to talk with.  But Oola didn’t think the joke was funny.

Tomorrow we will rent a car and drive the rest of the way to Port Angeles.  Meanwhile, I have to think of a way to make it up to Oola.

The Mysterious One says he will get her a corn dog.




Coast Starlight to Washington

Oola, the Mysterious One and I are about to embark on a trip to the northern Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.  Oola still thinks we are going in Mom’s Memorial Prius.

Oola, unPhotoshopped
Oola, unPhotoshopped

But really we are going on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight.  We have reserved a roomette.  I’m wondering how all three of us will fit in there. The Mysterious One says “We will put her under the pillow.  Nobody will hear her screams.”

Have to call the taxi soon.  I’ll keep you posted.