Monday, August 11, 2014

Day 5 going nowhere fast Chemult to Chemult

Getting ready to check out

Cheap and cheerful room at Dawson House Lodge

We slept in until 7:30 and had granola for breakfast and then went to the front desk to check out of our hotel at 9am.  The very friendly hotel owner suggested that we check the train schedule before we check out and then she checked it for us. 

Bad news, our 9:30am train was not going to arrive to pick us up until 5:30pm and it would drop us off in Olympia at 1:30 am the next day.  I was in disbelief.  Up until this point I had been enjoying our misadventures, but this was too much.  This was the final straw, I was officially not having fun anymore. 

It was suggested that I stay in Chemult an extra day and take the train the next day instead.  But I did not want to spend more money on a hotel and there was no promise that the train would be on time the next day.  I had only ridden on Amtrak one other time and that time train was also delayed by many, many hours. Plus there was no food of any kind on that train so we starved for 6 hours on what was supposed to be a 2 hour trip.

I did not trust Amtrak to ever be on time at this point.  Also we were elevation sick even at 5,000 feet and it was so hot in Chemult.  I just wanted to get back down to sea level.  We went back to our hotel room and stayed there until the 11am check out time.  We tried to use the internet to find someone to take us home from Olympia, it was not clear who was going to take us home there.  Dan had to go geocaching on Anderson Island in the morning and my spouse was probably too ill to make to drive to pick us up.

I decided that we would go to the free campground 1/4 of a mile away and hang out there until it was time to catch our train.  But it was not to be.  My daughter once again went on strike, refused to walk and when she did walk she walked too slow.  I did not like walking down the highway and was very unhappy with my daughter for walking so slow.

Walking down the highway at a snails pace

We were not going to make it to the campground, that was clear.  There was a forest service office on the way to the campground and we did make it that far.  I asked the nice women in the office where the free camp ground was and they said it was 1/4 of a mile up the hill behind the office.  I could not cope with trying to get my daughter another 1/4 of a mile up a hill so I gave up and cooked our lunch on a picnic table outside of the forest service office.

Lunch at the ranger station
After lunch I tried to take a nap, the picnic table was suddenly in full sun so it was no longer a nice place to rest, but it was shady under the trees so I tried to nap.

At about 2pm I decided it was time to try to walk back to Chemult but my daughter was just awful refusing to put her pack on, dropping everything and being painfully silly.  A woman took mercy on me and offered to give us a ride 1/10th of a mile back to Chemult.

Back in Chemult

The Chemult "freedom tree"

We hung out in the park for a while and then at about 3pm we went to the train platform to wait 2.5 hours for our train to arrive.  The train station office was locked and it did not have a bathroom, so even if it was open it would not have been a very good place to wait.  So we waited on the platform in 95 degree weather.  It was hot on the platform but there was some shade.  I unrolled my sleeping pad and tried to sleep on the platform.

At about 5:30 a transfer bus arrived at the platform and the driver of the bus told us that the train was now due to arrive at 6:04pm, so another half  hour of delay.  The bus driver kept us updated as the time kept creeping up, finally the train arrived at 6:39 pm, almost ten hours late!  The train was being pulled by a Union Pacific Engine.  Our train was late because two Amtrak engines had failed in Southern California.

Finally our train arrives and it is
being pulled by a Union Pacific engine

Amtrak Train Schedule for Chemult Oregon

Dead bird on the platform

The platform was so small that the train had to make two stops to unload everyone.  The conductor got out and took our names but he did not apologize or even make any mention of our train being late.  By this time I was really pissed off, hot, tired and elevation sick.  I got onto the train and threw my pack down onto our seat and then bumped my head on the luggage rack.

As soon as the train started moving it was announced that one of the toilets was clogged up.  Then the train just to torture me stopped at Shelter Cove to let another Amtrak train go past.  My resupply package was at Shelter Cove, I  felt so sad looking out at Shelter Cove, I wished I was hiking.  I wanted to get off and pick up my package and hike on.  But instead I had to take my  daughter home.  Maybe I could get back down to Shelter Cove and restart my hike on my own?

Our train had to make two stops at this tiny platform

Our train stops at Shelter Cove to let another Amtrak train go by.
Why did our train have to stop?

Shelter Cove from behind a dirty train window
my resupply package is waiting here but I'll never
be able to pick it up now and it cost me $22 to mail it there.

I was in a very bad mood until the train got down to about 2,000 feet and my elevation sickness started to wear off.  I felt as if a huge pressure had been released by going down to the higher pressure air at sea level as if that makes any sense!
the train goes in a circle to get up the hill

Soon the train stopped again to check on a "branch" that was stuck under the engine.  Was this train ever going to get to Olympia?  Maybe we would die on this train.   The train was going 33 mph and my GPS said it would take ten hours to get to Olympia at this rate.  I knew that could not be true, but I also knew that the train was not going to arrive in Olympia at 1:30, so I had to get word out to my ride that the train was getting later and later by the minute.  Who knew when the train would arrive?

music in the observation car
Eventually my foul mood lifted a bit, there was live music in the observation car thanks to another passenger and people were having a party of sorts in the baggage car and Amtrak was selling beer down stairs.  It really was a nice way to travel one the damn train finally arrived.  Beer was $5.00 a can but I figured that I deserved a beer after the hellish day we had waiting for the train.

Still the train was getting later and later.  We got off the train in Eugene to take a break and then got back on.  Once the train left Eugene it finally began to travel at highway speeds and it began to make up for lost time.

My daughter slept soundly from Eugene to Olympia.  I slept off and on from Eugene to Olympia.

"Ride Amtrak" they said, "it will be fun" they said

Our train finally arrived in Olympia until 3:30am.  Dan was there waiting to take us home.  We got home at about 4:20 am.  My husband had fallen asleep while waiting and he was disappointed about that, because  he had been trying to hard to stay awake for us. 

I laid down to sleep in my nice soft bed at home at about 5:30 PM.  Our expensive hellish vacation was finally over.

After spending a lot of time on hold with Amtrak on the next Monday they issued me a voucher for the full price of our tickets, good for future travel with Amtrak within the next year.

Day One:
Day Two:
Day Three:
Day four:
Day five:

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