Posted by: caryandjohn | February 23, 2011

Railroad Birthday Trip

Utah from the California Zephyr

Utah from the California Zephyr

We’d been planning a motorcycle trip for the Presidents’ Day holiday. Cary was going to take Friday off, too, giving us a nice four day holiday. The problem turned out to be the weather, with a nasty winter storm forcast … we thought we’d be able to look at a forcast when the holiday arrived, and head either north or south to avoid the rain.

As it turned out, we were faced with rain throughout California, with the snow level forcast for 2500 feet, which basically canceled our motorcycle plans …

At the Richmond Amtrack/BART station

At the Richmond Amtrack/BART station

Friday evening Cary had the brilliant idea to go for a first-class railroad trip. It would be a fun way to get out of the city, as well as a nice way to celebrate my birthday. So we found ourselves at the Richmond BART station at 9:30 a.m., where we could walk to the Amtrack station, which shares the same station.

A view of Suisun Bay from beneath I-680

A view of Suisun Bay from beneath I-680

Cary had booked us a bearth on a first-class sleeper car on the famous California Zephyr to Grand Junction, Colorado. We would get to Grand Junction at noon on Sunday, where we would catch the San Francisco bound train at 4 p.m.

Our berth on the California Zephyr

Our berth on the California Zephyr

We would be traveling the route of the first trans-continental railroad in the United States, which was finished in 1869. The route is renowned as the most beutiful in the country.

Taking in the views ...

Taking in the views ...

All our meals were included in the price of our tickets, so we enjoyed taking some of our meals in the Dinning Car and the rest in our berth.

Lunch in the Dining Car ...

Lunch in the Dining Car ...

The American River, east of Aubern, CA

The American River, east of Aubern, CA

We had lunch with a nice couple from Sacramento as we climbed the west slope of the Sierras toward Truckee. The rain turned to snow by the time we had climbed up to 2500′ and the forest covered with newly falled snow was just wonderful …

On the way to Truckee

On the way to Truckee

Once we reached the summit of the Sierras, we were soon decending to Truckee, having enjoyed views of Donner Lake and Cold Stream Valley …

Donner Lake from the train tracks ...

Donner Lake from the train tracks ...

The train follows the Truckee River through a canyon and down to Reno …

The Truckee River under I-80

The Truckee River under I-80

After our stop in Reno, we enjoyed a dinner with a couple from Ann Arbour … we had the steak, which was wonderful. As we enjoyed our dinner the sun set, and we proceeded across Nevada in the night, where the desert was visible by the light of an almost-full moon …

In the morning, having passed through Salt Lake City, we began our climb to Grand Junction …

Breakfast in bed!

Breakfast in bed!

We enjoyed breakfast in bed …

Buttes in Utah ...

Buttes in Utah ...

Snow on the Bookend Mesa

Snow on the Bookend Mesa

We got to Grand Junction just after lunch … Cary had done some on-line research about things to see and do in Grand Junction, and we actually found a walking tour of the downtown at a kiosk in front of the convention center.

The chrome buffalo in Grand Junction

The chrome buffalo in Grand Junction

Tumble weeds in downtown Grand Junction

Tumble weeds in downtown Grand Junction

We had a good lunch at the local brewary, and enjoyed the sculpture on Main Street. Cary placed a call to Amtrack while we were waiting for the west bound train, and upgraded our return berth to a cabin, since we had enjoyed the private bathroom and large cabin on our way here …

Private dining on the way west ...

Private dining on the way west ...

Steak and potatos in our cabin

Steak and potatos in our cabin

We enjoyed a beautiful sunset over the canyonlands of Utah, and by the time we got to Helper, Utah, it was dark and snowing … we slept soundly as the train passed through Salt Lake City and began the treck past the Great Salt Lake and into Nevada.

More snow on the way home ...

More snow on the way home ...

The Sacramento Delta ...

The Sacramento Delta ...

The Mothball Fleet in Suisun Bay

The Mothball Fleet in Suisun Bay

I really enjoyed our first-class get away. Cary and I enjoyed ourselves, saw some beautiful parts of the United States, and enjoyed good food.

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Responses

  1. Wow! What a nice trip! Such beautiful scenery! Looks like you had such a nice time. Glad you took the time to get away! Look forward to seeing you both in November! Love, Molly


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