Sunday, April 26, 2009



O God

Thank You, thank You

For Your reiterated ALL. . . .

You have promised:

ALL my needs shall be supplied.

ALL grace shall abound toward me.

ALL the promises are mine.

ALL things asked I shall receive.

ALL sufficiency for ALL things.

You are with me always

ALL the days.

And today!

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!

Psalm 136: 1

Written by Ruth Havens Calkin

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Life On The Rails – Homeward Bound

Yesterday I shared the first part of our train trip last weekend and the beautiful sights along the way. After our lunch in the park at the end of the line we returned to the train for the trip back to the depot. I told my family that I wanted to ride in the open observation car – the last car – so I could focus on taking photos along the way. My sweetheart and my family boarded the train to return to their seats and I boarded at the back and soon found my place in the open-air car. I chose to be in the back of the car where there were no seats so I could move around a bit. A few minutes later my sweetheart joined me and we found a good spot among the others who had the same idea.


I felt a bit sad to leave the wonderful little community that opens their hearts to the trainloads of people who join them each weekend, and I wished I could spend more time in the park and the museum and the gift shop we were leaving behind. While we waited for the train to pull out we were treated to a motorcycle ‘parade’ headed for lunch at the grange hall.


Just a few minutes behind them another ‘parade’ came our way – vintage and collectible cars. What fun!


They passed the train and circled around behind to a grassy parking area near the grange. It was obvious that they planned to join the lunch bunch!


It seemed as if everyone on the train was watching and enjoying these wonderful, old cars.


And then, we slowly began to move down the tracks – rolling along and enjoying the clickety-clack on the rails and the sound of the whistle as we approached each crossing.



We passed acres and acres of fruit trees. . .


And homes and farms along the way.


After a while we had our last views of Mount Hood as we left the open spaces of the upper valley.


Then we travelled through forest lands where historic logging camps were set up throughout the area for the loggers, their wives and their children. Schools and churches and camp stores were part of their everyday life. When they finished logging one area they packed up their camp and moved to a different location. Many camps dotted the countryside – each one had a number. We passed the site of Camp No. 1 as we headed north toward Hood River.


At times we could see the engine and the railcars ahead as we wound our way through the woods. First one way. . .


And then another.


We rode beside streams. . .


Crossed the Hood River. . .


And made our way through another small community. . .


Where a man on his riding mower waited as we crossed the road.


We had been travelling downhill all the way back and soon we saw the track below us. A few minutes later we were down on that track.


But first we had to get to the switchback where things needed to change.


The engine had been pulling us - soon it would begin to push us! We pulled ahead of the place where the lower tracks joined the upper tracks. . .


The brakeman jumped off the train and turned the switch so we could travel on the lower tracks. Now the engine that had been in front of us was in the back. The open-air car that had been the last car was now the first!


Soon we were on our way again, moving through the lower valley, along the banks of the Hood River. The old pipeline on the other side once carried water to a now out-of-commission power plant downstream.


Somewhere along the way I took a picture of my sweetheart. . .


And he took one of me! (The wind was really blowing hard through the forest corridor!)


Before we knew it, we were approaching the end of our trip and it was time to walk through the train, return to our seats and rejoin my dear little mother, my cousin and her husband.


And then – we were at the train station again. Back where we had started that morning, four hours earlier. The group waiting for the next tour greeted us as we stepped off the train.


My family patiently waited for me to take a few more photos before we headed for home. As the next group boarded the train I walked beside the tracks to the engine.


Our engineer stepped off the train, talked to me and let me take his picture.


It was hard to say goodbye and leave the train, the wonderful old depot and the kind staff and people who made our day on the rails such a success.


As we travelled, a wonderful tour guide shared the history of the area and told about the geography, the wildlife and interesting bits and pieces of information that helped us understand the wonders of the Hood River Valley that we enjoyed so much. He had a great sense of humor and everyone enjoyed his personality through the day. He told us of upcoming excursions and he endeared himself to most everyone on board. During the last part of the trip he walked from car to car, talking to people and answering questions. My sweetheart and I decided we should retire in that area. When we were first married we lived not far from there and we love that part of Oregon. He wants to be an engineer - I want to be a tour guide! He would look great in an engineer's outfit. I can envision myself in period costumes – one for the different eras represented by each rail car – as I share my knowledge and friendship with everyone who rides along with me. Just before we headed home my sweetheart decided to get in my picture of an old caboose. Can't you just hear him say “All aboard?”


The best part of the day was the sweet words of gratitude shared by my dear mother as she tried to express how much this birthday gift meant to her. She said it was the perfect day – the train ride, the picnic lunch my cousin and I prepared and the time together with her dear ones. It brought back many wonderful memories of the days when she rode the train back and forth from her home in Southern California to college in Seattle. The train trip last weekend was like a cake - her enjoyment was the frosting on the cake!


You can find more information about the Mount Hood Railroad here.


With a grateful heart,


Friday, April 24, 2009

Life On The Rails – Outward Bound

Scenes and reflections from the trip we took on the Mount Hood Railroad keeping ‘playing’ in my mind. The trip was part of my dear little mother’s birthday gift. It was her long-time wish to ride the train and see the Hood River Valley in the heart of Oregon not too far from our home. Last week was the annual Blossom Festival in celebration of the pear and apple blossom-filled orchards that are so prevalent throughout the valley. Some of the best pears and apples and other fruit comes from this Oregon valley. We arrived in Hood River a bit earlier than expected so we had time to drive around town and see wonderful old homes and historic buildings. But it wasn’t long before we found our way to the train station on Railroad Avenue.P4180166Soon we had our tickets in hand and waited in line. Excitement filled the air as we all anticipated the day ahead.

P4180026We walked through the gate and down the track a ways to our car. We were in the Katharine car. Mr. V. helped my dear mother board.


Once inside we could immediately see the beauty of this vintage rail car that was built in 1911.P4180032We found our seats and visited together as others boarded. My cousin, Mrs. C., her husband, Mr. V., and my dear mother enjoyed a bit of conversation together.

P4180030 My sweetheart and I sat just across the aisle from them .


Soon we were underway. Outside our window, Hood River flowed from Mount Hood, through the valley and down to the town of Hood River where it empties into the Columbia River.


Just ahead of us a darling three-year-old girl was delighted to ride the train with her family. We enjoyed her so much as we travelled. Seeing the world through her eyes added to our day!

P4180035It was hard to sit back and ignore the sights just outside our windows as we travelled.


Along the tracks, in the upper valley, many old buildings are used for handling and shipping the fruit harvest.

P4180040 And then – suddenly – the sight I had anticipated and eagerly waited for! There was Mount Hood, standing proud and tall and beautiful above the valley. Oh, I love that mountain! My favorite!!


Long before we came to the upper valley our tour guide gave us the bad news that the blooms are about two weeks behind this year because of our unseasonably cold and long winter weather this year. Although he apologized, he was quick to remind us that this is one thing they can’t control. We could see that the blooms were teeny, tiny little buds that would pop open soon.


In the middle of the valley Mount Adams, in Washington, became visible. I would love to live up there where the mountains stand guard over the valley below!


Mount Hood could be seen towering above the remains of buildings from days gone by. . .


And Hood River as it wanders through the countryside.


Our destination – and lunch stop – was the community of Parkdale. By the time we arrived in the center of town we were ready to get off the train and enjoy our layover. A wonderful park beside the tracks, filled with things to see and do, was a welcome sight. It was such a beautiful place with Mount Hood looming high above.


We had packed a picnic lunch to enjoy in the park beside the railroad tracks. Some passengers had pre-ordered box lunches from nearby delis and cafes. Others ate at the businesses along the tracks or enjoyed the hot meal available at the nearby Grange Hall.


Artists and vendors filled the park with their wares. Our time there was too short and we weren’t able to see everything. This booth was close to our table.


Early day logging camps filled the area and provided a living for hundreds of families. An old logging truck is on display at the park.

P4180060And this ‘sculpture’ was made of some kind of woven fibers or twigs.


There wasn’t time to see and do everything during our layover in Parkdale. Plans are being made to return by car soon so we can stop often to see and enjoy places along the way. We hope to make the drive when the blooms have burst and filled the valley with color and their sweet fragrance. Until we do we won’t ever forget the day we rode the rails – bound for fun together in the sun.

I'll share our return trip with you soon. There was so much to see and enjoy on the way back to the station.