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Uncle Markie out and about.

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Mon
16
Apr '18

Trip Report: Empire Builder

This week Rache and I are back in the air and on the rails, but first, it’s dinner at Loretta’s Northwesterner since we have a red-eye flight:

Sadly, it was a red-eye flight with no upgrade other than Premium Class:

We got the luck of the draw – empty middle seats – Rache drew an extra card with Montana Bear as his window seat.

Got in around 6:30am and transferred to the train to the city to grab the train back across the country. Good thing there is a lounge for the sleeping car passengers.

The Metropolitan Lounge is spread over two floors and is a GREAT improvement over the basement lounge of yore. Complete with minimal afternoon snacks and a “wine tasting”:

Got to see my “Sorta Sister”, which falls into the category of “Sorta Nephews” for a mid-day cocktail in the Station Bar, they don’t allow guests. No pic for some reason – apparently, we all were having too much fun. It was good to catch up, even with the short amount of time – her husband just got home from knee surgery, so I didn’t get to see him, but we did have a couple of rounds of midday cocktails (Bloody Mary, Manhattan, Old Fastioned).

Afterwards, we hit the CVS for booze, mixer, and snacks.

And onto the train, we go!

And soon enough, the bar is set up!

And the chocolates are ready to give to our room attendant. Don’t we look comfortable?

This is a view of the “Family Room” on Amtrak long track trains….

Had a lovely dinner in the dining car – we both had the “surf and turf”, steak and shrimp cakes (with salad):

Lots of interesting shots from stations along the way:

And soon it was bedtime:

The “Family Room” is the largest in the Amtrak Fleet, but sometimes cheaper (though not often) than the Bedroom unit which has its own in cabin shower/toilet. Ours our down the hall. This room has more “hang-out space” and has windows on both sides of the car since its on the lower level – which also means less rocking back and forth for sleeping at night. And it does have enough space to set up a work station (bring a power strip as there is only one outlet).

And the blue LED lights at night make for some interesting photos in the mirror on the back of the door…

We were two nights on the train, they fed us breakfast…

Lunch (I love the burger) and dinner as part of the fare for a sleeper. Wine selection sucks, wish they would institute a “corkage fee” so I could bring my own… but that’s another letter to Amtrak. I always get the dessert “to go” because the meals usually have too much food (and not enough presentation).

After two nights, the train arrived within a couple of minutes of scheduled time – rare for Amtrak, and apparently, the trains for the next two days have been cancelled because of blizzards coming to the northern plains…and the trains two days were cancelling due to 20 grain cars off the track.

Amtrak is always a crap shoot for running on time, but we were lucky.

It was fun, and I’d do it again.

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