Remember that when you leave this Earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received, only what you have given, a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage. -St. Francis of Assisi

Wednesday, September 26, 2012



For many years we would travel from Chicago to Denver on Amtrak.  It was the easy, stress-free way to travel to visit our daughter during the winter.  No worries about driving during the snowy, white-out conditions on I-80 or I-70. 

Christmas 2006, the Denver Airport was closed down, stranding passengers for days. Parts of I-70, I-80, I-25 and I-76 were closed. Looking out the train windows, we saw abandoned trucks and cars all along the route, but the train made it through to Denver.

Chicago Union Station

Chicago railyards

I love traveling on the train, but it is not for everyone. You need to have the time to travel by train, its 15 hours from Chicago to Denver about the same as driving. You have to be able to relax and not worry about schedules or delays. Hopefully, you can sleep through the rocking and rolling, the trains travel faster during the night. Most trains show a movie or two each evening in the Lounge Car. Three meals a day are available in the Dining Car or at the Snack Bar.

Omaha, NE
more than halfway to Denver
sometime after Midnight

Omaha Station

sleeper car

The first long train ride we did was in 1989 from Chicago to Las Vegas. At that time the train station was behind one of the Casinos. Now you have to get off the train in Salt Lake City and take a bus 7.5 hours to Las Vegas.

Between 1999-2009, we rode the California Zephyr between Chicago and Denver more than a dozen times. A few times, for a change of scenery, we would ride on the Southwest Chief, from Chicago to Trinidad, CO or Albuquerque, NM. I actually prefer this route, but it was not as convenient as the California Zephyr into Denver.

In 2001, we rode from Chicago to Washington D.C. and  from there we boarded another train to Orlando, FL.  There was a layover of several hours in D.C. so we toured some of the "Mall" while we were waiting.

 In April 2011, when I purchased my RV from a dealer in Seffner, FL, I took this same route from Chicago to Orlando and then rented a car to go pick up the RV.

The train is not a perfect way to travel, the trains and tracks need to be updated, but I hope to still travel occasionally on the train. I'm thinking if I go back to Illinois to visit family and friends I may take the train and leave the RV in storage somewhere. I think it would be cheaper than the cost of fuel and RV sites to travel from the western states to Illinois and back again. I have a lot of Amtrak "miles-points" for free travel, similar to air travel miles and I should use them up before they expire.


  1. I have never traveled by train but have always thought I would like it. I should maybe plan a short trip sometime soon.

  2. I LOVE train travel. Sometimes I take the Cascade (AMTRAK) between Portland, Or. and Tacoma, WA to see my sister. I pay the extra $15 to go business class and always request the "water" side. That side is only 1 seat, the other side 2 seats. But you get to see the Puget Sound from the begining of it to Seattle and beyond. Oh, and when you buy a business class ticket, you get a $3.00 beverage coupon which is also good towards food if you don't want a beverage. My sister picks me up at the train and we spend the rest of the afternoon just having fun!

  3. I love traveling by train. In fact, we're going from Charleston, SC to DC and back this weekend - night trains both ways so we bought sleeper cars up and back. Much nicer than driving I-95!

  4. I haven't gone AMTAK for a while, but loved going the northern route (Empire Builder?), and coming back east down the coast and across the center of the US.... Sunset Limited? and..... I love the fact that the trains have names... my favorite is the City of New Orleans... my sister and I sang that song all the way from Chicago to New Orleans. My first (and only) Starbucks coffee was in the train station in Seattle 25 years ago. Your pictures sure bought back some memories... thanks!

  5. Oh I just love traveling by train and am so sad that we have let the rails in so many places in this country deteriorate. You used to be able to go everywhere by train. Would that it were still so.

    But people aren't willing to take the time and it's as expensive as air travel so I don't know what will help the railroads. Loved reading this and seeing the pictures. Thanks so much Teri!

  6. One of my best trips ever ... Amtrak from Seattle to Chicago....then rode my bicycle back to Bloomington Indiana to end a summer bicycle trip.

  7. I would love to travel by train. I guess when I was very young like maybe a toddler we used to travel by train. The only train ride In my adult life was from Williams to Grand Canyon South, and back to William 2 days later. It was a blast.
    Your travels sound like great trips. I assume the pictures are you husbands. There great.

  8. ooh oooo ... this is exactly what I want to do when I can't drive any longer ... I want to go to the cities! That way I don't have to worry about parking and all that stuff... just go and rent a place and keep on going!

    What fun! I used to ride the train back in 1961-62 from Dallas back to my hometown of Texarkana... loved it... Union Station in Texarkana - at one time - was absolutely huge and gorgeous and bustling... so sad to see it go into ruin... there is an Amtrak there now but oh, boy the glory days are gone along with the great coffee shops and such around ... old beautiful hotels.

    I'm old.


Hi, I welcome your thoughts and comments.

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