The Napa Valley Wine Train
Napa Wine Country with the Watsons -- April 26-29, 2001

(Posted April 30, 2001 © Herbert E. Lindberg)

We stayed at the Ink House, where the blue route from Davis (map on the hub page) terminates in St. Helena on Route 29. Mary and I arrived about 2:30 p.m. on Thursday. The house was comfortable but sits right on busy Route 29 with cars whizzing by at all hours. Fortunately, the old lath-and-plaster construction kept out most of the noise. The re-built Observation Room plunked on top of the house was very cheery and comfortable. Our room is the window on the left on the second floor. The next few pictures give the feel of our Ink House stay. If your main interest is in the Ink House you can also jump to a picture of its Living Room.

The Ink House viewed from its parking lot on Route 29.

The Ink House has four mountain bikes that we enjoyed during our stay. They were twice as heavy as our bikes, and the chains and sprockets were rusted from lack of care, but after a quick treatment with WD-40 spray oil the bikes performed well. After we unpacked Mary and I rode among the roses and vineyards up into the hills behind the Ink House. On each of the three mornings of our stay, Val and I were up early before breakfast to take bike rides around the St. Helena and Rutherford area.

Mary and bike next to the roses.

The next morning we all relaxed in the Observation Room after breakfast until it was time to drive into Napa to board the Wine Train at 11:30 a.m.

Mary and Sandy enjoy the Ink House Observation Room.

Val and Sandy plot our adventures from the Observation Room.

Herb and Mary just relax in the Observation Room.

We arrived at the train station in Napa about a half hour early to pick up our will-call tickets and begin our wine tasting with comments by Brent Trojan on a public address system. Soon we were on the train reading the menu for our four-course gourmet meal.

Val and Sandy contemplate the Wine Train menu.

Once we got out of the ghetto section of Napa, the views from the dome car were all that we anticipated. The dome car gave unobstructed views because the windows are higher than those in the other cars and are open to the sky. On the flip side, dust and dirt gathered more quickly on them as water and morning moisture rolled down them. You can see the dirt streaks in the photograph below. I tossed out most of my photographs from the train because of this dirt.

Passing vineyards in the Wine Train.

Val took this picture after Mary and I had been sipping wine for about an hour:

Herb and Mary in the wine-drinking spirit.

The train travels about 20 miles, from Napa to just below the Charles Krug winery in St. Helena, at about 12 to 15 mph. We arrived in St. Helena about the time our main course was served, and got a good start into it as the diesel engines disconnected from one end of the 8-car train and took a side rail to re-connect to the other end for our trip back to Napa. Our meal was finished about half way back to Napa and we were free to walk around the other cars and out on the rear platform to watch the tracks fade away.

Typical Wine Train observation car.

Herb says his last goodbye to a pretty attendant.

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