One of the more sedate things I enjoy is riding in trains. Whether it’s as transportation or a scenic route (or, better yet, both), I really enjoy knowing that no one (who isn’t getting paid to be there) gets stuck doing the driving.
When we saw a PBS documentary on scenic train rides with steam engines, I made note of the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad. I had yet to make it to Mt. Rainier and taking a train ride there sounded like the perfect way to enjoy seeing Mt. Rainier with my father and his wife on our next visit to Portland.
Many weeks later when Pat and I were out on our annual visit, the four of us headed out of Portland towards Elbe, Washington early in the morning.
A little too early, in fact.
When we arrived in the “town” of Elbe, no one seemed to be up yet. Fortunately, one of the 3 businesses at the only intersection was a quiet restaurant where we got a good, down-home breakfast.
After filling our bellies, we headed out and discovered the volunteers who run the train had arrived. I guess if you are excited by steam engines, this would be a great event. However, once we were on the train, we discovered two things: first, you really can’t see the engine when you’re in the train; second, you really can’t see much of anything when you’re in the train.
There were 2 moments totally 18 seconds during the ride where we could see beyond the immediate vegetation surrounding the tracks. During 11 of those seconds, we saw Mt. Rainier off in the distance (2nd photo). The rest of the time, we saw scenery like the dense trees and ferns in the 3rd photo or an occasional flower-covered slope like the 4th photo.
While I enjoy hiking in the woods, they’re tough to appreciate from a train. Besides, this was supposed to be the “Mt. Rainier Scenic Railway.” Call me crazy, but I expected to see Mt. Rainier for more than 11 seconds.
I suppose it’s all about expectations. Had it been called “Get-a-Glimpse-of-Mt.-Rainier-During-an-Hour-and-a-Half-Train-Ride-Through-Dense-Woods Railway,” I probably would have been thrilled.
Fortunately, we were returned to the station with plenty of time to drive to Mt. Rainier National Park. We got spectacular views just driving up to the visitor’s center and made plenty of stops so our driver (aka, Dad) could also enjoy the view. Photos 5-13 were all taken from within the park. It wasn’t the best time of day for good light, but the area was so beautiful, I didn’t really care.
The final image is of Tisen, taken with my iPhone using the Hipstomatic app. I love the irony of having an app on a smart phone so you can take pictures that look like you took them with a cheap camera from the 1960’s. It’s awesome.