Up the Tracks

18 Feb

DSC08496We love to ride trains. A few years ago we took the Southwest Chief round-trip from Lamy, New Mexico (8 miles down the road from our house in Eldorado) to Union Station in downtown LA. It is an overnighter and we slept in berths in our own private room. You can watch the high desert out the window in the afternoon, the stars at night and wake up to drink coffee in your berth as the scenery passes by.

We took the Surfliner down the California Coast from Santa Barbara to San Diego and back. On this trip you watch the Pacific beaches fly by and see beach-goers and surfers on the breaking waves and para-sailors in the sky overhead.

DSC08516One year for Valentine’s Day we went round-trip to Trinidad, Colorado in a snowstorm and walked from the station to  a marvelous dinner and then, a Victorian B & B. We saw elk in the mountain passes and the high plains spread out to the horizon.

This year on Valentine’s weekend we took the Coast Starlight up the coast from Santa Barbara to San Luis Obispo and back in the vintage 1950s observation car, the Silver Splendor sponsored by the South Coast Railroad Museum in nearby Goleta.




We traveled past Refugio Beach, the Gaviota Grade, the sprawling Hollister Ranch with cattle grazing on the dry land, the fields of broccoli and kale in Santa Maria and a launch facility on the private and vast Vandenberg Air Force Base. We saw oil wells, water towers and the hills and hills of grape vines growing around San Luis Obispo.






20140216_155836The theme of our adventure was romance expressed by lunch on board and lots of chocolate…my idea of a celebration.


Rail travel beats all other kinds for us. There is no driving fatigue, the seats are roomy, the food is served with tablecloths and flowers and you can meet and chat with interesting people. Trains are a civilized mode of travel slow and elegant and, mostly, on time. But even the delays (Our train once hit a cow and it held us up for hours.) interrupt the fast pace of life and give you time to really see the land as you travel through.

4 Responses to “Up the Tracks”

  1. Jon Reis February 23, 2014 at 3:35 pm #

    I am so jealous. Ever since I was a little boy and I have wanted to ride in an observation car. When I was five years old I loved a observation car photo in my “Big Book of Trains” [oversize picture book] and fantasized riding over the rockies in that kind of train car. I think I will put that on my bucket list. Thanks for sharing the wonderful photos. The woman in the valentine’s day red dress was particularly memorable.

    • Jill February 23, 2014 at 5:17 pm #

      I loved the red dress woman too. She is just her own little valentine. Sorry you weren’t with us Jon. They have another trip that goes all the way up to Portland Oregon.

  2. Ursula Freer February 18, 2014 at 8:57 pm #

    You know how to live!

    • Jill February 18, 2014 at 8:59 pm #

      We ARE really enjoying life.

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