28th June. This posting has been edited and in places rewritten.
The women’s waiting room early in the 1900’s
Amtrak? Not quite a ‘plane, not quite a ship, not quite a bus and not quite a train either. I’d call it a land cruise. Train travel is a sedate and dignified business here in the U.S.A. People arrive at the station well in advance and might board the train as much as half an hour before departure if starting from it’s station of origin. Train travel may well be coming back in fashion due to the sharp rise in gas prices. The train conductor is beside me, resplendent in a hat similar to ones worn be the Gendarme in France. There is an old fashioned formality in dress, decor and manner which is attractive and a tad disconcerting at times too. Passengers may alight for a cigarette but should stay close so as not to miss the All Aboard! Such announcements take me back to period films like Brief Encounters.
The Compass Room at the entrance to the Seattle train station.
Old Wooden seating in the Seattle train station.
After five days braving the highways and byways of Washington State in a rented car, I’m glad and grateful to be sitting on the train traveling from Seattle to Portland. The station in Seattle is being refurbished and restored to something of its former glory days in the early 1900s.
In the 1960s the station was renovated and in the process tiles in the toilets were covered with Formica and a false ceiling hung in the massive waiting room which obscured the chandlers and elaborate plasterwork decorations. The woman’s waiting room is to be returned to its original spacious elegance and the exterior will be renovated. As I walked out onto the platform to climb aboard I noticed vegetation high up on the clock tower. A clear sign that the renovation of this station is well due.
The Pacific North West where I’ve been traveling for the past days is a watery place, and a mountainous one too. On San Juan close to the main port of Friday Harbour where I stayed the snowy Olympics could be seen emerging from sea mist. Quite a sight! Mt. Hood and Mt. Baker stands sentinel to the East but not visible from San Juan Island itself. Mt. Saint Helen is another remarkable mountain in the area.
Traveling too San Juan through the maze of small islands I caught a whiff of what it must be like to be water born. Or rather born along on water in boats and ferries. I found it exciting in a certain kind of way, but it’s probably routine for residents and would be for me if I traveled this way regularly.
Early in my introduction to Buddhism as a laywoman, I said to the prior at Throssel that something was ‘exciting’. He said, If it is exciting it isn’t training! Now many years later with a bow to that monk, I’d say, Nothing, no feeling, is outside of training, excitement included. There are however ways and ways of being excited. Precepts are all important. While I’m traveling I know they protect, when kept to. I’m taking care out here.