We are currently chillin’ out in our Roomette on the Empire Builder Train headed to Everett, Washington. It’s been a hectic couple of days as we prepped for the trip.
We spent all of Thursday packing, making sure we had everything and saying our final goodbyes. We kind of waited until the last minute, but it all worked out and we only forgot a couple of small things, like Ethan’s toothbrush. We headed for Chicago at 4:30 and got in to town around 7:30 Chicago time. We hit some pretty annoying traffic on the way, but nothing too outrageous. Steve rode in the back and worked while Ethan and I drove. We stayed with Stevie and Jordan so we went to their place and brought our bikes inside, then headed out for dinner with them and Deanna and Kolt.
We ate a delicious meal at Bite Cafe and chatted about how awesome all the weddings we’ve had have been. It was great to share one last meal with family before we left. Thanks guys!! We pretty much went right to bed when we got back and Ethan and I slept surprisingly well given how nervous/anxious we were.
In the morning, we said goodbye to Stevie when she left for work and headed to Milk and Honey for breakfast. After that we went to REI to get extra spokes and a bike light because one of them broke. Unfortunately, they needed one of our actual tires to figure out what length spoke we needed. Soooooo we were gonna have to go back. We headed back and decided we would go back to REI then on to the station from there. There was also a Jommy Johns nearby so it worked out quite well. We packed our stuff and put on our train clothes and headed back to REI. We dropped Ethan off then Steve and I went to Jimmy Johns. Ethan met us back there with the bike, spokes, and the light. Woohoo!
It took a bit longer to get to the station and find parking than we expected, so we were pushing it for time, but we got the bikes boxed up and paid for and Steve brought the car back with our bags. This whole part was a lot more stressful than we remembered and we were both jittery by the time we got to the gate. All was well though because we got to hang out in the Business/Sleeper Car lounge where they offered free snacks and pop! Whoop! Ridin’ in style!
We boarded the train not long after we got to the lounge and made the long trek to the first car on the train. We hopped on board and were kind of confused because nothing was really clean and the area where you store your bags was full of bins, boxes of snacks and linen bags. We tried to fit our bags in our room, but we had too much stuff. I went outside and found a crew member who told us that we were in the “crew only” car and that we had to use the storage in the next car down. We were kind of confused but he assured us that we were in the right room, we just had to enter and exit through the other car.
We got settled in to our room, which is quite a bit nicer than the coach seats we were in last time. It’s a small room with two large seats facing each other. The seats lay down to make a bed and there is another that folds down from above. There’s also a couple of shelves, a plug and a table that folds down between the seats. It’s a cozy little space and we’ve enjoyed it so far. We made dinner reservations for 6, which we were pretty jazzed about. As you may recall, the last time we were on this train we just had regular coach seats, but since we have the Roomette, all of our meals are included! Score!
We researched the food ahead of time since I’m pretty picky and trying to stick to the whole vegan thing. We saw online that they offered a couple of vegetarian options and a black bean burger. Lucky for us, the Internet was right! I had the black bean burger (which I’m fairly certain is the same one that Buffalo Wild Wings serves) and Ethan had the steak. We got dinner rolls and salad and were completey stuffed by the end. We sat with a very nice couple (can’t remember their names) and chatted about our trip. I do remember that they were from Ohio and we commiserated over Midwest winters. They are headed to Glacier National Park and we are jealous that they’ll be driving in a car to get there. But we’ll certainly get an up-close and personal experience that I’m sure can’t be beat!
After dinner we hung out in our room and tried to stay awake until a reasonable sleeping time. We want to make sure that our bodies adjust to the time change properly. The last stop before bed was St. Paul, so we got out and stretched and then headed back in for bed. Since the top bed is smaller, I climbed up and made myself comfy. We were both exhausted from the stress of getting to the train and dealing with the bikes, so we figured since we had beds that we would sleep really well. After lying there for a few hours I started to get nauseas. I think I might have fallen asleep for a while, but the train was swaying a lot and it’s exaggerated on the top bunk for some reason. Anyway, at some point I decided I couldn’t take it and climbed down onto the bottom bed with Ethan. I squeezed myself in, but this bed is not that much wider than Ethan so it was not going to work. I continued to feel sick so I I got up to see if I could walk it off and went to the bathroom. When I got back Ethan got in the top bed and we drifted in and out of sleep for another four hours or so.
So far, the train has been great other than the disappointing sleeping situation. It seems to be going by faster than our last ride and we are definitely more comfortable in our room. Yay!
The train is supposed to get in to Everett at 8:30am on Sunday. We are already about an hour behind, so we aren’t holding our breath!
Stay tuned! Not sure where the next post will be coming to you from, but I promise it will be more interesting than this post! 🙂
Here are some pictures!