|The Empire Builder|
I am so excited about this I can hardly breathe. I have always been fascinated by trains. The pace that they take you through life feels so perfect to me. I rode them a few times back and forth from Utah to Washington when I was in college but I never dreamed I would get the chance to ride on one clear across the country.
This dream all started when I realized back in June that I did not want to take my car with me to Oregon. I have had some strange, very compelling, need to make this break a very clean break. I do not want a car payment ever again so I am leaving the car with Brian. Once I made this decision I needed to figure out how I was getting my stuff, me, and my two girls across the country. As I asked questions and researched traveling by plane versus traveling by train and then made a decision about how I would be moving my paltry possessions the train option emerged as the clear winner.
|Gassman Coulee Trestle|
Once we get to Chicago we have a five hour layover and then we will get on the Empire Builder train and I need to take a deep breath and try not to float as I tell you about this part of the trip....we will get great views of the Mississippi, see the skyline of Minneapolis and St, Paul before dark and then they say when we wake up in the morning we will be crossing the plains of North Dakota....and then we get to cross the Gassman Coulee Trestle which was built in 1899 right outside of Minot, North Dakota....then we get to go through Montana...right through Glacier National Park which I am needing to visit desperately. After Montana we will go through Spokane, Washington and then of course, the Columbia River Gorge and end in Portland. I have seen a lot of these places on drives but you see different things when you travel by train and I am beyond thrilled about this. And it is always better when you do not have to worry about the driving, right?
What I love the most about this trip is that it can take as much time as it wants to. If my Lake Shore Limited train gets delayed and I miss my Empire Builder train in Chicago I don't care. I have no deadlines, no place I have to be by a certain time. I am adoring this. I do not feel anxious or worried about the delays on the Empire Builder due to lots of freight train traffic. It is like utopia :)
You can check two bags on the train for free and carry two bags with you to your seat. There are two different dining cars one buffet/cafeteria style and one a sit down restaurant. The prices are reasonable and I have two friends that have recently taken the train from Springfield to Chicago and they both have said that the food is good. We are going to pack some food but I am sure we will definitely eat on the train also.
Our train leaves Springfield on Monday at 2 in the afternoon. You do not have to go through security or anything like that so I am planning to get to the station by about 1o'clock. We are supposed to arrive in Chicago by 9 the next morning. The only drawback I see to this trip is that there will be night time and I will not be able to see everything we are driving by. What if I miss something awesome? Our second train leaves Chicago at 2 in the afternoon and we arrive in Portland on the 7th of August at about noon. I called Amtrack yesterday and chatted forever with Doris about traveling by train and all the delays that are happening so all these times are very flexible. But I think I already mentioned that I do not care :) I think that is the key when you travel by train. Making sure your life is free.
It only cost $700.00 for all three of us to ride the train from Springfield, Massachusetts to Portland, Oregon. I was pretty thrilled about this so do not burst my happy bubble and remind me I am only paying for one way tickets :)
As I am pushing through endless packing... and sorting... and goodbyes... and closing accounts...and trips to the dump...and worries about my kids the one thing that has been steady in the distance has been this train trip. I need this. You all know I do. Lots of thinking time. Lots of figuring time. It is like I have been sitting at the table in the kitchen playing a game with all of you and all of a sudden in the middle of the game I rolled a number that made it so I had to go back to the beginning and start over. You know the feeling? Everyone else playing the game with you says "oh,bummer" especially if you were almost going to win. If that is the case they are probably secretly glad you got flung back to the beginning so they can win instead :)
I spent most of my married life working my way across the United States and now I have rolled my dice and I am heading back to the beginning. I grew up in Seattle and California. I love love love the east coast but I am technically a west coast girl. I am giving myself a few months to sit on my parents lawn, look at the lake, eat the steak my dad makes so perfectly, work in the yard with my master gardner mother, stare at their perfectly manicured grass, put out resumes at every library in Oregon, get my girls into school, drive my dad's really old land cruiser just to make my siblings jealous, visit the redwoods, go to the beach, and figure out how to win the game :)