Day Seven: West to Idaho

Pancakes were served in the dining car this morning at 8:00am as the Empire Builder approached Minot, ND.  There are 34 stops between Chicago and Sandpoint. A handful of these are slightly extended stops where you can hop off the train take a short walk, or try and find a newspaper box.  Minot is one such stop.  I scored three newspapers today at each of our hop offs: The Minot daily, The Williston Daily, and The Great Falls Daily, which I picked up in Havre, MT.  A different high school sports story headlined all three papers today, which I thought was cool.  It was refreshing not to see Mr. Trump above the fold anywhere along the line.   The Amtrak staff are quite pointed in the announcements about these hop off stops.  They warn you not to wander too far from the train, as it will leave without you.  On the trip east, six people got left behind in Havre, MT.  Many passengers thought this a little too harsh.  As an old steamboat captain, I loved it.  Four hundred passengers were ready and followed the rules, why make them wait?  My wife does not have the same philosophy on this particular issue.  Anyway, it was fun to see some passengers tempt fate in Shelby, MT today as we arrived there early and had a little extra "recess time" off the train.  A younger couple ventured into the Oasis Bar near the station.  This was brave on two different levels, one was the chance they would miss the train, the other was they would actually enter the Oasis and come out in one piece...see photo.  

When not hopping off the train to breath in some Montana air, we watched hundreds of Bakken oil rigs pass by as we headed across the great plains into the Rockies as the sun set over Glacier National Park in the distance.  We sat down for our last Empire Builder supper while we rolled through the park.  Our last stop in Montana is Libby, then across the Idaho state line into the Gem State's only Amtrak stop, Sandpoint.  That was a wrap for the rail part of our adventure.  We arrived in Sandpoint on time just before midnight and rechecked into our other home away from home, the Best Western Edgewater Hotel on the lake in Sandpoint.  Back in Idaho, back into a stationary sleeping room, all is right with the world.  So happy to say,  here we have Idaho.  Good Night Amtrak's America.