Empire Builder! Eastbound

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Hi All!

Soon-to-be first time amtrak sleeper rider here!

My partner and I booked a roomette on the Empire Builder from Seattle to Minnesota in the beginning of March. We are currently listed for roomette #6.
Going eastbound, is roomette 6 (or 2, 4, 8, & 10 for that matter) the best side for views? I've seen the diagram with the roomette and room numbers, but I'm not familiar with which side is the front/back of the train (rooms or roomettes) so that I can determine which roomette side is the best. I'm guessing the roomettes with windows facing north or best, but again I'm not sure if 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 roomettes have windows facing north or south.
Additionally, does anyone have any tips on how much I should bid up to get a bedroom? I would really like to win a bid, but I don't want to over pay if the empire builder isn't supposed to be busy during this time (end of Feb, early March). According to Amtrak right now, at least 4 bedrooms (at the price it is showing) and one family bedroom is available.
In general - the Engineer is in the right seat of the locomotive - - - The best side for the total trip {IMHO} would be the non-engineer side or side closest to the Canadian border ?
The left side that is. The view in Montana (Glacier Park) would be favorable on this side.
The view from MSP to La Crosse the Mississippi river the same.

Each side has it's +s and -s - in the dark of night you are not going to see much except for flickering rapidly passing lights and signals.

The recent and current operation of the EB East or West throws a left handed adjustable speed wrench into the mix - - -

Best viewing would then be from the SSL or if available and possible the diner - coach would not be all that bad too. Roomettes you are stuck on one side of the train - have a
buddy with one across the aisle - bases covered. A Bedroom might work to a degree.

Realize that the scenic sightings are brief and that for the most part the tracks do not always go down the scenic main streets of town - often back alleys - dark dismal places - out in the open prairie one may find solitude looking at the amber waves of grain etc.

Enjoy what you can see when you can see it - Amtrak does not do instant replays redos reruns.

Like the cruise ships when first come aboard scout out the best potential viewing points and how to get to them quickly cameras cellphones etc. ready - have a GPS function on your electronic media use it be alerted for the upcoming view points - you could also ask the Conductor or any car attendant for a heads up announcement if they aren't too busy.

Note you are on the EB eastbound the consist normally is 2 locomotives a baggage car a "T" dorm Superliner car a Roomette Bedroom sleeper the diner and a coach car - joining the consist at Spokane is the Portland section with the Sight Seeing Lounge (SSL) and 3
more cars sleepers and coaches - As TinCan782 noted the orientation of the sleeping units may vary - in the coach cars efforts are made to have the seats facing forward in the direction of travel - if the trains sets are late from the previous trips there may not be time enough to orientate seating - and that is the case of recently with maintenance of locomotives and late turns.

One thing before or when boarding the train - you may talk to the conductor about the availability of empty unassigned sleeping units.
I've been on the Empire Builder many times, usually in winter, and in roomettes on both sides of the train. I agree with the above posters that the left side is usually better, and if you get lucky, your roomette will be on the left. If you get a roomette on the right, though, there are ways you can maximize your scenery viewing:
  • The first morning, you will be in Montana (hopefully past Libby by the time it gets light out). Try to get up as early as you can stand to, and be in the diner when they open for breakfast. If the train is ~an hour late (not at all uncommon), and you are in the diner at 6am, you can get views of the Kootenay River from the breakfast table!
  • 1_trip7.jpg
  • Next, the train gets to Whitefish. This is usually a good chance to take a platform walk and get some fresh air. It's also a good chance to round up anything you need from your roomette during the next several hours, and head up to the Sightseer Lounge. See if you can get a seat on the left side for the first part of the trip through Glacier Park. From Essex to East Glacier, the views are nonstop, first on the left, and then (after you cross the river) on the right. They are good right up through the break-out onto the prairies, so don't leave till you've seen it all!
  • 1_trip9.jpg 1_trip10.jpg 1_trip12.jpg
  • Once you are on the prairies, there are nice things to see both sides, even out the back if you are in the Portland section, but they are much more subtle than in the mountains:
  • 1_trip13.jpg 1_trip14.jpg 1_trip17.jpg
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Try to get up as early as you can stand to, and be in the diner when they open for breakfast. I
My habit with roomettes is to wake up early and then get down to the shower by about 5:30 am. (You might be the first one -- you'll know by how long it takes for the water to get hot.)

This allows time to be at the diner when they open for breakfast. It may seem early to some, but you can always grab a nap later, if you need one.

If you want to take photos from inside the roomette, make it as dark as possible: Pillows stashed, passageway curtains closed, lights out, camera/phone close to the window glass. The left side will certainly be better eastbound since you won't be shooting into the sun, nor will the dirt on the windows be directly illuminated by the sun.

Towards sunset, you might get lucky if you go to the rear of the last car on the train.
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