Empire builder - my newbie review

Discussion in 'Travelogues / Trip Reports' started by scutterbear, Jan 23, 2010.

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  1. Jan 23, 2010 #1

    scutterbear

    s

    scutterbear

    Train Attendant

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2010
    Messages:
    26
    So I made the trip from montana and made it home safely! YAY!!

    I thought I would give my newbie perspective since this was my first trip.

    I caught the empire builder out of whitefish montana and took it all the way to chicago.

    I learned very quickly that a train can be late. LOL, it was six hours late. They got caught behind a freight train that broke down out of washington and therefore was late getting to leave whitefish. Fortunately my brother took me to the station so when we realized it was going to be several hours, he took me up to big mountain and we went sight seeing at the ski lodge. I did feel sorry for the other passengers from the lodge that showed up early that morning to catch the train. They had to wait in the station for six hours.

    I was nervous at first but after the train got going, I eased up a bit. I did get a sleeper roomette. It was smaller than I expected but was adequate. And I am a big fella so that is saying a lot. I took some video footage of the roomette in case anyone wants to see it. It's up on my youtube channel.



    Our car attendant was a fella by the name of Tanner. I have to give high praise to him for a job done very well. He did a great job and made sure that I had everything I needed. He also quickly became my hero because he let me know each and every smoke stop, even the short 4-5 minute ones. He was very nice and I made sure I let his boss know what a great job I thought he did.

    The food on the empire builder was wonderful. I was really impressed. Good sized portions, hot and very tasty. And I was served in my room.

    Since we were six hours late getting started, I was worried because I had a 4 hour layover in chicago. You can do that math. :eek: ) So I thought I was going to have to spend the night in chicago. But we actually got there with 20 minutes to spare. So they made up a heck of a lot of time on the trip. I had just enough time to run upstairs for a quick smoke and then back downstairs to catch the city of new orleans. (I will make a seperate post on that review).

    The plus side to the train being late is that I got to actually see most of glacier park going east. It is usually still dark there til about 9am so I would have missed most of the park if we had left on time. The scenery is breath taking. I will post some pics later on for those that haven't seen it from the train view.

    Overall, for my first trip, I was impressed with the empire builder. I recommend it to anyone.
     
  2. Jan 23, 2010 #2

    Bob Dylan

    Bob Dylan

    Bob Dylan

    Conductor

    Joined:
    May 31, 2009
    Messages:
    18,185
    Location:
    Austin Texas
    Glad you enjoyed the trip under less than ideal conditions but we like to say here that it's not just a train ride, it's an adventure! Look forward to your next report! :)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 23, 2010
  3. Jan 23, 2010 #3

    PetalumaLoco

    PetalumaLoco

    PetalumaLoco

    Conductor

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    Happy to see you had a good first Amtrak LD experience. Enjoyed your video.

    Oh, and nice beard. ;)
     
  4. Jan 23, 2010 #4

    GG-1

    G

    GG-1

    Conductor Honored Member

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    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV
    Aloha

    Also enjoyed your video, but want to correct one thing, there are 4 romets(not 3) on the lower level, and one Family room, and one Handicapped room not 2 family rooms. In adition the video showed the rack for baggage storage on the lower level.

    Mahalo
     
  5. Jan 23, 2010 #5

    amamba

    amamba

    amamba

    Conductor

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    Great video! Thanks for sharing.
     
  6. Jan 23, 2010 #6

    scutterbear

    s

    scutterbear

    Train Attendant

    Joined:
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    Well thanks for the beard compliment. I actually let it grow out while on vacation. I didn't shave it at all. Figured I was in the mountains, may as well look like a mountain man. :lol:
     
  7. Jan 28, 2010 #7

    RailFanLNK

    R

    RailFanLNK

    Conductor

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    Did you mix and mingle with the other passengers or pretty much stay to yourself? I think in earlier posts you had talked about wanting some solitude. Thanks for sharing. That is a good video to show someone who is thinking of taking Amtrak and wanting a roomette.
     
  8. Feb 4, 2010 #8
    My 13 y/o daughter and I recently went to New Orleans for Christmas. Drove from just south of Wichita to Dallas to check out Dealy Plaza and the JFK connection...then went down the street to catch the Texas Eagle to S.A. and connect w/the Sunset Limited to N.O. Rainy weather in Arkansas made the Texas Eagle about 4 hrs late, but we ended up in S.A. about 30 minutes before our Sunset Limited connection. BOY!! talk about padding a schedule. Got a roomette from S.A. to N.O. The space was a bit cramped, but it sure beat sleeping overnight in coach. Five days later took the train back to S.A. from N.O.....had planned on "coaching" it, but after the pleasant experience on the way over decided to get another room. Surprisingly the room on the way back was about $50 cheaper.

    Overall we had a blast. My daughter had never ridden trains before as I had....so I enjoyed it just THAT much more!! Our car attendant was the same from S.A to N.O. and back because of the train's layover. I give Oscar a huge thumbs up for being so helpful.

    My only negative observation(and a small one at that) was the quality of the food and the lack of "atmosphere" in the dining car....seemed like an upscale McDonalds.

    We'll do it again one of these days...maybe up to Chicago to see the Cubs play, over over to STL to see the Cards.
     
  9. Feb 5, 2010 #9

    margo

    m

    margo

    Lead Service Attendant

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Louisiana
    Thanks for a great report and video. We're planning our first Amtrak trip in June on the Empire Builder. This was very helpful.
     

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