So the plan was to get back into the wanderer spirit again! And nothing can beat covering North America from Coast to coast, from Atlantic to Pacific Ocean (or vice-versa), to cover 3400 miles, 11 states, all 4 time zones which exists here! Varun and I immediately got into action when we were discussing the plan what to do from November 21st to November 29th, as there was Thanks giving holiday and we just had to take 4 days off. So the planning got kicked off for C2C! The spark we got from Derek Low and I even sent him a note that he has to reimburse the tickets. After all because I hit his blog, we planned this 😉
Here is Derek Low’s blog on C2C trip by rail.
I will not keep this post like a story, which I did for my Pune to Goa bike journey, I will try to keep it as short as I can so that people can visualize the trip!
We made a plan from 20th November to 28th November 2015, 8 days and 9 nights. It all started with my favorite “To do something in life” quote (which is never ending). So 21st November night, we reached San Francisco and stayed overnight in a hotel. Next day was dedicated to cover Golden Gate Bridge and for the same, we opted cycle route. It was from Downtown San Francisco to Golden Gate and come back. We hired cycles and the route was beautiful, something to talk about. It was mostly the beach area and you are just few feet away from the sea. The way they made this is commendable and a walk/cycle to remember. Took few good shots and ended up journey by 3:00 PM, to and fro (overall ~26 miles). Rest was downtown area, dinner in the night with an old friend who lives in SFO.
Second day was the start of the judgment day. 22nd November 2015, morning 9:10 AM, the famous California Zephyr arrived at Emeryville station and we boarded the train. It all started with a good scenic view and it got enhanced bit by bit.
Below are few pictures I took on the way to Denver.
After a journey of 33 hours (not considering the time zone change), we reached Denver at 6:45 PM next day. Took a walk till our hotel and rest for the night. We choose to stay for 2 nights in Denver and it was worth. Fell in love with Colorado, mountains, the scenic view, the red rocks, the amphitheater and lot other things. I talked about my friend David here on YouTube. What a lovely song he sang!
On 25th at 7:10 PM, we started our journey from Denver to Chicago. We reached Chicago next day at 2:50 PM. Went into the hotel and was happy seeing State Bank of India office just adjacent to our place.
Took rest and in the evening went out in Chicago downtown. Next day explored the city, watched “Creed” in theater, however missed a view of the city from John Hancock Tower due to weather. It’s a true architecture city, with some lovely places.
On 27th at 9:30 PM, we took our last train, from Chicago to New york. California Zephyr covers till Chicago and from here, we had to get into Lake Shore Limited. This was a normal rail and was not double decker like California Zephyr. Lake shore cross Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, and then enters New York State. The train finally reached New York Penn Station at 6:30 PM on 28th November. This was an epic journey where we have covered Pacific and Atlantic Ocean by train. Yes, I covered the Indian Konkan region mostly by bike and I loved it, but here in USA, this train journey was no less from a traveler’s point of view.
If well planned, you can do this trip in less than $250 (only train fare), but as we have not made the plans in advance, we had to stick with dates and fare prices. For 1 person, it took $350 train fare from California to New York.
Over all, the journey I can say can’t be mentioned in the words but one has to feel it. There are few things which I liked the most, trip from SFO to Denver and the Colorado State. You will feel like you belong here, mountain man! People are not too commercialized and are very down to earth, most of them are musicians (Thanks to John Denver).
However, my advice would be, just don’t get excited by looking into the pictures or by reading the blog(s). It takes lots of patience to cover this kind of journey, the time, and courage to squeeze into chair seats when you want to sleep 🙂 (California Zephyr was not too bad and had enough space though). But, it’s all fun if you like wandering, knowing new people, exploring and testing yourself! All the people I met and talked during my train journey are now so embedded in my memories that I can recall them anytime. I met Professors, ranch keepers, students, artists, and the cook… all those people are part of memories now… and nothing can takeit away! So be ready and if get time and opportunity, experience it… 🙂
Few more pictures of inside the train:
Grandmother and grand daughter duo!
The little princess!
The Pen Artist!
The restaurant lady
The pantry man
My only option in food, Veg-Burger 🙂
Little Julia Roberts 🙂
The Amtrak keepers
The beer man
Our personal plan we made
The complete route
Things to remember:
You can make your own itinerary, i.e. where to halt, which city to explore (Salt Lake/Denver/Chicago). There are two ways to do this. Either take a train pass for a 15-day, in which you can get 8 train rides, which means you can hop-on and off from the train 8 times, can see 8 cities. However if you have specific cities to halt like how we did, you have to prepare your own itinerary and have to book different tickets. For example, we booked tickets for California Zephyr from SFO to Denver, then from Denver to Chicago, then from Chicago to NYC a different ticket was there for Lake Shore Limited.
About California Zephyr
It is having a Sightseer Lounge car, don’t leave this area during the day time or else you will miss the most scenic views!
Restaurant inside (great food). However if you are vegetarian like me (not even eggs are allowed in the dish), be ready to stick with one or two options only. Good if you can carry some of your food with you.
Good and supportive staff
It’s totally a different and memorable experience 🙂