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  1. Cascadia


    I really need to write a little day trip guide for Bellingham. There's so much to see and do, mostly free and all easily reached by foot or bus from the train station. Just a quick sketch for now but the Alaska Marine Highway docks referred to, is well worth a visit, actually called the Cruise Terminal but we call it the Ferry Terminal building, really a very beautiful new building and underutilized. You can walk right over there, just across the tracks and a parking lot, it's very spacious inside with a restaurant, the current version has halibut fish and chips and sandwiches, not sure what days or hours they are open but there's a big area with tables by the huge windows and you don't have to order from the restaurant to sit there. There's a great area upstairs with padded comfortable seating and an atrium where they host events, some people get married there and then get right on the ferry for their honeymoon. All around the outside a big deck wraps around over the water with great views of the bay, the islands and downtown. Great place to drink your coffee that you got either at the restaurant at the terminal or the coffee shop in the train station. There are a couple of companies that run boats out to the islands from the docks at the Cruise Terminal, San Juan Cruises goes to Victoria and Friday Harbor and does whale watching excursions, they used to do a bay tour a few years ago, that was really great, wish they still did. Near the terminal and the train station is Marine Park, it is not clearly marked how to get down there but it is a one block walk from where the train tracks cross the road right there by the station. I really like Marine Park, it has a little beach and a covered picnic area with restrooms, there are rocks and logs to sit on and picnic tables, it is very peaceful and there are usually a lot of blue herons there, also a good train watching spot as the trains go right on the water right by there. At the train station there's a bus stop for the 401 line which is a ten minute run on scenic State Street along the water to downtown Bellingham. You could hop on that for a dollar and go downtown and walk around, within 2 or 3 blocks of the bus station downtown are big used bookstores, several record stores, all kinds of restaurants and coffee shops, a drugstore, anything you need really, it's all right there. There are often street festivals and events going on in the summer with craft fairs, art exhibits, live music, etc. Some good thrift stores to shop in too. Between Fairhaven and downtown there is a very popular walking trail, about a third of it is a dock built out over the water, that's the part between Fairhaven and Boulevard Park, it has benches all along it where you can sit over the bay and watch the parade of strollers, joggers, bikers and dog walkers. At Boulevard Park there's a coffee shop and a couple of different sets of public restrooms, it's a busy destination on any nice day year round.
  2. Wonder if they'd ever add a run from Seattle to Bellingham, so many college kids go back and forth.
  3. Cascadia

    Food Near MSP Station

    There are vending machines in the station for water and pop to take with you. This has been a good thread for information about the upcoming move to downtown St. Paul, thanks, that is exciting. I was at the Midway station in January, it is pretty dreary.
  4. Cascadia

    Man falls from train!

    I read about this story yesterday at the City-Data.com forum for North Dakota. The young man had so much going for him, he was doing all this work with youth in a small town for a summer theater program and they liked him so well, and he was involved in so many other film projects and a lot of good creative stuff with good friends. His father said his son was headed to Chicago to start a new life and trying to shake a drinking problem, when I read that it made me really sad. And yeah, all his luggage was left on the train. I don't think they have autopsy reports yet. It seems like a really tragic loss of life, alcohol can really take the final toll.
  5. Cascadia

    Talgos mothballed?

    I guess it depends on the track. Back when the Cascades had a bunch of jointed rail north of the US/Canada border, the Talgo ride was absolutely horrible on otherwise normal jointed rail (the trains weren't even going very fast through there). Yeah when going through White Rock at a slow pace the cars would be thrown from side to side - it was very unpleasant until they fixed it and made me dislike the Talgos - they've grown on me a little bit more since then.
  6. Cascadia

    Bringing a cake?

    Make a pound cake, in a loaf pan, that will sit really nicely in a sturdy tote bag, and keep well. You can serve it with ice cream when you get there - would that work?
  7. Cascadia

    Really only two Bellingham trains? Ugh!

    One special thing about the transportation options here in Bellingham (for those of you not familiar with the area) is that the Alaska Ferry Terminal is just across the railroad tracks from the Amtrak/Greyhound station. Very conveniently situated. I did not know that the ferry is scheduled to arrive at a convenient time to catch the train, if the ferry is on time. It would be great if you could make it work and just hop on the train when you get off the ferry! That would be too easy! The Alaska Ferry Terminal building is only about ten years old and is very beautiful. They borrowed ideas from native Northwest Indian architecture, the long houses, and it's just a great building, I really like it in there, it's underutilized and a good place to spend some quiet time when you are in Bellingham. It has a wraparound deck over the water and lots of glass, you can be in there on a rainy day and be right on top of the water without getting cold and wet.
  8. That will be a nice trip. You get such a great water view along the line. I have probably ridden it more when it was a Superliner set for 3 years than I did when it was Talgos the rest of the time. Seems that way anyway. One time they had a Pacific Parlor Car on there for about ten days and I only got to see it from the outside when it was at the station, it didn't work out with my schedule for me to ride when it was on there :-(
  9. It's now official, your one of us. Thanks Alan, it's always nice to belong somewhere . . :-)
  10. Thanks! I really want to make a point of taking the train to Seattle or Vancouver while it is still Superliners! Also it will be interesting to see how the bistro cars turn out - they had asked for comments on the proposed design a while back. The way they are now there is kind of a bottleneck where you stand in line. Hope the new design fixes that.
  11. I just like how I used the verb "to foam" in my post :-)
  12. Was walking on the trail by the railroad tracks in Bellingham, WA today and saw the Cascades 510 heading north from Seattle to Vancouver, BC. Was so pleasantly surprised and excited by the sight that I didn't note the consist but when I used to ride it before, I think it was a coach, a coach/baggage, and a sightseer lounge (not in that order)? What is the real name for that view/lounge car? Has a snack cafe in the lower level. I had been told many moons ago that the 510/517 would be Superliners again while they refurbish and remodel all the Talgo Bistro cars. Does anyone know if this is the reason, and when it started, and how long we can hope to have Superliners on this route? I would have walked all the way down to the station to foam with the staff there and get the details but I was with someone else. We were so fortunate to have Superliners on the 510/517 for about 3 years when I was riding regularly between Bellingham and Vancouver, BC. That was when they repaired and refurbished all the Talgo sets. I hope I get many chances to ride this equipment while it is on the line!!!!!
  13. Cascadia

    Whos closest to a Amtrak Station

    I'm three scenic miles, and there's a very convenient bus that gets you down there in ten minutes for a buck. Also you could walk almost all the way there on a trail through the woods, through a park on the shoreline, and then on a long dock over the water. Bellingham, Washington, served by the Cascades line.
  14. Cascadia


    Thanks for sharing this account with us. I have been on a train that struck and killed a bicyclist, and I really felt bad for the engineer and the rest of the crew that had to deal with it. I know it happens more frequently than we like to think, and my pals that work for Amtrak say they "get used to it", but still. That's definitely a rough part of your job and I wish you had more support from your management especially when things like this happen.
  15. Cascadia

    Empire Builder

    You mentioned wood ties and I wanted to bring something up that I read about a while back, I was reading in an old book about trees, and looked up catalpa trees, do you know those? So interesting, with giant heart shaped leaves, large pretty flowers, and distinctive long bean shaped pods of seeds. I never thought of them as anything other than a decorative shade tree, but this book said they used to plant them in plantations for railroad ties. Anyone else ever heard of this, that catalpa trees were cultivated for railroad ties? That was some good tree trivia for me, but it is almost hard to believe, would never have made the association.