California Zephyr – Chicago to Denver – Girl on a Train

Amtrak through the mountains

Today is my day and I’m on my way to adventures on the Amtrak California Zephyr line.

“You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way!” – Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

I am super excited to live out this adventure. It’s an item I’m checking off of my bucket list. I have always wanted to see our country on the train. I had this gut instinct that I am going to love it, and I do! I am traveling from Chicago to Denver on Amtrak’s California Zephyr. Each way is $107.

It is an 18-hour train ride. At first, that seemed daunting. Riding on the train is not for the same purpose as flying. Sure, each are modes of transportation, but a train ride is an experience to be savored and enjoyed. It is also a lot more comfortable than a plane ride.

It’s interesting to see people at their most vulnerable. All pretense is stripped away and what’s left is beautiful humanity in their natural state.


I guess we forget that normally we don’t camp out around strangers. It seems perfectly natural to stretch out, slip on an eye mask, tuck in with pillows and blankets. If someone is snoring or babies crying, I just slip on my headphones to escape back to my safe little cocoon.


Many people doze during the trip, but I am too excited for that. I get settled and my seatmate tells me about the “viewing lounge”. That lounge was my camping site for much of the trip. It is stunning. Great light and views with tall windows. Different seating arrangements inviting travelers to comfortably gather. I picked a solitary seat that turned. Others cuddled on 2-person benches, played games at tables, and gathered together for conversation.


Want to reconnect with yourself and humanity? Take a train ride. It is amazing how still I feel, quiet, thoughtful and open in the midst of strangers. Yet, I don’t feel lonely. Many great conversations pop up. Stories of adventures are shared and bonds form quickly. It is acceptable to jump in and out of conversations. There is an open, light-hearted, and fun feel amongst the other travelers.


I’ve already made a few friends. One “Chronologically Gifted” gent had great stories to share from his 25 years overseeing recreation programming in New York. He’s now enjoying retirement as a personal trainer. I am a recreational therapist and it is just bizarre and exciting to meet some in my field in the middle of a train ride. I shared my art supplies with some bored kids. What a blast.

Toward the end of the evening, a real life, guitar picking, rail riding mountain man settled into play. He was there plucking away for hours. I finally made myself go lay down but I told the lady across from me about the musician in the other room. She hurried over there and fell asleep to his songs, sleeping all night in the lounge.

This trip is everything I hoped it would be. I stepped away from the real world the minute the train pulled away from the station. All worry and stress quickly pass away with the miles of track. The beauty of our country and humanity shines in the train. All the noise of a busy life fades far away like a distant train whistle. Left in its place is the stillness of the moment to listen to me, God, and my fellow travelers.

I’ve arrived in Denver! I’m ready for a longer trip! Awesome!

I’m looking forward to the ride home. What adventures will await me on the journey?
Come along with me and see. Now, this is the way to travel…

Girl on a train
#adventuresawait, #whatareyouwaitingfor? #nomoreexcuses #thetimeisnow, #slowingdown and #seeingtheworld by #ridingtherales on #amtrak!

4 Comments

  1. Looks like fun and that’s been my experience too. I rode Amtrak from Sacramento to Reno and back with two of my gal pals over winter to visit our friend in Reno. The scenery in the snowy Sierra Nevada mountains was beautiful and I was surprised at how roomy the seating was. Not like flying coach at all! We all resolved to make the trip again next winter! Have a fun trip home!

    • Thank you so much Nancy! I’m glad you are out enjoying adventures. I can’t wait to capture the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Where else do you want to travel to?

  2. I’m feeling inspired! I’ve never traveled like this, but it fits with my mantra that “the journey is the adventure” and not to get so hung up on rushing to a destination. I’m already dreaming up an adventure journey!

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