A Thousand Miles to the West


The shot above is out my train window at the settlement of Fort Morgan, Colorado, about 90 minutes east of Denver. The sunrise woke me up…

I boarded the California Zephyr bound for Denver around 2 p.m. yesterday. Amtrak’s customer service was excellent, as usual. I found myself a coach seat and there I was to stay for the next eighteen hours.

I had originally planned to sleep in a roomette, but after a change in plan when I added an extra day to my stay in Denver, I was too late to get the best deals for the sleeper cars, so I decided to try sleeping in coach instead. It has the leg room, and the seats are mostly comfortable.

Fortunately, I had two seats all to myself, so that made the sleeping question easier.

It wasn’t the most comfortable thing in the world, but I do think I got my full amount of sleep, in dribs and drabs. I woke up to the sun rising over Fort Morgan, Colorado.

This is the flat part of the trip, through Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska (Nebraska is done entirely at night), but it’s still a very beautiful run. You see a lot of farm land, some woods, and small midwestern towns clustering around the tracks. You see old brick buildings that must date back decades. The towns appear to be in good condition (unlike some of the neighbourhoods of Camden, New Jersey, I saw on the Red Line subway from Philadelphia), but they’re modest. It fits the Midwestern character of quiet resilience.

Today is my first day in Denver. I will be checking out the Colorado Railroad Museum (as you can imagine given Denver’s history with the railroads, it’s big), as well as trying out the city’s LRT and newly-installed regional rail system. I’ll report more later…

You can see a selection of photos of my trip at this Flickr album

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