Saturday, December 19, 2015

Travel by Train

We love trains and ride tourist lines whenever we can. The old trains are always fun and the scenery is usually interesting and worth the time we spend. We have ridden on Amtrak several times in the past--to Glenwood Springs in Colorado, to California and to Illinois. We learned quickly that, if we are going to try to sleep on a train, it is best to get a roomette or bedroom. With that in mind, we took the train from Tucson to Austin and back for our time in Texas attending our granddaughter Kylie's swim meet. We had a roomette.

We were on the train for 23 hours east bound and 24.5 hours west bound. What is it like to travel by train? First and foremost, you to slow down. There is nothing to hurry for except meal times. And all meals are free when you are in a sleeper car. Only alcohol need be paid for. And most of the food is pretty good. Nothing like you may have read about in days gone by, but pretty good.

We took our Kindle readers, our cell phones, my computer and John's iPad with us. I had to take my computer so I could download all our photos from the camera and phones, freeing up space for even more photos. I also could blog from the computer. I am still catching up on all we did, but some of the events were covered right away. Thankfully, there was an electrical outlet in our room--for charging all this equipment. They were also available in each seat in coach and in the snack car and viewing dome. Everywhere, you saw passengers watching videos on their computers and tablets or playing games on their phones and computers.

Our roomette had two chairs facing one another, some space to hang clothes and our backpack, room for one suitcase under the chair, and a large window. At night, the two chairs slid down to make one bed, the other folded down from the ceiling. I always sleep on the bottom bunk. I can no longer crawl on the upper bunk. If we had chosen a bedroom, we would have had a double bed instead of bunks--at an increased cost. Bedrooms also include a sink and toilet. We didn't take pictures of the room set-up, but John did take one of me on my computer.

We were free to walk through the train. Each time we did, we were so glad we weren't traveling coach. Many of the people nap a lot--probably because they don't get good sleep at night, sitting in a chair. Therefore, it was quiet in the coaches. You would feel you almost had to whisper if you were traveling there. The train travels as speeds up to 80 mph at times, making walking an activity calling for good balance and outstretched hands to grab something if there were big bumps.

A couple of times a day, there were station stops that lasted long enough to get out of the train and walk. I am so glad I stopped smoking 35 years ago. The train is non-smoking. In fact, if you are caught smoking, you are put off the train at the next station and were on your own to get transportation from there.  That happened once on the east bound trip. When we boarded in Tucson, the conductor announced that the next smoke stop would be in El Paso, Texas, 6 hours down the track.

Sometimes train travel provides great scenery--like on the Zephyr that goes through the Colorado Rockies and the Coast Starlight that travels along the pacific coast. But eastern Arizona and western Texas don't provide that kind of scenery. Here is some of what we saw. Nice, but not spectacular. There was a good sunset somewhere east of El Paso.

We will most likely travel this way again, possibly just to take a long trip. We will get a bedroom if we go again. But riding a train is relaxing. None of the stuff that takes our focus when we are at home is there to keep us busy. Where there is nothing to do and nowhere to go, the only choice is to sit back and relax. A hundred years ago, when trains were the only good way to travel--unless you drove yourself--it was certainly a different experience than flying is today. You really ought to try taking a train sometime.


  1. As a child I traveled many times from TX to IL by train with my mom and brother. 20 years ago I took our kids from VT to TX by way of train, love traveling that way, might have to do it someday with Dave.

  2. I always wanted to take the train through the Canadian Rockies. I'm sure that's really expensive!

  3. I always wanted to take the train through the Canadian Rockies. I'm sure that's really expensive!