The Southwest Chief historic route was first traversed by the earliest Indians who first discovered its twists, turns and passes.
by Regina Campos
My fiance, my daughter and I recently needed to get from California to Wisconsin to attend his grandfather's funeral. We were undecided about how we wanted to get to Wisconsin, and we carefully and painstakingly weighed the pros and cons of flying, driving or simply taking the train. After comparing all three, we decided that a train trip would fit our budget the best, not to mention the fact that it would give us a little time to relax and reflect, given the somber reason for our trek.
This would be the first time on a train for all of us. Our daughter is a typical 22-month-old — very inquisitive and loves to make new friends. She doesn't deal well with being restricted to a small area and enjoys exploring her environment every chance she gets. Because of this, we decided to reserve a Family Bedroom on our trip from Los Angeles to Chicago.
The trip would be a total of 42 hours, an eternity to any parent traveling with a toddler. Needless to say, we really didn't know what to expect. As it turned out, we had nothing to worry about.
Our attendant's name was Paul. He was a soft-spoken, cordial and very professional person. When our daughter's sleep schedule interfered with our lunch reservations, he promptly made arrangements to bring our lunch to us. He routinely walked through our car to see if we or anyone else in our car needed anything.
My fiance bought a bottle of wine from the snack bar for us to enjoy on our second evening on the train. However, we had no way of opening the bottle. When we mentioned this to Paul, he brought an opener for us to use so that our evening would not be spoiled. It seemed that whatever we needed, no matter how insignificant, Paul was able to get it for us.
Now I've stayed at some very nice hotels in places like Orlando, Las Vegas, San Diego, San Francisco and Monterey. And although these places have much to offer, their service pales in comparison to what Paul was able to do for us and our fellow passengers. Whenever we need to go anywhere again, there is no question that Amtrak will be our first choice.