We returned our second car in the beautiful town of Whitefish and loaded like camels (with all the camping gear we bought in the US on top of our backpacks) left for the train station. We decided that crossing the US on board of “Empire Builder” – an Amtrak train running along the Canadian border – would be a nice change after thousands of miles in a car. The “Builder” had two-level cars, big comfortable seats, a special lounge car with huge windows, a dining car, quite interesting route and even more interesting passengers.
We saw a few Mennonite or Amish families (I do not know how to tell the difference but obeserving them was fascinating), a group of horny 50+ ladies, dressed in neon t-shirts, celebrating a birthday of one of them, a young man in big headphones, fluttering eyes and too many screen devices for a single person to handle. There were few moustache-men of Midwest, hair combed to the side and a shadow of ponytail on their heads. There were kids of all ages, most of the time glued to their screens, disconnected from outside world (except Mennonite / Amish ones – they did not need screens to survive a two-day train trip).
The pace of the journey was what you would expect from a train bearing such name. On every stop the conductor announced a cigarette break (or to strech legs if you wish). There were restaurant opening / closing announcements and lunch or dinner orders. Those who wanted to enjoy the view could stare for hours into middle-of-nowhere landscapes. Plenty of time to contemplate one’s futile existence.
On the second day evening, few hours late, we rolled into Chicago. After Vancouver this was our second stop to see the family and it was equally awesome. The boys quickly discovered shops selling food from our country, which we were missing so much. Over the next few days they were eating only pierogi, Polish sausages, pates, cheesecakes and Polish kisiel (a kind of jelly).