You’ll notice I don’t really do the whole selfie thing much. There’s a reason for that, as I think you’re about to find out.
Right at the end of August, S and I took the Big Train (aka The Empire Builder) from Chicago to Seattle. We had a sleeper compartment. There was a buffet car and an observation car. There were fascinating people and steaks the size of my face. Basically it was a good old fashioned adventure.
More to come on the details and specifics later I promise, but for now, I’ll take you on a detailed itinerary of where we went. Via the medium of the selfie.
We departed Chicago’s Union Street Station at 14:15 precisely, having introduced ourselves to our car steward Kevin and settled into our Roomette.
Here’s a classic mirror selfie, just after we’d boarded and our Roomette was still vaguely tidy. I can do a Roomette tour if anyone’s interested? It was a pretty cool little space. I got some photos. I could do a thing.
The train makes numerous stops along its journey, but there are only a few that you’re allowed to get out at. You’re always given strict instructions as to when to re-board, and usually there’s no time to leave the platform. The car stewards all get off as well, and keep a close eye on you. If you stray, you may well get yelled at. And you certainly won’t miss the cry of “all aboooooooard!” which generally causes everyone to do that awkward half-run towards the nearest door in a panic. With some stations only being served by one train a day (this train), getting left behind is no joke. Especially when the entire town consists of the station, two houses and a dusty road. That’s going to be a long 24 hours.
The first stop we were allowed to get out at, somewhat nervously, was in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was only mid afternoon and we’d already waved goodbye to the entire of Illinois, our noses glued to the windows basically the entire time. At this point we were chipper, excited about the journey ahead, and thankful that someone volunteered to take our photo for us.
Wisconsin passed in a blur and just before dinner we’d made it to a whole new state. Hi, Minnesota!
The guy on the tannoy on the train liked to jazz things up a little. So this is WIII-NONAAAARRR! We weren’t really sure what to make of it after all that but we got out, took our selfie with the entire of the train watching us out of the windows, and hastily boarded before we got left behind.
Soon after this we were introduced to the wonders of the buffet car and things got even better.
Right after dinner, at about 10pm, we were informed that our next stop would be a long one. Welcome to the twin cities, St Paul-Minneapolis. I peered into the darkness to try and see as much of the city as I could, but despite having 20 minutes until the train moved off again it wasn’t long enough to go exploring. So I did anti-DVT star jumps up and down the station platform instead, again amusing the people watching me out of their windows.
Oh and this, my friends, is the Horse Face. If you know me, you know the Horse Face. You’ll get more familiar with it, I promise.
Bright and early the next morning, having just awoken from a fairly fragmented night of sleep (trains are loud, yo) we were informed that we had an hour wait at Minot, North Dakota, and we could leave the station if we wanted to. Well, I have no idea if I’ll ever be coming back to North Dakota so I grabbed the opportunity with both hands – or should I say, rolled out of my bunk blearily, stumbled into some clothes, fell out of the train door and took this selfie.
So attractive, I know.
We did indeed wander around Minot (rhymes with ‘why not’, not mee-no as I’d assumed. I was forever assigning European pronunciation to things that had no reason for it) and found several drive through ATMs which I’m still astonished by, a saddle shop, and the entire of the centre of town being dug up. Surprisingly, not much was open at 7.30am but we did get some stares from locals as we bounced around cheerily with our cameras whilst checking our watches every three minutes.
We made it back to the train without getting left behind, and I had a much needed shower.
Next stop after breakfast was Williston, also in North Dakota. Here there was a clock and the most giant taxi-bus-jeep thing I’ve ever seen. We had a few minutes to turn ourselves around so once again it was time for a few star jumps and back to the observation car for more commentary from a park ranger or two on the scenery as it slid past.
Time for a new state! Here we are arriving in Montana. Our expressions here crack me up – turns out it’s hot on the plains and we just were not expecting it. Everywhere else we’d stopped since Winona had been pretty temperate, but Havre was like, 30 degrees Celsius. We walked around, saw an old engine, a statue of a Mountie, sweated a bit, and got back on the train. So hot.
Sorry about the tongue. Which you can actually see the imprint of my braces in if you look closely. Which I expect you won’t want to because really. This is the internet but people do have limits. Ok, moving on.
Having travelled through the beautiful Glacier Park in the early evening and climbed steadily into the Rockies, we stopped again after dinner. We were still in Montana, but in the actual mountains this time. It had gone dark but all I could smell was pine trees. It was beautiful after a day of train air.
Of course I ruined it with my horse face. There you go. Are you beginning to grasp why we don’t really do selfies?
After a slightly improved nights sleep (exhaustion and ear plugs) and passing through the entire of Idaho while we slept, we made it to our final state of Washington. With just two hours to go before arrival in Seattle, we were getting our excitement faces back on again…
Also makeup is a miracle worker. Just saying.
There are no pictures of our triumphal mid-morning arrival in Seattle because I am not a completer-finisher, but here’s proof we made it. This is us up the Space Needle at sunset later that day, a building that I fell hard in love with. I can’t really explain why. I just think it’s the coolest thing ever.
And there this fairly troll-y post ends; clouds, light drizzle and all.
I may come to regret this, but I think sometimes it’s good to remind ourselves that I we don’t need to take ourselves so seriously the whole time. This is the internet. Let your weirdo flag fly.
Who’s with me?