TRAVELS WITH TIM – AMBER WAVES OF GRAIN
Seattle is history. So is Spokane and Glacier Park. No matter whether I look east or west, north or south, there is nothing out there but “amber waves of grain.” The grain is interrupted occasionally by cattle, but east of the Rockies, there is only miles and miles and miles of grain to be seen . The Empire Builder left Seattle yesterday on an afternoon which quite suddenly and unexpectedly turned sunny and blue. In an effort to find something which Tim could do and might enjoy in the afternoon awaiting the 440pm departure of the “Builder,” we settled on a round trip Washington State Ferry ride across Puget Sound to Bremerton. It seemed like a good idea when I bought the ticket at 1215pm for the 1235pm ferry, but then it began to rain and rain and rain. When we arrived back at the ferry dock in Seattle at three, it was still sprinkling but by the 440pm departure of the “Builder” blue skies prevailed and the first hour running along the shoreline of Puget Sound was spectacular. Three cruise ships were sailing north to Alaska abreast of us and the Olympic mountain range to the west and along the coast were majestic.
At Everett, Washington, the train heads southwest and climbs the Cascades. Since it was two days after the longest day of the year, we had daylight for the entire climb and descent into central Washington’s apple growing area along the upper reaches of the soon to be mighty Columbia River, flowing south and southwest.
Dinner in the diner tonight brought us together with a two men from the coach section, one of whom it took all of two nanoseconds for him to figure out that I was a bishop. The ring gave me away. He is attending Sacramento State College and regularly attends the Newman Center and knows Bishop Jaime Soto and the long retired Bishop Francis Quinn of Sacramento who wears the same Council ring, which I wear. To make the world even smaller, he has a cousin who lives in Plant City and his own mother who lives in California has been on trips and pilgrimages with our Father Carlos Rojas. Tim kept the other young man entertained. Good dinner followed by a challenging first night of sleep – only three more to go in these AMTRAK sleeping cars.
Since Tim would not easily be able to climb into the upper bunk, I volunteered. Mistake. I should have probably secured two of the smaller roomettes so we could both have lower beds, but like many a football game, which is won on Monday, hindsight is always 20-20. Too bad there was no film of this 230 lb. monster climbing up steep stairs and then trying to crawl into a space of about three feet of headroom. I should win an award as a contortionist.
We awakened on purpose around 630am (having lost an hour due to the change from Pacific Daylight Time, to Mountain Daylight Time), in time for Tim to detrain in Whitefish, the station at which the Builder begins to climb to the top of the continental divide and enters Glacier National Park. Once again the weather was beautiful on the west side of the Rockies but it has been overcast on the east side. About fifty people detrained at the West Glacier Station and the same number boarded. At East Glacier, within walking distance of the National Park Lodge, the same number left the train and slightly less boarded. Clearly the National Parks are in their busy season. Tim entertained three people at a table for breakfast in the diner as I kicked him out. I had breakfast with a young woman from Corvallis, Oregon who was going to East Glacier and the Lodge with her family. She was very pleasant.
Traveling with one’s brother is not always easy. Tim chose the middle of Puget Sound to tell me how he thought I and the other bishops were looking pretty darn stupid (not exactly his choice of adjective) on the HHS matter. He could not believe that in this age of enlightenment, anyone in his or her right minds could be raising any kind of ruckus about contraception. I used all my best and every argument that I had that it was not about contraception but religious liberty but he was not buying. And he was vehement enough that had I not expended thousands of frequent flyer miles and AMTRAK Guest Rewards miles for this trip, I might have thrown him overboard in the middle of Puget Sound. Probably the testiest moment on this trip and in years. He has been quiet since then!
Lunch was with a husband and wife from Rhode Island who clearly like to ride trains. They came west on the train and are now heading home. They also like the Queen Mary III, which they have taken on a quick trans-Atlantic voyage three times since she entered service. They have a short connection tomorrow in Chicago and are already worried that perhaps they will not make it (this train has been averaging 140 minutes late the last two weeks into Chicago). The Lynch boys have their second and final hotel night tomorrow in the Windy City.
Tim is beginning to reminisce and rhapsodize about the trip which begins Tuesday night on what was once the Chesapeake and Ohio. He worked for them for twenty-four years after returning from Vietnam and there has been all kinds of talk emanating from him that he intends to bribe the sleeping car attendant into opening the top part of the Dutch doors in Montgomery, West Virginia and Clifton Forge, Virginia to allow he and his camcorder to record houses we used to live in and places we used to frequent. We will see. Now it’s back to those “amber waves of grain” and towns like Malta, Montana; Saga, Montana; Wolf Point, Montana. Come to think of it, Montanans have probably never heard of Frostproof, Florida, or Lokey either.
Tags: AMTRAK, Catholic, ferry, Glacier National Park, HHS mandate, Photo, Puget Sound, religious liberty, Reverend Carlos Rojas, Roman Catholic, Seattle, Tim Lynch, train, trip, Vietnam, Washington, Washington State Ferry