Try Some 24-Hour Tourism.
How many times have I gazed out of the window of my roomette and noticed something interesting in a small town—in Oregon or Montana or maybe in Upper New York State.
Finally, I hit on a simple, but obvious idea: I’d get off the train, spend 24 hours in one of these interesting little towns, then get back on the train the next day, continuing on my way, but with a mini-experience and hopefully some new insights.
My first try was Santa Fe.
Lamy, New Mexico, is where you get off the Southwest Chef and catch a shuttle for the short ride into Santa Fe. That’s why I cheated a little and spent two nights there, giving me one full day to wander around the town—it’s not very big—checking out the many art galleries and dining at several different very good restaurants.
Next time it was Dodge City, Kansas. The Southwest Chief arrives there at oh-dark-thirty and, by prior arrangement, Kurt, the owner/proprietor of a delightful bed-and-breakfast was there to meet the train. He drove me less than a mile to his home where his wife had a magnificent breakfast ready and waiting for us.
I spent the day visiting Boot Hill (above), checking out the local museum, and chatting with the three teenage boys who were dressed as gunslingers and being paid minimum wage to hang around the area and add a feeling of authenticity.
Two years ago, I stepped off the California Zephyr in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, for another 24-hour glimpse of an interesting little town with a lot of history. There’s quite an impressive resort there, built around one of several natural springs featuring super-heated water saturated with minerals. Soaking in that water is supposed to have any number of medicinal benefits.
Gunfighter Doc Holliday came here hoping the hot water treatment might help his tuberculosis. It didn’t and Doc Holliday died and was buried here in November of 1887.
I have several other prospects for this 24-hour-tourist concept. Alpine, Texas, (population 6,000) is on that list . . . the only problem being The Sunset Limited only runs three days a week. That’s OK . . . I’ll make it work.
I too am a train lover. My late husband and I visited two interesting little towns via rail: Alpine, TX (lots to do; stay at least two nights — rent a car and visit Big Bend NP, a few miles south, and the nearby towns of Marathon, Marfa and Fort Davis). Hotels: Holland Hotel, across street from Alpine AMTRAK station, and Los Portales at the Gage Hotel in Marathon, which also has a wonderful restaurant.
Winslow, AZ, via Southwest Chief. Petrified Forest NP is nearby. Stay at La Posada, the last of the Fred Harvey hotels (its Turquoise Room restaurant is excellent).
Alpine has been on my list for years. You have provided the extra push.Thank you!