Last February my childhood friend Lauren brought up the idea of possibly going on a cross country trip with me and a couple of other mutual friends either later this year or next year. I have never gone on such an adventure before and was suddenly intrigued. In my line of work, I have been lucky to travel to dozens of countries around the world. However, I am a bit embarrassed to say that I have not done the same extent of travel within the country was born and raised in most of my life.
Also, after the November election, I have been doing a lot of reflection. I realize that I mostly work and live in the bluest cities in the bluest states in America and that I need to learn more about people and experiences in other parts of the country.
Instead of driving cross country in a car, Lauren wants to travel by Amtrak from Boston to Los Angeles or San Francisco. My only experience with Amtrak is traveling along the Northeast Corridor. I had never done any of the long distance routes before. Since I had to go Seattle and Los Angeles for business a couple of weeks ago, she suggested I take the Coast Starlight between the two cities as a “test” trip.
And, boy, did I have a great time! When they say the journey is the destination, they are not lying.
The train trip was the best part of the adventure. The Coast Starlight stops at all the major cities and towns along the west coast, like Portland, Sacramento, Emeryville (San Francisco), San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara. I purchased the roomette (which I highly recommended) and had the first-class experience. I had the opportunity eat, sleep and enjoy the wonderful scenery along the 36-hour route. The Amtrak staff and the many people I met onboard were great. While I did travel mostly through Left Coast blue cities, I met a lot of great people from all over the country like Texas, Oklahoma, Idaho, and Louisiana during the ride.
So, yes, I will be doing the cross country trip in the near future!
I also had time to catch up with some friends in Seattle and my bestie Charlotte, who owns a home on the beach in Santa Monica. Sweet! I created a short video of my whole trip below.
Here are some highlights from the trip and video:
- Upon landing in Seattle, I took pictures of Mount Rainier and the Cascade Mountains from the plane.
- I visited the Seattle Central Library – a beautiful building. If only all libraries could look this way.
- I also visited the Uwajimaya Asian Grocery & Gift Market in Seattle’s International District. It is one of the largest Asian supermarkets in the country. Lots of wonderful food imported from all over Asia including American brands like green tea and strawberry flavored Kit Kats! They even have a whole aisle with just ramen – amazing!
- I went on a three-hour walking tour of Seattle – one hour in Pike Place Market and two hours walking around the city. Our tour guide Shawn was awesome.
- I visited the Museum of Pop Culture. Chris Cornell of Soundgarden had just died the day before and there was a huge retrospective memorial there honoring him. I also saw a Jimi Hendrix exhibit.
- During the train ride, I saw the Cascade mountains again, as well as go through Willamette Valley. Down into California’s “Salad Bowl.” I eat a lot of salads while riding past lettuce fields in Salinas. Finally, I went along the along the beautiful southern California coast. I could have stepped off the train and into the Pacific Ocean if I wanted to (maybe not!)
- Charlotte and I did a bus tour of Los Angeles, which included taking pictures with “Michael Jackson” at the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
- We went to Olvera Street, the oldest part of Los Angeles. Lots of great Mexican food (taquitos!) and culture. Then we took a quick detour into Chinatown for sweet bread and dim sum.
- I visited the Santa Monica public library, which is gorgeous.
- We then went to Venice Beach to watch street performers and saw “Slash” from Guns N Roses walk by.
- A lot of jogging, volleyball and walking between Venice Beach and Santa Monica.
Enjoy just as much as I did!