Okay, so we're fans.
Certainly the last couple of days have had their ups and downs. And not just because it was all about the mountains!
We made our escape from Denver on the Zephyr a bit late but arrived in Emeryville (outside Oakland) only three hours late. That would normally have cut our six hour layover waiting for the arrival of the Coast Starlight from Los Angeles for our trip north to Portland down to three - which would have been just fine. Sadly, a pedestrian fatality involving a freight train somewhere north of Oxnard brought all that to a halt. The Starlight went from seven minutes late out of LA to three hours late three stops later. And changed the arrival of the Starlight in Emeryville from 11:00 PM to 1:30 AM.
That just meant we had lots of time to stroll over to the Bay Street (pedestrian) mall a few blocks away. Dinner at P.F. Changs and a 7:30 viewing of "A Star is Born" (two thumbs up) are not a bad way to while away the time! Still it was a little wearing not to get on board until nearly 2:00 AM. Geo, our car attendant, had the beds waiting and we fell into a deep sleep nearly immediately.
The alteration in the schedule meant that we slept through Redding and I didn't see much of the damage from this summer's notorious Carr Fire. By the time I was up, we were past the worst of it. I did NOT sleep through Mount Shasta, though. Shasta is my favorite mountain - I just love the way she rises out of "nothing" and is just there in all her (this time of year even) snow-covered glory. And the Starlight circles her for several hours. I didn't get a lot of really great pictures - she's a tricky little minx. Whenever we were on the side where I would have had a clear shot, she kicked up clouds to shelter her from my lens.
Yeah, there's a big snow-covered mountain back there.
We arrived in Portland at about 7:00 PM instead of 3:00 PM. In the rain. But we only had a few blocks to go to the Portland streetcar that would drop us right in front of our hotel. Easy as pie. Except I managed to get us on the wrong streetcar (which travels at about a walking pace) and we wound up going the wrong direction. By the time we got ourselves turned around it was 8:00 when we arrived. And I was in meltdown. Thankfully, Bill was all over it. Calmed me down and got us back on track. Literally.
Only to discover that they had lost our reservation. The one I made in February. Uh. Not happy.
The desk clerk found us a room "right around the corner" so off we went. Through a residential neighborhood with awful sidewalks. In the rain. Me dragging the world's largest orange suitcase and Bill trying to navigate with his new motor. We made it. At 9:00.
When the substitute hotel told us that the rate for our second night would increase to $200 we decided that we were over Portland. Having intended to take a day on the Oregon coast and return on Thursday for Bill's birthday, we opted instead to bug out of town a day early and go to the Pacific. Reservations made in Astoria; car rental modified; good-bye Rose City.
Portland's a beautiful place and the mess-ups are not going to color my perception of it. My walk to the car rental place took me through great neighborhoods (can there really be a coffee shop on every corner? Why, yes, there can - and they are not Starbucks either) and the people are very friendly (even as they are apologizing for sending you out in the rain).
The drive out here to Astoria was gorgeous, even in the rain. We had the most spectacular dinner last night at the Silver Salmon Grille (if ever you find yourself here, do not hesitate - go there). Have the spinach and smoked salmon salad.
And the manager at the hotel that messed up our first reservation in Portland is comping us a stay on our return to Portland on Thursday night.
For now, it's off to enjoy the coast - which some of you know has been the part of the trip I have been looking forward to most. As I look out the window here in Astoria, I see the sky has turned blue and I think the forecast might be wrong.
The Great Allegheny Passage Companion