The Empire Builder: 38 Hours

0hr 00min – Disappointed we are not boarding a steam train. Further underwhelmed by lack of dramatic goodbyes/ loved ones running alongside train as it departs. Otherwise in good spirits. TOOT TOOOOOOOT! Goodbye Seattle!

0hr 02min – Announcements! Studiously ignore pertinent information being shared about train etiquette and location of washrooms, dining car, &c.

0hr 25min – Discover there will be no wifi on train. Hm. Discard clever plan to use long journey to publish and release blog to adoring public, and other crucial internetting.

Leaving Seattle.

1hr 47min – It’s already been two hours? This trip is gonna go by in a SNAP!

3hr 01min – Challenge: Create most awesome playlist OF ALL TIME out of minimal music saved on iPhone. Bizarre choice of albums makes me wonder if I was high when uploading music to device.

3hr 59min – Writing blog posts to publish later. So productive.

4hr 22min – Productivity exhausted. Other passengers are sleeping but my clever brain knows we are on this train for another 32.5 hours so I am NOT TIRED! It’s craft time! I am macrame-ing my earbud cord (a long-distance travel distraction technique pioneered by Erin Burgess).
4hr 53min – Amtrak attendant offers cough drops. My dainty and ladylike cough must be audible all the way at the back of the train car. Have I mentioned that I sound like Clint Eastwood lately?

Sunset. You can tell because of the way the sun is setting.

5hr 20min – Bedtime! The other passengers are sleeping, the Amtrak attendants are going to sleep, but I am AWAKE. Hellohello?

5hr 21min – Reading. I will put myself to sleep by tackling the huge, challenging book Craig gave me.

5hr 22min – Nope. Plan B: If I turn off the lights and close my eyes I am bound to fall asleep in mere moments. Inflate travel pillow. Recline seat noisily. Engage footrest. Await inevitable deep sleep.

6hr 45min – Have tested all possible sleeping positions. Momentarily chuffed about advanced sleepyoga positions achieved.

6hr 46min – Realise there is no audience for my impressive display. Less chuffed. Ponder: “If expert level sleepyoga position not witnessed by bystanders, did it ever happen?”

7hr 06min – Cold. Put on sweater.

7hr 14min – Still cold. Put on warm socks.

7hr 25min – Still cold. Ignore it.

7hr 56min – Still cold. Begin to mark time by snoring of neighbour. Spend several minutes considering how to describe extraordinary noises coming from this man. Finally got it. It’s a drowning goat. There is silence between bleats, but they come reliably every 2 to 3 minutes. Each bleat is sudden and alarming.

9hr 02min – 3 bleats. So, so cold. Not willing to leave seat. Engage ninja undressing/dressing skills to put on long johns. Spend at least two bleats marveling at new level of sexiness unlocked: Travel pillow, dangly earrings, sweater and jeans covered in soot and smelling of campfire and worn every single day for the past week, long johns, socks and sandals. Amtrak Haute Couture.

9hr 09min – On return from washroom notice other passengers using extra leg rest thing. Do I have an extra leg rest thing? I have an extra leg rest thing! New sleepyoga positions must be tested.

9hr 22min – 5 bleats. All positions tested. No clear leader in comfort or warmth. Further testing necessary.

Sleepyoga: Beginner.

14hr 20min – I slept? I slept! Very warm. Discover heat is on. WHY WASN’T HEAT ON ALL NIGHT? Engage ninja skills to remove long johns without leaving seat.

14hr 54min – Venture to lounge car with snacks. Note sign forbidding outside food being consumed in lounge car. Ignore sign. Construct breakfast from pita, avocado, salt & pepper crisps.

Eastern Washington?

16hr 03min – We are in Montana. It was mountains, now it is plains. Receive daily ration of cough drops (3). Passenger behind me narrates life story and mansplains views on Islam, courtship and the moral fibre of ‘the older generation’ to clearly disinterested woman across from him. Grateful I am not woman sitting across from him. 

16hr 40min – More writing accomplished! Congratulate self. Feeling good. Mind and body strong. Only 20.5 hours remain.

Definitely Montana.

19hr 32min – Still on the train. Still. On. The. Train. Have slowly constructed sanctuary over duration of journey. All necessities (water, crisps, one remaining cough drop, book, iPhone, iPad, embroidery thread) within reach. 

20hr 44min – Still in Montana. Still flat.

22hr 05min – More writing, more self-congratulation, more Montana. Received accidental nose-hit of own body odour. Regret not bringing wet wipes.

More Montana.

25hr 49min – Running out of podcasts. Earphones completely macrame-d. Sense mind beginning to unravel. 

26hr 27min – Fleshing out ideas for Amtrak Haute Couture runway show: Frumpy silhouettes, soft fabrics, bedhead chic hairstyling and smeared makeup. Bound to be a hit in Paris and Milan.

Stiiiiiiill MONTANA!

28hr 35min – Bedtime again! AKA time to pit wits against stubbornly alert brain again. Bleating has commenced.

29hr 02min – Re-tested all sleepyoga positions. Same results.

29hr 57min – Ears hurt from wearing earbuds for 30 hours. Butt hurts, neck hurts, body stinks. Life is hard.

Sleepyoga: Advanced.

33hr 54min – Rudely awakened by Amtrak attendant. Requires space for new passenger in aisle seat. Do you know who I think I am? Do you have ANY IDEA how hard it was to fall asleep the first time? Prepare self mentally for new sleep battle.

36hr 50min – Spent last 3 hours shifting between uncomfortable positions, deeply resenting passenger beside me stealing aisle seat, staring blankly out window at passing landscape. KIDDING! It’s dark out, I can’t see a thing! Are we there yet?

Night view.

38hr 18min – Minneapolis! Who ever thought I’d be this excited to arrive in Minneapolis?! MINNEAPOLIS!!!

Soundtrack: Beats Antique – Beauty Beats

3 thoughts on “The Empire Builder: 38 Hours

  1. you completely nailed a trip on the Empire builder! We took it from La Crosse Wisconsin to Seattle in 2010…What. A Long. Ride! ! ! !


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