Part one of a multi edition travel series.
We like to travel, we like to travel together. Conversation never lulls and we tend to have similar likes. Bonus: our birthdays are a little over a week apart so we try to plan our travel around that time of year. A gift to each other.
A bucket list item has been an extended trip via railroad. Prior to COVID19 restrictions in larger cities, we loved to take the Amtrak Hiawatha from Milwaukee to Chicago for entertainment and dining. One year between Christmas and New Years we took Amtrak from Milwaukee to Omaha to see R Dubs parents. But never on a long train ride of multiple days…until this year.
There was one concern. Amtrak’s notoriety of always running late. We like to plan out our adventures well in advance. Some of these plans require booking and paying weeks or months before arriving. Much energy and thought went into when and how to travel to our destination.
What was our destination? Great question. The Pacific North West. Specifically Seattle’s Puget Sound area. The initial plan was to spend two days in Seattle and two days in the mountains around Seattle and visit some people while there.
So, as is typical for us. Area attractions, sites, activities, and food were researched and written on individual PostIt notes. Physical locations and hours of operation were added and sorted on a calendar to maximize as much activity into the time allotted. Agreement was met upon what we wanted to do, see and eat. The winning PostIt notes stayed and reservations were made.
Second concern. Parking at our hotel was $50/day. The cost of the rental plus parking hassles in Seattle was more than we wanted to endure. The rental was scrapped for days 1, 2 and 3 for walking and Lyft. Due to a lack of an auto and less time than we thought we needed to ‘see it all’ meant forgoing visits with two couples. (Sorry to Dan & Alice – Jeff & Kelli).
What did we do?
In Seattle: Underground Tour, Lock & Dam Tour, Pike Place Market (of course), Space Needle (of course), Chihuly Garden & Glass, Starbuck’s Roastery, the REI mother-ship location and several food stops. The food in Seattle is good. There will be a Seattle segment in the series.
Outside of Seattle: The Olympic National Park. The park is separated into 4 main areas: the Pacific coastline, the alpine region in the center of the peninsula, the temperate rainforest, and the mountains on the east side of the park. There will be an Olympic National Park segment too.
Ironically, the reason for this trip to Seattle was…well to quote Ralph Waldo Emerson “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.” Our bucket list item was the train. We’d not seen the Pacific Northwest, the Cascade Mountain range or the upper Rocky Mountains. Amtrak’s Empire Builder covers this area, and the decision was made.
However…cold feet were developed worrying that the reservations made for day one in Seattle would be wasted if the train was too late arriving. So, the decision was made to fly out and rail back. Hence the title: Planes (Plains), Trains & Automobiles!
Why Plains? The train spent most of the last day in the high plains of Montana and North Dakota. Amtrak will be one segment too!
Here is a brief montage of the journey in pictures!