Our adventure to Glacier Park is over, overall had a wonderful time and saw some beautiful scenery. As a first time Amtrak rider, would I do it again? Maybe. Maybe not. I must say I'm glad we took the train, if for no other reason than saying we did it and now know what to expect if we ride again. Here are a few observations:
Track: Varying conditions, but some just seemed horrible, especially on the LSL. I'm not sure if it was the track or the car, but it seemed like every switch we passed over resulted in the car pitching violently, and then a loud bang. Much worse in the Viewliners, not as bad on the upper floor of the Superliners. We never did sleep much on the train, most of which I attribute to the track conditions. Going through the cars was a challenge for my wife....she's short and has had a couple knee operations, so she's not that steady on her feet, and ended up almost in another passenger's lap more than once. The rough ride was probably my biggest surprise of the trip.
Crews: Again, varying levels of service. The bright spot was our SCA Mark and the Dining Car Supervisor Rolando and his entire dining car crew on the westbound EB. They were great, and made sure we had early reservations so we could get dinner before our stop at East Glacier. Also a shout out to the conductor, who kept us informed of any delays. The low was the zombie-like diner-lite staff on the 49 LSL. It was obvious they were just going through the motions.
Roomettes: We booked roomettes for the entire trip, and knew they were small, but the reality of how small they actually are hit us when we boarded in Syracuse. As the designated top bunker, I didn't mind it on the LSL Viewliners....there was room to sit up with a window to look out. The EB was another story. I didn't think I was claustrophobic, but the small space and no window, combined with the bouncing of the car, sent me scrambling for a very crowded bottom bunk with my better half. At Glacier, I went to get the rental car, and I came back to discover she had upgraded us to rooms for the return trip. How much, I asked. Don't ask, she said. Gotta love that gal!
Dining: Most of the food was good, even on the LSL. Not fine restaurant quality, but certainly adequate, and better than anything you'll get on a plane. I was glad to not be paying menu prices. Met several nice people as we dined together, one couple twice on the westbound EB. My wife likened it to speed dating. On the eastbound, our car was at the back of the train, seven cars from the diner. It was a long, tough walk for my wife, and we skipped one meal just because we didn't want to make the trip.
Havre, MT: Two passengers learned the hard way that when the conductor says the train leaves in ten minutes, it leaves in ten minutes. Despite the conductor's lengthy warning before the stop, two folks got off to smoke or stretch their legs and missed the train as it left. What also surprised me was several people we talked to afterwards thought they should have been given more warning the train was leaving. Call me cold-hearted, but my view was they were warned, and it blows my mind how they could have been so irresponsible.
I'd be interested to know if my observations are typical, especially regarding the track conditions.