Monday, July 07, 2008

Travelblog episode 2a: Amtrak Adventures continue

We left off yesterday at dinner our first night on the train. And I realize in retrospect that it sounded like the fun began after dinner, which isn't exactly true. It happened after we'd ordered dinner, but before the dinner had arrived. We were sitting in the dining car, me and the kids sharing a table with a gentleman from, um, Chicago (I think) while Mom and Paige were at another table with another couple. We were tooling west out of Everett when we stopped. Hmm. Odd.

Odder still was that a few minutes later the power went out. Lights off, air conditioning off, nothing. It's not dark - there's plenty of light coming in the windows, but still. Eventually the conductor (or maybe engineer) comes on and says something like "Well, we've got an engine out. But instead of waiting for Burlington Northern to get us a new one we're going to just keep going using one engine to pull and provide power to the cars. So we'll be slow going up Stevens Pass, and late from here on out."

Well, since we weren't exactly expecting to be on time anyway this didn't bother us. The food eventually arrived (and was very good, I might add), and eventually we made it back to our room to watch the trees go by and to try to hold our breath through the big tunnel (we failed. Miserably). And eventually, at around 9:45, we let Mary make up our beds and we settled down to sleep.

Now, something you should know about us Chickens: we like it cold. In winter the heat rarely gets over 65. We get droopy when it's too hot. And with four of us in a small room on a train it gets hot. Especially when the train finally rolls in to Spokane (at around 3:00 AM) and they shut off the power again to swap around engines. So, combining the heat with the movement and stopping and noise, suffice it to say that neither Paige nor I got much sleep that night. Like, oh, none. Well, maybe a couple hours...

But hey, that meant we were up in plenty of time to get a seating for breakfast! And thanks to the slow haul through Washington we were a couple hours behind schedule, which meant that instead of hitting Glacier National Park at 7 AM Mountain we got there around 9, just as we were sitting down to breakfast. And what did we leave in the cabin? That's right, the camera. So no pictures of beautiful waterfalls or other Glacier beauty. No photos, in fact, until we were out of the Rockies entirely and looking back at them. And this is what they looked like:

Our next service stop (where they stop long enough that you can get out and walk around or smoke a cigarette or whatever) was in the town of Havre, Montana (which the train people pronounce "HAVE-er").

I've never heard of Havre, but according to Wikipedia it's 105 years old and half-way from Seattle to Minneapolis. Which is almost the exact center of nowhere. But we did get out and take in the sights. Sights like:

Grandma Chicken!

A steam engine!

More importantly, a steam
engine that thinks it's Christmas time in June!

But soon the train was pulling away, and eventually it was time for dinner again. This time, with no mountains or beauty to distract us, I brought the camera to document the wonders of train-bound eating:

Logan's eating pizza. Paige is putting me in fork jail.

I'm enjoying carrots. Maya is not amused.

The pizza totally wore Logan out. Totally.

But ice cream and Kanoodle brought him back to life!

After another less sweaty night (I took the top bunk this time and it seemed to help being closer to the air vent...and we were all so exhausted it just didn't matter...) and a rushed breakfast we finally arrived in Minneapolis where we waited to board the bus to Milwaukee. But that will have to wait for tomorrow!


Paige said...

Is there supposed to be a pic of Logan looking worn out instead of the double of you and the Doob?

Scott Chicken said...

Doh! I swear it looked right when I proofed it...