May 2016 Amtrak Zephyr
from Colfax to Denver – Day One
I had never ridden on a train before. I was excited but not sure what to expect – It’s a 30-hour ride to Denver, and once you board, you’re pretty much committed.
Not one to spend much time sitting, I feared I might get bored, so I packed my laptop, camera, drawing materials and a book.
We boarded the train quickly at Colfax, CA around noon on May 26th. Quickly is an understatement when boarding – you’d better be ready; the train really doesn’t stop for long. We were advised not to be surprised if the train was late because it is rarely on time.
With that mindset, we were prepared to wait, but the surprise was that it was right on time at 12:37 pm.
Once we were aboard, we were introduced to our steward and put our things in our roomette, made our reservations for lunch and then found our way to the dining car. The hallway is very narrow and the train rhythmically rocks and sways, which makes walking a bit of a challenge.
The dining tables are set for four; at every meal, we were introduced to new travelers with whom to dine. This resulted in many shared travel experiences and sage advice. After some great conversation with a seasoned Amtrak-traveling couple, a black bean/corn burger for me and an Angus steak burger for Dale, we headed back to our roomette to get comfortable.
As we traveled north toward the Sierra Nevada Mountains it was a treat to see the eastern view of Donner Lake. We often travel Hwy 80 to the mountains and are familiar with the west side of the lake, but this view was unexpectedly beautiful. I can see a painting of this in my future.
It became apparent to me that watching the scenery go by was not only relaxing, it was very enjoyable. With camera in hand, photo op after photo op came into view as we clickity-clacked down the tracks. Looking north along the Truckee River provided a lovely contrast backdrop of high-desert hills.
A beautiful sunset ended the day. Another trip to the dining car for a great meal, before we settle into our individual bunks for the night. I took the top bunk because it’s a fairly small space. Down the stairs to take a nice hot shower- a bit of a challenge with the motion of the train, but worth it.
The stewards made sure that the noise level was down by 9:00 pm, so other than the sounds of the train it was quiet. The roomette had sliding glass doors with full curtains for privacy. The entire space was small but we were very comfortable.
Good night. Day two to come…