all aboard for seattle

I’d love to ride the trains across Europe or Asia someday but I’ve never understood the appeal of trains in the United States. The difference in the US is that less people ride the trains, so the schedules are terrible and the trains are always late. And on top of that, trains in the US are abysmally slow. I tried for a long time to figure out a way to get my bicycle up to Seattle without taking the train, but in the end it became my only option.

Originally I had planned to road trip up to Seattle with Gid, since he’s off work for the summer. It ended up not happening because his parents were concerned about him driving back from Seattle alone. That’s totally understandable. I was actually debating whether to tell my parents that I was going to bike from Portland to Davis alone but I ended up telling them before I left. I didn’t think they would be too concerned. I was right. My dad’s response was, “Hey aren’t you ever going to get married?” Which he said in Korean. I replied, “Don’t worry, this is my last crazy adventure.” That was probably a lie.

Anyways, the train ended up being a not bad option. Jiro was planning on riding the Seattle to Portland Classic as well, and his parents were going to pick him up at the train station in Seattle. They offered to let me stay at their place, so it worked out really well in the end.

But it started out kind of rough. When I arrived at the station, I found that the train was going to be delayed almost three hours. I had actually arrived at the station early, because I had to box my bicycle up. I had never done anything like that before, so I budgeted a lot of time for it, but it actually ended up being pretty easy. The main challenge was getting the handlebars and pedals off. After that the bicycle basically slides into the box. Jiro arrived about when I finished boxing up my bike. After we both finished boxing our bikes and checking my bags, we decided to roam around downtown for a bit.

Of course in Davis, there’s not much open late night in the middle of the week. Even the bars seems like they all closed at midnight. Interestingly I found that Thai places seem to be open latest in Davis. We ended up eating some porridge at Red 88 then grabbing a couple of beers at Sofia’s. But even Sofia’s closed at 1am. The train was originally scheduled for about 11:30pm, but with almost a 3 hour delay, it wouldn’t be arriving until after 2am. So I ended up taking a short nap at the station.

The train ride itself wasn’t too bad. The main thing that sucks is that the ride is sooooooo long. Once we hit the Oregon border the train car we were in mostly emptied out, so I grabbed my own pair of seats and sprawled out and slept for most of the 20+ hour ride.

I didn’t really see much of the scenery since I was sleeping most of the way, but what I saw was pretty nice. There’s a panoramic car up that is mostly glass where you can sit and enjoy the scenery. There were lots of river crossings and beautiful mountains. We passed a lot of the major mountains on the west coast, including Mt Shasta, Mt Hood, Mt St Helens, and Mt Rainier.

Luckily I was awake for the last few hours of the train ride. I caught a glimpse of the sunset breaking out over the Puget Sound. It was pretty amazing and of course the crappy cellphone shot doesn’t do it justice. I’ll definitely need to come back up here someday (hopefully by car or plane…)

On Friday Jiro and I picked up our packets for the STP ride and then made a quick tour around Pike Place market.

The seafood was awesome. If I weren’t biking back to Davis, I’d probably have bought an entire smoked salmon. We ended up eating crab and shrimp cocktails instead. They were pretty awesome.

I got to check out the original Starbucks store too. I’m not that much of a coffee drinker, but it was still cool to check it out. I guess it’s cool to be able to say that I drank coffee from the original Starbucks.

Things I am thankful for:

  • Modes of transportation: cars, planes, bicycles, (I guess even trains too…)
  • Concerned parents
  • Jiro’s family’s hospitality

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