The spirit of the ‘Wild West’ was even more in the air when the train chugged into the gambling town of Reno (NV). I met a guy who got off at this station. He said he’d take a taxi ride into the hills and follow the routes taken by the prospectors who hunted for silver after the Comstock Lode discovery in the 1850s.
The final leg of my journey across America from New York to San Francisco begins.
I spent almost the entire day sitting in the sightseers’ lounge (well, that’s the heart of the California Zephyr), beholding the red-rock canyons and mountain passes on one of the world’s most spectacular stretches of railway.
As the train left Glenwood Springs (Co) at 5.35pm, I heard an announcement that “the California Zephyr won’t be running for one whole week from tomorrow due to track repair.” I considered myself lucky!
Even though the entire trip in California Zephyr takes two days and two nights, if you want, you can hop off for 24-hour whistle-stop in three places.
I met a guy who’d strike out across the prairies of Iowa and Nebraska before overnighting at the little town of Granby in Colorado’s Middle Park Area. After snaking though the Rockies, he would stop at Reno, Nevada, for the nearby Wild West mining town of Virginia City. Finally, he would overnight in Sacramento, California’s little state capital.
As I begin to write the fourth part of my train travel across America by Amtrak, I see a front-page New York Times report slamming the Amtrak for “delaying repairs on decrepit tracks” in NY Penn Station.
By putting off repairs that it mistakenly believed were not critical, the Amtrak set the stage for two of the derailments, which were caused by broken tracks on the west side of the station, one of the world’s busiest train stations, the report said.
Despite the Amtrak-bashing story, the Lake Shore experience convinced me that if one really wants to get under the skin of the US, Amtrak is the way to go.
The romance of train travel from the Lake Shore’s sightseers’ lounge continued. As the train snorted down the railroad tracks, Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous poem (1885) crossed my mind. As a child, I was fascinated by his poem:
Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like troops in a battle,
All through the meadows the horses and cattle: