Two “Builders” to Chicago.

I’m about to wrap up a very nice three-day visit to Seattle which, of course, included another superb dinner at Assaggio, a wonderful Italian restaurant run by my friend Mauro Golvari.

My first night here in Seattle, I dined alone at Assaggio and took an open spot at the bar, finding myself seated next to a pleasant gentleman, also dining solo. After a few minutes of conversation, he asked where I was staying in Seattle.

“Right next door,” I replied. The restaurant, you see is just one door up 4th Avenue from the Hotel Andra.

“Ah, that’s good,” said the man. “That’s my hotel.”

At first I thought he meant that he, too, was staying at the Andra. It turned out, however, that the Andra is literally his hotel. He owns it!

I’m off this afternoon on Amtrak’s train #8, the Empire Builder, headed for Minneapolis. There are two small issues in my itinerary and I’m interested to see how they work out.

First, my ticket says I’m in roomette 9 in car 830 from Seattle to Spokane, but from Spokane to Minneapolis, I’ve been assigned to roomette 8 in car 2830. That’s the Portland section of this train. Half the eastbound train originates here in Seattle, but another half comes up from Portland, Oregon. The two trains join in Spokane, then continue east as one long train to Chicago. Evidently, when I booked this trip, there was no roomette all the way through from Seattle to Minneapolis, which is where I’m getting off. 

Unfortunately, Spokane happens in the wee hours. I don’t much relish the thought of having to get out of my comfortable berth and change cars sometime tonight between midnight and 1:30 a.m., but perhaps the car attendant working the Seattle section will have figured something out. It will be in his self-interest to do so; otherwise he’ll have to make up the berth for me, then re-make it for whoever will be getting on and taking the room after I have moved to the Portland sleeper. I’m betting that he will have come up with a solution before I board in Seattle this afternoon.

Secondly, on this trip I have violated my own advice about not making Amtrak connections.  After two nights in Minneapolis, I’m catching the next eastbound Empire Builder from there to Chicago where I’ll connect with the Lake Shore Limited to take me the rest of the way into Boston.

Here’s the potential problem: The Empire Builder is due into Chicago at 3:35 next Wednesday afternoon and I’m booked on the Lake Shore Limited which will depart Chicago that same night at 9:30.

In other words, if the Builder arriving in Minneapolis next Wednesday is more than six hours late, Plan B goes into effect . . . that is to see if I can get a flight out of Minneapolis that will get me to Chicago in time to make the train to Boston.

Stay tuned.