Amtrak All the Way Across the USA!

Station Pages and photos
Amtrak Stations
·Vancover, WA
·Tacoma, WA
·Seattle, WA
·Wenatchee, WA
·Spokane, WA
·Whitefish, MT
·East Glacier Park, MT
·Shelby, MT
·Havre, MT
·Minot, ND
·St. Paul-Minneapolis, MN
·Winona, MN
·Buffalo-Depew, NY
·Syracuse, NY
·Albany, NY
Portland Max Tacoma LINK
CTA-Chicago Transit Authority

I decided that it was finally time to take a real, full cross-country Amtrak trip and go from coast to coast by train. I was out in the Pacific Northwest on a program rebuilding a scenic overlook at the Bonneville Dam (which can be viewed from the Portland Section of the Empire Builder as it goes through the gorge). After my program ended I spent a week exploring the Pacific North West with my dad (who had flown out to meet me and then flew back). I only finally booked my multi-city trip in the end of May, so I didn't get the best fare I could have (it was still $264 with my student discount and with my 2 stopoverso it seemed pretty good), and getting a sleeper for at least part of the journey was way out of the question ($575-just Seattle to Chicago, no way.) But a seat would be fine, I can sleep almost anywhere. I bought a multi-city ticket through ticket for my stops in Chicago and Syracuse, and decided that why not begin my trip in Tacoma (it was only $10 more) so I could railfan the Tacoma Link Light Rail, and get to ride on a Talgo Casades Trainset.

15 June, 2006: Flying out to Portland, OR on Frontier Airlines (Flights #505 and #793)-Glad I'm not flying back
Due to time restraints I had to fly out to Portland, OR on Frontier Airlines (via Denver), which was my first time on Frontier, and they definitely get the award for trying to suck the most money out of you for example in their cost of in-flight entertainment ($5 for DirecTV, $8 per movie, give-me a break, I just read my book. Come-on be like JetBlue and have free DirecTV.), I was also annoyed that their website falsely advertised a meal being served. It was only one muffin from LaGuardia to Denver, and a tiny bag of Doritos to Portland. I found their "A Whole Different Animal" Gimmick quite silly, as well as the fact they announced, that I flew with Cole the Snow Fox and Grizzle the Grizzly Bear silly. The highlight of this flying morning was definitely the very large Denver Airport and in particular riding the Denver Airport Underground Train that must be taken between terminals (although I didn't need to use it to get to my new gate I had a good little joyride on it). I found the group I was meeting fine in the Portland Airport (which felt much more compact after being the very new and spacious Denver Airport). Of course in New York getting to the Airport didn't involve a Car or Taxi, just the M98 express bus to the M60 bus that took me right into LaGuardia Airport.

My Time Spent in the Pacific Northwest
I didn't ride a single train at all for the next three weeks, but the whistles of freight trains were defining from where we were camping and working in the Columbia River George near the Bonneville Dam. I saw quite a few freight trains and got used to just how long one intermodial freight can be, and was able to photograph a couple. I saw the Portland half of the Empire Builder twice, and learned the fact it only has four cars (The Sightseer Lounge, 2 couches and a Sleeper). It also uses two locomotives (which are backed to backed, making the change in Spokane easier) this causes the train to look even shorter.

A BNSF Freight train makes it's way up the Washington side of the Columbia River George
A Long BNSF Freight train makes its way up its tracks on the Washington side of the Columbia River George, these same tracks are used by the Portland Section of Amtrak's Empire Builder

After my program ended and everyone else was dropped off at the airport, I found out my dad's plain was three hours late due to bad whether so I rode the Portland MAX Light Rail Red Line into downtown Portland myself, dropped my baggage off at the hotel and spent the afternoon rail fanning and exploring. A definite highlight was getting off, and going up to street level at the deepest Train Station in the Western Hemisphere-Washington Park, the only Portland MAX stop underground, but its 260 feet down, the quite new station's high-speed elevators only took about ten seconds to whisk me to street level. The Portland MAX is definitely a good modern light rail transit system.

The next day me and my dad rented a car to begin our adventure in Washington State visiting the Olympic Peninsula and Mount Rainier. What a beautiful area, the only thing railroad related was when we stopped at the Vancover, WA Amtrak Station so I could pick up my ticket. I took advantage of this and did a photo essay of the station, and got a few BSNF freight photos of the trains going around the large yard outside the station. Me and my Dad ended up in Seattle where my train adventure began, and he flew home.

Continue onto Cascades Train #206

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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