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Spokane to Spokane in 10 days!

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JayPea

Conductor
Joined
Sep 9, 2006
Messages
3,885
Location
Colfax, WA (CFX)
My uncle and I, beginning three weeks ago today, embarked on another Amtrak loop trip, involving the Empire Builder, City of New Orleans (briefly), Texas Eagle, Coast Starlight, and, for me, the Empire Builder again.

Like everyone else who boards in Spokane and wishes to travel to Chicago, we first traveled to Portland, THEN reversed direction and headed toward Chicago.😀 Maybe only to me, but my reasoning was sound. I like the trip along the Columbia River, and this way I got to see it both at sunrise and sunset. Plus, I have never taken the full EB route from Portland to Chicago. I've done it westbound but never eastbound. Also, I had planned to spend some time at Powell's Bookstore. I booked this trip in early March, before I knew that Covid would blow up to what it became, and that Powell's would be closed for the most part when we went.

At any rate, we had a sleeper from Spokane to Portland. I had originally bought a coach ticket, but my uncle, who lives in Illinois and wasn't sure he was going to come out my way until just a short time before the trip, purchased a sleeper, so I changed my ride to an open sleeper ticket and rode with him. Usually this becomes an ordeal but this time, the process went smoothly. We were able to board nearly an hour before the scheduled 2:45 AM departure and get settled in early. I think I was asleep before we left Spokane. We awoke a few hours later, after the Pasco stop, and were surprised to find ice, juice, and candy readily available. In this era of Covid travel, I didn't think this sort of thing was allowed. Turns out our attendant was the incomparable Manny, who has always given service well beyond the norm. We were saddened to learn he thought he would be one of the Amtrak employees who would lose their jobs in wake of the 3 a week running of the LD trains. I sure hope Amtrak and Congress get their acts together so that daily service can resume. Since the Portland section of the EB does not have a diner, breakfast consisted of anything we wanted, freebie, from the lounge car. My idea of catching the scenery both to and from Portland went up in smoke, literally, as it was so smoky we couldn't even see the river, even when traveling just a few feet from it. Our sleeper was on the right side of the train but it didn't do much good to go to the lounge car to view the river as you couldn't see it anyway.

As we rolled on westward, right on time, it did clear up some. And as we approached Vancouver, a strange phenomenon occurred. Droplets of water, falling from the sky, began to splatter on the window. I'd seen this before, but couldn't remember what it was called. Then I remembered. Rain!!! Glorious, glorious rain!!! 😄
Where I live, in the hinterlands of Eastern Washington, it's usually bone dry in the summer months, but this summer it was bonier-drier than usual--a scant .06 inches of rain in the preceding 2 1/2 months--so it was nice to see rain. We arrived in Portland right about on time.

I am already rambling, so will break this up into sections according to the trains we took. Next up: Portland to Chicago.
 

caravanman

Conductor
Joined
Mar 22, 2004
Messages
3,791
Location
Nottingham, England.
Interesting start... Reminds me of the time I travelled down to London from Nottingham, in order to enjoy the Caledonian Sleeper all the way up again to Scotland!
 

flitcraft

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 10, 2018
Messages
572
Thanks for the report--I was planning a trip this past spring on the Empire Builder which had to be cancelled, for obvious reasons. So I will settle for traveling vicariously through your travelogue.

I'm not surprised that the smoke obscured your view of the Gorge--at the height of the smoke here in Seattle, I couldn't clearly see across our street, and there was no visibility at all of the tall trees in the neighbor's backyard directly across from us. Never seen anything so bad, even in my many trips to Beijing, and that's saying something.

I'm looking forward to your other installments on the trip!
 

JayPea

Conductor
Joined
Sep 9, 2006
Messages
3,885
Location
Colfax, WA (CFX)
Thanks for the report--I was planning a trip this past spring on the Empire Builder which had to be cancelled, for obvious reasons. So I will settle for traveling vicariously through your travelogue.

I'm not surprised that the smoke obscured your view of the Gorge--at the height of the smoke here in Seattle, I couldn't clearly see across our street, and there was no visibility at all of the tall trees in the neighbor's backyard directly across from us. Never seen anything so bad, even in my many trips to Beijing, and that's saying something.

I'm looking forward to your other installments on the trip!
My sister lives in Lynnwood and my nephew and his family live in Seattle, and they have never seen anything like it either. Hopefully that's all a distant memory...until next summer.😷
 
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