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All aboard for an autumn farewell

By Staff | Dec 4, 2009

Amtrak has a slogan they use, “Change how you see the world.” It appears on their navy and white paper coffee cups. As a family, we decided to take them up on their offer. On Thanksgiving Day, Jan, Lydia and I, along with some oil-coleslaw and a mighty fine looking almond tart – which was resting very nicely on a narrow vintage rose pressed metal serving tray – boarded Amtrak in Rugby.

Our first thrill of excitement came when we shared the purchased tickets with Miss Lydia the evening prior. Kids are amazing, as many of you know, and it does not take long for them to fasten symbols and commercials into their growing intellect. As soon as her little blue eyes spotted that Amtrak logo on the train ticket, she was soaring and quickly scooped up her dolls and announced to them they were going on Amtrak!

At 5 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, Lydia was awake because she did not want to miss the train! When first arriving in Rugby, I often made daily stops by the vintage depot to stand on the brick platform and feel the rush and thunder of the bold Amtrak arriving. It is a thrill I still enjoy today, and now Lydia shares in this daily prize as well. But the real trick is knowing where to stand and being prepared to feel the rush of air and moving of the ground beneath your feet as the mighty engines zoom by! Our sense of connection for this mini-thrill comes by standing half way between the depot and the rails and looking east as gray bullet – Mr. Mighty -approaches!

Thanksgiving Day was one of those very perfect late North Dakota fall days and riding on Amtrak was truly as luxuriant as the whipped cream on a thousand pumpkin pies! We did change the way we normally travel to Williston, and by doing so our eyes were treated to a landscape smorgasbord. Near Berwick, we enjoyed seeing ducks in migrant flight and a once vivid goldenrod now displaying its frosty diamond dust. A masterpiece of ruby red shrubs stood tall against the azure sky by Towner, and they too had been painted with the silver brush. Coming into Minot we witnessed a few ribbons of orange still aglow that reminded us why autumn is such a showstopper. By the depot was a weary wooden fence enhanced by the final copper-tone bracelet of fall. It was easy to see the other fall jewels that had adorned it before and now they lay scattered on the ground below. As this beautiful autumn day continued to unfold, and we traveled west across the lofty Trestle bridge, we witnessed murmuring, peaceful creeks, harvested land turned to a blanket of gold, and we realized that autumn’s stretch in the limelight was slipping away. Streams of warm sunshine infiltrated our train car and were weaving patterns of warmth and cheer like a harvest cornucopia.

We were greeted at the Williston depot by Jan’s parents. It is interesting to note that the Williston Depot from the outside is a mirror image of the Rugby Depot. However, unlike the Rugby Depot which still retains its original beauty, the Williston Depot has given way to plastic and chrome. We enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with her aunt and other family members. Before we knew it, Mother Nature had dropped her purple sheers from the sky. Riding above them was a swirled valance of orange and pink that delighted the sky. It was our signal that we should start to return home. We boarded Amtrak when night was hung and enjoyed seeing the lights of cities and towering lights of the abundant soaring oil rigs.

Even though our taste buds had been well satisfied in Williston, we could not resist the call of the dining car. Once seated at the white linen tables with crisp navy blue napkins, we were treated to a culinary delight. On board this evening was an executive chef and his specialty was steak. It was cooked to perfection, and, oh, what a delight! Between the gentle sway of the train, fresh table flowers and our obliging dining car attendant, Joyce, another just right meal had been chronicled as pure joy. As we settled into our seats for a leisurely ride back to Rugby, we reflected on a perfect day. Amtrak had kept its promise of truly changing our view on traveling to Williston. Soon this landscape will be blanketed in snowflakes, and, when it is, we will enjoy recalling this glowing autumn farewell. We are blessed in Rugby to have such a wonderful train schedule. An added delight to our journey was to pick up and read the fall winter edition of the Empire Builder Magazine and see that Rugby is featured in this edition in an article entitled, “Rugby: The Center of it All.” Who knows? Others may realize that Rugby is the perfect place for a day trip on Amtrak.

Repnow is a Rugby resident.

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