Day 4—Kirk and our band of Holiday Vacations travelers are staying at the East Glacier Lodge in Glacier National Park, enjoying the views and the great food.
It’s been a couple of days since our last report because we’ve been on the move…literally, on Amtrak where there was no internet service. However, we enjoyed the morning tour of Chicago, from the Luxury Hyatt Regency hotel next to O’Hare International Airport to the lake-shore. We visited the conservatory with its huge tropical plants, drove through the canyons of the oldest marble section of town, and also saw the remaining buildings from the World’s Fair. The Shed Aquarium, the Field Museum an d the Museum of Science and Industry could all take a full day to visit.
Our entry point was Union Central, with it’s large marble columns and huge waiting area. We also got to hunt up a Giovanni’s pizza for a slice of deep dish and thin crust pizza for lunch. But we boarded the Amtrack Empire Builder at 2 p.m. and headed northwest through Wisconsin and Minnesota before falling asleep to the rocking of the train.
Amtrack continues moving overnight, and we awoke to be halfway across N.Dakota with it’s rolling plains. The land forms dropped away from the grasslands continued, flatter and flatter as we entered Montana. We saw a lot of haze and smoke from forest fires in Oregon and Washington states that concerned us, but thicker clouds as we arrived at Glacier gave us some spectacular sunbeams as the shadows of the Rocky Mountains loomed. The lighting effects were spectacular Just before dusk, we arrived at Glacier Natl Park, and after a two day train journey across the heartland of America.
There is nothing like this trip to convince one of the huge size of our country, with diverse land, people, homes, cars, trucks and animals.
While our journey began with 70 degree temperatures, once we left the cooling influence of the summer polar vortex, we felt the temperature outside the train climb to 93 as we crossed Montana.
The air conditioning and self-contained nature of the train insulated us from the strong winds that blew from the SW, rippling the waves of grain and poplar trees. Animals became fewer and the landscapes more vista as we went, pausing only at the various small train stations to discharge or pick-up a passenger or two.
Today, we will explore Glacier National Park, the road to the sun, and more…starting at 4500 feet elevation and climbing on antique crawlers through the mountain passes to see those Glaciers that hang on the peaks, tempting us but remaining aloof. Our lodge and room, while somewhat rustic, seems familiar, and it occurs to me that I have been her e about age 10 or so, and swear that I stayed in exactly the same room, with its rear screen door that releases onto a veranda. An unusual feature of the room is a step up into the bathroom, which has been modernized with CFR bulbs, news shower stall and a fresh coat of paint, the the real trick is steeping down out of the bathroom as the doorway is no taller than a man. 6 ft men must duck!
The gift shop is a popular place, with everyone eyeing shirts, socks, walking sticks, jackets, caps and other gifts for those back home. And the large massive timbers of the main lodge waiting room remind us that this parks has been here since 1910 with construction of the lodge in the 1920s and the annex extension in the 1930s. As a starting point, it’s a great place to begin our explorations. But I also have strong feelings that this might have inspired the Overlook Hotel for Stephen King’s “The Shining”, though I know that isn’t true. But the similarities are striking.
As we find internet connections, we will be sending photos and updates home from two time zones away. Our 45 traveling companions are in good spirits and ready to go. Certainly, Holiday Vacations has a winner with this trip across America, too.