Even though we got to bed pretty late, we still woke up early the next morning. The bedrooms in the newer rail cars (rail geeks that link is for you) are not as well organized as the old Pullman bedrooms -- even if they do include "showers." The lower bunk was wider, but still not comfortable for two. The stair to the upper bunk blocked the access to the toilet. There was very little storage space. (Even our small bags didn't fit underneath the lower bunk.) And so on.

Being awake, we decided to get dressed and head down to the dining car as soon as it opened. Good plan. The train was completely full and the dining car was stretched very thin. Those who didn't get there early went on the waiting list and some of them didn't get served until almost lunch time. While eating breakfast, we enjoyed threading through the deep river valleys near Mt. Shasta. The couple who shared our table were very pleasant. Another amenity gone with days of yore is sharing a table with complete strangers, who often turn out to be pleasant companions.

The service throughout the train was very efficient. By the time we finished breakfast our beds were made up so we could sit and enjoy the views.

Mt. Shasta

After leaving the steep gorges around Mt. Shasta, we reached open space where we could see the mountains. Mt. Shasta, 14,179 feet, is on the left. Mt. Shastina, 12,335 feet, is beside and connected to it. Shasta is the 2nd highest peak in the Cascades, after Mt. Rainier. Shastina would be the 3rd highest peak, but it is ignored because of its proximity to its larger neighbor.

The haze is smoke from forest fires that haunted us throughout the trip.


A little before noon we crossed into Oregon. Much of the wetlands in the Klamath Basin have been drained for agriculture, but there were occasional patches here and there.

Coast Starlight

At the Klamath Falls station the train stopped long enough to give everyone a chance to get out and stretch their legs. All of the Amtrak cars were double-decker. The two cars barely visible at the end are single-decker Pullman cars owned (or chartered) by an outfit called Pullman Rail Journeys (seemingly now defunct) or maybe RailsNW. The two cars were named "Baton Rouge" and "Adirondack Club." (It's kinda possible to follow the history of each railcar through name changes and ownership, but it gets tedious. Follow-up is left to the alert student.)

I walked down to look at the cars, but they appeared empty. My guess is that they were deadheading ... somewhere. These must have been the two cars that delayed the train in San Francisco.


As we proceeded along the edge of Klamath Lake, we encountered heavier smoke.

These wetlands, a major component of the Pacific Flyway for migrating birds, are part of Upper Klamath Lake and full of birds of various kinds.

Bald Eagle at Klamath Lake

As we neared the main body of the lake, I was startled to see this bald eagle seemingly walking on water. The lake is shallow in spots and the bird is perched on a rock outcropping that just breaks the surface of the lake.


North of Chemult, the tracks head west to cross the Cascades. After we joined our program, leader Lynn Unser explained that much (most?) of the Oregon woods is not wild forest, but rather tree farms that simply raise trees rather than wheat. We saw a lot of this on our trip to New Zealand. He also said that the clear-cuts were simply harvesting a crop and that regulated logging practices in recent years have limited the scarring and erosion that was once associated with clear-cutting.

I hope so, but I wasn't feeling the love at what I saw here.

Odell Lake

We passed several lakes during our transit of the mountains. I think this is Odell Lake.

Bee Hives

The train passed this colorful selection of bee hives. The black pots on top of many of the hives are bee feeders. Who knew that bees would need supplemental feed?

Oregon Capitol Dome

I captured this picture of the Oregon Capitol Dome at our stop in Salem. Unlike most (boring) state capitols, Oregon's capitol has an art deco design. It replaced an earlier structure that burned. The gold statue is of the Oregon pioneer.

Another deco capitol, which also happens to be a skyscraper, is the Louisiana capitol in Baton Rouge.

Willamette Falls

The Willamette Falls Dam harnesses the heavily industrialized natural falls. It is the largest waterfall in the Pacific NW by volume.

Portland Station

Amtrak has the lowest priority on tracks owned by freight lines and by the time we reached Portland we were three hours late. Luckily we had elected to arrive the day prior to the start of our tour or we would have missed registration, the orientation, and the welcome dinner!

Having traveled a lot, we try to allow an extra day at critical junctures.

Rose Test Garden

As it was, we had much of the following day free to see Portland. We elected to visit the International Rose Test Garden by way of the city's excellent transit system. I was in search of roses that were not just lovely, but also fragrant -- a rarity nowadays.

We also planned to tour the Japanese Garden, but ran short of time and returned to the hotel to join our group. What a treat to discover that one couple in this group had toured New Zealand with us in 2015!

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