I am the alpha and the omega
September 03, 2005
Forthoffer's Cynical Summary of Barzun's Laws
1. That which has not yet been taught directly can never be taught directly.
2. If at first you don't succeed, you will never succeed.

I apologize for the length of this post, but words dont do enough justice to this experience; neither do pictures. Links in italics go to pics. There are about 4 of them.

The Pure Amtrak Experience - The California Zephyr

  1. A bountiful breakfast in the beautiful mountains.
  2. A lavish lunch among lush green farms.
  3. A delicious dinner through deep 'n dark forests.

Pretty much sums what Amtrak is all about. (For the ignorant, Amtrak is the government-run rail service in USA, much like the IR, but far less popular, and far more expensive).

Perhaps the reason I chose to undertake the journey across the country from San Francisco (remember the Golden Gate?) to Chicago (remember Sears Tower) on Amtrak. I was not travelling alone; my room-mate who is as enthusuastic about trains as me also joined along.
And for three days, I chose to forget time and to enjoy the scenery, wilderness, and the amazing feeling of being in the middle-of-nowhere. They add quite a real "down-to-earth" feeling while getting from one place to another.
Amtrak describes this ride as follows:
Experienced travellers say it's the most beautiful train trip in all of North America... and as you climb to the sky through the heart of the Rocky Mountains - and further west, the Sierra Nevadas - you'll find it hard to disagree. Certainly, it's the most comfortable way to travel between Chicago and the great cities of the West. But as you twist past the narrow canyons and towering peaks of the Rockies, following the Colorado River through a breathtakingly beautiful mountain wilderness - and climb through the famous mile-high Donner Pass in the heart of the Sierra Nevadas - you won’t be thinking about where you’re going. You'll be thinking of how glad you are that you took the California Zephyr to get here.

Natural beauty so spectacular it takes your breath away - on a dazzling ride that touches the sky!
I probably cannot put it in any other better way.
Much like the IR, Amtrak is always late, atleast on this route. This train was no exception. It arrived half hour late. And departad one hour late. Here is the P42 Genesis Engine 140 which pulled us till Omaha Nebraska, cutting short the 2400 mile journey to just about 1900 miles; due to some track maintenance work, I had to undergo an 8 hour bus journey. We got a nice roomette accomodation, comfortable for 2 people and providing us first class services on the train.

As you speed though some of the most beautiful cities, tunnel through towering mountains, tease rivers by hugging their steep canyon cliffs, cross spectacular bridgers and race through uninhabited deserts in the "middle of nowhere", you get the feeling that this is probably the best way to travel; for more than half the journey is through mountains, and you get to see some really spectacular scenery as the train curves and twists to gain elevation, and then rapidly descends to go along the rivers and canyons and deserts that time forgot, seeing the countryside as God intended it to be.

Add this with good food and great companions, veteran travellers who narrate some quite interesting stories all make up for a complete experience. Well worth the $300 experience; every cent more valuable than every mile I travel on an impersonal, business-like and cramped airplane.


Posted by satosphere at 11:21 PM


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