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Amtrak California Zephyr Trip Report

We rode Amtrak’s California Zephyr from Chicago to Sacramento beginning on 24 June 2016 after traveling from Pontiac, Michigan on the Wolverine. This was our last visit to the old first class lounge in Chicago, since on our return trip the following week the new lounge was open. We boarded our train and made our way to our roomette. The sleeping cars were behind the diner and we were in the middle sleeper, but there were a couple of private cars on the rear so we were not able to look out the back of the train. We stopped for track work just as we left Chicago and remained behind schedule for much of the trip. After a stop in Ottumwa, Iowa just before nightfall we turned in for the night and were in Colorado the next morning. Since Denver is a terminal station it took some time to pull into the station, but this was where we dropped the private cars, so the view out the back was available for the most scenic part of the trip. Although we weren't in the last car, the car attendent, Johnny, was a super nice guy who loved his job, enjoyed chatting, and didn't mind our visits. After some beautiful mountain scenery through Colorado and eastern Utah, darkness enveloped the train and we slept again until Nevada. After a scenic ride through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, we arrived in Sacramento and ended the first part of our journey.

After a trip to Portland, Oregon we returned to Sacramento to begin our journey back to Chicago on the California Zephyr. As we boarded we noticed that once again private cars were attached to the rear of the train, and this time those cars would remain for the entire trip, so no view out the back this time. We were in Nevada when night fell and were making our way through the mountains in Utah when the sun rose the next morning. Breakfast started a bit late because there was no water in the dining car, but the crew got water for coffee from another car, switched to plastic utensils, and our three meals that day went off without a hitch. We spent much of this day in the observation lounge car playing cards with a family from California. We had an early dinner just before we arrived in Denver, and took an after dinner walk on the platform while the train was being serviced. When the train was serviced and water tanks refilled, a leak in the dining car caused the kitchen to flood, taking it out of service for the rest of the trip. During a rainy stop in Omaha early the next morning they loaded a continental breakfast, and at Galesburg sandwiches and chips for lunch, so we were still fed, just not with the standard hot menu. Later that afternoon we arrived back in Chicago, ending our journey on the California Zephyr.

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