I bet you’ve never read a science fiction novel about time travel on a train. Unless it’s one where time stops.
LoML and I recently celebrated our anniversary with a train trip from Denver to California and then up to Vancouver. We love a bit of misadventure on our trips because they always lead to something unexpected. We had it in Russia and we had it in Wyoming.
This trip allowed us to add California and Washington to the list.
Getting off our train in Sacramento, I learned from another passenger that our train to Seattle had been cancelled. The Redding Fire had engulfed the train tracks and Amtrak felt it prudent not to attempt to race their passenger train through the flames.
Our train from Sacramento to Seattle had been scheduled to leave at 11 p.m. When LoML planned our trip, he was aware that trains often travel to their own drumbeat and that “on time” was a rarity. So we had a few hours in Sacramento. That stretched to several hours when we learned that buses, driving a detoured route to Klamath Falls, would leave at 1 a.m.
After exploring Old Sacramento we went to a movie (Crazy, Rich Asians is very cute), then checked into a Holiday Inn for a normal shower (we had one in our sleeper… sorta) and a nap. I set the alarm for 11:45 so we could be back to the nearby train station shortly after midnight.
When we got to the station three buses were filled and there was no room at the inn for LoML and me. (Some of these travelers had been bused from Dallas!)
There were two women on one of the buses who had oversized luggage (the kind you check) and had placed them on seats. When asked by Amtrak officials to allow the driver to put their luggage with the other suitcases they refused, even after admonishment that they had not paid for those seats. I wonder, were those cases filled with drugs? Or cash? Or body parts?
Later, LoML and thanked those women (in our hearts) because we got to ride in the comparative luxury of a van with the two of us and young medical student and her two well-behaved kids rather than a sardine-packed bus.
Dawn brought a visual to the smell of wildfire we’d had all night. I wish I’d gotten a photo of the fire-fighter camp we passed, but I was sluggish and barely got a glimpse of it as we drove by.
Finally, we were in Klamath Falls and, after waiting an extended period of time for a crew to arrive, we were on our way to Seattle.
Our train was stopped in Everett (I think). The conductor told us we’d be there for an indeterminate amount of time because of police activity at King Street Station in Seattle.
Naturally, I wanted to know more. I googled. Got nothing.
Our train finally moved, but then stopped again in this rather eerie part of Seattle, waiting for the all clear. I was hoping we were in a secret and safe location. We had no idea what was happening.
The only point of this photo is to show you it was dark. We were tired. And then there was that strange blue light that almost acted like a black light in our sleeper. What was that all about?
We learned later the cause for the delay was someone shooting at incoming trains. I’m told by Barbara Nickless, who knows these things via her books beginning with the award-winning Blood on The Tracks, that more than likely both Amtrak and Seattle PDs were involved. (Read her books. You won’t be disappointed.)
Finally, we arrive in Seattle. Check into a beautiful suite at the Fairmont Olympic (Yes! Go there!) and had a wonderful day at the Pike Place Market where we picked up victuals to take back to the hotel and watch the Bronco/Seahawk game while we gnawed on smoked salmon and crab legs.
An alarm. Followed by, “There has been a declared emergency. Make your way calmly and quickly to the fire exits.” Then something about physically disabled guests.
We find our shoes, walk down nine flights. At the final exit, I push on the door as I was the leader of our little band calmly and quickly leaving the hotel. The door wouldn’t budge. LoML was my hero. He kicked the damn thing wide open!
We’re finally outside. While others milled around near the hotel (are you kidding me?), LoML and I went across the street behind some construction barriers. Sirens. Two firetrucks. Pretty lights.
Walking down nine flights you think that everything is probably okay, but then you wonder if some of those people walking down the fire exits on 9/11 were thinking the same thing.
Turns out a smoke alarm had gone off on the 10th floor. My guess is some jerk lit a cigarette. Still… it was exciting.
The rest of our trip went pretty much as planned (except for a train delay between Seattle and Vancouver… a silly Union Pacific freight train (who owns the tracks, btw) had stopped for some reason. The length of the train was blocking a bridge we needed to use.
I’m sort of thinking if you’re looking for material, you should take a train ride.
It’s all better with friends.