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Cross Country via Amtrak

America's Beauty Up Close

by Jean Gardner

Morven, North Carolina

My husband and I left North Carolina on May 4, going first to New Orleans, then Houston, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago and back to North Carolina arriving home on May 27.

We stop in each of these cities for a few days, taking city tours, but the best time was spent on the trains. We had our own private bedroom with private bath. By having this, all of our meals, snacks, coffee, tea, juice and water were included in the price. We even had a daily newspaper when Amtrak could get one.

On two of the trains, we had a wine and cheese tasting, which was very nice.

Can't say enough about the attendants on the train, the Dining Car staff and the ticket agents in each of the places we stopped. Everyone was very happy to assist us in any way that they could.

We met some very interesting people in the Dining Car. We exchanged where we had been, where we were going and learned about other Amtrak routes, which we are taking in May of 2011.

The scenery was just out of this world. This is a beautiful country we live in...

If anyone has any doubts about being cooped-up, don't be. We had plenty of room to move around in our bedroom.

The only complaint I have is that the Sleeper Car on the Crescent is at the back of the train and we felt the car swaying. On all the other routes, the sleeper car was up near the engine. Understand they had complaints about the whistle so they moved the sleeper car in back. You can still hear the whistle, so suggest they move the sleeper car back up toward the front.

I got to the place that I could tell by the number of whistles what was going to happen — if we were at a crossroad, coming into a town or leaving the station.

The scenery was just out of this world. This is a beautiful country we live in and by traveling via train, you get to see the small towns, big cities, desert, mountains with snow still on them, big and small rivers, big and little lakes.

I can't say enough about our trip. Try it — you won't be sorry.