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Red Caboose Getaway: Romance is in the Little Details

Caboose_2 (1280x960)On Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, there’s a special ‘train’ that doesn’t go anywhere, but it can transport you to wonderful places. The Red Caboose Getaway will make you want to climb aboard and stay a while.

rft-recommendedRed Caboose Getaway “Stationmaster” and proprietor Olaf tells me I won’t want to miss breakfast, served precisely at 8:30 a.m in the restored 1937 Zephyr “Silver Eagle” dining car. “Charlotte’s breakfast will have you calling our establishment the ‘Red Caboose Breakfast and Bed,’” he tells me.

Olaf shows me around the property, gives me a tour of my personal caboose. I’m delighting in all the little details, which I continue to discover throughout my stay. Before checking in, I’ve already enjoyed a good long hike in Olympic National Park, and I want to explore more oof the quaint town of Sequim, but it’s an effort not to draw a big bubble bath in my claw foot tub. It’s something to look forward to later in the night. I lock my little caboose-room’s door, smiling at the bullet hole in the window that Olaf has chosen not to replace.

Cabooses are arranged in a circle to offer both privacy and a sense of connectedness.

Cabooses are arranged in a circle to offer both privacy and a sense of connectedness.

It’s All in the Details
I’m in the “Western” caboose, an homage to the Wild West. I could be an East Coast school teacher heading out to a new position in Wild West, or railroad exec traveling to survey new routes. The wood floors are original. There’s a pull chain toilet, pedestal sink, and wainscoting; comfy bathrob; period bath and lighting fixtures, wallpaper, and rugs; lace valences; and even an iron stove. Even the art has a Western theme: a worn cowboy boot leans against a tin washboard and an old iron iron. There’s a spindled wood rocking chair atop a rag rug. I climb the steps to the cupola and enjoy the view from the faux-rawhide upholstered conductor’s seats.

My big, clawfoot tub was inviting.

My big, clawfoot tub was inviting.

The modern amenities at the Red Caboose inn blend seamlessly with the themed décor: there’s a heated towel rack next to a marble-topped accent table. My fridge has a door that looks like a safe. There’s a bottle of lavender bubble bath and a rubber duckie wearing a cowboy hat. I also have a flat screen TV, a DVD player and an impressive selection of Western DVD’s.

Location, Location
The Red Caboose Getaway opened in 2001. Deciding to exchange their home in the Bay Area once they became empty nesters, Olaf saw another caboose-themed hotel, and knew they could do it better.

They liked the town of Sequim and its proximity to the Olympic Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. The property they purchased is close to town and was already connected to city water and sewer. The bare land allowed them to plant fruit and other trees, as well as lavender and create a duck pond.

There are currently eight cabooses, with another being restored. A few of the other themes include the Orient Express, the Grape Escape, and Lavender Limited.

Each Caboose like the Lavender Limited have a unique theme.

Each Caboose like the Lavender Limited has a unique theme and decor.

Cabooses were carefully chosen and restoration efforts concentrate on historical details. They placed the cabooses on train tracks and arranged them in a semi-circle so everyone has ample privacy, yet still feels connected. Olaf heads the renovations and both Olaf and Charlotte contribute to the décor.

Designed as a romantic getaway for couples, rather than families or pets, the cabooses are historical structures and their narrow width means they really can’t be retrofitted to be ADA-compliant. (Call the office with question to see if your needs will be met.)

The cabooses are fun but not kitschy. Okay, maybe a just little kitschy. But not tacky, truly never tacky. They’re definitely whimsical; whimsy that’s artfully smart with cozy luxury.

How a Day Should Begin
In the morning, I brew my first cup of coffee in-room. I exit my caboose at more or less the same time as the other guests. We pass the little duck pond and some happy ducks, chat a bit and share highlights of our particular caboose. Olaf greets us, looking dapper in black slacks, a black shirt and tie.

Breakfast includes a mini-loaf of cinnamon bread.

Breakfast includes a mini-loaf of cinnamon bread.

The dining car has white tablecloths and china place settings. There’s coffee, tea and hot chocolate, as well as a selection of juices. I order coffee and orange-mango juice. The menu lists a four-course, pre-fixe breakfast (it’s a nice change not to make decisions first thing in the morning).

The first course is a mini-loaf of cinnamon bread with a swirled honey cinnamon butter. It’s hot out of the oven and knife-and-fork gooey and fragrant throughout. Next, there’s a baked banana with yogurt, honey and toasted almonds. Why isn’t this dish on every breakfast menu throughout the country?

These Smoked salmon hobo bags were creamy and delicious.

These Smoked salmon hobo bags were creamy and delicious.

“We source most of our ingredients locally, but I admit the bananas are not from the Olympic Peninsula,” Olaf jokes.

Our main course, smoked salmon hobo bags and potato latkes comes next. Hobo bags from heaven, this lovely dish is soft scrambled egg and creamy smoked salmon crepe-wrapped bundles. The latkes are crisp and hot and topped with a dollop of sour cream and caviar.

Red Caboose Getaway's owners built the inn as a second career.

Red Caboose Getaway’s owners built the inn as a second career.

I’m more than sated, but not going turn away my chocolate covered strawberry. The strawberry is red, ripe and juicy and the chocolate is dark and bitter. Delicious. Every day should start like this.

The Red Caboose is a fun, memorable and romantic bed and breakfast.

A-L-L A-B-O-A-R-D!– Story and photos by Nancy Zaffaro, Wine, Brews, & Spirits Editor, Northwest


Red Caboose Inn, Sequim, Washington,

For more information about Sequim,


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Nancy Zaffaro

Nancy Zaffaro is a travel and food writer based in Portland, Oregon. She enjoys travel, writing, good food and drink (of course!), cooking, yoga, kayaking, and photography. She’s a long-time writer and editor who has had interesting and varied careers in the arts and in business, and is thrilled to be able to travel the world and write about her adventures. Nancy is also the Editor of

2 thoughts on “Red Caboose Getaway: Romance is in the Little Details

  1. Marilyn

    This looks like fun! It takes skill and taste to have kitsch without verging into tacky. When it works, it adds to the charm. Breakfast sounds fabulous. Love the rubber ducky touch.

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