September 15, 2002
Click on the little cameras for my pictures.
While driving back the day before, Deon and I were trying to decide what we should do today. The weather wasn't supposed to be particularly nice, but not too bad. A few months before--probably on the Food TV Network--I saw a program on the Spirit of Washington Dinner Train. It's probably pretty clear from this website I love trains--food is up there too--so riding the train was something I wanted to do. Sunday morning I called to see if they had any openings that day. They did. We were in the Columbia Winery Car--for brunch. There was road construction, and no parking in their lot, which did made it a challenge to get there on time, but it was Sunday and a business area so there was a lot of street parking. The train was beautiful, bright red, with that bassy rumble huge diesels make. We picked up our tickets and boarded the train. It was wonderful, we were in a fairly uncrowded parlor car, at about the train's middle.
There was a basket with a variety of breads, some butter and really amazing strawberry jam on the table. We helped ourselves, while waiting for the train to get on its way. The train cruised north along the eastern side of Lake Washington. There were beautiful views of Mercer Island and all the cities along the way. I love travelling on trains, it's a leisurely, social way to travel with picture windows and a view that's constantly changing, and you never get stuck in traffic--well, that you'd notice, it never as annoying to wait for another train as waiting for that stupid driver that tried to turn in front of you and got stuck in the intersection.
While on our way up to the Columbia Winery we were served brunch. It started with a very good fruit cup. Deon and I ordered crab crepes for our entre, which were incredible. About and hour and a half after leaving Renton we got to the Columbia Winery , they offered a short tour or you could go directly to taste some wines. Deon and I went on the tour, it was short but interesting. We tasted a couple of wines, their whites mostly, Chardonnay, and some Reislings.
Not wanting to buy anything we went outside to walk around and take pictures until we reboarded the train . We started heading south and were served desert. Deon and I tried an Eiswein (Ice Wine from Covey Run.) I'd heard of them, but had never tried one. I really liked it, sweet, but not as rich as sherrys, ports, or Sauternes, much crisper more like a sweet Reisling, but sweeter. It was very good with the apple crisp with cinnamon whipped cream.
On the way back the train didn't turn around, instead it has an engine on both ends and just goes backwards. Which was good, getting to see things the other direction, but we didn't get to see much on the other side of the train, but I think we were on the more interesting side--West, facing Lake Washington, Mercer Island, etc.
After crossing the Wilburton Trestle--which is along the interstate itself interesting because I had seen it a couple of times driving by before and was excited to see it coming up from inside the train--the second time I happened to catch the exit number so we could try to find it later.
When we got back, we wandered around the train a bit taking pictures before walking back to Deon's car. We went to look for the Wilberton Trestle to take some pictures. We had to park precariously on the side of the road and walked quickly to take the pictures. I felt a little better when another car parked in front of ours also to take pictures.
Deon thought it would be interesting to see the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard next. We crossed Lake Washington and headed through Seattle, me navigating--with a map of course--and Deon driving. We passed Husky Stadium--kind of odd looking, I thought it looked more like a horse track or something.
It was difficult but we eventually found some parking and walked to the locks . Around the locks are the beautiful Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Garden. The locks were very interesting--huge--holding back tons of water. You can walk across them when they're closed. On the other side of the locks are a series of stairs for Salmon to pass the locks. There was an underwater viewing area to see the huge salmon swimming by. We went back up and watched them fill and drain the locks before we went to look around the garden. There was a pair of really creepy droopy looking trees that Deon got all excited about.
I was starting to get hungry, though Deon wasn't really hungry yet, she knew of a seafood restaurant nearby-- Ray's Cafe. It was a bit early so we were seated quickly. The view was amazing--it's right on the water--though it had gotten overcast and was misting a bit. I had the shrimp and crab cakes, and a Thomas Kemper root beer on draft. Both were very good.
We went back to Redmond and hung out the rest of the night.