Old Apr 2, 20, 9:46 am
Join Date: Apr 2016
Location: PBI
Programs: AS MVP 75K, DL PM
Posts: 232
Riding the Rails between Chicago and San Fran aboard the California Zephyr

Inspired by Seat2A numerous train trip reports I was looking forward to taking this trip for sometime. Growing up in Florida a right of passage for all elementary school safety patrol students is an Amtrak train trip up to the nation's capital. Unfortunately, my 5th grade year coincided with 9/11 and the powers that be thought it best we stick to a trip to Disney rather than DC. This would be my first long-haul trip by train and I was looking forward to seeing a large part of the American heartland at ground level rather than out of an airplane window. If you have the time and are willing to part with the same amount of money as a first class ticket from ORD-SFO, then I really suggest this way of travel for your own room and all meals included.

There is something nostalgic about the journey and trail travel in general. I often thought about my grandparents during the journey all dressed up and boarding the Seaboard Line back in the 1950's for travel between NYC and Miami. It also conjures up images from one of my favorite films: North by Northwest.

All of the staff I interacted with were extremely friendly and enthusiastic/proud to work for Amtrak from the car attendants to the waiters in the diner. You also get a chance to mingle with people from all over America and the World. I was surprised to find many people who take the train simply because they refuse to fly either out of fear or comfort. I also quickly realized that these trains serve communities across America that are simply under-served by air service either due to their distance from large airports and prohibitive costs flying to regional airports.

This trip was taken during Memorial Day weekend in 2019.

If anyone has watched the movie The Untouchables with Kevin Costner than this staircase at Chicago's Union Station should look very familiar:

The recently renovated Metropolitan Lounge at Union Station was a very nice place to spend an hour or so before the all aboard call. Light snacks and lots of varying candies were on offer. I also recommend going across the street from the station to the CVS to pick up a sleeve of bourbon as you can enjoy a drink from the comfort of your room onboard and save some jingle.

I recommend grabbing a room downstairs closer to the rails given there is less rocking motion and much less foot traffic as people walk between cars on the upper levels of the train.

Here's the diner menu used throughout the trip. All meals are included if you get a ticket with a room.

The rest of the pics are mostly scenes of the American plains and west. Following the Colorado River through the Rockies and into Eastern Utah is one of the most breathtaking views in the Country. The snow covered Sierra Mountains around Truckee California were beautiful as well.

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