I traveled from Olympia to Salem by train yesterday and was excited to see parts of the Pacific Northwest with a new perspective. I arrived to the station in time to catch the train only to find out the train was running 40 minutes late. I sat in the sun and inside the station watching people, wondering where they were headed. I saw people bidding farewell and others anxious to move on.
A sheriff appeared from behind a door calling out a name. No one looked up. She approached a young girl sitting alone and asked for identification. The girl matched the description of a runaway and a list of questions began to be asked. Apparently it was a mistaken identity, but for a moment the air was filled with tension. The Sheriff retreated back behind the door and the young girl went back to her phone to texting.
When I was sitting in the sun, an old man in a volunteer's vest came out to chat with me.
"I'm surprised you're the only one out here sitting in the sun." He said as he raised his face towards the sun's warmth. "This is much better than our typical weather of clouds and rain". He went over to tinker with the gate and returned to let me know that the train wouldn't be much longer. I appreciated the information and watched him change the arrival time tile on the outside sign.
The train approached with a squeal and we boarded quickly. The ride was lovely passing woods and meadows. It was quite a contrast from the browns in California. Pine trees, rivers and Mount Rainier were the scenery as we traveled through Washington. I went to the dining car and ordered a beer, Black Butte Porter, and settled in my seat to write and enjoy the views.
Passing all the small towns in Washington was interesting. Football practices, truck stops, school buses and Main Street America passed me by. It was a lovely picture. Train travel gives a perspective that driving doesn't allow. While on a train, one can stare out the window and enjoy the views that don't usually parallel a major highway.
My favorite part of the trip was watching the sunset through Portland and northern Oregon. The sun created silhouettes out of the evergreens, framing the sun with a jagged edge. There was smoke from a fire nearby creating a haze of pinks and oranges. The sky was lit up and glowing vibrantly. The train rode into the sunset which cast a ruddy glow onto into the train.
The ride ended in Salem where my sweet friend was waiting to pick me up. The station in Salem is quaint just like I imagined a train station would be. There was a certain nostalgia about the trip. Riding old school, quaint train stations and passing towns that I had never heard of before gave me a view into Americana. I felt like I was in a different time where things moved slower and people connected differently. For a few hours, the train allowed me to be completely present while providing a glimpse into the past.