Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Empire Builder

Below is my journal entry from July 29-30, 2009. Excuse my disjointed thoughts and most likely mixed up tenses. It's my journal so I can write what I want. :)

Pulling away from the train station in Everett, WA I finally feel relaxed. I'm on the Amtrak train called Empire Builder, bound for Wolf Point Montana. The last few days have been a whirlwind of packing, cleaning, planning and meal making as I prepared for the trip to come. The Mr. was left with the dishes washed, the laundry done, pre-made plates of food in the freezer (roast beef or chicken with the regular sides and gravy) and the house was in a clean-ish state. Making hot meals in 85 degree weather might not have been the smartest thing to do, but I'm glad I did it because now I can rest assured that The Mr. is well fed and taken care of.

My assigned seat on 8 Empire Builder wore an out of order sign so the conductor moved me to another. Now I'm sitting across from a couple who live in a small town in Manitoba. They had visited Seattle to see the Toronto Blue Jays play the Seattle Mariners at Safeco feild. They couldn't believe that the temperature had been 99 degrees at first pitch, and wondered if this was normal. I told them it wasn't (and Seattle eventually moved on to break their local heat record by two degrees, reaching 103!!!) Yowzers. The couple told me how they got to see the sights of downtown Seattle- the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, the waterfront etc. but that the Jays lost. Their excitement of seeing Seattle for the first time reminded me of when I was courting The Mr. and seeing everything through rose colored glasses. I don't need the rose colored glasses anymore, Seattle is a beautiful city with amazing things to see. Anyways, back to the train.

As we enter the mountains the weather cools and the air-conditioned cabin is getting chilly so sweatshirts and blankets are appearing. It is quite comfortable and such a relief since we had just an hour before left Everett's blazing hot air behind. Next we were able to watch a lightening storm out the windows for a few miles, which was really neat. We reached the 7.8 mile Cascade tunnel after that and entered it without a wait, as the carbon monoxide had already been cleared. Unfortunately that doesn't keep you from smelling a faint exhaust smell. A little girl in the row ahead exclaimed "Gramma, this window smells like egg salad!" After her grandpa explained that it was train exhaust, she asked her grandparents this joke- "What comes out of the back of the egg's car?................. eggs-aust!" This little girl had such an enjoyable personality. Later she exclaimed that when you walked on the train it felt like you were on a treadmill because the scenery moved. Silly girl! It does feel weird when you walk on the train.

The train has several stops along the way to pick up or drop off passengers, but the longest one is in Spokane, WA for 30 minutes. Late last night I was able to move into a window seat sometime before that, so thankfully I slept right through it. I got to sleep on two seats which is much better than head-bobbing all night in an isle seat! In the morning we were going through the mountains, over bridges, past lakes and through tunnels in Glacier National Park. There are few fresh air stops in the park because they try to make up time, but there's lots of beautiful scenery to see, which was relaxing. I love the pristine beauty of the mountains.

After coffee and yogurt for breakfast I looked out the window to see a wheat field. We were suddenly in the prairies. The change is so fast you hardly notice when it happens. In contrast to the quaint and cozy mountain towns, the prairies are spotted with the occasional run down looking cattle ranch and abandoned log cabins and outbuildings that are remnants of homesteads from the past. The prairies are beautiful in their own way with fields of green and yellow swaying in the wind like rippled ocean water. I love the prairies and will always feel at home in them.

I arrived in Wolf Point Montana an hour late, but Dad was faithfully there to pick me up. It was so good to see him! I couldn't wait to step foot on the farm and see the rest of the family.

Between Everett and Spokane, I was in the last car on the train. This was such a great place to stand and watch the sun set and the little towns get tucked in for the night.

And voila, the prairies! Ok, so it looks like I forgot to take photos of the mountains. I took lots of them on the way back I think. At least I hope so! I know that there was a lot of musical instruments and singing down in the bottom level of the viewing car. At the cafe where people just sit and hang out. There was a guitar, a fiddle, a harmonica, some singers and a lot of stomping feet so I was otherwise occupied. I didn't know any of the songs, but live music is so fun to listen to. I did get to request Amazing Grace, and sang that with a few others and accompaniment, as well as as Jesus my Saviour Thou Art Mine. I also sang Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing a capella and hope that consciences were touched and the Good News of Jesus Christ was spread.

Here is a video of the style of music that was being played. The guitar player and fiddle player were friends who were traveling and making money playing their instruments in different cities. Several others in the room either played or sang or both, so it was a fun time.

What it looks like when a train passes on the track beside you - very close! At times there are trains on both sides of you, or on one side of you as you are going through a tunnel and it is a very weird feeling.

Um, no thank you. I think I will take my business somewhere that has service. This was just the first of several funny signs I saw in tiny towns.

Havre Montana. This is the stop where I have shared the train with Amish people twice now. It must be a common sight.

Dear Ace Hardware. It is now August and you need to change your sign. (This store had a full parking lot and people coming in and out, so it's not like they went out of business or anything!)

Old Town Grill, where you can get anything grilled I guess. Their windows across the front read "chicken, char broiled steak, pork chops, stir fry, mexican, burgers." I guess that just about covers all the major small town food groups. There was an ice cream parlor down the street for dessert.

Back to the farm I go!

1 comment:

  1. Great pics! That would have been fun to see the music on the train!


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