Amtrak tour Spring 2011

When I described my recent train adventure to folks, the most often asked question is .. why?

To which the obvious answer is .. why not?

I had a two day engagement in Denver on one weekend and then on the next weekend I had to be in Springfield, IL. I didn’t want to go and come back then go and  come back again. So I thought I would look into what might be in between those two cities. After a couple of inquiries to Omaha, I nailed down a two day event there. Then a straight line emerged and the Amtrak route was a perfect fit.  For years, I have heard people talk about the trip through the mountains and into Denver. For any number of other reasons, I was unable to do this but all I can say is “DO IT”.  The train runs through some of the most spectacular scenery I have ever seen and the 6 hour trip went way too fast. Plus I have never taken a multiple day train trip and it was time to cross this off my bucket list.

Simple as that.

You can’t be in a hurry on a train. So I factored in a few hours here and there so that Amtrak’s undependable schedule was never an issue. Even the return ~the 22 hour run from Galesburg to Glenwood~ was knocked askew by a DERAILMENT  of all things. Even that disruption was not really an insurmountable glitch. It wasn’t MY train that derailed… so, though it was all a bit behind schedule. it was all good.

The whole experience put me in touch with a lot of different people from lots of different walks of life. That is a big part of this whole adventure. If a person is uneasy while interacting with strangers, this might not be the best suggestion. But if you at ease with this, some of the people you come into contact with are fascinating. I met a lot of people from Europe who were experiencing the US version of extended train travel. Their insights and comments were especially insightful. Though their trains are a bit better than ours, they had never seen our wide open scenery. The great plains giving way to the Rocky Mountains as we came into Colorado was quite a site for me but for them it was staggering.

Some magicians have commented that they loved being able to do magic for passengers. I didn’t do any magic for anyone on the train. I wanted to use the time for relaxing and contemplating the experiences I was having OFF the train. That’s just me. It was a long and busy winter. The drama and sub plots of my personal life are enough to fill in a lot of blogs. I loved having the time to ‘cocoon’ in my little compartment. No internet but that’s ok too. The iphone kept me as connected as I wanted to be.  I loved having a compartment to retreat to when the population of the club car turned weird.  Cozy but comfortable is the best way to describe the ‘roomette’.  The food, included (!)  when you buy the roomette, is surprisingly good. The company varies wildly from fascinating folks to people you would never even notice were they not across the table from you. It was all good, though.

But I was happy to jump off and be home with my own bed and shower.

I will say that there is nothing quite so delicious as a long hot shower and one’s own bed after several days on a train.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the train. I love the concept of not being in an all fired hurry to get to where you are headed. I guess I straddle enough time to (barely) remember  the golden age of rail travel. I am a fan. Though they have one, I have yet to take a shower on the train and  so it is especially wonderful when you are finally able to take a long and luxurious shower in your own bathtub.

Would I do this again.. you bet.. in a heartbeat. I might like to do a longer trip next time.

Now prepping for the next adventure.

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