Last summer, Jodie and I took the California Zephyr Amtrak from Chicago to Sacramento. It was one of the best trips we have ever taken! Our love for trains started 4 years ago when we were on the East Coast and took a train from Providence, RI to Boston, MA. When we returned from Boston, I immediately went to work on planning our adventure. Wow… trains take a LONG time! Almost 50 hours by train from CHI to SAC! We were undeterred. Stops were slated for Chicago, Omaha, Denver, and Salt Lake City. We flew to Chicago and stayed in The Loop for a few days. My goal for this trip was to book absolutely nothing except our train tickets. I braced Jodie for what may lie ahead. WHAM! First nite in Chicago and there is a massive restaurant worker convention for like 50,000 people. It was madness! I secured a list of hotels from a very nice concierge and proceeded to call 30 hotels… ALL BOOKED! We finally scored but my plan of winging it was not starting off on the right foot.
We cruised from Chicago to Omaha the first day and was memorable due to the fact we were in a car full of Amish folks. Surprisingly, they were pretty rowdy and I even saw two of the Amish men pop off the train at a stop and start puffing Marlboros. I thought that was against the rules! We continued on from Omaha to Denver after a nice stay in Omaha and a Omaha steak. In Denver, we stayed with friends and caught a Rockies game. We left Denver and headed for Salt Lake City and this was the beginning of the most incredible scenery as we followed the Colorado River. The American West is so vast and open you just do not realize how big this country really is until you ride a train through it. We stayed in SLC and then took off for Sacto the next day. We rolled over the majestic Donner Pass which is considered one of the most scenic passes to cross by rail in the U.S. Finally, after 50 hours, 4 major cities, and one full week, we cruised into the Downtown Sacramento and disembarked! Fantastic journey!