A Train Trip in California

After our adventure with the TSA airport thugs at the Mexican border, we embarked on an alternative: my dream of riding Amtrak with Mary from Emeryville, California to Denver in an Amtrak sleeper berth. I made the trip in an ordinary seat when I was single 20 years ago and reckoned that with the government deep in debt, it might be our last chance before Amtrak is shut down or sold to the private sector. However, it remains possible to ride the train, as the government recently decided not to cut the budget, but to add $2.4 trillion of new debt to the $14 trillion of existing debt.

Donner Lake as seen from the train.

The best sections are in California and Colorado. The Nevada plains are boring and the train travels through Utah after dark. We took pictures, collected in a gallery, along the Sacramento River Delta, Donner Lake, and the mountains surrounding Truckee. The observation car is great fun and the food is passable, but I can imagine wanting something better if we crossed the entire country.

Trains are a very social means of travel, especially at meal times when passengers are seated with strangers. We met one guy who travels only on trains and ships, and hasn’t been on an airplane since 1968!

Mary and I have also taken the Amtrak train from Denver to Glenwood Springs a couple of times, but not recently. We enjoy this trip because it travels through the mountains in areas such as the Winter Park ski area. We celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary a few years ago by staying at the grand old Hotel Colorado, and swam in the hot springs pool. The hotel isn’t as glorious as it was when Teddy Roosevelt and Al Capone visited, but it’s still fun to see how people passed vacations long ago.

Glenwood Springs pool, courtesy of Bridgepix via Flickr.

From the Flickr info of the hotel picture:

The world’s largest outdoor mineral hot springs pool is in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. The historic red sandstone building built in 1890 was the original bath house and lodge, but now serves as the snack bar, athletic club, conference facility and administrative office. A new 107-room Hot Springs lodge north of the pool was built in 1986. The pool can handle 1,000 swimmers and is maintained at 90° F throughout the year. The Yampah Hot Springs, considered a sacred healing spot by the Ute Indians for hundreds of years feeds the pool with 3.5 million gallons of hot mineral rich water a day. Glenwood Springs is 160 miles west of Denver on Interstate I-70.

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