The Empire Builder

Amtraking from Portland to Chicago, two days, two nights, October 8-10. Border Patrol came onto the train at White Fish, Montana. Why? Our train car porter told us the Border Patrol has jurisdiction within 30 miles of the border, and that they regularly look for “illegal immigrants” at this stop. I wondered where they think these “illegal” human beings are coming from and going to? Is it simply a matter of the overarching components of Homeland Security seeking any excuse they can to throw their weight around, here a train stop in the middle of virtually nowhere but within 30 miles of the border with Canada? So, they have “legal” authorization to search any human being they don’t like for some unexplainable reason, or perhaps based on racial, ethnic or cultural prejudices provoked by certain “suspicious” appearances or “features.”

We ate each of our six meals in the dining car, invariably paired with others at a table where we could almost be assured of enjoying an interesting conversation, along the scenery along the rails, ranging from politics of the USA and/or the world, to work/hobby interests, to vacation plans or experiences, to the varied quality, price and taste of Amtrak food, actually not so bad. Because we had a sleeper, all meals are included in the price of our ticket, a great feature of going by train in style. Here’s a small gallery of that leg of our journey. [photos by Becky]

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