42 hours down | 2 to go
I blinked awake and saw total darkness outside. Then I blinked again and saw a blur of trees and mountains and snow. We’d just exited a tunnel, and I jolted into consciousness. It was so beautiful! We’d gone through Glacier National Park in the dark last night (should have planned on taking the train both ways) and before that, North Dakota and Montana were pretty flat and, well, boring. BUT NOW. We’re in Washington, and everything is stunningly beautiful.
Including Devon. Readers, I have not been entirely honest with you. I’ve been making eyes at this tall blond guy the whole trip, every time he or I pass in the aisle. By “making eyes” I mean I’ve made eye contact, smiled, and immediately looked away. I didn’t mention it because a) it was pathetic, and b) he didn’t act like he cared, which was hurtful.
But this morning, in a grand scheme of Let’s Give Tricia Everything She Wants, I threw my increasingly-greasy hair in a bun on top of my head, wound my scarf around my shoulders, and made my way back two cars to the observation lounge. We were in a tunnel again, and everything was dark. When I got to the doorway to the lounge car, Tall Blond Guy and Nice Woman (from dinner the first night) were blocking it. There was no other option: I would have to speak to him.
“Um, can I get through?”
“To the observation car?”
“It’s not there anymore.”
It turns out we lost it last night when the train split in two, half going to Portland and half going to Seattle. I was about to turn around when Tall Blond Guy said, “But you should wait until we get out of the tunnel. This is the back of the train now, so you can see the track as we go.”
“So this is like the caboose now? Awesome.”
The tunnel was extremely long, so the three of us chatted about trains and tunnels and golden spikes. Tall Blond Guy made a joke about Paul Bunyan that I appreciated. In a fit of inspiration, I said, “We had dinner together a couple nights ago, but I don’t remember your name…”
Nice Woman said, “Sheryl.”
I turned to Tall Blond Guy. “And you are…?”
Hi, Devon. I hope I didn’t have hearts in my eyes, because here’s the thing. He’s tall, did I mention that? And he’s been wearing a flannel shirt, sweatpants, and a beanie. His face is square with kind eyes, like a lumberjack without a beard. He is my hipster fantasy come to life.
After we exited the tunnel and the three of us shuffled around to allow everyone to take pictures, Sheryl said, “Well, I’ll just leave the two of you alone.” Thanks, Sheryl.
So Devon and I talked, and it became increasingly hard not to blurt out, “I’m in love with you!” He is only 21, which by now is simply par for the course. He grew up in Seattle, but he left when he was 18 to live in Guatemala, California, and Colorado, working in restaurants in order to pay for the next move. He takes film pictures, and he’s thinking of going to college for a writing degree, but he’s not sure if he’s ready to settle down for that long or if he wants to keep traveling some more.
I told him about my month-long road trip, which excited him, and he totally got my “visiting people was great, and then being alone driving eight hours was even better” stance, agreeing that he is definitely an introvert too. Then I told him about Greece, and he asked all the right questions, like, “Do you think you’re prepared to help them?” and “How do you let women know the safe house is even available?”
Keep in mind, during this whole conversation, I was looking up into his eyes. UP. #tallgirlproblems
But then he said, “I’m getting hungry; I’m going to grab a snack. Good luck with everything, Tricia! It sounds awesome!”
And that was the end of Devon. Which is fine, I had my fifteen minute romance (aka conversation with a hot guy) on a train! And more importantly, it reminded me that there ARE guys out there who interest me. I was just telling a friend this, that I am so turned off by guys who have “plans” and “bank accounts” and are “committed to their companies.” That seriously has zero appeal to me. But someone who flies by the seat of their pants, makes enough money to get to the next adventure, loves nature and creativity? YES, PLEASE.
43 hours down | 1 to go
Okay, Washington is gorgeous. We’re currently skirting the Puget Sound, and will for the next 45 minutes, according to our train conductor. I guess there’s no better time to analyze my train adventure than now – close to the end, surrounded by beauty.
I would definitely do this again. Although I would want to be guaranteed two seats to myself every time – sharing a confined space with a stranger for 44 hours would erase all the introverted benefits of train travel.
I will admit, however, that the views were not as constantly gorgeous as I assumed. This is mostly because we went through Glacier National Park after dark last night. I should have flown out and ridden the train back to Chicago. Or ridden the train both ways. It pays to plan ahead. But today! Ah! There is just something so cool about falling asleep to flat dirt land and waking up to mountains and lakes and fog.
Riding Amtrak was both more and less than I anticipated. I would definitely do it again, but I don’t think it will replace planes as my go-to travel medium. Instead, I can see this being a fun thing to throw into the mix, because it is definitely better than driving across the country. It’s super nice to be able to walk around, eat, read, and write while moving in the direction I want to go. Not to mention that I can sleep whenever I want and it doesn’t stop me from moving toward my destination. But it’s not like I’ll totally give up road-tripping, because I also really love to drive. Whatever, they can’t be ranked! Cars, trains, planes – they all have their uses, and I love them all.
44.5 hours down | I’M HERE!
I have arrived in Seattle! Roy is meeting me for lunch in a couple hours, so I called him to see where I should hang out in the meantime. Just as he was telling me, Devon walked by, so I completely ignored my brother and asked Tall Blond Guy where I should go (he’s from Seattle, remember). It was, alas, our final conversation, and I wound up taking Roy’s advice anyway.
I’m sitting in Zeitgeist now, drinking a latte and writing on my Apple laptop, all of which feels perfectly Seattlean. I love this city. Walking here from King’s Station, I was giddy on the crisp and clean air. The Northwest is, hands down, my favorite area of the country. I cannot wait to celebrate Thanksgiving here!