A Travellerspoint blog


Gray skies and craft beers

overcast 64 °F
View baecation cross-country Amtrak on baecation2016's travel map.

Hi everybody!

It's so good to be back to wifi!

After two super relaxing days on the Empire Builder, we have safely arrived on the West Coast. The rest of the trip was truly beautiful. When we entered the Great Plains of Montana, some guides from the national parks came on to narrate the vistas around us. We learned a lot and surprisingly REALLY enjoyed it! Being in the lounge above the bar car may have enhanced that enjoyment a little.


We made a friend in the lounge car, too! The great majority of our fellow passengers have been retired couples who are traveling to see their adult children, or are just vacationing like us. They've been wonderful (for the most part) but sometimes hard to relate to, for us. So, we were thrilled to meet someone our age from Leavenworth, WA and hang out with her for a while. She even came to dinner with us as we entered Glacier National Park. Nothing will bring people together like snaking through the mountains while dining on Amtrak-grade Pad Thai. The pictures hardly do it justice.


After the park, it was a short trip through Washington before arriving in Seattle! We were so excited to get off the train and get some real food, we had been packed and ready to go about for about 3 hours before that.


From the train station, we walked with our big backpacks right to the Puget Sound to hop on a ferry to Bainbridge Island. From the ferry we were able to see all of Seattle. I was hoping to see a sea lion, but there weren't any around at the time.


The island was so pretty and cute. We stopped for a quick lunch and then ditched our packs behind the counter so we could walk around. Those things are heavy... While exploring, we found the COOLEST community garden that's ever existed behind a church. It really gave me a lot of inspiration for my future gardening projects. They had their own greenhouse, little bee houses, and even a "Little Free Library" (a community book exchange program found all over Seattle) full of organic gardening books. We showed ourselves around inside and no one seemed to mind.


It happens to be craft beer week in Seattle, so we came back to the mainland to check out the local offerings. We stopped by Elysian brewery in Capitol Hill for dinner and fabulous beer. However, the event they putting on included karaoke during dinner hours. Normally, this would have kept me there all night, but this was possibly the worst excuse for karaoke that I've ever heard in my LIFE! And I have heard a lot of bad karaoke. I don't want to be cruel, but I suspect they have never heard a truly talented karaoke singer in this town. We had to get out of there.

Good thing we did, too! While exploring the neighborhood (we saw a huge co-op!) Claudia had to use the bathroom so we went to a place that sounded promising--Chuck's Hop Shop. Little did we know, it was like a beer drinkers paradise! They say they are the house of 1000 beers, and I believe it. They had about 50 beers of ALL kinds on tap, and every beer you could imagine in bottles and six packs. It was like a beer store and a bar at the same time. Claudia and I were like little kids in a foreign candy store. It was so much fun! Most of the selections were from west coast microbreweries so we'd never heard of them. We did find a few home-state brews though. And since people in Seattle bring their dogs everywhere, we even got to hang out with some really chill pups. It was nice since I've been missing my kitty a little bit.


Needless to say, we were ready for bed after leaving that place. Today, we are heading to Pike Place market for lunch and a quick pic of the space needle before we rent a car and drive Portland, OR. I hope I don't get hit with a flying fish!


Posted by baecation2016 07:56 Archived in USA Tagged beer island garden seattle amtrak glacier_national_park rails_and_trails Comments (2)

The Loop (Chicago) & The Empire Builder

After getting ready and a quick Subway breakfast, we began our morning by taking the "L" (the actual subway) down to the Loop district to do some sightseeing.
Our first encounter was a vendor market at Daley plaza, host to a cool sculpture referred to as "the Picasso". It was an untitled piece made by Pablo Picasso in 1967. Chicago is a really great city for public art and this sculpture was a great introduction.

At the vendor market, we ran into some guys that make cool products out of leather (journals, bracelets, watches, etc) but since they were on Facebook and would ship to Buffalo, we decided to hold off in order to save backpack space.

There was also a tent with screen printed tanks at Designs by Gina. I bought a cool elephant shirt. After noticing our packs, Gina inquired about our travels with Heidi. She suggested we take the Chicago Riverwalk enroute to Milennium Park, which ended up being awesome!


Next, we hit up Millennium Park, which did NOT disappoint! This place was so freaking cool! We first encountered Jay Pritzker Pavilion, which not only is a work of art but also serves as an outdoor amphitheater to 7,000 (including the lawn section). We then happened upon the touristy yet fun Cloud Gate sculpture designed after a drop of mercury. Strolling through Lurie Gardens was a delight; there were walls made of pine trees and a reflecting pool for making wishes. Heidi and I both made wishes, but of course didn't reveal them to each other! It's a pretty huge place, kids on field trips were everywhere, along with other tourists. Our walk through got hot and tiring, so we took a Lyft to get some food and hopefully find a brewery to fill our growler before catching the train!


Finding a brewery in the Loop was a bust so we went for tacos at the Taco Joint per our Lyft driver's recommendation and raced to Union Station to fill our beer growler to with a tasty craft beer option ( we went with Lagunita's Little Sumpin' Sumpin' IPA. #win).
Know what else was a win? These first class sleeper cars and improved bathroom situation on the Empire Builder:


Everything on this train thus far has been quite the experience, albeit fun and enjoyable: sleeping in bunk beds while moving, dining with strangers for each meal (free when you purchase a roomette in the sleeper car!) while moving, navigating around the connecting cars while moving, and using the restroom (you guessed it, while moving).

To our surprise, the Empire Builder doesn't have wifi (which hindered my plans to study for the Peds boards and Heidi's plans to access her Nook). However, Heidi's Straight Talk coverage has been "killing it". My Sprint access, less so (hence the late post).

We are currently entering Montana (shouties to CJ Mischel, the only person from MT we BOTH know) so there will definitely be a future post with pics from Glacier National Park. The states we've rode through thus far (IL, WI, MN, ND) haven't had too many vistas, but we got a few pics.

Tomorrow morning we will arrive in Seattle, so get ready…

-- Claudia

Posted by baecation2016 14:26 Comments (3)

Chicago and Milwaukee

The Journey Begins

semi-overcast 55 °F
View baecation cross-country Amtrak on baecation2016's travel map.

Hey there!

Our first 2 days have been so action-packed! The ride from Buffalo to Chicago took around 9 hours. We left at 1 am, so it was easy to sleep most of the way.
The coach seats on the train are so comfortable, too. I had my legs stretched all the way in front of me and still had extra room. I know I have tiny legs, but still! It's like being in a recliner. The only problem I had was with the bathroom. The coach bathroom smelled awful and the faucet on the sink needs to be squeezed from the bottom to release water. Claudia especially didn't like that part. People rub their soiled hands on the part where the water comes out, thus contaminating the faucet for everyone else. It really makes no sense. I'll try to get a pic of it to show you.

The views along the Rust Belt were...rusty. There was not too much too see. Plenty of industrial sites and a few glimpses of the other side of my favorite Great Lake--Erie.

There were some trying times once we detrained in Chicago. We had to walk a mile and a half to our reserved Zipcar without stopping for breakfast first. As most of you know, a hungry Heidi is not a happy Heidi. But at least it was breezy and beautiful outside.

Once we found the car, we took off straight for the heart of America: Milwaukee. It took nearly 2 hours to get there, and we were starving!
Our first tacos of the vacation were had at Bel Air Cantina, where we feasted on Curry Mahi Mahi, Portabello-Queso, Mango Tilapia, Lobster Shrimp, and Black Bean & Corn tacos. The beast was fed (Heidi) and quite satisfied.


By the time we arrived the Pabst brewery was no longer doing tours for the day. However, there also happened to be a vintage motorcycle show going on right outside. We saw some amazing bikes, and still had a chance to walk around the facilities and see where PBR began. I didn't realize there is a whole adorable Pabst village!

We didn't get to linger too long because we had to get the car back by 6. We sped into the spot at 5:57 exactly. Then we took the "L" (they don't call it metro here, it's their subway system) to our AirBNB. Our host suggested a great pizza place that is not too far from the comedy club we wanted to hit up, so we summoned a Lyft car and headed back out. The pizza was good, but we ordered the wrong kind and didn't get an actual deep dish, so we're going to try again when we come back here next week.

Well, that's all for now. We leave Chicago at 2pm today, and we need to get beer to bring on the train before we go. It's a 36 hour ride to Seattle! Stay tuned for updates on the tiny roomette we booked for the ride.


Posted by baecation2016 04:48 Tagged train chicago seattle motorcycle vintage amtrak comedy milwaukee pabst airbnb baecation lyft lovebug deep_dish laugh_factory Comments (2)

Getting ready!

4 days away from vacation

We're making our final plans before heading out Saturday at midnight. We bought new backpacks and travel French press coffee cups to bring along. All that's left is packing and WAITING. These are going to be the longest 4 days ever!

Use this map to follow us along our trip. First stop, Chicago, IL!

Posted by baecation2016 09:11 Archived in USA Comments (1)

(Entries 6 - 9 of 9) « Page 1 [2]