Sushu's Travel Journal

August 19, 2009

Train to Colorado

Filed under: USA — Tags: — admin @ 11:13 pm

I’ve taken the Amtrak once before up to Seattle (winter 2007), but that was by myself. It was lots of fun meeting random people in the Lounge Car, but sleeping was difficult in the reclined seats, especially next to a large trucker. I found out via Lounge Talk that it’s a much better deal traveling with 2 people because you can get the Roomette at a reasonable price.

Basically, if you take the train by yourself, it’s ~$90 for a seat. A 2-person room is ~$300, which means shelling out +$200 if you are a single person. However, it is the same price for 2 people which means the room is only +$60 per person. For that +$60, you get free meals in the dining car, horizontal bunks, and a little room with your own window and power outlet, etc. In other words, a much better deal.

Our roomette was small but sufficient. By day, it is basically 2 seats facing each other. At night, the seats flatten out into 1 bed, and a top bunk folds down. We could adjust the temperature and intercom volume, and there are free drinks in the hallway outside. We were right next to the dining car, which provided 3 hearty meals a day. For breakfast we could have omelette/sausage/hash browns, or cereal/grapefruit/yogurt or french toast. For lunch we had our choice of sandwiches, burgers, salad, etc, plus a dessert. For dinner we could choose from various roasted meats, also with accompanying salad and dessert. All in all pretty decent.

At first I was a bit worried that the privacy of our “Roomette” would mean fewer interactions with random people on the train. However, since (a) meals are free in the dining car, and (b) they make a point of seating you with random people while dining, we still got to meet some random folk.

One of the things I was excited about was seeing tunnels/tracks made by Chinese railroad workers. The train guide was very carefully neutral about the employing of Chinese railroad workers, as well. It said things like “The Chinese were paid the same wages as other workers, but since they bought their own food, they were much healthier than the other workers.” “They found that the Chinese workers were learned quickly and worked hard.” Um, yes. Disappointingly, it turned out to be a bit difficult to see the tunnels when you’re in the tunnel. :P So I ended up not getting that “spiritual connection” empathy thing that I was expecting. Ah well.

But the Sierra Nevadas were beautiful and we did pass by Donner Lake

It was surprisingly large and pretty and cannibal-free.

We spent a lot of time reading books, listening to audio-books, talking, staring out the window, drawing, napping, watching movies, etc. It was very relaxing.

We slept quite well on the train. There was some waking at around 4:30am when the Salt Lake City people came on board, but overall it was warm and cozy. According to the schedule, we should have woken up in the Rockies. Instead, we found ourselves in Wyoming.

It turns out Union Pacific was doing some track renovation in the Rockies, so they detoured the train through Wyoming and then down. :(

On the upside, we did get to Denver 3 hours early!

I leave you with train graffiti:

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