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Home Adventure Travel Ideas Destinations Western U.S. Train Travel across the U.S.

Train Travel across the U.S.

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Catch the Outbound To Grandpa’s
...from the journals of CW Bryant (age 11)

July 16...
    It’s my birthday and I’m going to go see Grandpa... by train!  Two neat birthday presents.  I can’t wait to see Grandpa, he’s cool.  He always teaches me a bunch like driving a 4-wheeler, reading a compass, working with lots of tools and oh ya... man-ners, they really come in handy with... mom!  
    Nan, that’s my grandma, dropped us off at the train depot in Portland.  The train from Seattle was late, something about a washed out track, cool... maybe bandits held it up!  The train came sliding into the depot, like a silver bullet and we grabbed our bags, jumped on board and found our berth.  “Whoa!  It’s tiny!  Where do we sleep, take a shower or brush our teeth?  Ya... like I r-r-really care about brushing my teeth!”
    “Calm down... let’s explore,”  said, mom.  
    I decided I was going to like it-- it’s like camping!  I’ve got a bed, a place for my virtual boy, and another place for travel games.  A seat comes down so I can sit and look out, then it goes up so I can stretch out and relax.  Wow--I was hungry by then.  Our porter showed us the way to the dining car--he’s really nice and helpful.          
    Walking a train is like dancing, mom says, “two steps forward, sway, back step... three steps forward, pause... and wait for your partner to pass.”  I’m not into train dancing, so I just ran down the hall.  Going between cars is the best!  
    The tables in the dining car had table cloths, uh oh... I had to show my manners!  We sat with two guys--one collected antique fruit labels.  The other guy liked riding trains, he had the best stories.  The waiters liked joking with me, they’re funny.
    For the trip, we got a map of the states so we can follow the train route across the country.  Also there’s a trail guide with
cool things to look for.  From Portland we rode along the Columbia River east toward the Dalles.  We saw Multnomah Falls, Bonneville dam, an island where there’s a grave site, even an eagle diving into the river for fish.  After Pendleton, where there’s a really cool rodeo, I saw lots of deer while chugging up over Meacham Pass.  
    I like exploring the train, walking from engine to... what no caboose?  Before bed, Mom and
I played a few games of Mille Bornes... I won!  

July 17...
     I slept really good last night, the top bunk folds down from the ceiling and wall.  I felt like an astronaut, buckled in from all sides...  there was no way I could fall out.  I imagined... speeding through space in my capsule!  Below me was mom’s bed-- two facing seats that slid together.  She was lucky... she had a window!  I slept in... it’s easy to do on a train.  As mom says “the sound of the track lulls you to sleep.”  I found the shower, brushed my teeth--then we were off for breakfast.  
    There was this nice grandma across the hall from our sleeper.  She pointed out coyotes chasing rabbits, herds of buffalo, rock mounds; she even wanted to play my virtural boy!  Oil dredges look like giant alien ants sucking the earth.  
    At lunch we sat next to a dad and his two kids.  The boy, Beau is my age, and we played together.
    In Denver, the train did a lot of track switching.  It’s cool how they unhook, back up, hook,and go.  Another dining car, more passenger cars and sleepers and a lounge car with movies and snacks were added.  
    That night, in bed, we looked out the train window at the stars--Big Dipper, Little Dipper, Orion and then we made up a story.

July 18...

    Every morning I checked our map to see how far we had traveled at night--wow--I missed most of Nebraska!  We traveled through Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska and now Iowa.  Wow!  
    After breakfast, we played bingo.  It was fun--you could win things like candy bars and sodas.  Mom won a coffee mug!  
    Iowa is sure green... and flat too.  The corn fields seem to go on and on like at Grandpa’s farm.
    Guess what?  I get to return home by train, it’s the best... well, except for Grandpa!
Grandpa’s Buddy,    
CW Bryant


Train Travel Details:

•  Amtrak: Pioneer Route, Seattle, Boise, Denver, Chicago. (now discontinued, see All... Aboard, page 11 for alternate route).  Travel time--24 hours from Portland, OR to Mt. Pleasant, IA.
•  Reservations are required: Coach Seating--ideal for shorter travel times.  Reasonable fares, meals not included.  Bring snacks; meals can be expensive.  Sleeping Cars--deluxe, special, family and economy (we had economy/2 bunk style beds).  Meals included with AM wake up including coffee, tea, orange juice and morning newspaper too.
•  1-800-USA-RAIL



Where are Tricia and Marla?

Tricia and Marla climbed these steps to this magnificent temple. Where are Tricia and Marla?
Click here to find out. 

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