The Amtrak Empire Builder, originally operated by the Great Northern Railway, runs just a mile from our summer camp spot at Montana Raft Company in West Glacier. It connects Chicago to Seattle and offers a spur line to Portland, OR. We had a thing we wanted to see in Portland, so we packed our bags, grabbed some to-go Wandering Gringo burritos, and headed for the station.
The train picked us up at 8:30PM Friday night for an easy overnight to Portland. Just a heads up about trains: be aware that they are imprecise beasts. They may be late, or they may be early, but regardless you need to be early, because the train will only be at the station for as long as it needs to be. Our train was at the West Glacier stop for maybe 5 minutes. Chels says less.
Our ride was about 14 hours long. The cars were comfortable, the leg room between seats enormous, and the staff friendly. Our sack dinner and beverages were perfect (Amtrak lets you bring food and beverages on the train to be enjoyed at your seat). The entire experience was a huge upgrade from the trains I rode extensively in China. I highly recommend Amtrak, and especially the Empire Builder, for a long distance trip across the US. It's a great way to see the US.
We opted for seats on the trip, rather than the more expensive beds. I brought a lightweight blanket for Chels and I to sleep under, and we tried to get as comfortable as possible in the seats. All-in-all, not a bad night. I did stay up a little later than her doodling.
We're not going to tell you why we went to Portland. That's a reveal for next week, because as of yet we're not sure how this rail excursion will end. Suffice it to say, we bought one-way tickets.
Until next time…!