Home > life in pictures, visiting > coast starlight thanksgiving (part 1)

coast starlight thanksgiving (part 1)

November 24, 2001 Leave a comment Go to comments

Last Thanksgiving, Tom and Chan (and their friend Mary from Seattle) drove down to stay with Nancy and me. This year, Tom and Chan invited us to come up and spend Thanksgiving with them in eastern Washington. Nancy and I have always wanted to take a trip on a train, and AmTrak’s west coast LA-to-Seattle train, called the Coast Starlight, has a great reputation for being very comfortable, scenic, and having really great food. So we decided to take the train up to Washington rather than flying. Interestingly, we were actually interviewed for a local TV station for a story about people taking trains instead of flying after 9/11, though we said we were taking the train just because we wanted to and we had bought our tickets back in July. (Nancy heard later that we actually appeared in the broadcast!)

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The scenery was beautiful, but the coach seats (comfortable as they were) weren’t all that great for a good night’s sleep. We got on the train too late in the evening for dinner in the dining car, but we did get a really good breakfast. Then the bad news: by mid-morning, the train was running so late that everyone making the connection to the eastbound train in Portland would miss it. So those of us making a connection (a dozen or two) were taken off the train in southeast Oregon and put on a bus to Portland. This was quite a bummer because 1) we missed the most scenic part of the trip, and 2) we missed lunch in the dining car, instead getting Subway sandwiches on the bus, and 3) even a nice bus isn’t as comfortable as the train, and this wasn’t all that nice a bus :-(

In any case, we did make our connection in Portland and we arrived on time in the Tri-Cities area of eastern Washington, where Tom and Chan met us at the station. We decided to upgrade from coach to first class for the return trip, to see if the sleeper car beds were more comfortable than coach seats.

The next day was Thanksgiving — here you can see Tom pouring out a jar of his famous Thanksgiving Dinner :-)

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Seriously though, Tom and Chan’s dinner was terrific! Below you can see everyone digging in to the ham, potatoes, casserole, rolls, and other yummy stuff. Mary came down from Seattle, and brought some tasty fruit punch. We ate and ate until we simply couldn’t eat any more :-)

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Friday Tom and Chan gave us a walking tour down by the Columbia River. Here is a statue that is supposed to represent the hole in the ozone layer :-)

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Saturday Mary headed back to Seattle, and Tom and Chan took us to the local history museum. Here you can see Nancy playing with a remote manipulator arm, of the type originally used to move radioactive materials.

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Monty Haul wants to know if we’d like to trade up for the nuclear reactor prize package that Nancy and Chan are showing :-)

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A lady from the museum staff shows us the seismometer and tells us about the recent unusual set of small earthquakes.

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That evening, we drove an hour or so into the country to the small town of Dayton for their Christmas season kickoff fireworks. Dayton has a cute little shopping district, with antiques and art stores. Unfortunately we were too busy window shopping to take any pictures, and the fireworks pictures we took didn’t really turn out (no surprise with our current camera!)

Interestingly, the hills of eastern Washington are the same kind of glacial “loess” hills as the ones in western Iowa, and they even look very similar. The main difference is that since Tom and Chan’s area gets so little rain erosion isn’t as much of a problem – so there aren’t any terraces and the fields just go right up the sides of all but the steepest hills! Also because of the lack of rain irrigation is used a lot, with some of the same kinds of big irrigation rigs you might see in western Nebraska. But the small towns seem very similar to those in the midwest, and in the dark it was easy to imagine I was back in Iowa.

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