Jump to content
Guest Pogo77

The Empire from Portland to Wisconsin need advice

Recommended Posts

Guest Pogo77
Hi there I have a few questions about traveling on a long distance train ive traveled on short run commuter trains in the past so I have some idea of what it might be like but im sure there must be some differences first off I would be traveling from Portland to Milwaukee far as I can see this would be the "Empire line" ? prob traveling between Sept and Oct Now let me say here that I suffer from extreme anxieties I simply can't Handel hilly roads or steep inclines or declines the feeling makes me severely ill and I kinda freak out.


And as we will be moving out that way ive been measuring up my options for the least stressful way to travel the distance given my prob I know flying would be the most direct option so that's also on the table but! I also believe trains travel on a relatively flat track? I know they go threw the mountains instead of over them and im guessing you would never feel any hills or inclines/declines while on a train? so I figured also look into this option.


Im not particularity claustrophobic but I can suffer from car sickness from time to time witch I think is more tired into the fear of inclines and declines I guess in general what im asking is if anyone has done this route and was it in any way uncomfortable for some one with my extreme fears? I know this might sound silly but I assure you im genuine and any advice would be help greatly in my decision thanks... Pogo :)

Share this post


Link to post

Empire Builder There will be mountainous terrain on the western end of the route through western Montana (Glacier National Park). From there east the terrain will be hilly/flat. I'm not inclined to get motion sickness or anxiety from mountain travel so, cant supply a comment on what may ease your fears. I traveled the route this time last year from Seattle to Chicago.

Share this post


Link to post
Guest Pogo77

Hi there thank you for the response I kinda assumed there would be some slight inclines declines? but I guess I was wondering the more over severity of them? if that makes sense? like on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the worst what would you rate the over all hilliness / inclines declines...

Share this post


Link to post

You don't really feel the incline at all. The train feels like it remains very level. But you can sure see the inclines out the window!

Share this post


Link to post

Trains on average only climb no more than a 1% grade. That is 1 foot rise in elevation for every 100 feet traveled. By comparison, many interstates have signs that say

 

Steep Hill

6% grade

You will not notice much of a climb or decent.

Edited by the_traveler

Share this post


Link to post

If the view out the window makes you nervous, close the curtains. It really is a fine train; I took it with my parents from Chicago to Portland in September 2016.

Share this post


Link to post
Guest Pogo77

Trains on average only climb no more than a 1% grade. That is 1 foot rise in elevation for every 100 feet traveled. By comparison, many interstates have signs that say

 

Steep Hill

6% grade

You will not notice much of a climb or decent.

 

Ahh this is very helpful indeed thank you :)

 

If the view out the window makes you nervous, close the curtains. It really is a fine train; I took it with my parents from Chicago to Portland in September 2016.

That's the funny thing I don't think its really the "view" persay other wise the plane wouldn't be a option I guess its more the "feeling or sensation" of going up or down hill...

Share this post


Link to post

The train doesn't travel fast enough, and the grade isn't steep enough, that you'd feel like you're going up and down hills like on a roller coaster or even a car traveling on a hilly road. I barely notice when we're climbing or descending, other than the decrease in speed.

 

I get motion sickness if I ride in the back seat of a car (or read while in the front seat), but I've never had any issues on the train. I think the large windows help. I do have to avoid reading if I can see out the window, so I close the curtain if I want to read. It also helps to sit in the forward-facing seat. If you are in coach, all of the seats face forward. If you're in a roomette, just sit in the seat that faces forward.

 

There is a bit of rocking and swaying at times, though, so you might want to book a lower level roomette (or lower level coach seat). You'll still feel a bit of motion, but it won't be as bad as it is on the upper level. Since you've been on commuter trains, you probably know what to expect as far as the occasional lurching while going over a switch. :)

Share this post


Link to post

The steepest grade (3%) any Amtrak train climbs/descends is going over Raton pass between Raton and Trinidad.

Train slow down going both up and down grades. Even though the grades are slight.

 

 

Did you know that there are train speed limit signs posted along the tracks?

Being heavier, freight train speed limits are usually slower than passenger train speed limits.

So the speed limit signs usually show 2 speed limits - 1 for the freight trains and 1 for passenger trains.

Share this post


Link to post

You'd be taking the Empire Builder for this trip, which is one of the most scenic routes in the Amtrak system. You won't really feel the hills/grades, but the train does get relatively high up (a peak elevation of more than 5,200 feet) as it does climb through the mountains. It's a beautiful ride and should be very relaxing and comfortable, so I really wouldn't worry.

Share this post


Link to post

Pogo77,

 

I'm afraid I have to disagree with most of the posters here, but I did that route both ways last year and found it a bit scary, although going east was better than going west. It's true that you don't feel the steep grades, but the worst part for me was being on the edge of a mountain, with a steep drop outside the window. As I said, though, that was much worse going west.

 

To compensate, though, it is a relatively short time through the mountains compared to the rest of the trip, and the Columbia River out of Portland is wonderful, as is the dairy country as you get toward the end of your trip.

Share this post


Link to post

Pogo77,

 

I'm afraid I have to disagree with most of the posters here, but I did that route both ways last year and found it a bit scary, although going east was better than going west. It's true that you don't feel the steep grades, but the worst part for me was being on the edge of a mountain, with a steep drop outside the window. As I said, though, that was much worse going west.

 

To compensate, though, it is a relatively short time through the mountains compared to the rest of the trip, and the Columbia River out of Portland is wonderful, as is the dairy country as you get toward the end of your trip.

The way I read it, the OP was more concerned about feeling the grades rather than being afraid of heights. If my understanding is correct, then I think he/she should be fine.

Share this post


Link to post

Well, this is a concern I understand very well, as I also suffer with some fairly extreme phobias/anxiety. In fact, my developing a liking for train travel was initially entirely because I'm too terrified to even consider flying.

 

Took my first long distance trip last year on the Coast Starlight. Los Angeles to Portland, 30 hours or so each way. I was so frightened in the days prior to the trip, I spent hours watching YouTube videos of CS trips trying to determine if the train swayed a lot, if it went fast going downhill, if it seemed very steep up/down over mountains. Sounds like I had similar concerns to the OP, although my phobias also include derailment/accidents. Ended up getting some meds from my doctor to calm me down on the trip. After the first leg, I didn't even need them.

 

I've since traveled again on CS, and loved both trips, despite my anxiety and phobias. I don't know specifically about the Empire Builder, but the CS definitely goes through a lot of mountains. I did not notice any "sloping" or slanting of the train going up or down, nor did I notice any drastic change in speed, other than slowing down some while going uphill. I found the trip bouncier than I anticipated, but had no problem with motion sickness at all. Even going through high mountains, it didn't really feel like the train was on an incline.

 

I'm now planning a cross-country round trip for next year or the year after. I do still get some anxiety about riding the train, but once aboard, it's all good. I think the OP will have a wonderful time on the Empire Builder, but might be a good idea to ask your doc for some anxiety meds just in case you need them at first.

Share this post


Link to post

Pogo77,

 

I'm afraid I have to disagree with most of the posters here, but I did that route both ways last year and found it a bit scary, although going east was better than going west. It's true that you don't feel the steep grades, but the worst part for me was being on the edge of a mountain, with a steep drop outside the window. As I said, though, that was much worse going west.

 

To compensate, though, it is a relatively short time through the mountains compared to the rest of the trip, and the Columbia River out of Portland is wonderful, as is the dairy country as you get toward the end of your trip.

IMHO the Zephyr is far scarier. Though I did not take the Empire Builder from Portland. The trip through Glacier goes by so fast you don't have the time to get scared. :)

 

And the scenery pn both the EB and CZ are so beautiful you will soon forget about any fears. ;)

Share this post


Link to post

And the scenery pn both the EB and CZ are so beautiful you will soon forget about any fears. ;)

It seems like Mystic disagrees.

Edited by cpotisch

Share this post


Link to post

I know my limits--CZ was never on my bucket list! :P

What if they chopped the CZ up and made it a train from Emeryville to Reno, and from Denver to Chicago, with a bus bridge in the middle? :P

Share this post


Link to post
Guest Pogo77

Wow alot of responses first off I want to honestly thank each of you taking the time to respond and offer advice its all been helpful and will be a big part in the finial decision of flight or train luckily I have a few months yet but will be making the choice soon as I know booking in advance will prob save us a bit..Oh I have def been watching you tube vids on the trip in all forms the one I found about the Empire made it look not so bad but figured its prob best to also ask on here..

 

 

The train doesn't travel fast enough, and the grade isn't steep enough, that you'd feel like you're going up and down hills like on a roller coaster or even a car traveling on a hilly road. I barely notice when we're climbing or descending, other than the decrease in speed.

 

I get motion sickness if I ride in the back seat of a car (or read while in the front seat), but I've never had any issues on the train. I think the large windows help. I do have to avoid reading if I can see out the window, so I close the curtain if I want to read. It also helps to sit in the forward-facing seat. If you are in coach, all of the seats face forward. If you're in a roomette, just sit in the seat that faces forward.

 

There is a bit of rocking and swaying at times, though, so you might want to book a lower level roomette (or lower level coach seat). You'll still feel a bit of motion, but it won't be as bad as it is on the upper level. Since you've been on commuter trains, you probably know what to expect as far as the occasional lurching while going over a switch. :)

 

This was quite helpful yes that's the fear feeling those "grades" I guess like one dose when in a car hence my need to find a different way to get out to Wisconsin everyone one else will just be hopping in the U hall heading out on the highways and that idea terrifies me to be honest. I also deal with the motion sickness from time to time but I think with some medication and me knowing more what to expect that might be able to be controlled.

 

Yeah we would be looking into a roomette I think honestly what would be better you think coach or one of those? it would be me and a friend on the trip were both on the "fluffier side" of life..lol so wondering what might be more comfortable also is there internet? im thinking maybe I can just bring my laptop and watch some videos to pass the time maybe. Yeah I remember the "lurch" of the old commuter trains I don't think anything like that would really bother me I think if this is def the way we decide to go I will get us a lower cabin or seats as you suggest....thank you very much for the insight :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pogo77,

 

I'm afraid I have to disagree with most of the posters here, but I did that route both ways last year and found it a bit scary, although going east was better than going west. It's true that you don't feel the steep grades, but the worst part for me was being on the edge of a mountain, with a steep drop outside the window. As I said, though, that was much worse going west.

 

To compensate, though, it is a relatively short time through the mountains compared to the rest of the trip, and the Columbia River out of Portland is wonderful, as is the dairy country as you get toward the end of your trip.

The way I read it, the OP was more concerned about feeling the grades rather than being afraid of heights. If my understanding is correct, then I think he/she should be fine.

 

Yep its the feeling of the inclines and declines that gets me I love the view from a plane so the train "view" persay prob wont frighten me infact the views are something ide honestly be looking forward to it dose sound like a gorgeous trip..

 

 

 

To the poster who says they suffer from the same anxiety as me? I just want to say im sorry its def not a fun thing to deal with but I also want to thank you cause in all honestly its a relief to hear im not alone in this. For me its a little embarrassing to deal with a grown adult terrified of a few "hills" it can make car travel quite a awkward challenge. The funny thing is this is a recent development for me maybe the last 2 years or so cause before then ive always been a traveler heck ive done 20 hour trans pacific flights and taken mutable cross county road trips in the past.

 

Looking back now I do think I know were and when this phobia started but to save a long story ill just say I was in a car with a friend whose driving is less then err "safe" and we were hitting some of the "roller coaster roads" that Oregon back roads have to offer and funny as it might sound I think it was a little more traumatic for me them maybe I realized Ill def be seeking some counseling before my trip and I do believe as some have suggested maybe some medication might be in order..

Share this post


Link to post

Yeah we would be looking into a roomette I think honestly what would be better you think coach or one of those? it would be me and a friend on the trip were both on the "fluffier side" of life..lol so wondering what might be more comfortable also is there internet? im thinking maybe I can just bring my laptop and watch some videos to pass the time maybe.

Roomettes are better in pretty much every way. You get a private room with two beds, free meals, access to a shower (coach passengers have to deal with some stink), and more! This page pretty much explains everything included with a roomette. Also, here's Amtrak's Superliner Sleeper virtual tour. It should give you a pretty good sense of what all the accommodations look like.

 

As to WiFi, the Coast Starlight won't have it, but the Maple Leaf does. It's free and is usually perfectly satisfactory for checking email or getting some work done, but I wouldn't count on being able to stream anything. I recommend you play it safe and download some movies or videos ahead of time.

Share this post


Link to post

The Empire Builder goes through many areas that have really spotty (or zero) cell service, so even a Wi-Fi hotspot doesn't work well. I remember being hosed when I thought I could work on a midterm the second day of my trip from Chicago to Seattle. I had absolutely zero service all the way across that part of North Dakota and Montana. If you plan to watch movies, put them on a flash drive or download them to your laptop.

 

I definitely suggest a roomette if you two can afford it. CP provided some good links to pictures and whatnot.

 

The one thing I'd caution you about is the top bunk. If both of you are claustrophobic, neither of you will want to sleep up there. It's pretty close to the ceiling, so you can't sit up, and there's no window. I tried it out during a trip and lasted about 20 seconds before scrambling back down to the lower bunk. :) Some people like it, though. My ex-boyfriend slept up there every time we went to Albuquerque. He called it his "cave".

 

Personally, I have trouble sleeping in Coach, and I wouldn't want to take sponge baths on a trip of that length. Some people love it, though, so I guess it depends on how well you sleep around other people. I'm a light sleeper and prefer to sleep on my side/stomach, so Coach doesn't work for me. I don't mind it at all for day trips, of course. There's so much room to spread out, and the large windows make it feel more spacious.

 

Whichever accommodation you choose, you will have access to the Sightseer Lounge. It has floor to ceiling windows that curve toward the center of the roof. There are tables for playing cards and board games along with a bunch of single seats and loveseat-style seats. The seats face the windows, and it's a nice way to meet other people while enjoying the scenery. You'll want to be in there for the most scenic portions of the trip. There is a cafe downstairs if you want to buy a snack or soda.

 

I really hope you like your trip. I promise it doesn't feel anything like riding in a car, particularly on the curves and hills.

Share this post


Link to post

Unless you are both very young I would recommend a bedroom, the family room or two roomettes. I am 59 and in very good shape but even I would not want to have to climb up and down into an upper bunk at night.

 

Do consider that a bedroom you will be laying perpendicular to your travel. And there is no way to know which side of the room your bed (in the day your seat) will be on so you might be traveling with your back to the direction of travel. Unless you want to sit in a very uncomfortable single seat.

 

Two roomettes would allow you both to have fairly comfortable seating during the day and a guarantee that you will be facing forward. Seating can be put into a a half day / half night mode to make it very comfortable. Bring a couple of personal communicators to talk back and forth. ;)

Share this post


Link to post

 

Roomettes are better in pretty much every way. You get a private room with two beds, free meals, access to a shower (coach passengers have to deal with some stink), and more! This page pretty much explains everything included with a roomette. Also, here's Amtrak's Superliner Sleeper virtual tour. It should give you a pretty good sense of what all the accommodations look like.

 

 

Heed the warning about coach. I took business class from Eugene to Sacramento a couple of weeks ago. I was seated next to a man that stunk from cigarette smoke so badly it nearly made be sick. I had to move immediately or it would have made me sick. Fortunately there was an open seat I was able to move to.

Share this post


Link to post

Sleepers do not include free meals.

When we book a sleeper we pay for meals, in advance, as part of the sleeper berth charge.

Share this post


Link to post
Guest
You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×