Aug 29, 2018

Riding The Rails : Amtrak

Want to travel back in time? Try taking a train to your next destination. A while back Passion Passport enlisted me for a job with Amtrak. I had never done long distance train travel, so I happily jumped on the opportunity to experience a different way to get from A to B.

The route I was set out on took me from Los Angeles all the way to Chicago. I had no idea what to expect on this 40-hour journey on the Southwest Chief, but I think it is better to go into a trip with zero expectations as you will constantly be surprised. I was set up in my own private sleeping car… a small compartment with two seats that folded out into a bed. Being a big fan of feeling cozy, this space quickly turned into my sanctuary. I passed most of the hours sitting with my eyes out the window and headphones in, creating my own soundtrack to the landscapes rushing by.

The ride passed through seven states total… California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, and finally reaching Illinois. Being a road trip addict, I have driven though all these states before, but train provided me with a different perspective. Instead of spending hours on end behind the wheel, I was able to kick back and relax.

Since I was alone I had to be creative with how I passed my time. When I wasn’t gazing out the window or reading, I stretched my legs out and explored the other train cars. The lounge car was my favorite… with giant windows the passing scenery turned into a movie I narrated in my head. Perhaps my favorite part of the journey was mealtime. Not simply because the food on the train was surprisingly good, but because of the interactions with fellow travelers. Each time you entered the dining car for a meal, the pleasant Amtrak employees would seat you with other folks on the train to fill the tables. Being a pretty hardcore introvert, this is something I would normally dread… but the company was welcomed as everyone had a different story to tell.

Travelling by train in America is pretty unconventional these days. The people I shared meals with had a range of different reasons they preferred this method of travel… from being scared of flying, to preferring the scenic route, and the lower cost. As is normally the case when I am traveling alone… people had a lot of questions as to why I was on the train by myself. With an engaged audience I had the opportunity to tell my story and listen to those of others.

Traveling by train is the perfect mode of transportation for the adventurous souls interested in the journey and not just the destination. The feeling of falling asleep in my cozy cabin and waking up to a completely different landscape zooming out the window is an experience I will never forget. Next time I am not in a hurry to get to my destination I will definitely be opting for riding the rails.