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    Posted December 17, 2013 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Travel photo of the day

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    Riding the California Zephyr

    I always wanted to ride AMTRAK's California Zephyr from Chicago, IL to Emeryville, CA and I was lucky enough to complete that journey just a couple of days ago. The two day, two night journey took me through Ilinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, and Nevada before arriving into California. The train leaves Chicago at 2pm and with the short days in the winter, we were barely out of Illinois before it had gotten dark. I pretty much missed all of Iowa and Nebraska though someone told me that the landscape was pretty much farmland through those two states.

    We pulled into Denver, CO at about 8am on our first full day on the train. The area had just received a dusting of snow. It wasn't until we passed through the Moffat Tunnel, which crosses the Continental Divide, that we really hit the magnificent winter wonderland of Colorado.

    By far, the most spectacular stretch of ride was indeed through Colorado - the winterscape is just stunning! There were no roads in sight, the landscape was either dusted with snow or completely blanketed in snow. It all looked so pristine. For a good part of the day's ride, we were going alongside the Colorado River which was partially frozen in sections. Every now and again, we would whizz by a small herd of animals grazing.

    The train does have an observation car with glass windows that go part way up the ceiling. The views are spectacular but the place was too crowded for my liking. I had booked a roomette in the sleeper train and pretty much enjoyed the ride and the views from there.

    At the end of our first full day of travel, we arrived into Utah. As day gave way to dusk, there was a full moon hanging in the sky and the boulders took on that magnificent shade of orange. On one stretch the rocks were beautifully reflected in the water.

    Early next morning, we traveled through the snow dusted desert of Nevada on the way to Reno. From there, the train route ran alongside the Truckee River heading towards the town of the same name. I had expected the Lake Tahoe area to also be covered in snow but for the most part, it was just a dusting. Past Truckee and we were heading towards Sacramento and the suburbs of the East Bay of San Francisco. By this point in the journey, the train is pretty much a commuter train.

    Going by train is such a relaxing way to travel though it is definitely not cheaper than flying. But for me, getting to see the spectacular scenery of Colorado, in the winter time, was worth every penny spent!

    If you do this journey, splurge and get either the roomette or the room - it's definitely worth it!

    Lastly, someone had told me to bring along some reading material and spend my time relaxing that way. My advice is the keep the reading material in your bag and just stare out the window - don't waste your time and money ignoring the stunning scenery just outside your window!
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