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The Southwest Chief historic route was first traversed by the earliest Indians who first discovered its twists, turns and passes.

Taking the Train to the California Desert

My Fabulous Time Riding the Rails Across the Country

by Barbara Kitchen

Woodbridge, New Jersey

My sister bugged me for many years to come and visit her in California. She has lived out there for over 30 years and I have never seen her house or surroundings. Not that I didn't want to but I am one of millions who have a fear of flying. Instead, I took the train to the California desert.

I cannot say enough about ALL the Amtrak people on my trip to California and back to New Jersey. I didn't meet one person that wasn't ready to help me.

Since I like taking the train, I began to look into taking the "rails" from New Jersey to California. My other sister, her husband and my husband would be flying out (they were all limited with time from work and I was lucky enough to have enough vacation time) and meeting me there. It took me three days out and three days back and I would recommend it to everyone.

What a wonderful way to see our country. One morning I woke up and pulled my curtain aside to see wild horses running in New Mexico. Truly breathtaking.

People have said to me that it is too long of a ride. I will tell you the ride went quickly. I brought my laptop and could check my e-mail; I read books; I watched movies. Amtrak also has so much to do on the train. They provide you with an Observation Car; Dining Car; Snack Car; Beverage Car, etc.

I cannot say enough about all the Amtrak people on my trip to California and back to New Jersey. I didn't meet one person that wasn't ready to help me. My co-travelers were also quite nice. The berths were very comfortable ( I only used a berth partially on the way out and partially on the way back). The only negative that I can think of is some of the layover stops were lengthy but again, I had enough to do and kept busy.

Fabulous. Don't hesitate doing this — you won't regret it.