Pictures tell a thousand words … part 1

I come from a long line of railway workers – 450 years if all the O’Neills’ years of service to Queensland Rail were added up – grandfather, great-uncles, father, uncles, aunts, cousins, and yes, even me, in QR’s data processing office years ago.

We always lived in drafty, wooden railway houses next door to the line and my earliest memories were of shunting engines whooshing steam, whistles in the night and the overpowering smell of cattle in barred wagons.

We travelled everywhere by train – railway families got free travel across the state so that’s the way we went. The best treat of all was to get a sleeper – being the eldest sister, I claimed the top bunk. We had home-made curried egg sandwiches and cups of tea from a flask, and then there was the freedom of rocking corridors and scary toilet bowls where you could see the ground flashing past underneath.

So, now in the US I follow my dream – to travel the route taken by explorers Lewis and Clark (in reverse) across this wide land by national rail – AMTRAK.

Our planned route is on the Empire Builder – from Seattle to Chicago. From the western coastline, over the Rocky Mountains, skirting Glacier National Park, across the wilds of Idaho and Montana, the black hills and plains of North Dakota and Minnesota, then the final leg south into Wisconsen to follow Lake Michigan into Chicago, Illinois. We cross some of the great rivers too, the Missouri and the Mississippi.

the observation car
the observation car

Sitting in a train with nothing urgent to do – except for eating in the dining car meals or chatting with strangers in the observation car means taking in the changing landscape without distractions. I’m a small child again, gazing out the window of our sleeper at the world passing by and I’m content.

But rather than tell you about the two and a half days journey in words I’ll share some images to show you those landscapes.

Leaving Seattle
Leaving Seattle
Crossing the Rockies
Crossing the Rockies
Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park
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6 thoughts on “Pictures tell a thousand words … part 1

  1. Train travel is the best. I love the pictures, especially the observation coach. Keep havig fun!

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  2. The journey continues in part 2. Thanks, all for your comments – it really is a great way to see the country, that’s if you don’t mind sleeping in a space where it would be hazardous to swing that proverbial cat. Remember the scene from ‘Some Like it Hot’ where Marilyn Monroe sits on a bed in the Amtrak sleeper and her legs are out the door? That’s exactly what it’s like. Guess who got the top bunk near the ceiling? NOT ME. 🙂

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  3. We travelled by Amtrak from LA to San Diego, and even though it was only a short trip, it was a fantastic way to travel. The boys especially loved the freedom to move around. I can understand your enthusiasm for it. At a few points we were so close to the beach I began to wonder if the track was built on the sand!

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  4. Wow! That’s fantastic, Sheryl. Thanks for sharing those photos with us. I can only dream. I’m determined to go to the USA one day, now I wish it was sooner.

    I love how the seats can be swiveled to face the windows.

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