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Part 2: Portland-Chicago on the EB

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JayPea

Conductor
Joined
Sep 9, 2006
Messages
3,885
Location
Colfax, WA (CFX)
We arrived in Portland right on time, not that it mattered. As going to Powell's was out, we settled into the lounge for several hours. Due to Covid they don't provide anything in the way of food or drink in the lounge but did give us vouchers for 2 free drinks from the nearby cafe/gift shop. We hadn't been settled in for too long when the EB we'd been on showed back up at the station. Evidently they turned it right away and brought it back to the station. Whatever cleaning and servicing they did was right there.

Not long after we arrived, the rain really began to pick up. For awhile it was reminiscent of cows and flat rocks. (Country folk know what I'm talking about, city folks will have to use their imagination).🤣 The Portland first class lounge is nice and comfortable as well as relaxing; the attendants are always friendly.

There were no delays when it came to board and we left right on time. Our SCA, whose name escapes me, took our dinner orders and brought the food to us very quickly. With no dining car, sleeping car passengers get a cold boxed meal, which is pretty good. The route along the Columbia can be crowded with freight trains, but the BNSF dispatchers kept us rolling and we encountered no delays along the way. The rain had cleaned out the smoke and it was so much clearer. The rain and the setting sun to the west left this image:20200918_181145.jpg

The weather cleared up enough that Mt. Hood made an appearance:20200918_181807.jpg

I forgot to mention that my uncle and I had separate rooms on this train as well as the Texas Eagle. 2 of us in 1 roomette gets crowded. I went to bed before Pasco, and woke up while we were in Spokane. I had enough time to raid the vending machines in the Spokane station for a midnight snack and go outside to make sure my car was still in one piece. 😀

I slept on and off, mostly off, through the night until giving it up for good at Whitefish. The smoke had cleared out through the Columbia Gorge but it was still smoky in Montana:20200919_085258.jpg

We'd lost a little time overnight but made that up easily. In fact this might have been the only long distance portion of a trip I've taken in which we were never so much as a half hour late. There were plenty of freights but BNSF's dispatching was top notch. At breakfast we discovered that seating in the diner was limited, with half the tables closed. We got very good service all the way along in the diner. I had taken a trip the month prior, Spokane-Minot-Seattle-Spokane so had some experience with the flex meals. I must say most weren't bad. I just wished it were the traditional dining.

We made good time all across Montana as we were on time or even early most stops. Only dinner was by reservation only; breakfast and lunch were on a first come first served basis. The dining car attendant strongly encouraged passengers to eat in their rooms but didn't insist on it. We chose to have all our meals on all the trains in the diner. The mask policy was strictly enforced and from what we could see, coach passengers were all in compliance. And our car attendant was very good about keeping bathrooms clean. I wish I could remember her name, but she was very good. She was very personable and did a great job all the way around. Funny part was she had been a coach car attendant for years and this was her first time in a sleeper. And she came right out and said she didn't like being an SCA because she hated making beds up and the job was too much work. I'm not sure I'd have said that.

Anyway, after stretching my legs at the lengthy stop in Minot I retired for the evening and didn't stir again until we were pulling into St. Paul. It was a beautiful morning as we made our way through Minnesota and Wisconsin.20200920_090735.jpg

We continued to be early or at the worst on time, and eventually ended up in Chicago early. We did have one more segment of our trip to finish that day, as we were going to take the City of New Orleans to Champaign, near where my uncle lives, and stay there a couple of days before boarding the Texas Eagle at Bloomington. So we headed to the Metropolitan Lounge in Chicago's Union Station. There were no drinks or food available but you could bring food from the outside into the lounge. There were only three places open in the food court so our choices were limited. We opted for McDonalds.

We left Chicago right on time on the CONO. I hadn't ridden it at night for years and had forgotten how pretty Chicago is all lit up at night. We had to wait once for a freight train, but our short trip went fine other than that. We got into Champaign a few minutes late, nothing too bad. This was on Sunday the 20th. I stayed at my uncle's house on Monday, and then we caught the Texas Eagle in Bloomington on Tuesday the 22nd.
 

flitcraft

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
Messages
572
Great photos to illustrate your travelogue. Your mentioning of the food issues--not much open in the food courts, flex dining on the trains, no food or drink in the lounges--reminds me that I have often said that, on a LD train, there was really too much food, given the lack of exercise on a long train trip. Guess they've fixed that problem! :)
 
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JayPea

Conductor
Joined
Sep 9, 2006
Messages
3,885
Location
Colfax, WA (CFX)
Great photos to illustrate your travelogue. Your mentioning of the food issues--not much open in the food courts, flex dining on the trains, no food or drink in the lounges--reminds me that I have often said that, on a LD train, there was really too much food, given the lack of exercise on a long train trip. Guess they've fixed that problem! :)
Regarding the food, I thought the same thing. They have you too much before; now, not so much. It was no problem, however. I've lost 130 pounds over the years from my heaviest and am still in no danger of starving.🙂
 
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