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See the U.S.A. a different way.

I live in Hawaii. That means when I travel anywhere out of state, I‘m faced with at least a five-hour flight. Usually it’s to Los Angeles, which offers me a choice of three long-distance trains on which I can continue my journey: 

1. The Coast Starlight goes north to San Francisco and from there on up to either Portland or Seattle;

2. The Southwest Chief heads east to Chicago; 

3. The Sunset Limited will take me southeast to New Orleans by way of San Antonio.

Amtrak is an entirely different experience from an airline. For me, a cross-country ride in an Amtrack sleeping car offers an almost endless stream of interesting incidents and striking views.

It’s the constantly changing scenery, of course.

And meeting new people over meals three times a day in the Amtrak dining car.

On one trip, I found myself having lunch with a veteran American Airlines captain and his wife.

“What are you doing on a train?” I asked.

He replied, “I thought it was time we saw this great country of ours from an altitude of six feet.”

Over the years, I’ve had dozens of interesting conversations over meals in an Amtrak dining car, but that–without question–is my favorite quote.

I only wish I’d thought to get his name.

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