Amtrakking the States and Trolling the SCWC!

Amtrak roomette train travel sightseer lounge sleeper car
Views not afforded to cars are some of the best parts of train travel. No road separates this section of the west coast from the train.

Seattle or San Antonio? Nebraska or New Orleans?

Give me train travel any day over flying. I know it’s a luxury of time most people can’t afford. I call it an investment in modern anthropology and a writing desk on rails. I could tell you about all the people I meet, but then I’d spoil all the interesting essays I’m submitting for publication.

In February I will attend the Southern California Writer’s Conference (SCWC). It is one of the first writing conferences I attended and still my favorite, because it’s practical publication and platform without pretense and posturing. (Okay, well maybe a little posturing, but I’m working on that πŸ˜‰ ).

I’ll give you a taste of the conference after it’s over, but in the meantime, help me pick a route or two! I’m taking Amtrak both ways, so here are the route choices I’m considering:

TO the Conference:

Option 1: California Zephyr through Denver and the Rockies to Emeryville, then Pacific Surfliner to San Diego (with a stop at cousin Emily’s)

Option 2: Texas Eagle to New Orleans and the Alamo to Los Angeles, then Pacific Surfliner to San Diego

Amtrak roomette train travel sleeper car
As a student (or a geezer!) you get a 15% discount on all travel, but sleepers are still full price. Having the Amtrak rewards membership lets you work toward free upgrades though, so ride those rails!

FROM the Conference:

Option 1: California Zephyr (as noted above)

Option 2: Coast Starlight to Seattle (and a visit to cousin Lauren, and a couple of friends there), then the Empire Builder across Glacier and the northwest.

Amtrak bedroom train travel sleeper car
Sometimes I am lucky to get an upgrade to a full bedroom with its own bath and shower. This is ideal for messy Marla.

The Southwest Chief is one of my favorites, but I’ve done it many times already. These others I’ve only done in segments.

Amtrak roomette train travel sleeper car
One of the many beautiful views from the Sightseer Lounge (any coach or sleeper passenger can enjoy this second story full-windowed viewing area.) This view is from the Southwest Chief in February 2012.

What tasty choices. Do any of you have favorite Amtrak routes? Feel free to explore the ones I’m choosing between and give me your opinion!

Amtrak roomette train travel sleeper car
Hanging with my friend Vincent in Chicago’s Union Station while we wait for different trains. “Union Station” is so overdone. I wish all places named “Union Station” would reinvent themselves with something more unique. I would call this one “Station of the Breaking Wind.” Oh wait, I meant “Windy City Station,” didn’t I?

Thanks, as always, for reading and commenting!

Love, Marla

P.S. Here is yesterday’s daily fitness check-in. There is NO STOPPING this fitness train!

train travel sleeper car fitness roomette
Although walking on a train does have a certain extra level of fitness with all the jostling around, I do wish there were some kind of workout room with bolted down equipment. I’m going to have to hop off at each station and do jumping jacks!

21 thoughts on “Amtrakking the States and Trolling the SCWC!

  1. Have fun in SoCal. I hope you will have a time to explore San Diego even just for a little … hopefully, a lot. πŸ˜€

    1. Thanks. I love SoCal and San Diego. We lived in Marina del Rey for a year and I have to get back out there at least once or twice a year or I go into withdrawal (seriously, shakes and everything haha).
      I wish I had more time to explore San Diego but the conference will be taking up a lot of the time. I’m enjoying your posts by the way. You’re quite an adventurer!

  2. I’d take option 1 going to the conf. and 2 coming back – without having done either, but I’d have to ditto the above for the Rockies in wintertime. I lived in Boulder, CO for a while …took my breath away every day. And Seattle? It’s where I grew up. I’ve never lived far away. Wonderful city to write and play and exercise in. Have fun at the conference, too!

    1. Yeah, I love taking a train in the winter. I used to do it to visit my mother in North Dakota but never did the rest of the way out, so I’m pretty excited.

  3. Starlight all the way to Seattle – awesome ride. You’ll be doing in cold weather, maybe a beautiful snowy trip. I did it a number of years ago and had the BEST time. Love taking the train. I am sooooo jealous.

    1. I’m really excited for it. I just hope I worked it out right and got my roomette on the correct side of the train or I’ll be in the sightseer lounge the whole time, haha. Can’t wait to see you in San Diego!

  4. I would take both Option 2s, to and from. Man, I’ve driven across country twice, and that was fun, but I’ve never taken the train across. That seems like a really swell thing to do, with or without a destination.

    P.S. I had an Amtrak awards membership because it got me a discount when I took the train up to see Anthony in NY every few months. I used it once before I was notified that the discount no longer applied to the particular route I took (the only route I could take to where I needed to go). That really sucked. =(

    1. I ended up going with 1 and 2 so I can make sure to see my cousin on the way out. Yeah, Amtrak has a lot of stupidity on their rewards program and their website is a piece of crap, but I just love riding the rails!

  5. Well, of course, you should come visit ME! πŸ™‚ Will and Tim would love to see you as well. If you let me know the timing, I can tell you if it would be better to stop going east or west. Is this a fly-by or can you stay for a day or two?

    1. And ditto on this, although I haven’t yet heard back from Lauren on a visit but I will still be stopping for half a day in Seattle before hitting the Empire Builder.

  6. Wow sis, for me the choice would be simple…travel thru the Colorado Rockies in BEAUTIFUL wintertime without the hassle of actually driving in the mess!!! Man that would b awesome!!

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