Hit-and-Run Tourism: Good Idea?
Several years ago, I was heading west aboard the Southwest Chief. I had just awakened in my roomette and as I lay there, we started moving. Raising up on an elbow, I peered out the window just in time for the sign “DODGE CITY” to enter, then slide by and pass out of my view.
Dodge City! I should stop off here on one of my trips, I thought. There’s Boot Hill and “Doc” Holiday and It wouldn’t take long—just 24 hours would do the trick.
That’s when it occurred to me that there must be literally hundreds of small towns all over the country where a daily Amtrak train stops and there’s something that’s worth seeing or doing.
A couple of years later, I did get off the Chief in Dodge City and spent 24-hours visiting Boot Hill, the excellent museum and a replica of their Main Street, which came complete with real cowboys leaning nonchalantly against lampposts. My one night in Dodge featured a fabulous steak dinner served at a table in a vintage railroad dining car.
So a hit-and-run visit is good idea, but there’s a catch: the cost of a roomette on the California Zephyr from Chicago straight through to Emeryville, California, in mid-April is $1052. Break that trip for a 24-hour visit to Glenwood Springs, Colorado, and the cost oft he two fares, combined, jumps to $1459. So the stop-over in Glenwood Springs bumps the rail fare by $407 . . . probably a deterrent for the average traveler.
OK, then lets get the Glenwood Springs marketing people—and there’s a room full of them!— to make a deal with their counterparts at Amtrak: The Glenwood folks will offer to spend $25,000 advertising the stop-over package and Amtrak agrees to reduce the combined fares by $300.
Good idea? Yes, I think so.