It was -33 C leaving Saskatoon for the Great Train Adventure of 2013. Given the very icy road conditions within the city I was a bit concerned about heading out but highways were excellent despite a bit of wind and drifting snow enroute to Minot.
The Amtrak station in Minot is undergoing a re-renovation. Built in 1905 and "modernized" in the 1970's, it took from 2003 - 2010 to get the funding and do the work to bring it back to its former glory. Unfortunately, major flooding of the Souris River in spring 2011 caused significant damage to the basement and main floor. It will be very nice when finished again as you can still see the decorative copper ceiling tiles, ornate woodwork and iron bar ticket booths.
It’s difficult not to make comparisons between Amtrak and Via Rail. As someone (an American) on the train quickly pointed out, Amtrak is the Chevy and Via Rail is the Cadillac. We would have to agree.
Amtrak meal service: paper tablecloths, plastic dishes, disposable glasses and cups, okay food. It bothers Andrew and I to see such waste!
Via Rail meal service: cloth tablecloths, fancy dishes, real plates, cups, glasses and wine glasses, superb food and professional wait staff.
|Andrew in our "roomette" on the train.|
The sleeping accommodations on each have advantages and disadvantages. We’ve only used the “roomettes” or bunk type beds so can’t compare the actual rooms. Via’s are wider and a lot more head room on the top bunk. When not in “sleeping mode” the seats are wide open and you can see out either side of the train. On Amtrak there’s a sliding door and curtains that encloses into a little room. This is better for security of belongings and not having to listen to other conversations or noise from movies being watched on laptops. I'm not totally sure which I prefer.
The other Amtrak advantage is price. Even with rising costs in the past few years, it’s still significantly (!!!!) cheaper than Via.
It started to get light this morning around Wenatchee so we got some great mountain views heading into Seattle. Weather forecast looks warm and dry for the next few days! One of our first stops was to the Waterfall Garden which is only a couple blocks from the train station. The wonderful smell of flowers was in sharp contrast to the cold winter air we'd come from!
Lots of walking, a visit to the aquarium, a happy hour glass of wine and a great evening meal rounded out the day.
|Colourful flowers at the Waterfall Garden|