Railhead

I’ve ridden Amtrak for decades now, and I can honestly say the service has degraded a great deal in the 20+ years I’ve ridden the train. I took the train across the continent in 2000, and it was an arduous experience; 13 hours behind schedule, missed connections, stopping in the middle of nowhere for hours at a time, and the several cancelled trains convinced me that Amtrak is not a viable travel option for anyone interested in actually getting somewhere on time. It was beautiful though, the lonesome plains, the Rocky Mountains, riding along the Mississippi River at dawn. From Chicago to Portland, and then down the coast to Los Angelese, it was an eye popping trip. Luckily I didn’t really have to be anywhere on time. In fact, the route I’ve ridden the most, the Ann Rutledge between St. Louis and Chicago, is notorious for running late.

I came across this story a couple days ago, recounting the woes of traveling Amtrak across the country. Sounds like he had a similar experience to me. That said, it was an incredible experience, from the landscape to the people you meet on the train. I remember sitting in the observation car at 2:00 am, learning card tricks from a septugenarian magician on his way to Minot, North Dakota. And standing on the back of the train, looking across northern California dawn from an open doorway with the cigarette smokers.