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 steamed out of 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!
I was aware the train does run late for various reasons, but I wasn’t worried. I kept looking outside savoring the stunning landscapes as the train switched sides of various canyons
Meanwhile, the landscape was changing from a narrow, whitewater river to a much wider stream. The next stop is Grand Junction, the border town between Colorado and Utah. The train arrived there at 8pm. It’s the largest city on Colorado’s western slope and the heart of Colorado wine country. Grand Junction sprawls across the Grand Valley, perfectly suited for exploring the wonders of northwestern Colorado. The great Colorado river flows from the Rocky Mountains down through the city and into Utah.
The train left the much larger Colorado river after exiting Ruby canyon, which is also where the train entered Utah. As the train arrived at Green River (UT) station, it was well past 10pm. I hit the sack, but decided to wake up in the dead of night when the Zephyr would arrive at Salt Lake City, the capital of Utah.
The train, however, would stop at Helper (UT) and Provo (UT) before halting at Salt Lake City. Sleep came easily as the train rocked across Utah. I was awakened by an announcement reminding those who would get off at Salt Lake City. It was around 3.30am when the train came to a halt. The city is bordered by the waters of the Great Salt Lake and the snow-capped peaks of the Wasatch Mountains. Headquarters of the Mormon Church is located here. After a 10-minute stop, the Zephyr left the Salt Lake City for the next stop at Elko (Nevada). It was at 6am when I woke up to a pink-streaked dawn. I walked to the sightseers’ lounge to see the sunrise as the train was heading toward Elko (NV).
What a spectacular sight! Absolutely mind-blowing! I was mesmerized by the shimmering rays over the distant horizon. In the glistening sky, I saw birds soaring through upper clouds.
I sat transfixed watching nature’s majestic beauty.
The train arrived at Elco (5060ft) at 9.30am. I realize why this is truly called the “Great American West”, a land of adventure. The moderate climate of Elco makes it an ideal year-round vacation spot for recreations and outdoor sports. As the train left Elco, I saw many, many fat, black cows grazing on the lush pastures.
It was in this town Butch Cassidy (real name Robert Leroy Parker), Sundance Kid (real name Harry Alonzo Longabaugh) and their outlaw gang called “The Wild Bunch” looted the First National Bank of Winnemucca on 19 September, 1900. As I recalled the history, I traveled back to the Wild West’s one of the most cherished legends—the story of Cassidy’s daring bank heist.
The American Film Institute ranked ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ (1969) starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford as the 49th greatest American film among 100 movies list.
Feeling nostalgic for the ‘Wild West’? Relive your childhood cowboy dreams by taking a ride on the Amtrak!
(To be continued)