Our Great Amtrak Train Trip
Huntington, West Virginia to Chicago, Illinois to Portland, Oregon
The Amtrak Cardinal and the Amtrak Empire Builder

Superliner Sightseer Lounge Car
Superliner Sightseer Lounge Car

Jim is seated in a swivel chair of the Amtrak Superliner Sightseer Lounge Car somewhere. This is the perfect place to be when traveling through mountain passes or along rivers and streams--which railroads tend to follow. Snacks can purchased at a counter on the train or below in the first level.

First, we thank niece Sharon and her husband Mike for dropping us off at the train station in Huntington, West Virginia where our trip began.

One can't be choosy about what time they wish to catch the train. It flies through towns in the middle of the night and you may have just a few minutes to board. It can't stop at every wide spot along the way.

The Cardinal picked us up in Huntington at 9:35 P.M. We stayed on it through Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and to Chicago. We had a private Roomette for the first leg of our trip on the Cardinal. While there is a bit of excitement at first, we eventually settled in for a good night's sleep. The beds are singles--one above the other; Jim took the lower bunk for reasons we won't go into here.

We arrived in Chicago the next morning on this train--the Cardinal at 10:35 A.M. The train's engineer can be seen exiting his compartment. We had a wait of several hours in Chicago before catching the Empire Builder for the second leg of our journey to Portland.

As we were departing Chicago on the Empire Builder, we noticed we had some private coaches attached to the rear of our train. They were being towed west for a gathering of folks who own these things. This old Pullman car would surely have a great view.

The Empire Builder departed Chicago at 2:15 P.M. so we hat a layover here of nearly four hours. However, if travelers are using sleeping accommodations on the train, they have access to a nice lounge with complimentary beverages and snacks. Jim stuffed a few snacks in his pockets for use on the train later.

Superliner Sleeping Car

This is the train (Empire Builder) we rode from Chicago to Portland. We had the same compartment the entire trip. Our compartment was a large (relatively speaking) lower unit. Our dining room was on the upper level.

When riding on long rails, this beauty seems to float and there is actually less side-to-side motion on the lower level than on the upper level.

We arrived in Portland at 10:10 A.M. after nearly two days on the rails between Chicago and Portland.

We made our reservations late and were given the last sleeping accommodation available. Our room was a handicapped room on the lower lever which was very large (by comparison). We were fortunate to have this nice room for the longest leg of our trip.


Empire Builder

Refueling stop and smoke break for some. Stops like this were very infrequent and smokers had to hold it for several hours. We were told that anyone caught smoking on the train will be put off at the next road crossing or overpass.

This is one of the main reasons that we traveled to Portland. Pictured is Jim's daughter Pam and granddaughter Madeline. Note that Jim is wider than both of them combined.

Pam took us to visit Ponzi Vineyards. She is a card-carrying member so naturally, we had to sample their great products.

Ponzi Vineyards
Ponzi Vineyards

The Ponzi Vineyard has a fine wine tasting room and most helpful staff to guide one through the process. However, several days earlier we had been to a wine tasting put on by Exploritas, so we felt like we were already experts--holding the glass, swirling the glass properly, sniffing the aroma, and slurping the wine, etc. Who cares about all that--just take a big drink and enjoy it.

Gold Medal Rose Garden in Portland

Pam took Jim to a Gold Medal Rose Garden in Portland. It was drizzly and overcast but a perfect time to photograph the roses. Lack of shadow allows the camera to record the range of colors in the flower. We took over 60 digital photographs in the garden and we may someday create a Web Page of the best images.

This page created 10 January 2010