Sunday Morning Soliloquy - Musings of an Urbanite: My Summer Vacation Soon to Be Realized

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My Summer Vacation Soon to Be Realized

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My Summer Fall Vacation 

An Unlikely Paradise 

This summer I am taking the vacation of a lifetime, something I've wanted to do for a long time, something that just fell into place when I wasn't really trying.

Regular passenger car filled with travelers on the Empire Builder enroute from Chicago to East Glacier Park, Montana, and Seattle, Washington, June 1974

Leyla's Trip Across The Country on Amtrak

If you know anything about me, you know I like to travel. I write a travel blog (in addition to this blog and others) and I have been ALL OVER the world. But there is one thing I have not done much of, I haven't traveled the United States. That will soon change.

One of my dreams has been to travel across the United States, but I always thought I would drive across the country. But I hate to drive. So back in June, after I got booted from the trip I was supposed to take, and as I watched everyone else take their summer trips to Italy, Michigan, Vail and every other place under the sun, it dawned on me. THIS would be the summer vacation of my life!

I started browsing the internet (that's a lie, I constantly browse the internet - there is no start or stop) and I found the Trails and Rails program on Amtrak. I thought, "Hmmm, National Parks could be fun." But I'm not terribly outdoorsy.  Or even a little outdoorsy.

I purchased an 8 ride Amtrak ticket (any 8 stops on any line in 15 days) and upgraded with a few Roommettes. I start on the Empire Builder and transfer to the Coast Starlight spending two nights in each destination.

Empire Builder Route

Coast Starlight Amtrak

My first stop on the Empire Builder is in Essex, the Northwest corner of Montana, just beside Glacier National Park. I spend three days in Essex where I'll stay at Issac Walton Inn in a caboose car (a BIG thanks to @SennettReport for the recommendation), take a Jammer Ride, go white water rafting! Guess what, I've never really gone white water rafting before (unless you count Green Bay, Wisconsin).

Isaac Walton Inn 

Historic Red Bus "Jammer" Tours 
Red Bus at Waterton Lakes National Park

You know that's going to be ME waving the flag! 
photo courtesy of Glacier Rafting Co.
After three days in Glacier Park (god, I can barely contain my excitement), I get back onto the Amtrak and head to Portland, Oregon for my second stop. I wasn't able to secure a Roomette for this leg of my trip, they were sold out, therefore, I'll be sitting in coach. I'm a little worried to sitting in coach from 7:45 p.m. to 10:10 a.m., but looking forward to the experience. 
I don't have much to say YET about Portland because I haven't had a chance to plan anything. I am interested in their food & wine scene as I know it is great. I need to figure out which neighborhood is best but I am considering staying on this 41' boat in the pier that I found on Airbnb
If you have any good pointers on what to do in Portland, please leave a comment. 
From Portland I hop back on the Amtrak and head down to San Francisco for stop number three. I haven't quite planned San Francisco either buy my friend John lives there and he's a photographer, I plan to take some walking photo tours with him, get some drinks, maybe see a band (not a black metal band - his choice in music doesn't quite suit me). I don't even have any clue where I am staying so pointers are welcomed! 
My next, and final, stop will be in Santa Barbara. I am truly excited about Santa Barbara because I found an incredible trailer park where I rented an Airstream - Santa Barbara Auto Camp. I rented the Anacapa, which is one of the smaller trailers, it has two bikes (I'll only need one, because duh, I'm traveling alone again) that I can ride to the beach. 

The problem with the Airstream Camper Park is that they only have availability for ONE night, so I have to move to a secondary location on night two. I'm looking at a few options, but maybe ONE luxury spot may be a good options. And since I know very little about Santa Barbara, I'm going to create a Pin. Pack. Go Pinterest Board to see if Four Seasons Santa Barbara would be willing to help plan my trip!

More details to come leading up to the trip: 
  • What will I pack? I need help!  Suggestions? Tweet me @leyla_a or leave a comment 
  • What "Gear" do I need? 
  • What should I do in Portland, San Fran and Santa Barbara? 
  • What am I missing? 

(Disclosure: Four Seasons is a client and Pin. Pack. Go is one of our projects). 

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