Saturday was my first full train day. I was on board for just about 24 hours. Having snoozed for a couple of hours at a time and checked in on Foursquare when I could I got up just north of Redding and had a look around. Went up to the observation car and sat and watched forests and rivers and lakes roll by. We were still low down and out of the snow so the contrast of the red earth and evergreen trees was startling. In my geographical ignorance, I'd never noticed how much of California there still is, north of San Francisco – and certainly had no idea how beautiful it was. As we started to climb we started to see snow until everything was covered.
I began shooting video more seriously now that I had my tripod attachment and could keep the camera more still. Lots of cool, calm almost motionless landscapes, but also, I'm guessing, capturing some of the sounds of the train – I haven't listened back yet to see what I've got, probably won't till I get back. We had to wait for a freight train at Lake Odell which was frozen over.
We ran about 2 hours late for most of the journey. Every now and then we'd make up a little time and then we'd hit a spot where we had to wait for another train or repairs to tracks. So the forests of southern Oregon were lovely but the train was tense with everyone getting off from Eugene onwards knowing that they were going to be late and those of us heading as far as Seattle facing up to the possibility of getting in after midnight. Soon after Eugene there was another bit of slow track and then it started to get dark.
I was tired and together with worrying about what was going to happen I started to get irritated with the conversation around me. The young guy sitting next to me, it turns out was going to Portland to start a cross-country cycle ride. The older guy in front knew all about why he was doing it all wrong and was telling him, over and over – he was taking the wrong route, it was the wrong time of year, he hadn't done enough preparation – the poor kid was OK, but he was clearly starting to waver and not trust the research he'd already done. Of course, I don't know, he might not have done any research at all and this guy might have just saved his life, but I read it much more as tired old big mouth wanting to put the young upstart in his place.
They both got out in Portland, lots of people did. Portland certainly looked beautiful in the dark, lights shining from downtown as we crossed the water. I gave up and went to sleep after we left – there was no point in me worrying. I sent an e-mail to Ann and Kevin to let them know my ETA. They came back and said they'd expected that and it would be fine. We finally rolled in at midnight. As it turned out, my friends had underestimated the Friday middle of the night Seattle traffic and so I got to spend ten minutes or so fending off the eager attentions of taxi drivers, before Ann appeared in the big yellow coat she'd promised and we got in the car.
Now I had to be sociable again. I was ready…