Amtrak All the Way Across the USA! ·Introduction
·12 Jul: Cascades Train #506
·12-14 Jul: #8 The Empire Builder 1|2|3
·17-18 Jul: #48 The Late Shore Limited: 1|2
·21 Jul: Empire Service Train #208
12-14 July-Train #8-The On Time Empire Builder-The first evening & Spokane, WA at Midnight

I get on my Superliner Car of the Builder, which is right behind the dining car and got seated by my coach attendant, who was an East Asian man whose English didn't seem to be very good. He was my attendant for the entire ride. I got my seat on the right side of the train (all those on the left had been taken, since I was boarding late) and waited for the departure of the Empire Builder, which came at 5:00P. Every seat pocket has been well stocked with the required safety rules, a schedule and a route guide, with most of the highlights and history. We slowly leave Seattle, the conductor coming for my ticket and I getting 'CHI' on my seat check. I am amazed that there were quite a few other people going all the way too in coach. Leaving Seattle going north (We turn into the Cascades in Everett) we go through a short tunnel in downtown, and then emerge along the waterfront with Puget sound in the distance, the water goes to and from view, as we head north through the Seattle suburbs. The Dinning Car Stewart comes through accepting reservations for 5:30P or 7:00P for dinner, I choose 7:00P. The area is quite hilly, with dramatic hills that end just before the sound. Puget Sound is in view in some places and not in others. We continue north fallowing the Sounder Commuter Rail route stopping at its stations in Edmonds and Everett (Ar. 5:55P Dp. 6:00P).
Pudget Sound viewed from the Empire Builder
Pudget Sound viewed from the Empire Builder
Pudget Sound
I sit in my seat enjoying the scenery after Everett we begin rising up into the Cascades, passing mostly agriculture fields. We slowly rise up. There is a Trails and Rails route guide from the national park service who announces the scenic highlights along the route over the public address system. At 7:00P I go into the diner for dinner, which is in just the next car forward. I am seated with three generations of a family, a pre-school daughter, her mother, and grandmother who are on their way to go on vacation in Glacier National Park. They are in a sleeper. I have the Special which is salmon. Its very dry, and definitely not as tasty as it should be, for dissert I decide to indulge and try Amtrak's cheesecake which is excellent. The house salad that came with the meal is adequate, as well as the assorted veggies and wild rice I got with it. The family I am sitting with is fairly good company (the youngster not understanding why I'm sitting with them). I get one comment that will be hard to forget "Your very good with children." We have a nice time chatting, and are some of the last to leave the dining car as they are already preparing the tables for breakfast the next day. I am unfortunately sitting on the isle, so I miss most of the scenery as we rise up and pass through the Cascades Tunnel that takes 15 minutes to go through (7:25P-7:40P). At 8:30P I go back to my seat in preparation to prepare to disembark and get off at the fresh air stop at Wenatchee, and notice just how much dryer the landscape has become already.
Going passed farms rising up into the Cascades
Passing a high level-river while rising up into the Cascades
Rising up through the hills and into the Cascades

We arrive the small unstaffed, but recently renovated Wenatchee, WA Station at 8:53P (11 minutes late), they announce that this will be a quick stop especially since were a little late already, I get and take a walk up and down the quite short platform, All Aboard is at 9:00P.

I go back to my seat and a little while later an announcement is made about the completed procedures that will happen when we arrive in Spokane that will attach us to Train #28, our sister train from Portland. "In the event that we arrive before it, we will drop passengers off at the depot before continuing beyond it, beyond the station, to allow the Portland half of the train time to take their locomotives off. If we arrive after it we will continue on beyond the depot in order to back-onto the other half of the train" I ask the conductor about getting for a walk in Spokane, he tells me the train will leave at 1:15A, and we may move it while in the station. I watch as the sun sets, we are now running along the northern reaches of the Columbia River, where it is much more narrow, this is the final closer to my experience working at the Bonneville Dam. The last announcement is made at 9:30P, and the coach car attendant slowly goes through turning off all the lights for the night. I begin to attempt to sleep, just before we stop in Ephrata, WA.

I sleep a bit, waking up in the lights of a fairly big city, were in Spokane, WA, quite a bit early, its just after midnight. I watch as we slowly go through what seems like a decent size small metropolis. We speed pass the Spokane rail station passing the Portland half of our train that looks like it's just arrived because its two back to back P42 Genesis locomotives still attached. We stop just beyond and wait for about ten minutes so the locomotives can come off, and we can slowly back onto it. I getting my tripod out of my bag to go for a walk and do an experiment in night photography. We arrive at 12:25A. I spend most of my midnight hour in Spokane waking the platform, but do descend into the station house that is just below the platform, amazed at how crowded it is with people waiting for the two trains to three destinations that stop here in the dead of night. I find a brochure rack with schedules of Spokane Transit (this area's bus system), and grab the schedules of a few random lines for my collection. I go back up to the train. Unfortunately with the train getting more crowded and I one of the few not asleep across to seats, I get stuck with a seat mate who is going to Harve and then driving on home to his parents in Billings (I later find out he wanted to fly, but later I find out flying that fairly short distance would be 500 bucks, way to much for such a short distance), a trend that many people on the train seem to share, going home to where their parents are and where they're from. We leave on time at 1:15A.
Spokane, WA 12:30AM
Spokane, WA-12:30AM

I fall asleep again and wake up at about 2:20A and notice we have stopped, were in Sandpoint, Idaho, I look at the schedule and notice were quite early, and decide to go for a little walk up and down the platform, the two conductors are standing chatting outside my car, I ask them if we normally wait here, they say yes. How amazing the Empire Builder is to be able to be way ahead of schedule. I skip getting my tripod, at this tiny depot, that has what looks like a small waiting area in a historic looking station house but the doors are locked. I get back on and we depart on time at 2:47A PT, I adjusting my watch to Mountain Time, one hour ahead, as we prepare to enter Montana.

Continue on the Empire Builder #8 as Montana Goes on and on

Amtrak All the Way Across the USA! ·Introduction
·12 Jul: Cascades Train #506
·12-14 Jul: #8 The Empire Builder 1|2|3
·17-18 Jul: #48 The Late Shore Limited: 1|2
·21 Jul: Empire Service Train #208

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Last Updated: 7 August, 2006
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