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Coast Starlight - Return Home - First Day

Coast Starlight from Los Angeles to Seattle, WA and back.

A long distance overnight train trip staying several nights in a nice hotel in a leading city's downtown.

Starting trip home, leaving Seattle


Robin Bowers


  November 18, 2019

Text and Photos by Author

The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent

Comments are appreciated


    Last evening Russell, returning from his fresh air break, stopped at the front desk to chat and finding more information about checking out and transportation to the train station in the morning. Returning he said the plan was to call the desk when our bags were packed and ready, they would send a trolley for the bags. Then when we are checking out, the taxi will be summoned and waiting to take us on a ten to fifteen minutes ride to the train station. And we followed it to the letter and arrived at King Street Station with spare time to explore.

    Russell took his break first while I stayed inside watching the luggage and taking pictures. What a great old lady and loving restored for many more decades of service and duty.





Russell returned from outside so we traded watchdog duty for the luggage, and I went outside. Hard to imagine that we were here about same time on last Friday three days ago.


Home of the Seattle Seahawks. Tours are giving daily.


Clock tower at King Street Station, a replica of the San Marcos Tower in Venice Italy.




      Returning to the waiting room, Russell and I chatted as we still had some time before being called to the gate. We both would like stay a few more days in Seattle although we had a good taste of the city during our short stay. I told him that I thought our trip to the Northwest was similar to or mimicked a pilgrimage to the grotto at Lourdes in France where pilgrims could drink or bathe in water flowing from a spring. When leaving, many left behind their canes and walkers or wheelchairs. So I reasoned we made a pilgrimage to the Emerald City and we drank and bathe in the heavenly water and leaving in much better condition in mind and body. I noted that when I met Russell in Santa Ana his gait was shallow and he was using a cane. And now returning from our pilgrimage to the Emerald City, the cane had been disassembled and stowed away in the luggage and a sure and faster gait was in your step. A miracle for sure, albeit a small one. He said trying to walk on the moving train was also a big help and a learning experience."

    Then it was announced the train was boarding and proceeded to the the gate. We were met by the gate by the pert and cheerful conductor. She welcomed us to her train and pointed out the direction of the sleepers. Our car was #1130 and room C and we were greeted by our attendant who help stow the bags then we went up stairs to the our room C.


The southbound Coast Starlight at the ready in the Seattle station.

    This part of the track from Seattle to Portland will be new to both of us. Track mileage for Seattle and Santa Ana is 1413 miles and 1226 between Portland and Santa Ana for a total of 2639 rail miles all on the west coast. On my last trip here I left Seattle on Empire Builder #8 to Essex, MT for several days at the Izaak Walton Inn which is a great place to visit. Leaving there I took the Empire Builder # 27 to Portland thereby bypassing this leg. So we were seeing new scenery and landmarks. If we came up on the northbound this would all be in night and dark.


Adjacent the football stadium is the home of Seattle Mariners baseball team.






Tacoma, WA

The 90-foot-high cone sheathed in diamond-shaped stainless steel tiles is the exhaust for the Museum of Glass Jane Russell Hot Shop, where visitors can watch glassblowers create beautiful works of art from molten glass. Some of which take over a month to cool down.


An inlet of Puget Sound.






  The first capital city stop on our trip south to home.


The train had to make two stops here. Long train, short platform.


Olympia is the farthest point west on the famous Oregon Trail. Located on the southernmost point of Puget Sound, the peninsula know as Olympia was "Cheetwoot" (the black bear place) to the Coastal Salish Native Americans, who lived on the peninsula for many generations before the establishment of an American settlement.



Crossing the Columbia River at Vancouver WA on the swing bridge.


Refueling at the Portland station.


Lead engine on train # 11.


Coach section for train # 28 of Empire Builder.



Known as the beautiful "City of Roses," Portland is Oregon's largest metropolitan area, known for its parks, fountains, gardens, breweries, jazz festivals and the famous Portland Rose festival dating to 1907. It is one of only two cities in the U.S. with an extinct volcano within its borders.


Street side of station.




View toward trains and tracks.



Ticket counter.


Willamette River Falls at Oregon City.


Oregon City was the first city in the U.S. to be incorporated west of the Rockies. Founded in 1842, it was the original capital of the Oregon Territory and the end of the of the famous Oregon Trail. Huge paper mills are evidence of the state's lumber industry.


Our second capital city stop on this trip. Here we stop at the state capital and the third largest city in Oregon. Winding through Salem is the Willamette River, one of the few to flow from south to north.


    This is my stop when attending Winterail in Corvallis, OR held in mid March each year. Winterail is where you can enjoy high-quality, multi-visual slide presentations, photo contest competition and Collectables Sale.

    Shortly after leaving Albany, darkness began to slowly envelop our train as we sped south towards home. The rest of the day was spent as we had done so since leaving the Emerald City, relaxing and watching the passing countryside while we moved about between our room, the dining car and the lounge-cafe car.

    We had Room C in car 1131 and were positioned between the dorm car in front and sleeper 1130 behind. We had to walk through 1130 to get to the dining car and to the rest of the consist. This was my first time traveling in a large bedroom with an upper bed, a wider lower bed (which becomes a sofa during the day), a wash basin, an enclosed toilet and shower, as well as a chair bolted down across from the sofa which reminded me of a boat captain's chair or the chair on the back of a fishing boat where you fight your catch. The chair faced the front of the train and the sofa looked to the rear of the train. Russell liked sitting in the chair and I was happy with the sofa. Room B next door is the mirror image of ours so that room's sofa faces forward. Going north we were on the engineer's side and now going back, we are again on the engineer's side so we will be on the ocean view side returning. This is one rule never set in stone as the sleepers behind us are turned just the opposite orientation so their Room C does not face the ocean. A couple from Finland whom we had lunch with were traveling around visiting the national parks and treasures and booked this train with the assurance that they would be in a room with the ocean view. However, their room was not on the water side. This late in the year, part of the coastline will be in creeping darkness when we past through, I said to them to help them feel better.

    After dinner we took a stroll through the Southbound Coast Starlight, stopping in cafe/lounge car at the stairs, while we were trying to decide if to go down to check out cafe and what was for sale at the snack bar. For sure, let's go explore, as it is part of the train. The snack bar looked older than the ones on the Surfliners in southern California but just as functional. We were greeted by Sergio, the cafe attendant on this southbound Train 11 as I scanned the cocktail in a can selection. I inquired if he carried Screwdrivers. "Not in a can," he replied, "but I can make you one from scratch as I have all the ingredients."  Two! both Russell and I shouted. We could have been watching a bartender in a fancy downtown at his craft as Sergio assembled our libations. Good golly, Miss Molly. Was that an excellent drink or what?  It hit the spot and help bookend our drinks yesterday watching the bay, today watching the Northwest whiz by. We stayed downstairs at a table with our drinks for a while then moved upstairs to sit in front of the panoramic windows for an expansive view of the passing scenery. Then it was time to head back to our room and get ready to retire for the night.

    Celebrating his birthday today is my long time friend. Our mothers were classmates in nurse's training school and after graduation they went their separate ways. After a couple of years, they both became pregnant and wanting to keep it a secret from each other they didn't tell the other of their expecting baby. Well, their birth announcements crossed in the mail and both were surprised and happy. A tale retold on many birthdays by both Mom's. Happy Birthday Bill W. and wishing you many more.

Thanks for reading.
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Text and Photos by Author, Robin Bowers

The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent

Comments are appreciated