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A Trip By Train
Seattle is a two day trip, on the Empire Builder coming out of Chicago. Along the way, you cross the entire continent, from The Great Lakes, all the way to The Pacific Ocean. The Mississippi is crossed, along with The Great Plains, and several mountain ranges. Trains are still a fairly gracious way to travel. There is a dining car, an observation car, bar and snack cars, and sleeper cars. Traveling by sleeper is a nice way to see the country, and is quite a bit of fun in it's own right. Stops are made at various points along the way, and it is possible to see, for a short time, some of the cities and towns along the way.

The Milwaukee Amtrak station, as it looked upon my departure. There was nowhere to park, though I eventually found a spot in a parking garage, several blocks away, and then raced to make the train.
Inside, the Amtrak station was a mess. I will eventually post some photos of what the place looks like now - very nice. At the time, though, this just added to the chaos.
Waiting at the gate, with a bit of the platform visible, through the windows.
All Aboard!

The train has arrived from it's starting point in Chicago. My friend Sunny is waiting for me, in our compartment, and I have already  checked my luggage.


The Mississippi, about three hours into our trip. The sun is just starting to go down, and it is very pleasant and relaxed on board.
Everyone who rides the train, should experience the dining car at least once. The food is a little pricy; but not terribly out of line, and is more than made up for by the experience of dining while the scenery passes you by.
Three meals a day, as well as a local newspaper, bottled water, and a compartment, are included with first class passage. Seating is family style, with passengers being sat, four to a booth, as they come in. It is a nice way to meet people, and talk about travel. The woman across from us, on our first day, was traveling around the world, from her home in England.
The hallway, on our sleeper car. There is a rest room, shower, luggage racks, and then the rooms themselves. It is private, comfortable, and very cozy.
A look into our compartment, in day mode. At night, the seats can be turned into a bed, and another bed folds down from the ceiling.
Our compartment, in semi day mode, with the top bunk down; but the seats still left in day mode. This gives the option of a bit of privacy. I brought a laptop along, and would never again consider traveling without one. The laptop allows the traveler to upload photographs from a digital camera, browse the net, where wireless is available, and watch DVD movies. It also permits writing, game playing, and listening to music. Note the background image, which is "The Corner" in Winslow Arizona.
  A look at the top bunk, with the reading light on. The little harness goes from bed to ceiling, to prevent any sleepers from falling out.
  The roomette in full night mode, with the top bunk down, and the seats transformed into a bottom bunk.
  A very comfortable place to spend the night, particularly after a nice meal in the dining car.
  A compartment in day mode, with the seats and top bunk up.
  This is a bedroom, which is a bit more comfortable, and roomy than the compartment/roomette. It even has it's own bath, and a double lower bed.
  This is a family bedroom, with the bed up. It is designed to sleep two adults, and two children.
  The same family bedroom, showing the beds down in sleep position.
  Winnona Minnesota. This was our first stop. We only stayed for a few minutes; but it was nice to be able to get out and stretch our legs a bit.
  Looking down the tracks, in Winnona. It is beginning to get dark
  A look out at a rainy night, as we stop in St. Paul, around 10:00 P.M. There will be a short layover, and we can actually get out for a while. A train station can be an interesting place at night.
  Various looks at the rail yard by night. The rain adds to the mood of the place, making it seem as if we are denizens of the night, sneaking in, and then sneaking back out again.
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