Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Travelogue Part 3 - Post-Retreat

I failed to mention in yesterday's post that, in addition to food, no gathering of quilters is complete without a trip to a fabric store. St Croix Falls is right across the Minnesota/Wisconsin border from Taylors Falls and has a nice little quilt shop which we visited. The owner obligingly had a sale going on, which included 20% off precut 1/2 and full yards of batiks. These two looked like a good addition to my current collection - I'm heavy on toned colors and often wish I had something brighter to add a spark.

I didn't head straight home after the retreat, instead adding a day in Eau Claire, WI. to my trip. This is where I lived prior to my move to Idaho, and where I had set up a Memorial to fund a chapel ceiling restoration project at the Episcopal Cathedral there. The initial cleaning had just been done, and since I was so close, it would have been a pity not to go see how the project was progressing and meet the new Dean.

Here's a circa 1943 picture of the chapel - its claim to fame at that time being that it was always open and "devoted to war-time prayers and meditations, for people of any faith." I spent many hours in this chapel staring up at the faint rosemaling and imagining how I might incorporate some of the motifs in my quilting. (This is the same chapel that inspired my angel quilts.) I was pleased to get some pretty good pictures to bring home with me, and also pleased that after 7 years, the project is finally under way. (Remember you can click on any picture for a larger view.)

I also visited with several friends before heading back to the train station in St. Paul. It's definitely more civilized to board the train at 11:00 at night rather than 2:30 in the morning. My porter was waiting for me, had my bed turned down, so it was put in the earplugs and go straight to sleep. And when I woke up, there was the morning paper again. Although it was the same 26 hour trip, it seemed to go faster than the trip out - probably because now I knew what to expect, and I'd be arriving back in Sandpoint before midnight - didn't even ask for the bed to be turned down again.

When I was 3 or 4, I took a train trip with my mother. This and old movies were my point of reference for what train travel would be like. My 21st century train was decorated with vintage posters like the one above, but trains these days are not like those of the 30's, 40', or even 50's when I last rode.

In those days, the cars were more like these refurbished ones I saw at the St. Paul depot, not the double deckers (with the possible exception of an observation car) that all Amtrak cars are now. I didn't expect to have to climb to the second level to move from car to car.

Here's the narrow passageway through the second level of a sleeping car devoted to the bigger rooms. On the lower level, the roomettes are on either side of a center aisle with slightly larger rooms on each end - no through passageway to another car on that level. Only up and over to get to the dining and lounge cars.

There was another wine tasting, and by dinner we were back in the mountains. Here are some of the views I was able to catch before darkness set in again.

Flathead River is fed by glaciers, which accounts for its greenish color.

Still lots of snow.

At dusk I spotted a deer near the tracks, then a herd of elk in a field. Then darkness fell and it was back to reading. The train was running late (Amtrak leases use of the tracks, so often gets shunted to a siding to let freight traffic through - is your car in the container above?) so it was nearly 1:00 a.m. by the time we rolled into Sandpoint.

I was amazed at all the activity - many more people getting off and on the train than I expected. Here's the side deboarding passengers see. For such a dilapidated little station, it does a lot of business, I guess. According to a Wikipedia entry here, it averaged 16 passengers a day in 2007, and the station was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in the 1970's. For more about the rail lines through Sandpoint, see Matt's Railfanning Site.

I'm curious about the history of this station, but couldn't find much on the internet - just that it was in Revival style. Guess that accounts for the balls and arched windows.

It even has this odd little turret thing over a bay window on the track side of the building. And crowding into the picture, the modern day metal communications tower.

That huge crack running up the wall next to the window was one of the first things that caught my eye in daylight. Then my eye noticed the peeling paint, the broken gutter and other evidence of neglect. The freight door fits my image of the style one would expect to see on a building of this vintage.

And finally, what quilter could resist snapping a picture of this brickwork - as it fell apart toward the edge, I thought of quilts showing a similar freeing of regimentation as geometric designs break free of their grid.

No comments: