Saturday, 17 September 2016

Arriving in Seattle

When we awoke this morning it was to views of the Cascades National Park and the almost alpine looking Snoqualmie National Forest that we were passing through.

However, the combination of driving rain and speed did not enhance the views very much, despite the fact that this is an area renowned for its beauty.

At this elevation, the trees had started to change.  Unfortunately many of the views were still wrapped in mist and low cloud.

Arriving in Seattle we travelled along the edge of Puget Sound - a part of the trip which is said to be very scenic in sunshine.  We were not so lucky today..

We checked into our hotel in downtown Seattle and went to visit the historic Pike Place Market on the waterfront.

A colourful place, renowned for its fish and seafood..

The flower stall was the most colourful, with an extraordinary array of different varieties of Dahlias..

Friday, 16 September 2016

Scene from a train

Our first morning view today was of grey skies and driving rain in North Dakota.

A landscape of large fields, sparse vegetation and then the occasional oil field. 

The discovery of oil in this area in the 1950's created a huge benefit to the State in terms of wealth but required additional housing and infrastructure to support the additional workers being brought in.

In Williston, the centre of the oil rich area there are substantial storage and refinery buildings.

As we moved on and into Montana the clouds lifted and the landscape brightened up.

For several hours we passed huge golden fields of crops, mostly now cut - and very large grain silos.

At last we started to see mountains on the horizon..

Towards the end of the day we travelled through Glacier National Park - the pass rising to more than 5,000 feet to cross the mountains.

It has been a long journey - we have another night on the train and leave it on Saturday morning in Seattle.

It has been an experience!  In the photo below, David is standing underneath the window of our sleeper 'roomette'.

It is a long train but we are in the first sleeper car - which accounts for the fact that our sleep last night was frequently punctuated with engine whistles - 2 or 3 for each road crossed, however minor.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

On the Rails

After a morning exploring more of Chicago, this afternoon we headed to the Amtrak Building at Union Station to catch our train.

Union Station is a substantial building in a classical style.

We waited in the lounge until our train was called.

It is a long train comprising double decker cars - some are sleeper cars, others have regular seating, but all are double deckers.  

Our 'roomette' is rather bijou accommodation.  We have yet to pull down the bunks, so that will be interesting!

This is the dining car..

We have captured a few views out of the window..

Wednesday, 14 September 2016


An early morning flight from Dulles and by 9.30am local time we were in Chicago.
Our hotel is an Art Deco gem in the heart of the Downtown area with a park between us and the shore of Lake Michigan.

In the park a huge fountain which 'performs' each hour and flowers and gardens against the backdrop of the Chicago skyline.

I walked along the lake edge with David on the way to his meeting and then embarked on a hop-on, hop-off bus tour to see the sights.

There is certainly plenty to see, from the marina  to the aquarium. planetarium, Museum of Natural History and, of course, the Art Institute of Chicago.

Building ages and styles vary from those built after the great fire in the late 19th century - which destroyed the Chicago downtown area - to up to the minute skyscraper offices and luxury condos.

In Millenium Park the installation by the British artist Anish Kapoor creates a great deal of interest..

The artist's name for this piece is 'Cloud Gate', but because of its shape it is known locally as 'The Bean'.  It is fascinating none the less - from all angles..

And at night..

We ended our day as we had begun, with the fountain in the park - suitably illuminated..