I have a bucket list of sorts. Itâ€™s very long, and I keep adding to it.
I never cross anything off, unless I do it (or die â€“ which ever comes first)
Most of the things on my list are simple and achievable
Someâ€¦ not so much, like; â€˜take a year out and run a marathon every monthâ€™ (who am I kidding?)
Ooh and hereâ€™s a good one; â€˜participate in the Paris-Dakar Rallyâ€¦â€™ (hahaha! My sixteen-year-old self was cute!)
Taking the train to Seattle has been on my list for a while now, I just hadnâ€™t found the right moment to do it.
I tried once, bought tickets in a hurry, didnâ€™t check and got stuck on an Amtrak supplementary bus service for close to eight hours thanks to a four hour wait at the border!
This time I made sure I was booked on a train; two trains go from Vancouver to Seattle daily â€“at 6:40AM and 5:45PM.
Thereâ€™s also a morning and evening service northbound from Seattle.
For the morning ride out, I got to Pacific Central Station early enough to pick up my ticket, check in and go through US Customs.
The train pulled out of the station around 7:00AM, which was a relief because everyone Iâ€™d spoken to about Amtrak Cascades said to expect delays.
A second customs check was done just before the US border, officers board the train and quickly inspect documents â€“ the whole process took less than ten minutes.
Itâ€™s a very relaxing and lovely ride; I canâ€™t imagine a more pleasant way to travel, except maybe if Iâ€™d splurged and gotten a business class seat…
The journey took four hours, and beats driving by far.
The train stops briefly at five stations between Vancouver and Seattle to pick up and let passengers off.
The scenery is spectacular, starts off with an amazing seascape when you pull into Bellingham, then thereâ€™re mountains, scenic farms and incredible clouds.
Thereâ€™re more beautiful sea scenery, factories and ports when you get closer to Seattle.
The windows are wide and perfect for viewing.
There were a few things I didnâ€™t like about the journeyâ€¦
The ticketing process is confusing and bizarre; I donâ€™t understand why you canâ€™t print tickets online.
Instead you print a confirmation, get to the station and look for some guy walking around with a list, if your name is on the list; you show him an ID and get your ticket.
The strange thing is, there arenâ€™t any signs or information on how this process works, so if this was your first time youâ€™d have to ask someone or just stand around aimlessly until you figure it out.
Check-in and Seat assignment again was another disorganized exercise.
People join the line thinking this is where they pick up their tickets (why isnâ€™t there a ticketing kiosk?).
Thereâ€™s a second line to the side for business class (faster check in) but itâ€™s not clearly marked so people think itâ€™s just a faster moving line.
The check-in line is also slow moving partly because you get there before you find out you have to sign your ticket.
Maybe they were having an off day, and it usually runs smoother.
I think most of my short trips to Seattle will be by train from here on.
Itâ€™s comfortable and economical; the return trip costs less than $100.00.
Itâ€™s perfect and a little like how I imagined train travel, I pretend Iâ€™m traveling somewhere in Europe.
Next on my list for train journeys is the West Highland Line.
In the meanwhile Iâ€™m thinking up excuses to go to Seattle.