From Glenwood Springs to Davis.
I don’t know which part of the California Zephyr’s route I like better–Denver to Grand Junction in Colorado or from Truckee over the Sierras to Sacramento in California. It’s a toss-up, really. Both are wonderful segments of what I do believe is Amtrak’s most scenic train.
There were a couple of private rail cars being hauled on the rear of #5 and, as always, they caused a bit of a stir among the geezer demographic. One was a lounge car with a dome; the other a sleeper-observation car … at least that was what was reported by one of the Amtrak passengers who had had a conversation with someone riding in one of them. The most recent information I have is that Amtrak charges $2.50 a mile to haul a private car around the country. There are additional fees for each time one of them is switched or parked or serviced in any way.
After leaving Truckee, California, the Zephyr climbs up into the Sierras and passes high above Donner Lake. It’s named for George Donner, the leader of a group of pioneers who ignored the good advice of locals and started across the mountains in the Fall of 1846 only to by trapped by unusually heavy snowfalls. Many in the party died of starvation before a rescue party could reach them. When the snow finally melted in the Spring, stumps from the trees they cut down for firewood were 12 feet high.
I know, I know . . . here’s another shot of the head end of the train taken 10 or 15 minutes after we passed Donner Lake. I have dozens, probably hundreds, of photos like this in my files, but I can’t seem to resist taking more every time the train swings into a long curve. This one isn’t reproducing very well, I’m afraid, but what the hell . . .
Tonight I’m in Davis, California, happily ensconced in a hotel just across the street from the station. I will have something to eat in the restaurant here, then watch the third presidential debate for as long as my stomach can stand it.
Tomorrow: The Napa Valley Wine Train.
Is there an Amtrak anywhere near Bryan/College Station, Texas to catch to take one of these trips?
Yes, depending on how you define “anywhere near”. The Sunset Limited stops in Houston and the Texas Eagle stops in Austin. The Sunset goes from Los Angeles to New Orleans three days a week; the Texas Eagle goes from Chicago to San Antonio every day, but three days a week it joins the Sunset limited and continues to Los Angeles as one train. Of course, both Houston and San Antonio are about 80 miles from College Station. Sorry, that’s the best we can do. Thanks for the email.