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Here Comes the Amtrak

As a vacationer who uses Amtrak Cascades whenever possible to get out of Skagit to and from aviation geek (avgeek) events as able, figured I’d write you about the Amtrak Cascades experience plus share some of my photos as appropriate.  Now getting a ticket is rather easy – just go online and order them or either printout at home or pick up at a train station kiosk.  Or use a kiosk at a train station to order and printout – and hope there’s a vacancy.  Just like getting on an airplane… without the TSA.  Yes, this maze:

Relatively painless Bellingham International Airport Security...

Once you board, you’ll be assigned a seat.  Rarely by choice unlike an airline, but you are not cramped looking out a tiny window like a Q400’s for instance:

Seat 16A of the Alaska Airlines Q400

You may be – and are – paying for speed & altitude when using Alaska Airlines which has its own benefits such as a sunrise view that cannot be beat.  But on Amtrak Cascades once seated, you get to relax, sit back and either read, work or read or play on an electronic device, or if the WiFi works cruise the Internets while on the rail.  No safety briefing to suffer through or cramped lavatory to try to use.  Just sit back and relax – and hope no noisy baby is stuffed into business class.  Especially since whomever sold Amtrak Cascades the leather seats pictured below ought to advertise where to pick one of them up for Christmas!

Get a free ticket to THIS seat :-)

Say you get thirsty or hungry, you can walk over to the Bistro Car and pick something up – no need to find a fast food joint along the road or wait for a flight attendant’s cart as there’s a Dining Car.  Business Class customers get a $3 coupon against their purchases.  You can get a burger and a soda pop like this:

A July 4th Dinner on the Amtrak Cascades...

Every passenger car also has rather nice views.  Mostly either of farms or small towns along the way.  Good way to enjoy the view through rather big windows.

Sunset on South Mount Vernon...

There’s also seating for groups of four to sit together and either play together or chat (preferably) quietly.  A great way for a family to leave the driving to others… and have quality family time.

Amtrak Cascades Business Class Interior

A Peek Into the Dining Car...

Not to mention save on the costs of operating an automobile… which with the cost of gas nearing $4 as the Seattle average plus the costs of maintaining & operating a car are no small matters to consider.  Perhaps try the Skagit Transit trip calculator to see how much you’d save annually – especially if you can chuck the car during the week and come vacation time too!

That said, when you get off you just wait for the conductor to help you disembark and if need be grab luggage and/or a bicycle from the luggage car.

My Female Conductor's Waiting for Us to Pull In...

Offloading a Bicycle from Amtrak Cascades at Mt. Vernon...

Off you go!  Hope to see you on Amtrak Cascades:

Amtrak's Cute Lady Conductor at the Mt. Vernon Station...

6 Replies to “North by Northwest 03: What It’s Like to Ride Amtrak Cascades…”

  1. I was pleasantly surprised with my Amtrak Cascades trip to Portland during Easter weekend. It was a fun trip…no rental car in PDX (walking, MAX, and TriMet Bus).

    I plan on doing it again.

  2. Nice write-up! I’ve always been a fan of the Cascades over flying or driving, and now with all the car share and ride share services, you really don’t need to drive between any of the big towns on the Cascade’s route – why bother with storing a car, when there’s both car services and transit right at your door?

    And honestly, unless your travel plans take you to SeaTac or the areas around Vancouver or Portland’s airports, there’s no reason to fly.

    1. Well I like to fly for flying’s sake, but I also don’t have anywhere near the $$$ to shell out for flying as much as I use Amtrak Cascades. I also think many civil libertarians like I have deep concerns about the TSA.

      Finally, I like you want to see more folks use mass transit to replace the CAR. There is only so much asphalt bandwidth and our population is growing.

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