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We rode Amtrak’s Southwest Chief from Los Angeles to Chicago beginning on 27 June 2013 after traveling to Los Angeles on the Texas Eagle a few days earlier. We once again booked a roomette, but the car this time was noticeably older with some of the facilities like restrooms and showers not as modern as on the other train. One nice thing though was that instead of a garment closet there was a simple strap, making it much easier to store our limited luggage in the roomette.
The train (in coach anyway) was full of Boy Scouts heading to New Mexico. When they departed at Raton, an equal number boarded heading toward Chicago. Many stayed up all night talking and playing games in the lounge car, which was fine since after all that’s why it’s there. More annoying were the ones who were using multiple seats and the floor in the lounge for sleeping (in spite of all of the noise), making it difficult to find a nighttime seat if desired.
One of the more unusual things to happen during the trip occurred while eating breakfast in the dining car. One of the scout leaders from San Diego sitting at a nearby table heard me tell the other people at my table where I lived, and mentioned that he had grown up in the same town (in New York). As we talked further, we realized that the house he had lived in was on the same street as mine and a mere 8 houses away. Some coincidences are really amazing. We also met an older woman at one of the meals who boarded in Kansas and was headed to Buffalo to visit some family, then to a retirement home a couple of towns away from where I lived. It seemed like a very strange place to be moving since she said she had never been there and had no family there, but my guess is I wasn’t getting the whole story.
The landscape on the trip was varied, from pine forests to flat deserts to mountains and then miles of farms. We were able to walk around a bit in both Flagstaff and Albuquerque. As we approached the Mississippi River we could see obvious flooding. Unfortunately storms reduced our view for the last leg of the trip through Illinois. We soon arrived in Chicago though under sunny skies and readied ourselves for the final leg of our journey.
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Copyright 2013 by Robert Mortell