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Trip Report It's the Journey, not the Destination (aboard the California Zephyr)

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After two wonderful days at Lake Tahoe (and one okay day in Reno and one very looong day in San Francisco waiting for our 8 hour plus delayed flight) we drove the rental car back to Reno to catch the California Zephyr to Emeryville.

If you have the chance to take the California Zephyr, do it. It is one great train ride. The train was a bit late leaving Reno, but since it was our only activity of the day, the only inconvenience was that we got on too late to have breakfast in the dining car. (and of you think that we could just get something at the train station, then you have clearly not been to the Reno train station.) No restaurants, but there are some interesting artifacts there– the WCTU water fountain which had bowls for horses and dogs as well as a fountain for people.)

One of the conductors assigned seats as we boarded to make sure that the couples could sit together. The majority of seating is upstairs(!!! On a train!) so even if you are not in the observation car there are huge windows high up for unobstructed views.

And what views! One gloriously beautiful mile after another. We rode through the Sierras and by Donner Lake. There were two railroad Historians ( cute older gentlemen complete with white handlebar mustaches) who made announcements describing everything. Every tunnel has a name and every valley a history. The scenery was beautiful beyond my poor descriptions. The train is comfortable and none of the passengers were rushing to business meetings. Most had come aboard in Chicago (or someplace between Chicago and Reno) and all were enjoying the beautiful ride.

And the service. Lunch was served on white linens in the dining car (it was pretty good). And the great views continued.

Once we got out of the mountains it was not spectacular– just a slow train ride with narration. When we got to Sacramento the Railroad Historians left. But not before telling us that the federal government had subsidized the building of the tracks over the Sierras. Leland Stanford, Mark Hokins, and the two other railroad barons had Congress declare the beginning of the Sierras to be 8 miles east of Sacramento (lest you think legislation for special interests was a modern innovation).

So, although we had been in flat country for a while before we hit Sacramento, it was when we got there that the historians announced that we would be leaving the Sierras in 8 miles. Isn't legislation wonderful?

One can’t be in a hurry on this train. It travels at 30 MPH.

After Sacramento I started reading Roughing It by Mark Twain. He describes his overland stage journey West. He notes that in just a few years one could take a speeding locomotive across the same territory! With linen covered table service! Comfortable seats! And travelling at the unbelievably fast rate of 30 MPH.

Perspective is an interesting thing, yes

After we reached Emeryville we checked into our hotel, went out to an unmemorable dinner with new friends in Berkely and turned in early since we were flying out to San Diego the next day. But that's another post

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