Junior loves road trips. For him, they are all about cars. Riding in a car. Talking about cars. Checking out cars zooming by. He is a die hard fan of the iconic BBC Top Gear show. Need I say more? Labor Day is the official end of summer in the United States. This week, schools reopen across the country (if they haven’t already,) and parents everywhere will breathe a sigh of relief: The little darlings are finally leaving the nest – at least for a few hours every day. Labor Day weekend seemed like the perfect occasion for a last-minute summer celebration. In the middle of a busy weekend filled with music, activities, and time spent with friends, Junior and I drove east, on a beautiful country road, to Snoqualmie, WA. A former logging and mill town, Snoqualmie is best known for its famous falls. They are said to be higher than Niagara Falls. This time of year, after such a long and hot summer, they are lucky to still be running.
|The fancy Salish Lodge, next to Snoqualmie Falls
(not my photo, and likely not taken in the summer months…)
This time, we skipped the falls. From the looks of the parking area nearby, nobody else did. Our destination was Snoqualmie‘s Northwest Railway Museum. Because I have had to fly between Europe and the United States in increasingly uncomfortable airplanes for the last eighteen years, I have become quite fond of train travel. This summer alone, I took four train trips in Europe: The French T.G.V. (best way to zip across France, hands down,) the Eurostar (excellent, except for those twenty minutes under the English Channel that make me a bit nervous,) and a regular French Corail train (like in the good, old, pre-TGV days.) Train travel may not be as popular or efficient in the United States as it is in my homeland, but I still go out of my way to ride trains when I can, as illustrated in this story I once wrote about a trip to Portland, OR.
The history of the United States is irreversibly linked to the development of the railway. Trains connected settlements, and towns, allowing them to expand and thrive. By 1900, small town life was organized around the local railroad depot, the main link to the outside world. Snoqualmie, WA is lucky to own a beautifully restored depot, inaugurated in August 1890. The depot would help bring visitors to Snoqualmie Falls until the 1920s.
Visiting this historical landmark, complete with its former waiting rooms, freight rooms and original ticket window, is wonderful enough. Being able to ride antique railroad coaches through local small towns and the beautiful Snoqualmie Valley for an hour, is even more special.
Is it me, or does everything look better from the windows of an old, rickety coach? Ours was built in 1912 and restored by museum volunteers.
Sleepy, small towns look better…
Those of us who followed the cult TV series Twin Peaks in the 1990’s know that there is more than meets the eye in those quiet streets, and small shop windows… That afternoon, as our train reached North Bend, WA, I could have sworn I spotted special agent Dale Cooper (Kyle McLachlan) ordering a piece of cherry pie at his favorite local restaurant…
The part of the trip that does not disappoint: Overlooking the sprawling Snoqualmie Valley…
And I don’t know if Special Agent Dale Cooper would approve, but our [very] late lunch at the Black Dog, in downtown Snoqualmie, was one of the day’s best surprises. Black Dog, we came in for a drink; stayed for the all-day brunch; loved your fresh ingredients and generous portions; and will definitely return for some music…