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An Amtrak long-distance train typically consists of sleeper cars, coach cars, a diner car and/or a lounge car.

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Our Fun Southwest Chief Birthday Train Vacation

Learning That Iowa Holds More Than Corn

by Christy VanZant

Montezuma, Kansas

We traveled Amtrak on our first overnight trip from Garden City, Kansas, to Ft. Madison, Iowa in March. Wow, what fun we had.

We booked a Roomette for the trip and were very surprised at the amount of room and the attention from the attendents. We got to know our "neighbors" and found out one had worked on trains most of his life. He told us things we did not know about the trains, their schedules and why we were sitting on the tracks and a whole host of knowledge.

We spent two nights in Ft. Madison, Iowa, and found that town to be a charmer. Iowa holds more than corn — they have some great people and towns to visit. It was so fun walking around town, seeing the historical buildings, shopping in their small shops, eating at their wonderful bakery, seeing their historic sites and seeing freight trains. We had so much fun.

This is a train lovers dream. To sit and watch from a restaurant all the trains going through town and then hearing and seeing the barges on the Mississippi River. It was a never ending sight of freight, movement and waiting to see what was coming around the river corner.

After we came home from Ft. Madison we sent the town a thank you note for a fun weekend, they sent us a thank you basket for making them our vacation. It was all started with the Southwest Chief dropping us off at Ft. Madison and picking us back up.

On our trip home we met the most fascinating business woman traveling alone. She had been a professor in Iowa for many years and was not going to let her handicap keep her from seeing the sights of America. Amtrak was there for her in bringing her meals, helping get her to bed and making sure she had everything she needed.

Thanks Amtrak for making our weekend so enjoyable and making fun for everyone. Our birthday vacation is one that will be hard to top next year.