29
May
17

Another 48hrs on the train

22 Apr 1400hrs: We had a 4hrs layover at Chicago Union station, that gave me the chance to do a walking cruise downtown Chicago and had lunch.

Bright and cheery gallery car.

Then we board the #7 Empire Builder. We are doing this ride from the originating station to the destination station… I think we are the only passengers that will be on it for the entire journey, not counting the crew of course. Even then, some crews get on/off at various points along the way too.

I would love to own acreage with flat grassy farming soil and a cliff on the back.

On the Empire Builder, cabins are exactly like our last train, but there is a gallery and lounge car that is such a treat. I guess it doesn’t make good sense to have a gallery car on a overnight train like the #49. Whereas the Empire Builder is going cross country and in daylight everyone would want to hang out and mingle. Again, I am happy that the ridership is about 30%, such that the gallery and dining car were never so full up.

Heading into the cascades.

I am a happy patron of the lounge, no queue, and my beer is nicely chilled. Its surely double what I pay for at the supermarket, but its about the same when I buy it from a pub. So nah, I dun have a problem with buying 2 bottles a day for 2 days. Poor attendant was not getting enuf customers nor tips to make his trip worthwhile, and train passengers are not really the generous tipping kind… sigh… guess why the grumpy lounge attendant was happy to see me? 🙂

Our view from the dining car. A moment of peace as we finish our last bites.

Oh yes, I must say that I am very happy that we have our own kettle, especially on this longer leg where we are stuck on board for 48hrs. We certainly saved money from not buying lousy coffee or cup noodles (chicken flavored only!) from the lounge car. We brought our own coffee mixes, tea bags, cocoa, instant cereal and “hot and spicy shrimp” cuppa noodles 🙂 … I have 1 each morning 🙂 Also on the Empire Builder, cabins have a drinking water spigot and small disposable cups that were very handy. So its less yucky to have to get water for the kettle than from u know where.

23 Apr: We spend all day on the train passing thru flat farming lands as far as the eyes can see, stopping at little towns with train stops where some passengers get on/off or just a cig break. I am happy that we had AT&T network connection most everywhere so I kept up with my little people games on my iPad 🙂

Was difficult to get a good picture in a moving train.

Altho the seats are not as comfortable as beds, it seems we slept quite well and frequently doze off during the day too. I think we are definitely getting 8hrs each day… if not 10 🙂 . The train does rock a fair bit, making it hard to write a diary or draw a house plan, but I manage to do a little work on the computer while at the lounge car. Reading is really quite popular…socializing otherwise, only few people are playing phone games.

Morning in the Cascades.

By 1700hrs, the terrain changed from rolling farming plains interlaced with lakes and rivers to one that is woody and rocky. Seeing the Cascades in the distance with the setting sun in the back is a treat.

Getting a 1800hrs dinner car reservation for us, having a great steak (for me) and salad (for Doug), as we enter the Cascades was the highlight of this ride. Our experience was only slightly marred by the mother and kid that we shared our table with, and other diners near us who ruined my expectation that dining passengers are well heeled high society types…. I guess not on this trip… Well, I was thankful that most diners ate their small meals and left quickly, leaving us (the last 2) to eat up our expensive bigger meal in peace.

Kings Street station in downtown Seattle.

24th April 0700hrs: By now, we have changed time zone for the 2nd time. Morning in the Cascades was beautiful and we are in good spirits nearing the end of our long journey. I mean we go on long journeys all the time, but we are always in the driver seat and its just us in Calliste, or us just in Fordie as we drove east last fall. Sure, we cant wait to step off the train and be in control of our immediate environment again.

My daisies! Planted last summer, survived winter without me.

I am more of the veteran passenger than Doug as I have had been on cruising, flying and train riding vacations in so many countries from childhood…. so I did learn to make the most out of each riding experience. In many ways those things that I pick up makes my next journey more comfortable and interesting, mostly with regard to timing when to do what kind of things when bound in a cabin with other people 🙂

1000hrs: We arrived almost an hour ahead of schedule, in downtown Seattle. Got our checked in bags, they arrived unscathed 🙂 . Leaving Doug to watch our bags at the station, I walked 1 mile, guided by my trusty phone and Google, to Budget car rental.

Got the car that I prepaid for and got Doug and our bags before noon. Back on our home run route, stopped at Walmart to restock the cabin. We are home by 4pm, unloaded the car, and with still a good amount of daylight and energy left, we walked the grounds and smell the flowers 🙂 . Oh cabin, we’re home!

 

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Sailing 2015: Port Townsend(WA, US) -> Costes Island (BC, Canada)

Sailing 2013: Singapore -> Okinawa -> Kobe

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