Bike + train to Portland

It wasn’t easy, but I crammed three days’ worth of stuff onto the bike this morning: clothes, toiletries, gifts, and snacks in the two big zippering Trader Joes bags in my rear baskets; toys and more snacks in the kids’ backpacks held on their laps; and small messenger bag, laptop, Ergo, and even more snacks in my big messenger bag. Thank goodness it was all downhill to the train station.

It was very easy getting the bike on the train. I left it fully loaded with kids and bags and walked it to the baggage car at the end of the train where I dumped everything in a big pile, folded up the baskets, and handed the bike over to an Amtrak guy who hefted it into the car and hung it from the vertical bike rack. I don’t know if this was by design, but our seats were next to the baggage car so I didn’t have to transport our stuff far and we could look at the bike through the adjoining window.

The three-and-a-half-hour trip was long, but easier than a car or airplane trip. We were seated in a cluster of four seats with a table…with a poor solo guy sharing our space. He was very patient and helped retrieved dropped toy cars and trains and somehow managed a bit of a nap. We paid a couple visits to the dining car, which was clear on the other side of the train. Also at that end of the train was the handicapped bathroom which easily accommodated the three of us, though even the normal bathrooms were more generously sized than airplane lavs.

Getting off the train was a snap, too. I loaded up all our stuff train-side as soon as I retrieved the bike so had to do very little carrying of heavy bags to do. The only casualty of the trip was one of the ears of the bunny bell.

My friend Andy, a recent Seattle transplant, met us at the train station, sporting some sweet holiday decorations on his Surly Big Dummy. Thank goodness for cargo bikes–I happily handed off my enormous messenger bag and the kids’ backpacks which easily fit in his custom cargo bags.

He led us on a tour or Portland, with our first stop Voodoo Doughnut. I noticed a “Skate Route” directional sign along the way which made me smile because nothing says flat land better than a skate route sign. We rode by several fountains we’ll have to come back to visit in the summer, admired the Portland Oregon sign, and stopped at the food cart pod on Hawthorne (which is apparently called Cartopia) for dinner. Potato Champion was unfortunately closed, but the rest were open, the heated tent was great, and they even turned on the little merry-go-round for the kids.

We headed up the Sockeye Salmon Street (you may translate SE Salmon St. as Southeast, but the boys insisted upon Sockeye) Neighborhood Greenway to Inn Beervana, my brother’s friend’s beer-themed vacation rental. Salmon was a nice quiet street and we saw a great bikey house on it–with bike wheels decorating several surfaces–but it was hardly the flat route I’d imagined. The parts of Portland we rode through weren’t hilly like Seattle, but they weren’t completely flat, either.

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