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Friday, June 8, 2018

My 1,774-mile train ride...

I thought it was about time I shared a little about my recent train trip, which took us from Vancouver, Washington, to Seattle (165 miles) and then from Seattle to Minneapolis (1,609 miles). It took approximately 42 hours, which includes 5 additional hours because of engine trouble, but does not include the 5-hour layover in Seattle.

While we were in Vancouver, Washington, staying at my son's home, we enjoyed many hours on his deck, looking at this awesome view of Mt. St. Helens. His home borders a nature preserve, so it was fun to see deer come out of the woods on occasion and bald eagles flying overhead each day.

We also spent some time in Portland, Oregon, with granddaughter Hadley and her parents (daughter Heather and son-in-law John). This is a photo of Hadley and her teacher on the day she was given an award for "Enthusiasm."

Here's a photo of me getting ready to board the train in Seattle.

Our "roomette" was very cozy! In the above photo, I am sitting on one-half of the bottom bunk, which makes into two chairs during the day. The bunk essentially fills up the floor space of the room when it is made into a bed. What you see in this photo is the complete width of our space. A sliding door with privacy curtain would close off our space at night.

The upper bunk was a bit narrower than the lower one. My husband slept up there the first night, but really didn't like it. So I slept there the second night. I didn't mind it, but I must say, the lower bunk is definitely more comfortable.

The photo at right shows my husband climbing into the upper bunk the first night. He doesn't look very happy, does he!

I did take a shower in the shower room on the train. It was plenty spacious and had lots of towels and hot water. The only problem with the shower is that I had some trouble controlling the temperature of the water. My shower was quite hot! So I made it a quick one. :)

Eating in the dining room was a treat. The meals (included in the price of the ticket) were good, with a full menu to choose from. You could even have a nice glass of wine at lunch and dinner. Breakfast and lunch were casual, but evening meal settings were a little more posh and served on fabric tablecloths. For most meals, we were seated with another couple. It was fun to get to know people and find out why and where they were traveling on the train.

Here's a photo of my husband, enjoying a snack in our "roomette." You can see the privacy curtain on the left and the upper bunk tilted upwards at the top. This was pulled down and our beds made up for us each night by train personnel. The steward also "unmade" them for us in the morning, but we kept our pillows handy for use during the daytime. His arm is resting on the steps that are used to get into the upper bunk.

The scenery from our roomette window was spectacular, especially when we traveled through the Cascade and Rocky Mountain ranges. We also went through the country's longest tunnel in the Cascades. It was over 8 miles long and took approximately 15 minutes to travel through (in complete darkness, of course). A park ranger was with us on the ride through the mountain ranges, and he explained (over the intercom system) all that we were seeing and gave information about the flora and fauna of the area.

The plains of Montana and North Dakota were not quite as spectacular, beyond their vastness, but gave us a couple of new experiences--siting a coyote and some antelope. The animals were too quick for us to get photos, but it was fun to see them anyway.

We had a few stops along the way that allowed the passengers to get out and stretch their legs. Here we are in Havre, Montana, in front of a statue of James J. Hill, the man responsible for building the Great Northern Railway. His family home (a large mansion) is in St. Paul (near us) and holds tours on a regular basis year-round. We have toured it and also attended special functions there.

If the "roomette" accommodations seem a bit too spartan for you, there is another option of a larger sleeping room. I believe both beds are at a lower level in that one and it has its own bathroom facilities. It costs quite a bit more, but might be worth it on a longer trip. We had a lot of fun on this trip, and we're so glad we took the train. It was a bucket list item that has now been checked off!

If you're interested in seeing some videos of train accommodations, YouTube has a number of them. Our train was called The Empire Builder.

Hope you enjoyed my little recap. Thank you so much for stopping by, and remember to laugh--a little or a lot--every day.


Cheryl W. said...

I should have added that I'm happy to answer any questions anyone might have about our trip.

designbydonna said...

Your trip sound like lots of fun. We investigated a long train trip but nixed the idea when we saw how small the "roomette" was. We both have a bit of claustrophobia and did't think we could handle that.

Lynette said...

Cheryl - thanks so much for sharing the pictures! It's on our bucket list, too. We were SO disappointed when our trip got cancelled a few years ago due to flooding in North Dakota:(

Lynne in NI said...

What a brilliant post Cheryl, it sounds like a great trip! Fab photos too, don't think I'd fancy that top bunk though, a bit too snug for me!
And what an amazing view your son has, how nice to wake up to a view like that every morning.

Darnell said...

What a great adventure, Cheryl! We are train lovers, too, and always mean to do that so I'll be mentioning this to the Mister again! I loved the photos! Thank you for sharing!! Hugs, Darnell