Yesterday while riding the train south from Seattle to Salem, Oregon, I made a few mental notes of things I observed along the way. The trip began at the King Street Station which is in the city center of Seattle. The station is a large, cavernous old-time train depot, the kind of place where everything echoes and it is almost impossible to understand the important announcements coming over the loudspeaker.
The first item of interest that we passed was almost in the shadow of the train station. It was Safeco Staddium where the Seattle Mariners play baseball. Safeco is one of those modern affairs that have a retractable roof allowing for play on wet or dry days. It would appear to be easy for out-of-towners to ride the train to Seattle, walk to the stadium to see a game, and then catch a train for home - depending on arrival and departure times, of course.
As we worked our way out of Seattle, our train ran along side of lots of new construction and older and poorer housing, then into some open farming space, and finally through forested areas with and occasional small streams and creeks. It was windy, and leaves were blowing by my coach window - a reminder that fall is not too far off.
The sea coast began appearing as we neared Tacoma, and it was about that time that the train came to an unexpected stop due to a large tree that had been blown down and fallen across the track. We spent about half-an-hour waiting on the track to be cleared. When the train finally did begin to roll again, it had to proceed slowly due to a high wind warning. I did see several places where large limbs had broken from their trees.
We passed along the outskirts of Washington's capital, Olympia, getting to see some nice homes in the suburbs. Most were square in shape and two stories tall. Like suburbs in many communities, the overall effect was of settlements of housing that had been designed in cookie-cutter fashion.
There was an abundance of graffiti along the way south, on railroad cars, buildings, bridges, and retaining walls. One individual had written a memorable plea for someone special that asked simply, "Will you marry me?" - a proposal that will probably outlast many marriages. The quality of much of this spray paint art was truly amazing. America, it would seem, harbors a talented underground of aspiring painters!
Somewhere south of Kelso we encountered the historic and famous Columbia River which the train followed, more or less in the shadow of Lewis and Clark, on to Portland, Oregon. Seeing the Columbia always puts me in mind of the famous folksong by Woody Guthrie, "Roll On Columbia, Roll On."
And the river rolled on, and so did our train.