Sunday, July 22, 2012

On the Amtrak Cascade

My train arrives over the bridge
On Saturday, July 15, I took the train from Vancouver up to Seattle for a Mariners game (vs. The Texas Rangers).  A co-worker of mine from my last job recently moved to Seattle, and we thought this would be a good opportunity to catch up and share notes about life in the Pacific Northwest.  It was also a good excuse to take the train!

I was excited taking the train. It is about a 3-hour trip, and let's me off very near the stadium.  The Cascade Line train even has WiFi for internet connectivity during the trip (although I did find that coverage was quite spotty, and slow when you were able to get connected.  They disable all video streaming, and limit any downloads to 5mb to help with the service).  It was a little disappointing, but at least it gave me more reason to look up from my tablet and enjoy the scenery. 

I was in a coach car, which actually wasn't bad.  I even got a seat with a table, since there were so few others getting on the train at Vancouver.  The seats were comfortable leather, and had a fair amount of recline.  It was a little warm on the train, and they didn't have any fans to help with air movement, but that was the only comfort complaint I had.  The scenery was what I expected -- a lot of trees, occasional water, and many views of the freeway (since I was on the eastern side of the train).  It was nice that they had a map displayed to show your progress, as well.

The food selection was okay in the food car, but it was expensive, and the hot selections were microwaved. I would definitely recommend bringing your own food to save on the expense and avoid the temptation of getting their cold hamburger (which I ordered before I realized they just popped it in, bun and all, into the microwave).

The reverse trip on Sunday morning was a bit less flexible.  Because the train originated from Seattle, there was assigned seating within the cabins (all the Vancouver passengers were put in the same car).  I was assigned a window seat at the end of the car, so the recline didn't feel nearly as comfortable (though I have no reason to believe that it didn't recline the same amount).  I definitely preferred the table seats, and would ask for one on a future trip if I was traveling with someone.  The station in Seattle was also under construction, so it was a bit more difficult than it would normally be to get into and out of the station.

That said, it was an enjoyable train ride, and I will be doing it again.  Next stop, a Vancouver-to-Vancouver trip up into Canada to test out my Enhanced Drivers License!

Vancouver, WA Amtrak Station

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