One minute, I’m sitting on a rooftop bar overlooking downtown Whitefish, the Amtrak station in the near distance. The next, it’s 3:30am and Luke and I are shuffling out of the luxurious Grouse Mountain Lodge and into the cold Subaru. Our journey home had begun.
I’m part zombie, part Amtrak-riding pro when we finally board. We select unoccupied seats and immediately crash as the train pulls away from the Whitefish station. I woke up to a ball of orange burning brightly through my window. The view of Glacier National Park at sunrise was breathtaking and I struggled to stay conscious long enough to take in every last drop.
Shortly after 7am, I woke again to the sound of a gruff, manly voice coming from a few rows behind me. This cowboy decided to express his love for the folks back home by shouting it from the mountaintops. Because misery loves company on the Amtrak, a female passenger echoed his sentiment a few rows ahead of me. They continued on with their not-so-private conversations for about 20 minutes, at which point, I began shooting laser beams out of my eyes into both of their heads.
I eventually gave up my futile attempt to silence them via Jedi mind control and stumbled down to the bathroom to get ready for the day ahead. I planned to spend most of it sleeping and reading. The train is a wonderful place to be lazy, which is exactly what we needed after such an adventurous week.
The train picked up a lot of guys heading home from the oil fields of North Dakota. From a casual voyeur’s perspective, they seemed to be equal parts rough around the edges, gregarious and insightful. Sitting around one of the small, plastic tables in the observation car, chugging can after can of Coors Light while trading stories, they reminded me of cowboys in the pioneering days.
What I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall in the city of Minot for a week.