Westward

A Photographic Journey Via Amtrak 

In May of 2011, I set out on an adventure.  

I thought moving across the country would be more epic if I did it via train, so I booked an Amtrak Railpass (yes, we have them here in America) and headed West, leaving Philadelphia on May 6th and arriving in San Francisco on May 19th.

Amtrak lived up to my expectations… well, sort of.  The first 22 hours along the Cardinal Route really turned into 26 hours, a foreboding sign of the time tables that lay ahead.  

I soon learned that Amtrak has only one track across the entire country.  This boggled my mind and showed me how little I knew about mass transportation.  All passenger trains yield to freight trains, so you never know if you’ll have to pull aside and exactly how long you’ll have to wait.

Freight trains are also very, very long and move much slower than passenger trains.

I also learned a little bit more about unions and some of their flaws.  

After sitting in “train traffic” (yes, this happens when multiple trains have to pull aside for freight trains to pass through) for nearly two hours, the crew hit their daily quota of hours.  So instead of forging forward and logging in some over time, Amtrak had to bus out a new crew to the middle of nowhere before we could continue to Chicago.

Four hours of staring out the window at a stagnant and aesthetically displeasing landscape killed my romantic daydreams of the epic journey that lay ahead of me.  Consequently, there are no photos of my journey until my romantic ideals of a wild west were revived 30 hours into the Empire Builder route upon entering Glacier National Park.

The Empire Builder

The Empire Builder route.

GLACIER

to VANCOUVER and SEATTLE

The train is late, so I explore the tracks while I wait…

Finally, a train!  But it’s a freight train going East.

At last, the Empire Builder comes, long after the sun has gone and the chill has set in.

WEST SEATTLE

OREGON

SAN FRANCISCO

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