Road trips, antique train rides, and cherry pies: Snoqualmie, WA.

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 MuseumBecause 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

Riding the train from Portland, OR to Seattle, WA


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. 

Our ride: All aboard! Get ready for the bell and whistles!

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…

Or do they?

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…

“You know, excuse me, but this is a damn fine cup of coffee!” (Special Agent Dale Cooper)

 

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…

 

 

Snoqualmie (and North Bend,) WA.: Best antique train ride. Best cherry pie. Best – excuse me! – damn, fine cup of coffee. Best road trip with your teenager.

A bientôt.

All photos except when noted by French Girl in Seattle

Do not use, re-post, or Pin without permission.

 

 

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What did you think about this article? Let me know in the comment section below, (I love reading your messages and reply to most.) Don’t be selfish and share with a friend! Merci. Véronique (French Girl in Seattle)

35 Comments

  • WOOOOO! ROCK ON FRENCH GIRL! Lovely locations to put a smile on my face as I prepare to leave in just a few minutes to my first ever HIGH SCHOOL French class. Later in the day, I will teach a group of 8th graders beginning French. HAVE A SUPER DAY MON AMIE! Anita

  • Bonjour. I love trains too; had a large collection of model trains when I was a kid. There is no comparison between the comfort of the TGV and current state of travel on airlines. I wish there were more connections in Provence but we will have to live with our TGV rides between Paris and Avignon.

    • Bonjour Michel. J’adore le TGV. It is mostly punctual and so, so comfortable. What a relief, too, to be able to walk around instead of being stuck in a cramped airline seat. If I ever move back to Europe, I will only travel by car or by train. I will reserve flying for emergencies. A bientôt!

  • J’adore les voyages en train, temps suspendu entre le départ et l’arrivée , paysages qui défilent,parenthèse enchantée..
    Il y a plusieurs trains à l’ancienne qui refonctionnent par ici, et pas seulement l’été. Faudra essayer la prochaine fois !
    Dans mes rêves , j’aimerais traverser les USA en Amtrack, ou la Russie en Train bleu…
    (Je ferme mes blogs vers le 8 pour vacances , ne t’inquiète pas )
    A bientôt!

    • Très joliment dit, Marie.

      Je serai ravie d’essayer un des petits trains niçois lors d’une prochaine visite. D’ailleurs, je suis ravie d’essayer à peu près n’importe quoi lorsque je suis à Nice, tu le sais 🙂

      Je rêvais moi aussi, à une époque, de visiter les USA en Amtrack. Prépare-toi à un choc culturel. L’Amtrack, ce n’est pas le TGV!!! Bon voyage à Londres et n’oublie pas HARRY!!! 🙂

    • Well merci beaucoup Jackie. I saw on your blog you are about to embark on a fabulous trip. I will be looking forward to traveling vicariously though your pics. Hopefully, by the time you return, things will have slowed down a bit here, and we will be able to connect at long last.

  • Dearest Véronique,
    Oh, a luxury train ride would be the very best. You know, when we did our consulting work for Pond’s India Ltd. for a decade, we got to ride the first class night train to our final destination. That was pure luxury, like in the British period, complete with shower and all. Would swap any plane seat for that!!!
    But you did show us a very worthwhile train ride in the north west of the USA with spectacular views. Great ending too for brunch and coffee.
    Hugs to you,
    Mariette

    • Bonjour Mariette. You did live the good life for a while, as an international consultant. I would have loved seeing those trains!

      Our modest train ride on Sunday was nothing in comparison, but we still enjoyed it. It is good to slow down… and smell [damn, fine] coffee once in a while 🙂

  • OH MY GOSH –loved this little excursion with you!! as usual the pictures are beautiful-and would love to have a cup of coffee in the TWIN PEAKS CAFE-the black dog looks mighty fine too! what a great way to end the summer vacation and usher in the new school year!-oh love the dream category on the side bar I hope and can see that each one WILL BE ACHIEVED ! as always thanks for sharing.

    • Bonjour dear g. Comment ça va?

      Thank you for stopping by and for leaving a kind comment, as always. Like you, I hope some of my dreams (old and new ones,) will come true. I will work on them. And I can work hard when I want to 🙂

  • Oh I just love Snoqualmie. The air smells so nice, doesn’t it? And Twin Peaks! Loved that show. I understand that David Lynch was completely wired on coffee and chocolate milkshakes when he wrote that. Great clip.

    • Bienvenue Connie. A coffee and chocolate milkshake addiction. That would help understand a lot about Twin Peaks 🙂 That show was WILD! I almost met handsome Kyle McLachlan when I worked as a budding movie critic for the Seattle International Film Festival a few weeks ago. *Almost.* 🙂

      A bientôt.

  • What a fun road trip. We visited Snoqualmie Falls many years ago on our way to Lake Louise after spending time in Seattle. We were told to have the infamous Country Breakfast at the Inn. What an item! Who really eats that much food?
    Thanks for sharing the beautiful photos. The falls were amazing when we visited in August many, many years ago. ~ Sarah

    • Bonsoir Sarah. The breakfast you are referring to can be found in that building next to Snoqualmie Falls (you see it on the photo above.) It is a big breakfast, and expensive too. I have not had one in years. Personally, I was quite happy with our simple brunch at a bistro table chez Black Dog. Unpretentious and unpacked (maybe because it was after 3:00pm! “:-) Bonne semaine in Texas.

  • We visited for the falls and the Twin Peaks lore, I had no idea the museum was that close or we might have also stopped in there. I am curious when that picture of the falls was taken, are you sure that’s even Washongton? It looks like the sun is shining 😉 Bisous!

  • I loved all of this! Seriously, who doesn’t love travelling by train (ok, I had one scary crowding incident in India) and as much as I love France (and you know that I do) what I wouldn’t give for a Black Dog café! That made me so homesick!

    • Bonjour Heather. Thank you for your visit. Sorry you don’t have a Black Dog café in your neck of the provençal woods. I tell you what: I will ship Black Dog over to you, if you ship me back your favorite small village café in Southern France (needless to say, it has to come with comfortable tables and chairs outside, and it should preferably be located on a sunny little square, with a fountain, some ancient plane trees…) How does that sound? Deal?

  • What a great day out for you both and certainly a ride I would enjoy. The view of the valley is wonderful and it must have been so interesting having a tour of the restored station which is so quaint. All rounded off with cherry pie and good coffee – perfect! You may remember my blog post earlier this year when we had cream tea aboard a steam train which travelled through the Lancashire countryside – a real treat. There is something very special about train journeys especially in the old style carriages which are so nostalgic.
    PS I’m a Top Gear fan too. Junior has good taste!

    • I remember that post you wrote, miss b. I would not mind tasting some of that ice cream myself, as beautiful Lancashire goes by through the window… Top Gear… What can I say? I had no choice and I don’t even like cars. But those three guys grow on you, don’t they? 🙂 My favorite is Richard, but Jeremy is quite funny too.

  • I love trains and have taken them all over Europe! Once I had to lead a group of tourists on the train from Issoire to Paris. I have never visited Snoqualmie but it looks like a lovely town to visit. Have you ever taken the Amtrak train to Vancouver?

    • Issoire to Paris, eh? I hope you did not lose any of them. That would be an easy thing to do on a train 🙂

      I have never taken the Amtrak to Vancouver but might give it a try in the coming year when I start missing the French TGV again 🙂 Bon weekend!

  • Wow what a beautiful part of the country. I have never been on a real train before (those fake trains at the zoo do NOT count) and I have been longing to do so. A year ago I saw an advertisement for a train trip across Canada that seemed absolutely STUNNING. That is my dream now, to take that trip.

    I also have Twin Peaks on my Netflix. It has been on my queue for five years. My list is so long and ridiculous (I do the DVDs like a dinosaur). It’s a good show? You recommend? Should I bump it up?

    • Hope you end up taking that train trip, Jenny!

      As for Twin Peaks, you may love it or hate it. But it is a cult show and as such, a landmark in American culture. You owe it to yourself to watch at least the excellent pilot! At the very least, you will get to travel to the Pacific Northwest 🙂

  • Labor Day is the UNofficial end of summer in the U.S. Summer concludes on Sept. 21, here as elsewhere. The feeling post-Labor Day certainly is different.

    J’aime bien votre blog.

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