This place is a little over 1/2 hour away from Tacoma area, yet its in a rural part of Washington, at the east end of Alder Lake, about 20 miles from Mt. Rainier.
Technology is not their strong point, as you have to call to make a reservation. You don’t get an email confirmation but a verbal one, so you just hope that the confirmation code they give you is legit (it was). And, there’s no WiFi here. Verizon users have about 2 bars LTE, but T-Mobile users get zero service. Fortunately Stephen was able to tether off my iPhone and used it as a hotspot.
We arrived at 7:30 pm, and the sun was just starting to set. When you drive toward the caboose, there’s a sign that says the registration is in the Dining Car a block behind you. It was walk able, but we drove to the “first’ dining car, and sure enough, you sign in at the bar.
Word to the wise: get here when the sun is up. There is a gas station / convenience store and espresso stand across the road. When we got there at 7:30, I don’t recall it if was open. When I peeked outside around 9:00, the place was dark.
Arriving with the sun still up will help you find your caboose. At 7:30, it was hard to find our caboose, because the number is posted on the door, and not all the doors are facing the same way. We had caboose #4, which was the yellow one. I wish the gal who checked us in told us the color, instead of us blindly looking. The caboose share a wooden platform staircase, which should help you determine where the front door is.
Caboose #4 had a hot tub, and was more spacious than I was expecting it to be. The room had a queen size bed (although lumpy), a tv that had no reception, but they did provide you with a fridge, a variety of VCR tapes with movies ranging from comedy to horror to drama. If you have VCR tapes at home, bring one!
Our caboose had an area where you can climb up and look out. Stephen got a kick out of that. On a table, they provided a coffee machine, packets of Maxwell House coffee, 2 non caffeinated teas, and a bucket for ice… only there’s no instructions where to find ice. We went to the Pizza car, where they told Stephen to go to the Dining car. The car was empty but luckily a worker came out, and got him a bucket with ice.
The Hobo Inn provided us with 2 bath towels, 4 washcloths, and 2 hand towels. We got 3 dinky bars of soap (so BYO if you want substantial soap) and tubes of shampoo and lotion. The bathroom was spacious, and had a decent size hot tub. The place was clean, but its definitely no frills.
Overall not a bad stay. They charge your room upon arrival and they do take credit cards.
One Yelp review said they got breakfast included with their rate. I was told in check in that information was wrong. I could not find any information on their web site which proved it did or did not come with breakfast.
Aside from the no breakfast included miscommunication, I can’t really find anything bad. Oh, the Dining Car does not open until 9:00 am, so don’t try to check out beforehand. We were lucky that a “kitchen help” found us wandering the area at 8:30 and took the key from us.