I recently traveled across the United States by train. It takes four days for a train to travel 3,000 miles — that’s the distance between the east and west coasts. When I began the trip this March, it was snowing in New York and some parts of the Hudson river still had ice. The trees were bare and the sky was grey. Our train followed the Hudson river northward, and then passed by small towns with lots of brick buildings. We had to wait at one of the stations in upstate New York for a connecting train to bring sleeper cars that would be attached to our train — the sleeper cars I would be staying in. We passed by one of the Great Lakes. Sometimes it snowed, but it didn’t stick to the ground. Our train pulled into Chicago late because of the delay, so we missed the connecting train and stayed the night in Chicago. No matter; you shouldn’t take the train cross country if you are in a hurry. Downtown Chicago is windy, just like everyone says, but it is a fun city with good restaurants — The Aviary was especially nice.
The next train, called Amtrak’s Zephyr line, crossed the Mississipi river, passed by farmlands, and then reached the Rocky Mountains. I was told that the trip was pretty, however Denver to Salt Lake City was much more beautiful than I expected. We got glimpses of little ski resorts and then the train followed the Colorado river; a steep incline was on one side of the train and the river was on the other. Many parts of the river are only accessible by train or kayak so the views were unmarred by roads. Twice we saw a swimming pool with people in it — this section of the train’s route was warm enough for that in March. Then Utah’s slowly eroding red rock formations appeared. On the train, strangers conversed often since due to limited space, tables are shared in the train’s dining car and viewing car. More farms passed by. Sometimes the train’s rocking gave me a slight motion sickness. And then finally, after several days of sleeping and eating on the train, we arrived in the Bay Area. Home.