Taking the Train to a Romantic Summer Wedding on Mount Hood

May 28-June 6, 2019

Three years ago we went to Portland to see Jamie and help her get settled in her new house. This time, we were there to attend her wedding and wish her on her way to her new life in Seattle.

It occurred to us that we could take the train. So on a balmy afternoon in late May, we just walked away from the house, backpacks on our backs, to board a city bus that would deliver us to the Tucson train depot.

It was an easy overnight to Los Angeles, and we slept surprisingly well in our tiny "roomette". But with a 5:00 am arrival, we were dismayed to learn that one is not allowed to sit down at Union Station without a pass for a train that departs within two hours. Our layover was five hours. So we hustled our heavy bags outside and hung out with the shopping cart people. It was quieter there anyway.
With a bit of internet sleuthing, we discovered the "secret" lounge for sleeper car passengers. So we stashed our bags and set out on foot for a whirlwind tour of downtown LA. Our objective was Angels Flight, a 1901-vintage funicular that upstaged everyone in one of our favorite episodes of Bosch.
We continued past Walt Disney Concert Hall, designed by Frank Gehry, based on a crumpled piece of paper.
And then from Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels a view of a sculpture at Grand Arts High School.
Dennis looking pensive as we pull away from LA on the Coast Starlight ("I should have ordered TWO pains chocolats!").
I thought traveling up the coast would be the best part, and it was lovely, from the bare and rounded hills rolling down to the ocean to lush marshlands where the passing train flushed flocks of pelicans and cormorants and egrets and ducks. But the adventure began around 5:00 am the next morning when I pulled open the curtains and thought the ocean was right outside my window. It turned out to be the Sacramento River, whipped to a white foam and galloping downhill alongside the tracks. Not long afterwards, we passed through the village of Dunsmuir, which was so cute and quaint that I joked to Dennis that I was going to hop off the train and settle in there. As dawn broke, we cruised right past Mount Shasta, gleaming white from top to bottom.
Mount Thielsen and other snow-capped peaks emerged and retreated as we climbed into the Lassen Volcanic Lava Field. It was a heroic landscape of jagged mountains, tumbling streams and a seemingly impenetrable wall of conifers. In this section north of the California border there are 22 tunnels, but almost no roads, buildings or any other signs of civilization.

Klamath Lake was one of the highlights. The train rolls right along the shore for miles! From there we flowed north along Salt Creek and the gray-green Willamette River which carried us all the way to downtown Portland. The rental car company picked us up at Union Station, and in no time we were settled into the Hen House, a cute and cozy Air B & B close to Portland's hip Alberta Street. Badly in need of exercise after two days on the train, we walked at least four miles, finally settling on an excellent Thai restaurant for dinner. Jamie and Tulani dropped by to catch us up on the epic changes unrolling in their lives.

We always miss our cats so much when we travel. Fortunately nearly every B & B we frequent seems to come with a love-starved feline. Thunderbolt showed up for a "screen test" shortly after we arrived.
The next morning it was off to Mount Hood, which always startles travelers on Route 26 with the way it leaps up out of the ground to impossible icy heights.
We arrived in time to scamper a short distance up the mountain on a patch of bare ground, but skiers and snowboarders were still barreling down the glassy slopes, and they continue to do so all year long.
Timberline Lodge is an American classic, a massively built stone and timber labyrinth constructed in the 1930s. We settled into our perfectly adequate but disappointingly modern B & B, caught up with old friends and family at the rehearsal dinner, and turned in early.
Morning hike around Trillium Lake with family and friends.
We soon discovered why the lake was named after this beautiful three-part flower.
An occasional Bald Eagle soared overhead.
That afternoon, our job was to assemble a chuppah. We worked like demons, trying to get it ready in time for the florist. But with dazzling sunshine, temperatures hovering in the 60s, and Mount Hood for a backdrop, it was a great way to spend the afternoon. We changed clothes in the car, got cleaned up in the hotel bathroom and then it was showtime!
Jamie was radiant!
A hug and a blessing from Dennis.
Sisters.
It was truly the most beautiful wedding ever! They waited a long time to find each other, and witnessing their joy and the sincerity of their promises to each other made our world a better place.

Jumping the broom.

It turned out well, the little chuppah designed and created by Kevin, a friend of Jamie. It added to a beautiful setting and we were happy to be able to contribute in some small way.
Slow dancing, just me and my girl.
Along the Willamette River, while biking the Eastbank Esplanade near the Marquam Bridge, a fellow photographer kindly offered to take our photo.
We followed the Springwater Trail until it ran out near the Sellwood Bridge. We picked up a neighborhood greenway and then followed the Trolley Trail to its terminus near Gladstone. We racked up over 35 mikes by the time we had to return the bikes at 6pm.

Last car on the Texas Eagle, heading east. We liked our train ride, very much, and look forward to traveling this way again!