Wednesday, January 11, 2012

AMTRAK TICKETS AND DISCOUNTS

AMTRAK TICKETS AND DISCOUNTS
Press Play! Have you seen my TRAIN VIDEO?
Such wonderful scenery!
Music: Melissa's Waiting by Violet Edge

Amtrak Tickets

Table of Contents: Train Articles

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

AMTRAK TRAIN SERIES -- Colorado, California, Oregon

Table of Contents: Train Articles

Chapter 1
VIDEO: California Zephyr & Coast Starlight
    California Zephyr #5
        Video Footage of Colorado Rockies
    Coast Starlight #14
        Video Footage of Oregon Cascade Mountains
    California Zephyr #6
        Video Footage of Sacramento, California to Denver, Colorado
Press Play! You'll love my TRAIN VIDEO!
Music: Melissa's Waiting by Violet Edge



Chapter 2
COLORADO -- California Zephyr #5 heading West
    Photos: Colorado Rockies
    Photos: Following the Colorado River

Chapter 3
OREGON -- Coast Starlight #14 heading North
    Photo: Klamath Falls
    Photo: Mount Shasta
    Video: Banjo/Harmonica players in the Observation Car!

Chapter 4
COLORADO: Heading East Back Home to Denver
    Info: Canyon Cliffs and Eagles
    Info & Photos: Glenwood Hot Springs
    Photos: Colorado

Chapter 5
So why do I take the train instead of a plane?

FUNNY MEMORY: Accidentally caught on a Train
    Video: Colorado National Monument, Palisade, Glenwood Springs

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Weekend Bloggy Reading

Funny Memory: Accidentally caught on a Train

(From Chapter 2) Climbing up the train car stairs with my bags, I flashed back to senior year in high school when I got caught on a train. But that's another story.

And here it is.

Historic Grand Junction Station


In high school, I accompanied my visiting friend Susan to the train station in Grand Junction. Might have been the holiday season. She was a year older, had graduated from Fruita Monument High and was already living in Denver. Her Dad drove us to the station. Susan asked me to help her carry luggage up the narrow stairs of the train car.

I sat in an empty seat when she was settled and looked out the window and thought how cool it was to travel by train. It felt like a few seconds but knowing my problems with tracking time, it was no doubt quite a few minutes.

We said our goodbyes and I climbed back down the stairs. I told the porter by the closed door I was ready to get off the train. He said "You're kidding. We're already moving."

What?! Oh no! I looked outside and indeed, the ground was slowly blurring behind us and gaining speed.

The next stop was to be Glenwood Springs, a few hours away.

I'm sure I had a very panicked look on my face, mostly thinking of Susan's Dad wondering where the hell I had disappeared. (Mobile phones were not yet invented, kiddos.)

I watched the town slip by, standing by the door. I heard the radio conversation as they tried to figure out what to do with me.

Mount Garfield in Palisade, Colorado


Many imagined scenarios later, all of them ending in Glenwood or Denver, the train slowed, then stopped. The porter was really surprised since he'd not seen the engineer stop the train for anyone.

Deep, powdery soft snow of a field soon led the way to a Mom and Pop farming supply store at the edge of Palisade. They let me call Susan's father.

He drove all the way to the store to take me home on the far opposite side of the valley. Incredibly embarrassed of losing track of time yet again, I never mentioned it to my folks until last week, decades later.

Of course now I think it's absolutely funny AND a great memory. The hustle of Denver drowns out memories of growing up on the Western Slope of Colorado (Palisade, Grand Junction, Fruita). This train stow-away moment in time really captured the days of dry, cold air, the beautiful stretch of farms and orchards in the Grand Valley. Lush fruit trees in the desert during the green of spring. Thinking of that train incident makes it all rush quickly back to mind.

Especially when climbing up the turning stairs, carrying baggage on a train.




Grand Junction, Palisade, Glenwood Springs -- Western Colorado


This video recreates my unexpected train trip. No music, just a few minutes of the Colorado National Monument outside of Grand Junction, Palisade and a quick view of Glenwood Springs. The scenery looks too crumbly brown, without snow to make for a faithful re-enactment, but it still brings back quite a few moments of those years.

TABLE OF CONTENTS: Train Articles


Press Play! Have you seen my TRAIN VIDEO?
Such wonderful scenery!

Music: Melissa's Waiting by Violet Edge

Amtrak Tickets

So why do I take the train instead of a plane?

Chapter 5: Amtrak Train Series

So why the train instead of a plane? A commercial plane means rush-rush-rush through the airport, with experienced travelers furiously impatient at my confusion and relative slowness. The light of the sky is migraine bright through airplane windows. Can't stand not being able to move around very far. Most of all, the harsh edged sound of the jet itself simply kills me. It pierces past earplugs into the back of my neck.

For me, the train rocks the body with calming low sound frequencies; the rumbly fast Chuh-Chuh-Chuh-Chuh while building up speed. For weeks after a trip I'll hear a distant train whistle in my city and find myself already smiling. Maybe it takes a music lover to feel the differences in sound pressure but I'm surely not alone in this reaction.


There is nothing like the experience of falling hard asleep after chasing the sunset west, then waking up far ahead of the next sunrise.


And the best place of all is the Observation Car. I spend every possible waking hour there. I leave books at home to leave room for creative ideas that only occur during travel.

If you ever get the chance, experience for yourself these segments of the Amtrak line. I'm writing this to convince friends to try it at least once. [BIG hint to Jenelle from Beads and Botanicals in the Pacific NorthWest! -- since she's already there!]

Please don't assume anything this wonderful will always be around. Train lines are endangered as well as the beauty of our country.

Feeling very fortunate my family lives near such beautiful train routes. Can't wait to take another trip again.

I recommend the scenery on these trains:
    California Zephyr #5 & #6
        Segments: Western Colorado, California Sierra Nevadas
    Coast Starlight #14
        Segment: Oregon Cascade Mountains
    Amtrak Tickets




READ NEXT CHAPTER:
Amtrak Tickets and Discounts

TABLE OF CONTENTS: Train Articles


Press Play! Have you seen my TRAIN VIDEO?
Such wonderful scenery!

Music: Melissa's Waiting by Violet Edge
Amtrak Tickets

Amtrak California Zephyr Colorado Heading East Back Home to Denver

Chapter 4: Amtrak Train Series

Heading back from California to Colorado



Sacramento Station, California





    Amtrak California Zephyr #6 heading East
    Segment: Colorado Rockies
    My trip: Jan 4-5, 2012



EAGLES IN THE CANYONS

After the train picked up passengers in Grand Junction, Colorado, I met a father and teen son who live there, heading to Denver on their yearly Amtrak ride.

After 15+ trips, they knew where to look for Bald Eagles in canyons east of Glenwood Canyon. They pointed out seven, eight or more in the next hour. Not that far away, in easy view, but I would have missed every one of them. I would have kept watching on the Glenwood Springs left side of the train, instead of the right side.

On the right side of the observation car you saw huge cliffs hanging above the top windows. For a long time we had to lean far back in the seats to see them. But the car filled up fast and saving those seats for later was well worth it.

The eagles were truly majestic. Many in trees, each keeping a solo watch, preferring tall dead trees. The largest eagle flew in heavy slow motion because of his amazing size and wingspan. We were also near the front of the observation car. It gave us time to see the eagles pass all the huge windows before the train sped by.





Glenwood Springs, Colorado: Hot Sulphur Springs

Glenwood Hot Springs

There is a HOT-HOT small therapy pool and a nicely-hot large swimming pool. Both are outdoors and make it so refreshing to be in the water on a cold day.

Such wonderful memories of spending entire days in these pools as a kid. Our Dad would have to call out to us hours in advance before leaving, while we pretended we couldn't hear him ...

Still, I'd forgotten all about traveling to that awesome place until a Denver friend Kathy told me about taking the train from Denver to Glenwood to stay at the Glenwood Hot Springs. What a fantastic idea for a short get-away. I must find a way to make that a tradition.


Western Colorado



Colorado Rockies


It's January! Where is all the SNOW?!

Less snow seen in mountains than when I left Colorado mid December.
In a small town after Winter Park, Colorado we passed by a large group of sweet kids dancing with hula hoops. One of them was holding up a sign toward the train which read "Snow Dance." Hey, whatever works!



Heading Home again, overlooking Denver
metro area


READ NEXT CHAPTER:
So why do I take the train instead of a plane?

TABLE OF CONTENTS: Train Articles


Press Play! Have you seen my TRAIN VIDEO?
Such wonderful scenery!

Music: Melissa's Waiting by Violet Edge

Amtrak Tickets

Amtrak Coast Starlight Oregon Heading North

Chapter 3: Amtrak Train Series

Oregon

    Coast Starlight #14 heading North
    Segment: Oregon Cascade Mountains
    (starting in Sacramento, California to Eugene, Oregon)
    My trip: Dec 16, 2011


Banjo & Harmonica players

If you know these musicians' names, please leave a comment. I didn't ask and break the spell of the moment. When musicians become self-conscious, the magic drifts away.

I've seen other wonderful music moments in the observation cars. Best one was 5 years ago on the California Zephyr, 3 men broke into a capella song with 3 part harmony. They were all strangers from different states. I'm a singer but was entranced enough to stay quiet and simply listen.


Klamath Falls, Oregon


The Conducter on this segment was very funny. He had a captive audience, of course, but his dry, perfectly timed remarks had us all heartily chuckling. Let's just say you do not want to get caught smoking on THIS train, especially.


Mount Shasta, Oregon



The return trip from Eugene, Oregon back to Sacramento, California is scheduled mostly in the dark during winter. But I still enjoyed the peaceful time and watched the sun rise the next very early morning from the Observation Car.


READ NEXT CHAPTER:
Colorado Heading East Back Home to Denver

TABLE OF CONTENTS: Train Articles


Press Play! Have you seen my TRAIN VIDEO?
Such wonderful scenery!

Music: Melissa's Waiting by Violet Edge

Amtrak Tickets

Amtrak California Zephyr Colorado Heading West

Chapter 2: Amtrak Train Series

While packing for the 3 week trip, I paused. Three days on the train to get to Eugene, Oregon from Denver, Colorado? Was this going to be crazy?

I'd taken the same Amtrak routes 5 years previously. I wondered if my memories of the journey had sweetened over time. But when the time arrived to leave Denver I was smiling and couldn't wait to get aboard.

Climbing up the train car stairs with my bags, I flashed back to senior year in high school when I got caught on a train. But that's another story.

I settled in my Coach seat knowing it was already the perfect decision. Turned out to be the best trip to date with countless highlights ...

Colorado


    California Zephyr #5 heading West
    Segment: Western Colorado (starting in Denver, Colorado)
    My trip: Dec 14-15, 2011


Colorado Rockies


Western Colorado: Following the Colorado River



READ NEXT CHAPTER:
Amtrak Coast Starlight #14 Oregon Heading North

TABLE OF CONTENTS: Train Articles


Press Play! Have you seen my TRAIN VIDEO?
Such wonderful scenery!

Music: Melissa's Waiting by Violet Edge

Amtrak Tickets