As promised, a (not very) brief recap of our wonderful Seattle trip:
At midnight on Friday, September 9, Ryan and I boarded the Amtrak Empire Builder at the St. Paul train station and headed west. We had never taken the train before, but we have always been a little enamored of the idea. It seemed so quaint and old-timey, but also a really awesome way of seeing parts of the country we'd never seen. It did not disappoint, despite the 36-hour train trip each way, the shaky tiny bathrooms, and the questionable food.

We didn't spring for a sleeping car, so we didn't get too much sleep that first night (or any night). The train was freezing and we just weren't able to get comfortable. But that was okay, because before long, it was morning and we were in North Dakota.

the sunrise, somewhere between Grand Forks and Devils Lake

We made our way to the observation car, drank coffee, and watched North Dakota fly by.
 Soon, we were in Rugby. It was a refueling stop, so we were able to get off the train and stretch our legs.
Because it had been dark when we began our trip the night before, this was our first chance to see the train. That sucker was long.
"All aboard!" (yes, the conductors really do yell that)

Then it was back on the train. We spent the morning traveling through North Dakota, and then hit Montana that afternoon. I had never been to Montana before, and it did not disappoint: vast prairies with mountains in the background, and, yes, a very big sky.

 We spent most of the afternoon and evening drinking wine in the observation car, listening to trail guides from the "Rails to Trails" program talk about what we were seeing out the windows. Then we hit Glacier National Park and lost the sunlight. We went back to our seats and tried to sleep while the train took us through Idaho and Eastern Washington.

We woke up to this:
This is where I stopped taking pictures. There was just no way that my camera could capture the mountains and the water and the beauty of Washington, and I just wanted to take it in without trying to take pictures (cue John Mayer's "3 x 5").

The train took us through those mountains, through completely untouched wilderness, and there are really no words for how beautiful and awe-inspiring it was. This part of the trip, alone, made the sleepless nights and awkward conversations with retirees over dinner worth it.

And then, at about 11 a.m., we arrived in Seattle! We weren't able to check in to our hotel yet, so we dropped our bags and took our tired, unshowered selves and wandered around the city.

We ate fish tacos on the water:

made our way up to the Pike Place Market:

 saw the gum wall (so gross):

and the original Starbucks.

 We then walked back to our hotel (we did a LOT of walking on this trip), showered, went to dinner at a fabulous French/Cajun restaurant nearby, and slept for about 14 hours.

The next morning, we headed to the monorail, spotting an awesome fountain and the Space Needle on our way.

We monorail-ed and walked over to Pike Place Market, where we had lunch and delicious beer at the Pike Brewing Co. We loved it so much we bought some to bring home, and now I'm dying to find it somewhere in Minneapolis (help?)

We got touristy and did the Underground Tour (which was actually really cool), had dinner and pumpkin beer at Elysian Brewing, and then headed over to Safeco Field to watch the f-ing Yankees stomp all over the Mariners.
 birds up high at Safeco
The next morning, we boarded the ferry to Bainbridge Island.
We had a delicious late lunch on the island, did some wine tasting, and walked around and window-shopped. The island was adorable and I kind of want to move there.

The next day, we went to the Experience Music Project.
 I remember seeing this on MTV when it was built, and thinking that it looked OMG SO SUPER COOL. Well, it was. They were running a special exhibit on Nirvana to commemorate the 20th anniversary of "Nevermind" which was really cool and also incredibly sad.

The next day was our last day in Seattle - our train was scheduled to leave at about 4 that afternoon. So we hiked the long, long distance over to the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle to find the troll that lives under the bridge.
We had lunch, browsed in some of the shops in the neighborhood, headed back to our hotel, got a cab to the train station, and said goodbye to Seattle.

As our train drove east past Puget Sound, the sun began to show through the clouds and shine off the water. It was gorgeous, and a very fitting farewell after a wonderful stay in Seattle. 
During the train ride home, we played travel scrabble, watched movies, and spent more time in the observation car drinking wine (duh). And, 36 hours later, we pulled into the St. Paul train station at about 8 a.m., sad that our trip was over but happy to see our little Levi.

The title of this blog post comes from Bon Iver's "Holocene", which felt like it was especially designed for long train trips through the moutains. I listened to this song and the album it comes from on repeat during the train ride, and now I can't hear it without remembering the trip, which is actually pretty great.


Ari- Audrey Onassis said...

When we are little old ladies, we can be neighbors on Bainbridge Island. It is such the place for me.

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