Mo & Terry Smedley


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Olympia - Portland - Chicago - Denver

"Getting There is Half the Fun!"

We join the tour in Denver, so we're having a fun ride on Amtrak through Chicago to get there.  We will meet up with Mike Prinzhorn and his mom Diane in Chicago - we met Mike several years ago on a train trip through British Columbia.  Long-distance travel by train is very enjoyable - as long as you're not in a hurry to get there!

The Empire Builder was more or less on time (within about an hour of schedule) on its route.  We were pleasantly surprised to be greeted by our excellent sleeping car attendant Paul, with whom we had traveled before.

Much of the on-board chatter concerned the future of Amtrak in a post-Obama administration.  I think I have reached the conclusion that even TeaPartiers don't necessarily want to spend less - they just don't want to spend public funds on much of anything that I'm interested in.  "Nobody likes earmarks" - unless, of course, those earmarks are funding something important to them.


Our journey begins, more or less, at Portland Union Station (after a quick ride on the Talgo from Olympia).  The Empire Builder begins as independent sections - a tiny one (just three cars) from Portland, and a larger one from Seattle.  The two sections are joined in Spokane for the rest of the trip to Chicago. Complimentary champagne (which we traded for sparkling cider) as we get settled into our sleeping car accomodations. Mo is trying out her new Kindle eBook reader, with the Columbia River outside her window.
Eastern Montana as the sun drops low on our 2nd day.  Taken out the rear window of our sleeping car, which is the last car on the train. Sunset over the rails.  There's a lot to think about here - ribbons of steel reaching from one coast to the other.  Just think about all the changes in the West that were brought about by these two tiny steel ribbons. We met up with Mike Prinzhorn and his Mom Diane at a downtown Chicago restaurant.  We traveled with Mike on a couple of previous rail trips. Diane and Mo.  Diane brought us some delicious breakfast bread for our journey tomorrow!
Terry and Mike.  Mike just returned from the Northern Pacific Historical Society convention in Spokane. We stayed at the Palmer House Hilton downtown (in The Loop).  The lobby is magnificently decorated. The hotel has been recently upgraded.  It took Mo and me a while to figure out how to use this very trendy sink. We thoroughly enjoy the very walkable Chicago Loop.  This is in Millenium Park....
...I really enjoy outdoor art! It was with a twinge of sadness that we see Boeing's Corporate footprint taking hold in Chicago. An interesting sculpture of Godzilla in the Boeing Gallery... ...and you can see why I took this picture.
This is the most amazing piece of outdoor art!  We visit it every time we get to Chicago. Every angle has a different view.  You can look at pictures from previous trips here.  Chicago architecture is so diverse. The Millenium Park walkway (actually, the BP Bridge) extends across the roadway to the Lake Michigan waterfront.
More interesting architecture on the skyline. More fun outdoor art, near the Shedd Aquarium.  Some artists have trouble naming their creations.... ...but not this one. Lake Michigan and the Chicago Skyline from the Aquarium.
Mo near the Adler Planetarium. It was a Bears home game, so Soldier Field was a very, very busy place.  Lots of tailgating here! We had to walk countercurrent to the crush of football fans to get back to the station. Buckingham Fountain.
A stitched together panorama of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan. Junior High humor at its best.  Spotted on a service truck in the park.