Amber Waves of Grain, Purple Mountain Majesties

“It’s like a sea day on a cruise ship.”

This was how I described my first Amtrak adventure – 48 hours on the Empire Builder from Seattle to Chicago. I ate at community booths in the dining car, where the conversations invariably revolved around why we were taking the train. As we passed by the southern edge of Glacier National Park, I admired the snowy view through the observatory car’s huge windows. I read, watched some downloaded Netflix shows and chatted with other travelers.

So that got me to thinking. Rather than take a short cruise this spring, why not take a “land cruise” on Amtrak?

After a bit of planning and scheduling visits with friends along the way, I’m ready to start on this adventure. I’ll leave Dallas tomorrow afternoon northbound on the Texas Eagle and will arrive in Chicago midday on Thursday to visit my nephew.

A few days later I will head out on the California Zephyr from Chicago to Emeryville, Calif. I’ll interrupt the trip after one overnight to visit a friend in Denver. On the second half of the route I’ll pass through the Rockies and the Sierras.

After spending the night in Emeryville, I’ll spend the day on the Coast Starlight southbound for Los Angeles. My layover will be nearly 24 hours, so I booked a Six Taste food tour of downtown. Then I’ll set off on the Southwest Chief, spending two nights aboard before arriving in Kansas City. Again, I’ll visit friends for a few days. Then I’ll take the Missouri River Runner to St. Louis, have an early dinner with friends, and catch the Texas Eagle southbound for an overnight back home to Dallas.

On the overnight legs I have booked a roomette, a small room that is just half the width of the train (minus the center aisle). It has two comfortable seats that make a nice single bed at night. There is a drop-down bunk, but I will just use that for storing luggage. Instead of the rolling of the waves, I’ll sleep to the rocking motion of the tracks.

I’ll be blogging along the way, although WIFI and even cell service is spotty if available at all through the great American west. So I won’t be posting every day. If there are any topics you want me to address or questions about the journey, just leave a comment.