I’m riding the Zephyr for the trip back from BlogHer08 and have been reading an article Maria sent by Ben Jervey of the NY Post, RUN OUT ON A RAIL
THIS WOULD BE THE TIME FOR TRAINS, IF TRAINS RAN ON TIME
Ask around onboard almost any Amtrak train, and you’ll get a pretty short list of reasons why people ride the rails. In the café car, chugging along one of the country’s oldest routes, I counted four types of passengers. There are thrifty ones looking to save a few bucks on plane tickets. There are those who are scared of flying, a group that has no doubt grown in recent years. There are the zealots – without exception, older men – who describe themselves with charming lack of inhibition as “rail junkies,” “railroad nuts,” “train buffs,” or, my personal favorite, “railfans.” The rest – indeed the majority – say they’re here for “the experience.” Good thing for Amtrak, that romantic notion of the rails is alive and well. Naturally, it’s something the beleaguered rail company promotes to death. The experience is an important sell; nobody ever mentions reliability or practicality.
Jervey is right about riding the Zephyr for the experience: the views have a spectacul beauty of almost mystical quality, and the Zephyr is the way to enjoy them, much more so than driving through the same part of the country. I have driven trough much of the area and one gets to enjoy the views much better in the train.
You might save money over plane fare if you ride in a seat, not in a sleeping compartment. For a two-and-a-half day trip you will need a bed to sleep, so there is no saving.
As for the three other kinds of passengers, the “experience” ones outnumber all the others. While most of them are Americans, you will also find a good number of Brits, several South Americans, and an Australian couple or two.
While Jervey makes a long list of Amtrak grievances, the main problem is that freight trains have priority over passenger trains. That is the main cause of delays in all the routes Amtrak serves, and, as I mentioned on this post, the logistics for passenger rail travel in America are much different than for rail travel in Europe .
That said, I recommend that everyone take the Zephyr from San Francisco to Denver. It is a journey of wonderous beauty.
Here’s a photo I took right now, just outside of Reno,
Pat Patterson says
I might, just might consider getting a small truck camper and go to many of the state and national parks. But I will never succumb to the old fogeyism of gettng excited about sitting on my butt for two and a half days looking out on vacant lots that urban sprawl hasn’t reached yet. Though I have to confess that I look pretty cool in my madras bermuda shorts.
And let’s not forget that madras is the latest fashion, too!
It is not a thing when you have to go (like summer, winter). It is need to be consider that what are the places you are going to see and what we can absorve from that. According to above how effective that journey will be considered. Go wherever you want do whatever..
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Matthew M says
Fausta, I hope you post a few dozen of your favorite snapshots on the web (Picasa albums work well). I would love to see more trackside scenery.
Lani Rounds says
I’m an Amtrak fan for the experience. I have a camping trailer but riding the train, especially the Zephyr provides a look at scenery that cannot be accessed via an automobile, and some in the very remote areas can’t even be accessed by hiking.
In Pat’s post he referred to “vacant lots that urban sprawl hasn’t reached yet”. This may be true in the East, but the beauty of much of the Zephyr route is the fact that the areas are so remote, urban sprawl can never reach them.
Try the Zephyr!
Hello everyone. I just joined the site and wanted to say hi.
My husband Tim and I had the pleasure of dining with you on the zephyr this week and we wanted to tell all of the cynics out there that a trainride should be experienced by everyone at least once in your life. I don’t even consider myself an outdoor person, but when you see the sights on the train, the only word that can describe it is majestic. We live in the city and usually drive from california to denver but, on the train, you get to see the “Real America” that we tend to forget about. It’s also a very nostalgic experience that my husband and i will have for the rest of our lives. Who’s waxing nostalgic in an overcrowded airplane or when fueling at the pump. Who I ask you? WHO?
Hi people. I’m new to the site and wanted to say hi.
Disabled Chat says
I have Bell’s Palsy and enjoy your blog very much. First time I’ve commented, but have been reading here and there.
Great blog. I enjoy reading it every chance I get and value your opinions!