by Naomi Chagnon-Smith
Well, not too old fashioned, but it was the best family train vacation. The kids had iPods and PSPs to play, but we also had a packed lunch, a deck of cards and books. We had a lot of time to look out the window and a sleeper with an upper berth just like (almost like) in Some like it Hot.
We are 40-something, 16 and almost 12 years old; many said it couldn't be done — but they were wrong. It was 60 hours: first on the Lake Shore Limited from Boston to Chicago, then on the California Zephyr from Chicago to Salt Lake City over the Rockies.
We met grandparents with grandkids, British tourists, teen-aged Amish travelers, a fellow the waitress called "sweetness" and some really funny and good natured staff. The volunteers giving the scenic tour over the mountains were an unexpected treat.
The good food in the Dining Car — an actual Dining Car — was an unexpected treat. The comfy beds were definitely not expected and very much appreciated.
We'd do it again in a heartbeat — well two out of three would, but you know how teenagers are.
This country is so much more beautiful and varied than picture atlases can say. Thank you Amtrak for showing us around.