Travel Day 2 - Checking off North Dakota and arriving a Glacier Park Lodge
I woke up in North Dakota around 5 a.m., but managed to doze off and on until about 7. I went to check in on Susie and Dad in dad's cabin.
We headed up to breakfast. I mentioned in the post about day 1 that I'd show a photo of how the stairs require you to make a turn as you go from the first to the second level of each car. Here is that photo.
We had to wait just a few minutes for a table to become available in the dining car. When we got to our table, we placed our order. Just after our drinks came out though, we were arriving in Minot, North Dakota - the longest fresh air stop we'd have on the train part of our trip - and a key to this trip to check North Dakota off of dad's list. You have to step foot in a state to cross it off of dad's list. So, we hadn't really visited North Dakota if we didn't get off in Minot.
We asked the dining car staff what to do and they said they'd just hold our order until we got back so we headed off the train in Minot just after we stopped.
After getting our selfie we took off to explore the train from the outside as well as the Minot train station.
Our train is called "Empire Builder". If you take this train it's full route - Chicago to Seattle (or Portland) it is 46 hours. We were only doing about 30 hours of the trip.
The train splits into two routes at Spokane Washington. This was the first time we'd actually gotten to see that there were two engines, although I realize now that I look back at our photos, we didn't really get a great photo of the two engines together.
After the grandeur of Chicago's Union Station and the Grand Hall, the Minot North Dakota station was tiny. That said, it was still classically very beautiful.
After checking out the train and train station, we headed back in to breakfast. We did have our own booth at breakfast but were seated next to a very, very loud gentleman which was distracting to say the least. Again, the food was good.
After breakfast we had the rest of the morning to ourselves to read, watch a movie we brought with us (remember - no on board entertainment, no on board wifi and no consistent Internet so you have to play ahead), or we could have played cards probably although there really was no good place for the three of us to sit and do that.
I'll pause in this day's report and talk about the "lounge" car. There is one lounge car on the train. The bottom of it has a cash cafe in it where you can buy the usual kinds of snack food fare. The top of the lounge car has windows all around with first come, first served seating for about 40 people. Susie and I checked out the lounge car on day 1. When we explained to dad what was involved in walking back to it, he opted not to visit so we never went back together. That said, Susie did poke her head in again on Day 2 and folks had basically just set up shop in here which you aren't supposed to do. So, while we could have played cards at one of the little tables in here and would have been respectful and only stayed around about an hour to enjoy the views while we played, this was not an option.
I passed the morning finishing up the book "The Cartographers" which was amazing! Dad and Susie visited and watched the scenery.
We had another fresh air stop at Havre, MT. If you want to hear how Havre, MT got its name, according to dad at least, check out this portion of our trip video.
At lunch, we had a gentleman who was traveling solo join our table. He was taking the train from Virginia all the way to the East Coast (so a train from East Coast to Chicago and this one from Chicago to Seattle). He used to fly for business and personal travel regularly and one day he developed a fear of flying and now can only travel by car/train. He was meeting up with his family to go on an Alaskan cruise so we talked all things cruising.
We also had "early" dinner on the train (about 5:30 MT) just before we arrived at East Glacier. The menu is basically the same at every meal so you can choose any entrée you want. The only real difference in the meals is that you get an alcoholic beverage included at dinner if you want it. The photos below are a mash up of lunch and dinner photos. You can click on any photo to view it full size.
The landscape changes quickly and dramatically as you get closer to the mountains. One moment its flat fields as far as the eye can see and the next it's rolling hills and then you start to see peaks of mountain ranges.
We arrived at East Glacier to pouring rain. Luckily one of the hotel's "Checker" shuttle cars was there to meet us so we didn't have to slog our bags in the pouring rain.
We got checked in and headed to our "garden level" room which was downstairs. I'll talk more about accessibility and the hotel's amenities and lack there of in the wrap up post at the end of the series.
After dropping our things in our room we headed out to one of the many patios to see if we could watch the sunset.
We headed to bed pretty early since we'd had two long travel days without a great night of sleep. We'll be back tomorrow with our tour of Two Medicine Lake.