Vacation, Part 3: And Back Again

comments: 33

The trip back home is always a little different than the trip out. Tired, bored, ready for familiar food, ready for familiar scenery, and very ready for familiar beds (and showers), I try not to wish for the train to go faster, because once we are home, vacation is officially over. But it was a great trip, and an awesome adventure, and I'm so glad we got to go. Thank you so much for following along! I hope you might be inspired to ride the rails and see this magnificent country of ours for yourself.

Vacation3Union Station, Chicago, Illinois

Vacation4Our sleeping car attendant, Stephanie, bringing Amelia a present. (She was our attendant on the way out, and she was amazing.)

Vacation5Northern Wisconsin




Vacation9North Dakota





Vacation15Kitty cat








VAcation23Two Medicine River just outside Glacier National Park, Montana


VAcation25Glacier National Park










Vacation35Eastern Washington

Vacation36Columbia River Gorge (almost home)


Jennifer Reynolds says: August 18, 2016 at 09:06 AM

My grandpa grew up in Sturgeon Bay...our family did one camping vacation in Door County in the 1970s and I would love to take our boys there some day. We've camped all over the coasts of the US and Canada but we've never hit the upper Midwest. High time! Thank you for the inspiration and for your photos, lovely as always.

From across the Atlantic you make me wish to hop on a train. But Portugal can be crossed by train in about six hours if I start in the Algarve. No need to a sleep over. Amazing photos, lovely daughter and amazing country!
A stitcher from Portugal
Paula N Lima

I'm so glad you shared! I would love to take my nephews to Chicago and the whole trip is better and more adventurous on a train!

Thank you a lot for sharing your trip with all of us:-)

Well you have some awesome pictures from your trip. And now I am sure you have wonderful memories! I had just gone out to Washington and Oregon in June and they truly are beautiful states! Andrea

Susan Reed says: August 18, 2016 at 11:04 AM

What a lovely trip. I would love to do this once I retire from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. Thank you for sharing.

Stefanie P. says: August 18, 2016 at 12:27 PM

Welcome home!...So good to go, so good to get back!...Your photos say it all...we have an incredibly diverse country here...Differs from North to South and from coast to coast. So glad you had the chance to get away...Fall is soon upon us!!!...where did this year go??

What a fantastic way to travel. And such beautiful countryside. Gorgeous skies and fantastic (slightly scary) valleys. Glad you had such a lovely time. CJ xx

What a wonderful trip. So many memories. Your last picture is most delightful for me, if I had known you were going by I would have waved.

I have followed your blog for a few years now, I just love it. The everyday stories of life, and your photography is amazing! :) My day is always brighter when I visit your blog :)

Karen morrison says: August 18, 2016 at 02:23 PM

It was great fun seeing your pics of Door County. It is a beautiful place. We lived in Sturgeon Bay for 13 years, moving to the Fox River Valley due to a job. I miss the water the most. I am glad you had a good time. The train travel sounds very intriguing. So many good memories.

Four years ago, we flew from our home in Texas to Fresno, California. After visiting some of the national parks on the east side of California, we caught the Coast Starlight and went through Oregon and on to Seattle. That was my first rail trip, and we *loved* it. We also fell in love with your beautiful corner of the US. In October, we are flying to Chicago and taking the California Zephyr to San Francisco. What an incredibly relaxing way to travel!

We have a grandson who will be 4 in late October. He is a train fanatic. I have yet to tell him we are taking another trip on a 'sleeping car' because it will upset him so when he cannot go with us. We've taken him on some short trips, but not an overnight. Your experience with Amelia on such a trip is encouraging!

Thank you for sharing your cross country train ride and Door County photos with us. It looks like you had a wonderful time with the Paulson clan. Congrats to Andy’s parents! I remember celebrating my grandparents 50th in Door County. We took an extended family photo on the lawn with the ever present bluff in Sister Bay in the background. : ) Then my 11 siblings and I lined up in birth order along the sea wall. It’s always a hoot looking at those photos 20 or so years later. My husband and I honeymooned there and have gone up almost every year but have missed the last couple of years. Your pictures are triggering all the happy memories. Thanks again.

Robin in Portland Oregon says: August 18, 2016 at 04:29 PM

And back to the land of GREEN! I remember when I first moved here from FLorida and driving with my parents clear across the nation then entering the Gorge and how green everything suddenly was. Everytime I come home to Oregon and get to the western Gorge I'm always amazed at how green it is. Even now in hot August.

Do you love the "Train Filter" app those windows create in the pictures? I've fallen in love with the special look of photographs through dirty windows, on rocking trains... all the more special and endearing. It's a special way to travel!

Now that you've seen Montana, especially the Two Medicine River area, have you added Ivan Doig's books to your list?

That PICTURE of the clouds and wheat field with the tracks in it....(just after Amelia laying down in her green shirt) is gorgeous!!!! That would be one I would blow up and frame.
I live in the western suburbs of Chicago....15 mins from where you grew up and we have been to Door County several times. It's a perfect get away for us Chicagoans.....not too far, but feels far enough.

So many have missed the pleasure of traveling by train. If you have the extra day or two, taking the train instead of the plane will add much to your vacation in rich visual memories. The cadence/rhythm of the train is not to be forgot.
Thank you for taking us all along through your photos.

I liked traveling with you . . .
Lovely photos . . .

what a memorable trip you had! wonderful photos of your experience.

Loved your journey. Thanks for taking us along. My family were railroaders (telegraphers): grandfather, uncle and father on the Great Northern which originated the Empire Builder. They dispatched, all three, at one time or another from the little town of Stryker, Montana, during WWII and up through the mid-5o's. The Empire Builder used to stop at Stryker to buy rainbow trout for the diner. Our friend, Fred Ripley, had a trout farm about 20 miles up the Stillwater River from Stryker and he brought the fish down to the station each day. I was very small, then. Being railroad families, we road the train for free between our homes in Spokane and Montana. But I never got to ride the Empire Builder until 2003 when I had to do a job in mid-Michigan. We rode to Chicago, rented a car, and drove up into Michigan. It was a lovely journey. I loved seeing Wisconsin, which is a favorite of mine, from the train. I loved the quiche they served for breakfast. It was memorable. So glad you, too, love the train. What a treat! Thanks so much. Kathie in Odessa, WA (the Empire Builder goes through here twice a day; it makes me feel very restless when I see it flash past; I want to be away again)

I was certainly inspired already by your first post about the train. Love train journeys especially in other countries, just let someone else take over the travel bit and watch the scenery go by..... Living in The Netherlands I was Lucky enough to travel the train in the US on a few occasions, from LA to Las Vegas (v.v.) and from NY to Washington (v.v.). They were great experiences and reading your first post I was amazed by the beauty of what you all saw and looked up this particular train ride. Wow, what a journey! The pricing was rather confusing to us, no idea what was included and what not, but will send Amtrak an email on that,there is no rush, but this trainride is definitely on our wish-to-do-list now! Thank you for sharing your wonderful pictures (always)!

Your trip looks amazing and inspired me to look for a sleeper train to Scotland (being as this Island {the UK} is so tiny it's a relatively short journey) but the tickets cost more than a 7 night holiday to Portugal, all inclusive. Such a shame as the experience would have been lovely.

Looks like your family hands great vacation and a wonderful way to end the summertime. Thanks for sharing your trip with us!!

Thank you for sharing, these are wonderful pictures. So glad you have these memories for your family.

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About Alicia Paulson


My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at