Empire Builder

The United States of America is HUGE. I have now travelled from the Far East of the country right across to the far west of the country. All without entering a plane I might add. Obviously you can do this in about 7 hours or something on a plane. but i am massively glad i didn’t. The latter part if my journey has taken pretty much exactly 48 hours. The distinct change in climate and terrain noticeable pretty much every few hours throughout the journey. 


The journey began on the 1st of July, departing from union station in Chicago at around 2pm. The train then snaked its way up into the state of Wisconsin. At some point we met the Mississippi River and followed this as the sunset upon it until we finally crossed the border into Minnesota. Marshlands and water and bridges that we had to cross occupied most of the views on this part of the journey. When we hopped off for some fresh air in Winona Minnesota it was raining, and then further down the line at Minneapolis it had turned warm again. 


After Alex left the train at staples Minnesota, I drifted in and out of sleep until the wee hours of Wednesday morning the 3rd of July (happy birthday granny G!) where I watched the sunrise over ‘devils lake’ in North Dakota. Helped myself to a sausage egg and cheese muffin and a coffee for breakfast I then settled back in my seat to watch the landscape go by. 


Mainly lush green everywhere. There was flooding in North Dakota that came right up to the tracks, that thankfully were risen several meters above ground level. Otherwise we would have been pretty stuffed. The flooding forced the train to be delayed by some hours which meant that the journey into glacier national park in Montana would happen a little later which I became gutted about pretty fast as I love mountains. Never the less we still managed to watch the sun set over the Rockies, and I made my way to the lower level of the train where I could hang out the window and take photos of the train snaking its way through the mountains. 


For dinner that evening I had pasta, wasn’t too bad. There is either a restaurant or a shop. I was pretty tired. Sitting on your bum all day will do that. So just grabbed that and some water and conked out.


No one had replaced Alex since he left back in Minnesota. Obviously irreplaceable. However at 4am this morning I got awoken from my slumber by a lady tapping my leg to wake me up to sit down. It was one of the first times that something that is happening in actuality became part of my dream. Again like you see in the movies. Anyways, I didn’t want to wake from that dream. So I was sufficiently quiet to hide my annoyance, and turning over I struggled to then get back to proper sleep. 


By about 7am I was wide awake and hungry. This time I went to the restaurant for breakfast and ate scrambled eggs, bacon, potatoes and a croissant. Oh and coffee and orange juice. I sat with a couple from Missouri who had just got on the train at around midnight after spending three days in glacier national park Montana. 


The morning was beautiful. The sun shone through the and landscape that was gradually turning from dry desert style terrain into thick forest and mountains. After breakfast we plunged deep into the heart of the cascade mountains. Here we climbed up to 2800 feet. Journeying through the 7.8 mile cascade tunnel we then came out the other side following the skymonish river. Pine and fir forests surrounded the tracks. Every now and then you’d get a view of the mountains in the background with waterfalls and big drops from where we were sat on a bridge. Truly beautiful. And all untouched. Bar the train line of course. 


I’m now about 20 minutes from Seattle overlooking the puget sound out of the window. The tide is out and heron and a variety of boats and ships are on the water. The weather has become a little overcast, but we have been told it will burn off in a couple of hours! 


Will blog when I get to Seattle…

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