Friday, February 12, 2010

ChooChoo Touring

Zwiefel makes the case for choochoo trains.

...we boarded a train called the “Cascades,” which starts in Eugene, Ore., and runs north to Vancouver, British Columbia. It is also operated by Amtrak.

The ride is all it’s cracked up to be, smooth, quiet and roomy, complete with an airy lounge where folks can buy everything from breakfast sandwiches to a bloody mary. There are numerous outlets for computer hookups, large overhead bins for carry-on luggage and brief cases and easy access between cars. It will be an incredible upgrade to the old equipment that’s used on the seven daily Hiawatha runs between Milwaukee and Chicago today.

We got off the Cascade route in Seattle, Wash., where we had time to visit the famous Pike Street Market and a few other sites before boarding Amtrak’s famed Empire Builder for the two-day, two-night trip back to Wisconsin. The Builder is perhaps Amtrak’s best long-distance train. It runs through the Cascade and Rocky Mountains, travels through beautiful Glacier National Park, then hits the Great Plains of eastern Montana, North Dakota, and on to Minneapolis-St. Paul.

We saw literally hundreds of bald eagles as the train made its way down the Mississippi to LaCrosse and even spotted a wolf near Bangor -- all of which is something you’ll never see at 35,000 feet above the earth moments after spending two hours negotiating security lines and hassles at the airport.

And all the while you can read a book, pen a letter, check e-mails, and browse the Web -- stress free.

I happen to agree with Zweifel (and Paul Joseph) that taking a vacation by train, particularly through the Rockies, is a great idea. This is a beautiful country to see from ground level.

(You're not supposed to notice that Zweifel FLEW to Portland, OR., to catch that train--and that he was NOT on a time-sensitive business trip.)

Just pretend you didn't notice.

1 comment:

Neo-Con Tastic said...

That really seems like a great trip but as you pointed out, the amount of time invested is carefully avoided. This probably took about 22 hours to complete whereas a flight would take only about 4.