Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"Train Ride...Yeah"

One of the highlights of our recent trip to Grandma and Grandpa's house was the way that Haley got there.  My husband took her on Amtrak and her Big Sis and I met them in Tacoma and then we drove the rest of the way.  This is his account in his words:

"Train Ride...Yeah"

For several years I've had the idea that on a trip to Grandpa's Haley and I should ride Amtrak up to Tacoma while Haley's Mom and Big Sis drive up and meet us.  Haley's ridden several excursion trains but has never set foot on the Amtrak trains she sees and loves to watch. I decided last weekend's trip to Grandpa's would be a good opportunity to make this trip since we were treating Big Sis to a Mariners game.

All Aboard

Haley's Mom spent some time explaining to Haley that she and Dad would be riding the train for part of the trip to Grandpa's.  She really didn't seem to understand the concept but did go along with it.  We arrived at the Vancouver depot about 25 minutes before train time and again explained to Haley that we'd be riding Amtrak to Grandpa's and finally I think it started to sink in.  When we stepped onto the platform a few minutes before the train arrived she seemed ready to go but very unsure of what was going on.  In typical Haley fashion she was a bit apprehensive about actually boarding the train but went right along with it.

Highball Vancouver!

Once on board we found our seats and started our journey.  Haley of course got the window seat so she could see everything easily.  I pointed out several of our favorite train watching haunts as we whizzed through Vancouver's western suburbs.  Haley was very quiet and seemed to just be soaking in the whole atmosphere of rolling down the track at 79 mph.  North of Woodland we passed one of the railroad's automated hot box detectors that inspects the train for hot axles/wheels and dragging equipment.  These detectors give a status to the train crew over the radio and Haley has always enjoyed the last part of the radio message which is "detector out."  I let her listen on the radio to the message from the detector and that seemed to tickle her.

The Whistle

On board Amtrak Cascades cars the ride is smooth and quiet except for the occasional clickety-clack when passing over the frogs of switches.  Haley's favorite noise though was the whistle.  Despite being about 5 cars behind the engine the wail of the air horn was easily heard and several times Haley commented on hearing it.  "Whistle" she'd say and point to the front of the train.

Other Trains

The cars ride quite low so when meeting or passing other trains about all you see out the window is wheels and the bottom portion of the freight cars.  We saw around a dozen trains along the way but it wasn't until we about to dive into Tacoma's Nelson Bennett tunnel when we passed a Union Pacific stack train that Haley became excited about seeing a train out her window.  "Pacific", "cars", "blue", "train ride....yea" she was really into our ride now.  In fact when we passed the head end of the UP train she actually identified the yellow engines as belonging to the Union Pacific.

Tacoma in 5 minutes

As we passed through Ruston meeting two southbound BNSF freights Haley was on a roll identifying engines and logos on cars out the window.  She was really enjoying herself.  I had to explain to her that in a few minutes we were going to be getting off the train and meeting Mom and Big Sis so we could head to Grandpa's.  That didn't seem to bother her as it seem like she was really ready to tell someone about her experience. 

Off To Grandpa's

We got off the train and met up with Mom who got a few more pictures of us in front of the train.  As a last thrill for the night we all stood on the platform and watched as our train pulled away from the Tacoma station.  Haley always enjoys the cadence of locomotive exhaust noise and with the train accelerating out of the station the exhaust rumbling off the ceiling of the platform cover was thrilling.  Spontaneously she said "bye a train" and gave a great big wave.

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