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Home » Adventures » Glacier » Day 10

Sunday, August 28 — Back in the Midwest. You Don’t Know How Lucky You Are

Waking up on the train, I soon discovered that we did not make up any time as I slept and were still six hours behind schedule. I would miss church at ULC, but at least I did not have to catch a connecting train in Chicago like many other people. They scrambled to arrange travel throughout the day, but the conductors on the train possessed little authority to assist them.

I officially ran out of food that morning, consuming the last of my bagels. I actually budgeted it pretty well and fell just a bit short. Of course, an intelligent outdoorsman would error on the side of caution by bringing too much food, but no one is perfect. The lounge car sold snacks and the dining car served real meals, but the overpriced unprofitable food did not tempt me much. At least I would really enjoy an endless buffet once I got off the train.

The train continued through more uninteresting North Dakota countryside, and I managed to semi-entertain myself by playing with my GPS. Besides telling me exactly how late we were, I also discovered that Amtrak sped along at upwards of 80 m.p.h. across the open plains. Socializing with other people on the train also helped the cornfields pass faster.

As afternoon approached and the ride on Amtrak continued much longer than it should have, the harvested farm fields gradually gave way to track housing as it approached Minneapolis. The train slowly made its way through suburbia and some of the city’s rather large rail yards. My extended ordeal with the train finally ended though as it pulled into Minneapolis’s station around 1:30 p.m. I disembarked and thankfully discovered my car had remained undisturbed in the open parking lot throughout my absence. After well over twenty-five hours on a train, I now had another almost five hours in a much more confined space driving back to Iowa.

Driving Time

Having not eaten that much from depleting my food reserves earlier, I was starving and scouting for a nice buffet to replenish nutrients not consumed while in the backcountry. The only all-you-can-eat places I saw in the city were Chinese, which did not seem like they would agree with my stomach. After only a short while, I left the city behind and eligible dining establishments dwindled. In fact, I could not find a single buffet along the interstate. Time quickly slipped by, and I was all the way back in Cedar Rapids around seven that night before I found a suitable restaurant. Gluttony overtook any decency I may have had, and I gorged myself on the never-ending hot food after a week subsisting almost exclusively on dry, packaged provisions.

After stuffing myself beyond anything reasonable, I finally arrived at home after dark. I was tired from the extended day of traveling but still had to show up for work in less than ten hours. I was not envying being stuck in front of a computer all day at work, just after thoroughly enjoying one of America’s great national parks for a week. After my cubicle filled day I would still need to tend to the pile of dirty supplies from my trip. Nevertheless, I guess I need to earn money so that I can venture out and do this again. That is, until I have finally have my midlife crisis, quit my job, and become a professional camper1 or something.


This trip was definitely a great experience and one of my best so far. Everything did not happened according to plan (like usual) but still worked out extremely well, in some cases better than intended (not usual). Translated into manager speak: I was an agile traveler adapting to a dynamically changing environment, exploiting the synergy between nature and myself to maximize return. I must however, credit any favorable outcomes to luck, rather than any skills or lessons learned from previous disasters.

The weather mostly held, the hiking and scenery were breathtaking, and I met many outstanding individuals. My initial attempt at Amtrak was pleasant, though not punctual. I sure hope there will be a next time for Glacier, but not too soon, as there are numerous other hidden sanctuaries to unveil and explore before returning to this gem.

1 If anyone knows someone who is actually hiring for this position, please let me know. The pay and benefits do not really matter.