Amtrak Train 8 - Empire Builder

1517. 22 May 2019.
Montana. Between Malta and Glasgow.

I'm on the Empire Builder, former flagship of the Great Northern Railway, eastbound for Chicago. I spent a wonderful 18-odd hours in Seattle yesterday and on Monday. I arrived in Seattle, at King Street Station, late in the evening, around 2215. I took a bus to T.B. and H.S.'s apartment in Belltown, and we went out for late food and drink at Some Random Bar (2604 1st Avenue, Seattle, WA) which was very good. In the morning, breakfast, then T.B. went to work and I went on walkabout. I visited Ada Technical Books in Capitol Hill (425 15th Avenue East, Seattle, WA), which has a lovely cafe. Then I met M.v.d.W. for lunch in Belltown. We went to Al Basha (2302 1st Avenue, Seattle, WA) where we had really good slow-cooked lamb shank, then to Belltown Pub (2322 1st Avenue, Seattle, WA). It was good to catch up with my friends in Seattle, and it's interesting to see the different kinds of decisions and lives that can fall under "working in tech in Seattle."

After meeting with M., I went back downtown, went to King Street Station, and waited to board. Train 8 was on time, and we boarded, bound for Chicago via Spokane, where we would join with the Portland cars of the Empire Builder. Dinner was lovely - I ate with one of the several older Australian couples on board - they had arrived in Seattle after taking a repositioning cruise from Japan to Vancouver, B.C. Very interesting to talk to. Also at dinner was another man, who was taking the train to upstate New York - in fact, all of us at the table were likely going to be travelling companions again, on the Lake Shore Limited bound for either Boston or New York.

Today started early, with breakfast at 700, as we coasted through the western edge of Montana, nearing Whitefish. I ate with the same couple as last night, and after breakfast, we sat in the lounge car (joined to our train at Spokane) and watched the Rockies rise. We spent most of the morning and part of the afternoon gliding through the mountains and rolling through Glacier National Park. While unfortunately clouds obscured the highest parts of the peaks, breathtaking vistas and freshly fallen snow made the higher portions of the track, near the Continental Divide, still a sight to behold.

After Glacier, we descended the mountains towards the rolling plains and prairie of Montana. The yellow, beige, and green farm fields spread to the horizon, the young growth of spring green and fresh, rustling in the breeze. We passed over creeks and rivers - for example, the Milk River, bearing glacial silt out of Glacier National Park, dipping into Canada and then back into Montana. Plains, farms, livestock, and tractors have been our constant companions since Glacier. Gradually, the landscape has become more hilly, and more varied, and rocky hills rise from lumpy flats.

During lunch, I sat with a couple coincidentally headed to Watertown, like myself, but flying from Chicago instead of taking the train. It's really enjoyable to meet new people on the train, and the opportunities to talk to people and learn about them have definitely been highlights of my journey so far. Onward to Chicago.