I have booked the transportation for the trip:

Amtrak’s Cardinal. As you can see, this train takes a roundabout route to Chicago, but I chose it because it would allow me to check baggage along the entire route. It takes about the same amount of time as the alternate route through Pittsburgh by saving one layover.

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At first glance, you might say, “Wow, what fantastic scenery!” but the excitement is tempered by the fact that the majority of the time spent in West Virginia Kentucky, Indiana, and Ohio will be in darkness in October. Shooting from a moving train requires a pretty fast shutter speed, so opps from the windows unfortunately will be fewer than I would like.

Some of this I will see, and much of it I will not be able to photograph:

BandO-10 cardinal-oldhouse cardinal-art-gesfrv2e-1amtrak-cardinal-3-jpg amtrak-02 Amtrak trestle

Photos from Amtrak and Railfan & Railroad magazine.

The good news is that I have a four hour layover in Chicago, which, if the train stays on schedule, gives me time to get a decent meal and do some shooting.The last time I visited the windy city, I had wall to wall meetings and social engagements, so I would like to get some shots this time.

The second leg of the trip will be on the Empire Builder, so called because much of its route parallels the Louis and Clark Expedition. Here, the shooting will be much better, as we will have daylight for North Dakota and almost all of Montana. The photographers below demonstrate the opportunities. (Check out Jack DeWitt’s and Tony Bynum‘s portfolios – they are stunning!)

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Empire Builder from NBC by Alex Mayes
Empire Builder from NBC Destination Travel by Alex Mayes
amtrakNorthernBorder
Northern Border Route from International Society of Train Travelers
Crossing Two Medicine Bridge by Tony Bynum
Crossing Two Medicine Bridge by Tony Bynum
Whitefish Staion by Jack DeWitt
Whitefish Staion by Jack DeWitt

I booked the famous Lodge at Whitefish Lake,with stunning views and a fireplace in every room for the Friday night. (It is remarkably reasonable in the shoulder season, in case you thought I had fallen off the cheapskate wagon.)  We plan to explore Glacier, Flathead Lake, and The National Bison Range on our way to Yellowstone. Since we have a long drive to Mammoth Hot Springs, we won’t be tempted by the Octoberfest to linger in town.

Sunset at Whitefish Lodge from Trip Advisor
Sunset at Whitefish Lodge from Trip Advisor
Marina at Dusk from Lodge website
Marina at Dusk from Lodge website

Now I just have to figure out how to spend five days in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park…….

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