Monday 28th March
Today is another getting there day only this time we had chance for a leisurely lunch at Pike Brewery and Restaurant. Delicious! In the late afternoon we joined the long distance train called the Empire Builder which is to take us over the next 2 and a bit days to Chicago, however, our start was changed to a bus as parts of the railway line had been washed away by the recent snow and rain. Our bus took us to Everett where we joined the train and although a little late made a speedy departure. A noticeable aspect of this journey is how friendly the train crew are.
Although this is a modern train it evokes images and experiences of train travel in the Art Deco times when the USA had streamlined steam locomotives hauling these massive trains across the country. As we write we are in a ‘sleepette’ which is a cosy 2 berth compartment on the top floor of the coach. The lower deck is reserved for storage, luggage, any cargo and the home of the carriage attendant. We had evening dinner and because that was upstairs also it provided us with views of the Cascade Mountains before sunset. The tracks by now have climbed more than 2800ft and we are heading towards the 7.8 mile long Cascade Tunnel which cuts under the Stevens Pass (where the road goes) at 4061 ft above sea level. The tunnel is possibly the longest in the USA and was completed in 1929.
As we write the darkness is pierced by the eerie horn of the diesel locomotive as we cross roads and rivers and past pools of light which are little hamlets. We have just had a stop at Wenatchee which is probably the last we will see today as our carriage attendant is about to make the beds. We will put our clocks forward one hour to Mountain Time before we go to sleep in readiness for crossing the State of Montana tomorrow. Here we are in the Columbia Basin which is a product of volcanic eruptions and earth movements. We will see more of this tomorrow.