Link to Amtrak.com

The New York-Chicago Amtrak Cardinal is named for the state bird of each state of the train's route from Virginia to Illinois.

Crossing the Appalachians

Which Way Would You Prefer to Travel?

by Jenny Raabe

High Point, North Carolina

My kids and grandbaby live in Louisville, Kentucky, so in June of 2006 I decided to drive there, traveling on the West Virginia Turnpike. There were scattered thunderstorms all along the way. There were curves and hills and tunnels that never seemed to end. The speed limit was mostly 70 miles per hour.

Never minding the curves, hills, thunderstorms and the signs saying "rocks falling," "deer crossing" and "slower traffic keep to the right," everybody in both lanes was going about 80 miles per hour, bumper to bumper.

Needless to say, I felt like a tractor on the road with my 55 miles per hour speed and I had to ride with my emergency blinkers on so as not to be run over by the big trucks descending the hill behind me. It was the most stressful experience of my life and I felt the ever-present peril of becoming yet another highway casualty in a big multi-car crash. The only way I survived this without having a heart attack was by stopping at almost every rest stop for a yoga session.

By contrast, in May of 2007 I took the train, the Cardinal. The train travels own its road. There was no stress whatsoever on this trip, nor were there endless ugly billboards. Instead, I awoke after a leisurely nap to see the New River right next to us, complete with huge boulders and little huts on its banks. I found myself saying: "God bless America." What stunning natural scenery.

While the road trip had been an unforgettably negative experience, this train journey was a truly wonderful experience. I can hardly wait to climb aboard again. Forget the turnpikes and forget the itsy bitsy airplanes tossing in the wind while crossing those mountains, but give me the train any day. The train, where one can eat, drink, read, nap, chat and feel happy and stress free.

Hopefully someday it will go all the way to Louisville. Meanwhile, Cincinnati is close enough. After all, it got me safely across those mountains.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, dear Amtrak.