I Make a Rookie Mistake.

The need for a second cross country trip has come up and circumstances have conspired to require changes in the itinerary. Unfortunately, changes cost money . . . especially changes that are made impulsively and then cancelled because of a reason that should have been obvious at the time of booking.

I have taken Amtrak’s Empire Builder frequently over the years. It’s a glorious ride and every time, as the train goes through Essex, Montana, and we pass the Izaak Walton Inn, I say to myself, “Damn! On one of these trips, I’m going to get off here and spend a night or two at that hotel.”

BNSF freights run by about 20 feet behind where the photographer stood to getr this shot.

The Izaak Walton Inn,  you see, is railroad-themed from attic to basement—on every wall, paintings of mammoth coal black locomotives pulling a dozen or more Pullman sleepers . . . and in displays cases, samples of fine china on which gourmet meals were served to dining car guests.

And so, this time I remembered. Impulsively, I called Amtrak and changed my reservation, adding a two-day stop in Essex, which would surely allow enough time to sit on their back lawn and watch a few freights pass by on the Burlington’s main line.  And so I changed my itinerary, adding 48 hours in order to include a two-night stop in Essex.

Ninety percent of you already see what’s coming, don’t you?

Yep . . . I placed a call to the Izaak Walton Inn and that’s how I learned that the Inn is being renovated and will be closed for what I gather are extensive improvements. More to the point, they will be closed at a time when I was planning to spend a couple of days there. And of course there was a small difference in the rail fare. An increase, of course.

As an additional and related item, I have noted that, for reasons known only to management people in the hospitality industry, hotel rates are up . . . way up. Hotels I booked a year ago for $165 a night for a standard room are asking $225 to $275 for the same room just one year later.

In the meantime, I’m working on a new plan, which includes a visit to a half-dozen small towns I’ve passed through many times  . . . each time telling myself “One off these days . . . “