Play your favorite music, relax on soft chairs, and explore the United States on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief train, going from Illinois to Arizona through majestic landscapes and small towns.
If you’ve ever read the book “On the road” by writer Jack Kerouac, you must have dreamed of a distant, modern and wild America with true feelings. Obviously, that book has created a ‘Must go’ movement among American youth for generations. And instead of On the road, we can be On the rail road to explore the roads and nooks of rich, prosperous America.
Since the 1950s, trains or indigenous people often called the great iron horse, had to surrender to compact and handy cars. After a short time, people have a nostalgic interest, want to experience the old but new things, so the trains of Amtrak are crowded with tourists, not only on long trips along the corridor of Northeast America. It even becomes a popular travel trend in 2020, according to CNTravel.
One of the most interesting routes is probably the Southwest Chief. The train to explore America through the moonlit Mississippi River, or the golden ways of corn, like Jack Kerouac told in the book 70 years ago, departing from Illinois to Arizona, bringing the hope to see the majestic Grand Canyon at the last station of every passenger.
The train transfers at 3 pm at Chicago’s Union station, one of the more artistic train stations. The 30-hour journey officially begins through Missouri, Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico before the Southwest Chief arrives in flourishing Los Angeles and stops in Arizona.
The plane only takes about 7 hours and 30 minutes, and the ticket price is only 1/3. If you drive, you will be immersed in the iconic Route 66 highway of America. So why should you travel by train? The two routes above will take away the opportunity to see the Colorado River valley, or see firsthand the craft breweries of Flagstaff. In addition, traveling to the US by train you can feel the comfort and romance, something that the other two vehicles are hard to meet.
Trains exploring the United States often have a variety of room types. And just a basic roomette room, 2 beds with folding tables and air conditioning, power outlet and shower, is enough for any passenger. A little more advanced, there are rooms for 3 people, upper bed is separate from the lower bed. And the most fully furnished room is a family room with 4 separate beds. These rooms are not sumptuous, but quiet and comfortable. A dedicated waiter will prepare the bed and bring food to the room, if the guest wishes.
At night, the train can shake slightly when crossing a curve, or the road is bad, however, you will probably love all the experiences on the road.
According to calculations by scientists from the US Department of Energy, if we explore America by train, it will save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And Amtrak also claims it has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 17% since 2010 – thanks to Michael’s high-speed, eco-friendly engines.
When you wake up in the morning, visitors to America will be surprised by the orange sunlight spreading across the snowy forests of Kansas. If you choose a shared room on the train, take a seat on the lower bed, so you can see for yourself the rare and beautiful scenery. From the winter fields, the herds of cattle grazing, and the giraffes, everything is the vivid home furnishings of the house called America.
Guests can fully enjoy coffee from a bartender. The coffee room is designed with high curved windows and seats facing out, allowing sunlight to fill the train. This is the time for you to get acquainted with the passengers on the trip, expand relationships and practice further communication in English. Your companion can be from everywhere, from Asia, England, France to both Amish and Mennonites from far-away Midwestern community.
They will tell you about the great experience. Most people prefer to go by train because it is fast and easy, you just need to give the ticket without having to check-in with airport customs. Breakfast is widely advertised on the speakers and you should find your way to the dining car if you do not know. The surroundings make the simple breakfast of eggs and chips also delicious.
The only drawback is that these trains sometimes have to stop to transport private goods and the weather also affects the route and time. If you are in an urgent job, you will probably be discouraged by the heavy snow, which makes the trains overnight at a roadside station, or worse, right on the tracks. However, if you are leisurely, not too worried about the time, then nothing is more wonderful than the vivid and intuitive scenes that the train offers.
When traveling from New Mexico to Colorado, don’t forget, overlook the doorway. This is the old Santa Fe railway line, built on a mountain pass. Taking the train is connecting, having fun time together, it is different from the isolation in the car, or the isolated coldness of the plane seats. When the train stops at a stop, you can get down to buy some small souvenirs along the way.
Around 9:30 pm, the train will rest in Flagstaff. You can step outside for a walk in the cool, dry air of the Arizona high desert. Visit the Weatherford hotel to enjoy a glass of wine. This hotel is a cultural heritage of the city associated with many legends. Inside, the old furniture and the aroma of wood and whiskey recall its lively history, as well as ghosts that are said to often appear in the hallway and rock the pipes at night.
The next day, about 5 am, the passengers will return to the platform, if you are overnight in Weatherford. Southwest Chief only runs once a day, so if you’re late, you will lose the chance. This train will take you to the final station and end the wonderful journey. The Southwest Chief train in particular and Amtrak in general are gradually showing the old attraction to new people. However, success also comes from assertiveness and upgrades. And the train whistle from the platform, and the happy passengers shaking hands to leave are the greatest gift of the journey. Who knows, maybe we’ll see each other again on the following roads?