Last Saturday I took the train to Portland to meet my Sweetie down there. I am a HUGE fan, and am kinda regretting the five billion times I've done the trip by car in the past, and it will take some compelling reasons to get me back in the car for the trip in the future. I DID have the benefit of being in PDX earlier in the week, so just planned ahead and left my stuff, so the only stuff I needed to carry with me were distractions for the journey. That also freed me up to take the bus to the train, and choose a bus stop that was further, but provided a preferable route, for the journey. These are the lessons I learned on Saturday:
- When you're walking 1.4 miles to the bus stop it would behoove you to make sure you are wearing well-fitted socks, and not the variety that constantly want to slip and slouch.
- Check the bus route before you leave the house, so you don't spend the whole walk paranoid that you will go to the stop on the wrong side of the street, and somehow end up stranded as a result of that mistake.
- Metro transit points have schedules and maps right there for you to view, so you can confirm that you are on the correct side of the street, and rest easy.
- Jehovas Witnesses like to hang out at bus stops on Saturday mornings. They have people camped out at the big transit centers, and roamers that will drive around looking for people waiting at less populated stops.
- Cargo pants, with the pocket on the thigh, are now a necessity when traveling. That pocket does a very good job of holding boarding passes, ID, bus fare, tickets, transfers, etc, in a handy spot to make things easy to retrieve when necessary.
- The Bellevue Transit Center is not at the big park and ride off I-90, that's the Eastgate Park and Ride. The Bellevue Transit Center is in downtown Bellevue. So when you're only as far south as downtown Bellevue shortly before your bus is scheduled to arrive at the transit center there is no need to have a panic attack, you're on time. This is also the time to be thankful that you decided to walk to the bus this morning and make a bus transfer, rather than just drive to the Park and Ride so as to only take one bus. Otherwise, you might still be waiting for that bus. (Although, chances are other buses would have arrived that could have done the job for you).
- Sound Transit and Metro are friends, but not the same. So you pay the Metro fare on the Metro bus, then use that transfer and pay just the upgrade for the Sound Transit bus. The bus drivers are very friendly and helpful in getting you through this, but it does help to know if your buses are Sound Transit or Metro, or at least route numbers, so that you can ask the appropriate questions.
- The trip planner on Metro's website is really, really cool.
- Seattle's Amtrak station, King Street Station, is one of the most depressing places ever. Right on par with Seattle's Greyhound station. Although King Street Station is under renovation right now, and promises to be all pretty like it used to be when all is said and done.
- People do not really listen to PA announcements. So when the PA announcer says they'll begin boarding out of door 3 in 30 minutes, everyone will line up immediately.
- There is a strategic element to standing in line at the Amtrak station, at least for the Coast Starlight, which involves not standing next to someone with loads of luggage that doesn't have a complete understanding of personal space, as they will most likely be sitting next to you. I am told this is not a concern on the Amtrak Cascades. We shall test that theory on our next trip, as I am also told that you get a free movie on that train.
- It is not enough to make sure you have all the songs and podcasts you want uploaded to the iPod before you go, you must also make sure that you've charged the darn thing.
- The ham and cheese sub sandwich that you can buy in the lounge car may be expensive, but it is also enormous.
- Drunk college students are drunk college students wherever you are.
- If it's raining in Portland the cab stand may run out of cabs before it runs out of people who want cabs. (Which did not apply to me, but I learned while waiting for Sweetie).
I plan on taking the train for my next trip to Portland, and am thoroughly looking forward to it.