AS AMERICA slowly comes out of the coronavirus, my husband and I were itching to leave our self-imposed quarantine bubble for a vacation.
Both of us have had our Covid-19 vaccinations but still unsure about flying. So we decided to see America by rail. Tuesday, May 17, my husband will embark on an eight-day adventure on Amtrak to New Orleans.
The Empire Builder
WHY A TRAIN? For the adventure, for one. To see America in a leisurely way. To meet other Americans who choose to travel by train. And, hopefully, less exposure to COVID (despite our vaccinations.) We’re excited that the CDC and President Biden have proclaimed that vaccinated people no longer need social distance or wear masks. We are finally ready to re-enter the world after more than a year.
We’ll board the Amtrak Empire Builder at the King Street Station in Seattle for Chicago–a journey that will take 46 hours. The Empire Builder will take us through the Cascade Mountains to Glacier National Park. Next through Idaho, Montana, and North Dakota. Then south through Minnesota by way of Minneapolis. Through Wisconsin and Illinois to our destination, Chicago.
The Empire Builder is renowned for its full-length Great Dome car to offer passengers sweeping views of the route through three dome coaches and one full-length Great Dome for first-class passengers (that’s us!)
The Empire Builder’s Great Dome Car
Traveling in Style
WE’LL BE TRAVELING in style, first-class, with a bedroom aboard the train. According to Amtrak, the bedroom features:
- A sofa and armchair by day
- Upper and lower berths by night
- Fresh towels and linens
- In-room sink, restroom, and shower
- A dedicated Sleeping Car attendant
- Complimentary lounge access
- Priority boarding
- Complimentary meals
A Historic Train
THE EMPIRE BUILDER is an Amtrak long-distance passenger train. Introduced in 1929, the Empire Builder was the flagship passenger train of the Great Northern Railway and its successor, the Burlington Northern Railroad. It was retained by Amtrak when it took over intercity rail service in 1971.
The Great Northern Railway inaugurated the Empire Builder on June 10, 1929. It was named in honor of the company’s founder, James J. Hill, who had reorganized several failing railroads into the only successful attempt at a privately funded transcontinental railroad. It reached the Pacific Northwest in the late 19th century, and for this feat, he was nicknamed “The Empire Builder.” (Source: Wikipedia.)
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Debora Ragland Buerk
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