by Dhilip Ranganathan
We had to travel from Issaquah, Washington, to California for a family visit. Instead of choosing the usual air route, we thought it would be a good change to use Amtrak for half the trip and travel by car for the rest. So, we booked tickets on the Amtrak Cascades between Tacoma, Washington, and Eugene, Oregon.
This was the first time we traveled by train for a long distance. Our two boys did not know that we were taking the train and we kept it a surprise until we reached the Amtrak station in Tacoma. We mentioned that we were taking a flight from Tacoma, as the costs were high to fly to California from Seattle. It came as a huge surprise when we pulled into the parking lot at the Amtrak station in Tacoma.
The train was on time and our baggage check-in process was a breeze. The person at the counter was courteous and helped us feel comfortable. There was a group of school-age children also traveling on the same train, so there was a lot of activity on the platform. The size of the train really took us by surprise, as we have seen many trains back in India (from where we hail) and comparatively this was a huge train.
We boarded the train and found four seats facing each other with a table in the middle. The train was very clean and the seats were quite comfortable. The train left in a few minutes and we were off on our first train adventure. The scenery on the way was breathtaking, lots of greenery, waterways and small towns, all very refreshing to the eyes. We took our laptop with us, so were able to play a movie for the kids while we continued to enjoy the scenery.
Unfortunately the train had a mechanical problem when we reached Portland, and we were transferred to a bus. We completed our journey from Portland to Eugene by this bus. The bus ride was also comfortable, and since the sunlight stayed on till around 8 pm, we were able to enjoy more of the Oregon greenery. We reached Eugene about an hour later than if we had come by the train, but it was still a great first trip.
We took the train at Eugene in a few days for our return journey and this time, the train did not have any issues and we arrive back in Tacoma right on time five hours and 40 minutes later.
Overall we thoroughly enjoyed the entire trip by Amtrak. If the minor inconvenience of the train breaking down had not been there, it would have been an even more remarkable trip. We will definitely seek the services of Amtrak for our future trips.
Amtrak, please continue to provide these great trips across the country and hopefully you will have more improvements on the train in the years to come.