Monday, January 16, 2012

A Ride on the Southwest Chief

Last spring on one of our drives around Santa Fe we took a road marked to Lamy and found ourselves at a rustic train station. Much to our delight we learned the Amtrak train Southwest Chief stopped daily on its runs to and from Chicago and Los Angeles. We had fun talking with the station master and decided that we would have to find an opportunity to take the Chief.

Murray and I had enjoyed taking trains like the Denver Zepher and the California Zepher back in mid 60's and so when we received an invitation to a wedding outside of Los Angeles we decided that this provided the opportunity to ride the rails again. We made our reservation about six weeks in advance and were pleased to get senior tickets at $55. The jump to a roomette was simply too much money so we decided to stay with reserved coach. So on a Thursday in August we made the short 12 mile drive to Lamy where, at no charge we could park our car in the small dirt parking lot. Typical of many days the train was late. We were in no rush and took that in good stride. When several hours later we boarded we sank into our spacious seats and became fascinated with some of the neighboring scenery that seemed fresh and new to us even through we were close to home.

We soon began exploring the train and found we really liked to hang out in the sightseer Lounge Car. While we had brought books to read, music to listen to and magazines along we found our time was spent enjoying conversations with fellow travelers and watching the scenery change. When the attendant came for dinner reservations, we made one and found it fun to be seated with strangers, enjoyed a lively conversation while eating a respectable dinner.

We arrived only slightly late into LA and were delighted with exploring the station before linking up with a reserved car to take us to the suburb where the wedding activities were to be held. The very dramatic art deco ticket windows and waiting room is roped off but it is possible to get good views and to take pictures.

Following wedding activities we boarded for our return trip home... again the train ran late but this just didn't bother us and we enjoyed our 15 hour trip back to Lamy. Certainly the trip has inspired us to explore other long distance train travel.

Some highlight to train travel:

1. So much more relaxing than flying or driving.
2. Meeting interesting people and having lively conversations.
3. Possible to plan a trip getting on and off the train along the way to visit places of interest.
4. Enjoying the rhythm of the train... a chance to let go of every day worries and just be present to the moment.

If you enjoyed this post on travel you might want to check out these posts:

No comments: