Taking the Long Way Home.

I’m leaving for Chicago next Monday to attend a two-day retreat for members of the board of directors of NARP, the National Association of Railroad Passengers. We travel to and from at least two meetings a year at our own expense and while these retreats are in addition, I find them to be especially valuable.
 
The board makes broad policy decisions for the organization, and we are also legally accountable for the financial decisions we make. We have monthly board meetings by teleconference, but they’re really not enough. There just isn’t time to think things through before taking action. One of these two-day retreats provides time for serious discussion and responsible decision making.
 
I’m flying directly from here to Chicago, but after the meetings I’ll take the California Zephyr from Chicago to Davis, California, overnight there, then catch the southbound Coast Starlight for the 14-hour ride down to Los Angeles. The next day, it’ll be Hawaiian Airlines back home to Maui.
 

And, yes, as some of you are already thinking, I could take the Southwest Chief from Chicago direct to Los Angeles, saving a day and the cost of my night in the Davis hotel. But I’m going by way of Davis for the sole purpose of spending the better part of that following day on the Coast Starlight, luxuriating in the Pacific Parlour Car en route to L.A.
 

So help me, if all of Amtrak’s long distance trains had one of those wonderful cars as part of their consist, ridership would jump. I know that taking this longer route is costing me several hundred additional dollars: one night in the Davis hotel, dinner in the hotel restaurant, then the sleeping car fare on the Coast Starlight the next day. But spending the day in that wonderful Parlour Car, enjoying the scenery and getting to know some of my fellow passengers during the ride and at the wine tasting (photo above) … well, to me that’s worth every dime.
 
You should try it sometime.