Thursday, December 15, 2005

Chicago to Berkeley train travel

We are now traveling along the Colorado River between Granby, CO on our way to Glenwood Springs. It is an awe inspiring view. I have seen several bald eagles and a small pack of elk. I'm hoping to see some more elk along the way and be able to get some pictures of them. I have once again upgraded to a sleeper car, this time for a mere $242 for two nights. So, I am enjoying the view from my very own room.

I slept incredibly well Tuesday night on the Heavenly bed at the W Hotel. It's an unbelievably comfortable mattress. The shower in the hotel room was also really nice. I packed up and left around 11:30am and made my way over to Union Station. I found a locker there (for a ridiculous $4 per hour) and went and got some lunch. Since the locker was so expensive I got my stuff out after the first hour was up and just went down to the gate to wait to board the train. They kept reminding us of Amtrak's baggage policy, but not enforcing it. It's pretty funny. I saw a woman get on at another station with 5 carry on bags. The policy is two pieces of luggage and then a briefcase/purse/backpack type bag. Technically I've managed to fall within the policy so far. No one has hassled me anyway. I figure they probably only hassle people if the train is really full. Our train is pretty empty. I had no problem upgrading and had my choice of rooms. The meal times are fairly empty. Last night for dinner they took reservations but ended up announcing “come as you please, there's plenty of space” when dinner time actually came. I had eaten a good size lunch, so I didn't want a full dinner. I just ended up having a cup-o-noodles from the snack car. I waited until after dinner time to upgrade, so the upgrade was about $30 cheaper than if I'd upgraded before dinner time.

The Superliner roomettes are not as nice, in my opinion, as the Viewliner roomettes. The Viewliner is a single level train car, like the one I rode in from Florida to DC. The Superliner is a two level train car. Most of the rooms are on the second floor and you walk between cars on the second floor. The Viewliner roomettes have a toilet and sink in the room, which is strange, but also more convenient. The Superliner roomettes don't have a toilet or a sink. Their upper bunks are also smaller and right underneath the air vent, which really stinks. I hate air blowing on me. So, as much as I like sleeping up high, I think I'm going to have to sleep on the lower bunk tonight.

Last night I watched Red Eye in the lounge car. Rachel McAdams was pretty good in that. The villain, who also played the Scarecrow in Batman Begins, is SUPER CREEPY. That guy just has the creepiest eyes. He is so good at playing this terribly strange frightening character. The actor's name is Cillian Murphy. I only know this because there is a one page article about him in the latest Vogue, which I picked up in Chicago because it's the thickest magazine that actually has moderately interesting articles in it. This one has an article about the recent surge in food, particularly peanut, allergies among children. After Red Eye I requested my upgrade and then waited until we go to Omaha, NE to move my stuff. It's a lot easier to move your luggage outside of the train than through the train. I thought about watching one of my own movies after that, but realized I was very tired and just went to bed. Didn't sleep very well because of the air blowing on me and the tracks being pretty rough through Nebraska and into Colorado, but it was better than sleeping in coach.

Now I'm just watching the beautiful landscape and taking lots of pictures. I've got probably 200+ pictures to sort through tonight so that I can try and do some uploading once I get to Berkeley. I'm sure you are all growing very impatient with the lack of new pictures. I'm sorry! It's just that there are so many good ones and it takes so long to upload them. The landscape out here is just so gorgeous.

Country music makes the perfect background music to traveling through western Colorado towards Utah. Okay, I'm sure if you really don't like country music it wouldn't quite work, but being as musically diverse as me, country music is lovely. I've got my computer going and I had it on shuffle through my whole library. November Rain is not the best background music, it's too depressing. Then a Lonestar song came on and it made more sense with the landscape. :) I now have a soundtrack to Colorado. It is getting towards sunset now and the mountains are getting bathed in the most beautiful orange glow. This continent is so amazing. The variety of landscape and homes and weather I've seen in the past three weeks is awesome.

Oh, also, earlier when I was eating lunch we saw the abandoned cars from a former train derailment on the side of the tracks on one side and down in the river on the other side. It gave me pause, but I feel pretty safe. It was a freight train, not an Amtrak train, so that's a plus. Also, I've heard that the freight trains will often have far too many cars and go too fast. We've kept a very reasonable pace so far on this trip.

For quite a way the train follows along Route 70 in Colorado. It's an interesting highway. Many parts of it through the steep valleys are two level because they couldn't fit it safely side by side. A guy on one of the other trains I was on told me it was the most expensive highway ever built.


Anonymous Sarah said...

Most expensive highway ever built until they start re-doing 76 :)

18/12/05 11:19 AM  

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