Bill’s Big Adventure (aka Hospitality on the Rails)

Why would anyone ever travel by train? Because the destination is not the only goal, it’s how you get there and the adventure of riding the rails. Today’s guest blogger is my husband Bill. He’s a JAG in the U.S. Army Reserves and has been deployed for the past 10 months. Right now, he is in Fort Riley, Kansas, and almost done with his call of duty. Author Henry Kisor says those who love the railroads aren’t called railroad buffs, they are called railman. So my husband the railman set about on a weekend train trip on the Super Chief with great anticipation.

Without further delay, I give you Bill’s Big Adventure.

tunnel aheadAs Barbara attests, hospitality means making folks feel good — no matter where they (or you) are. So when her friend in New Mexico wrote wanting company, she sent me out to cheer her up. Since I have been homesick in Kansas, it didn’t take much coaxing to head west and visit friends. But I was not looking forward to the 14-hour drive — I would be beat and not very good company. I’m a bit of a history buff and have travelled extensively in my younger days so I was looking forward to visiting, but not the solo drive.

I’m entrapped with railroads and their contribution to America’s historical development. With a little research I Iearned that I could pick up the Southwest Chief out of Topeka (a mere 45-minute drive from Fort Riley) and take it into Albuquerque. When I checked the prices I was even more convinced. Railroading is the way to go!

The Route

The Southwest Chief, formerly called the Super Chief before Amtrak, runs along the original Santa Fe rail line. The Chief goes from Chicago to L.A. and I’m happy with my portion of the trip. Being one of the early western rails, the Chief follows much of the Santa Fe Trail.

Watching out the windows I’m fascinated with the ruts and the route it takes. Since the railroad was the second major westward conveyance, it was natural to take the route close to the old trail and before the highways came along and paved over the ruins. Today, this is still a beautiful country. A journey through the plains and mountains quickly remind you why we are so lucky to be Americans. 

Accommodations

Breakfast on the TrainBecause I was embarking around midnight I elected to upgrade to a sleeper. Amtrak does not disappoint. Accommodations include meals (my breakfast pictured here), climate-controlled quarters and a great staff of knowledgeable and hospitable professionals. They had my room all set up for me and made sure I got to where I was supposed to be at the right time.

The extensive network of rail lines, including these historic runs, are a great way to see the country in comfort, luxury, and at a great price. As long as you can afford the time, I strongly recommend considering rail travel for your next Great Adventure.

Destination Florida

I’m not stopping with this trip. I’m booking the Amtrak Auto Train from Washington, D.C., to Florida, with my family. Once we get there we’re going to follow MLB’s Washington Nationals around at spring training. Stay tuned….

Barbara Recommends

If you want a good read about a train ride, I recommend Zephyr:Tracking a Dream Across America by Henry Kisor.From Kisor’s website:

“Whether dashing through the Plains, creeping over the Rockies, hurtling across the Great Basin, or threading the Sierra Nevada, the California Zephyr is an earthbound cruise ship bearing as many as300 passengers, each with a story to tell. One hears tales of trysts in showers and sleepers, of charming serendipities in dining cars, of smuggling drugs and pets (including an elusive boa constrictor), and of a small child’s tragic death on the tracks. The California Zephyr remains America’s most exhilarating train, traversing breathtaking mountain scenery and retracing the route of countless westering pioneers.”

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