Wanderung 13

Any Which Way But Loose:

Meandering Many Miles in Multitudinous Mechanisms

April 2006


The plan for Wanderung 13 grew "like Topsy”. It all started with the idea to take a cruise to Alaska with my sisters Lois and Phyllis and Phyllis’s husband Bill. We finally settled on a 7-day cruise on Holland America’s ship Zuiderdam that went up the Inland Passage of the Alaska panhandle. Our itinerary was to visit Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and Glacier Bay while seeing pretty much the entire length of the Inland Passage.

The cruise we booked started and ended in Vancouver, British Columbia, so Monika and I started mulling over how to get out to Vancouver. We had previously enjoyed a train trip across Canada, and we became curious about what a similar train trip across the United States would be like. Besides, given how Amtrak struggles for its paltry subsidies each year, we wanted to ride the rails in the U.S. before Congress pulled the plug on Amtrak. As a result we booked Amtrak trains from Washington, D.C., to Chicago and then from Chicago to Seattle, Washington, with a bus transfer up to Vancouver. But we scheduled our arrival for a couple of days before the Zuiderdam departed, hoping to have some time to wander around Vancouver, which we knew from our previous visits to be a very pretty and interesting city.

Now the question arose as to what we were going to do after our cruise. The sensible thing to do, I suppose, would have been to simply book a one-way commercial airline trip back to Washington. But we didn’t like the fares being quoted from Seattle and besides, no one has ever accused us of being too sensible, so we scratched around for alternatives. I had an old friend from college days in Los Angeles, and when we contacted Chris he said he would be happy to take a few days off work and bum around California with us. That gave us a golden opportunity to do the Volksmarch in Sacramento, California, and Carson City, Nevada, which would almost complete our goal of walking in each of the 50 states in the U.S.A. We found that the airplane fares from Reno, Nevada, back to Washington, D.C. were reasonable, and Reno is just a hop, skip, and jump from Carson City, so we booked the final leg of our journey on Delta Airlines.

But that still left us the problem of getting from Seattle dpwm to Los Angeles. Then we recalled how Phyllis and Bill had really enjoyed taking the Coast Starlight train from Seattle to Los Angeles a few years back, so we decided to book that train as well. I mean, what the heck, we were already spending a lot of time (and money!) on Amtrak, so we might as well see what we could see of the West Coast from the train. Booking everything ourselves gave us the advantage of flexibility for each leg of our planned journey, which was great, but it also led to us getting confused and ultimately renting a hotel room in Seattle for the same night we were scheduled to be on the Coast Starlight train, which was an expensive mistake as the reservation was non-refundable. Hoping we hadn't made any other egregious errors, we packed our suitcases and prepared for a journey around the country using these multifarious forms of transportation.

Copyright 2006 by R. W. Holt and E. M. Holt
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