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Rocking and Rolling on the Coastal Starlight

Seattle cityscape

Here we are rocking and rolling down the coast out of Seattle, not with a band, but aboard an Amtrak train that bumps, jumps, sways, jerks and hurtles all at the same time, knocking me around like a dog in a shipping crate thinking that at any moment I might go airborne.

I love it.

It is our transportation of choice for a week in the Northwest, and now we are on our way back to the homogeny that is L.A. "We" are my wife, the adventurous Cinelli; our 18-year-old grandson, Jeff, who is cheerful and helpful beyond belief, possibly having been spawned on a happy planet in another galaxy; and me, the pater horribilis.

Related: 5 Great Train Journeys Across America

The trip was a way of celebrating my 84th birthday. We had not been on a train for about 40 years, so why not give it a try? Seattle is a beautiful city full of things to do and it also happens to be where Cinelli was born, leaving it when she learned that there were actually places in the world where it was dry once in awhile and did not make her feel like she was living in the bottom of a fish bowl.

We slept on bunk beds for two nights on what was known as the Coastal Starlight - in a room no bigger than Angelina Jolie's closet - and ate in the dining car. While the sleeping facilities provided just room enough to turn around if you were facing in opposite directions, the food was superior.

We loved the train. No one suffered more than bruises by being bounced off the wall or thrust face-first into a window; no broken bones or cranial fractures, and absolutely no need for amputations. When there was no "jiggling," as Cinelli put it, the ride was as smooth as a cloud in a dream.

We would take the train again and visit the Northwest again, bumping along through the scenic beauty of forests and mountains and of lakes and ocean shores, strung like sapphires and emeralds into scenes of chromatic wonder all along the way.

It's a great trip for seniors except maybe for the bumping around, but there's a solution for that too: Just slip on a football helmet and shoulder pads, granny, and bon voyage!


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