Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Still Here

Still in Australia, only a few days to go and I'm off. I have been busy organising things, not much time for blog reading or writing.

I watched the grand final at a mates place on Saturday, was going for the Saints, but it was so evenly matched. The best team won on the day.

I will miss my brother and family by hours, they get back from 6 month around Australia trip the day I am leaving. Well it's really a half Australia trip as they went up west coast and down the middle. Still sounds great. I guess a few weeks won't make much difference after all that time away.

I Don't know how they will cope living in a house again after 6 months in the caravan. Mum went up to Darwin a few weeks ago to meet up with them and they took her to Kakadu and Lichfield national park. They continued on their trip and left mum in a hotel in Darwin for a few nights. Mum reckons sister in law flipped out when she saw all the space mum had in her hotel room.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Seattle to Vancouver by train

While researching this online, I came across the fact that this route is part of the growing trend back to public transport in America. The full route runs from Eugene south of Portland in Oregon, all the way through Seattle, and over the border to Vancouver. The route has been opened to passenger trains in stages since the early 90's (the tracks are primarily freight tracks owned by Union Pacific and BNSF). Known as Amtrak Cascades, the trains run multiple times daily, mostly between Portland and Seattle, but a few go north/south from this main spine.

To me the most astonishing thing is that the carriages used are articulated tilting trainsets manufactured by Talgo in Spain. Think of the French TGV (or Spanish AVE)and that is pretty much what they look like. The only difference is that instead of the sleek electric locomotives found on trains in Europe, they use a diesel locomotive (an EMD F59PHI) at one end and at a an unpowered locomotive at the other. The unpowered locomotive looks exactly like an EMD F40 locomotive only the "locomotive" parts are missing and it is filled with ballast instead (concrete or something heavy like that), but still allows the train to be driven from that end.

Despite being designed for higher speeds, the trains travel at the regular speeds of North American trains.

I almost forgot, the scenery looks like this! Not that I will be there in winter, but still...


I guess I should tell you all about my upcoming overseas trip. Taking advantage of the airfare war across the Pacific I will be travelling too...

The United States of America.

Maybe it is a bad move to go to the home of saturated fats, but I've been wanting to explore the west coast for a while now and this is my chance.

I'll be flying over with and spending the first week with my mate Mike who is beginning a 6 week trip of South America. Together we are going to Los Angeles, Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon and back to Vegas before we go out Separate ways. He is off to Mexico city, and I'll head north for 2 weeks. I plan to visit San Francisco, Yosemite, Monterey, Seattle. Since I will be in the area I thought I may as well head up to Vancouver before flying back to LA for my flight home, which may be a waste of time due to the few days I will have there, but I'm going anyway.

So much to do in so little time, I wish I had longer. Originally I wanted to do a tour from San Francisco to Seattle, but the tour companies finish up for the "winter" just before I get there. So instead I am going it alone for 2 weeks. Did I mention there is so much to do in such a short space of time. I have no idea how I will fit it all in. Already I feel like I am missing stuff, but then again you can't see everything.

Only a few weeks to go now and getting excited... a bit, the reality of it hasn't hit me yet (seem common for overseas trips). Basically all I have is a return flight to LA and a vague idea of where I am headed. That's a bit of a lie actually, I have also booked some domestic flights and a hotel room at LAX the night before I come home (hoping to do some shopping on my last day in LA before the flight). But other than that it seems I'll be busing and hostelling around the place.

Oh and I plan to take the train from Seattle to Vancouver, I am looking forward to that. Now that's an interesting train I will do a separate post on that.