I began my trip to the west coast by catching a train to Chicago. St. Paul's Depot is the quietest station on my itinerary.
The train to Chicago follows the Mississippi south and we saw barge tows. This is a big tow with the maximum eight units.
Chicago's Union Station is just to the left. This was the scene as I emerged from the station - dramatic!
The city is building a walkway down along the river and it is beautiful. The gigantic Merchandise Mart, built by Joseph Kennedy (JFK's father) is in the background.
After a short time in the city, I am back in dramatic Union Station to catch the California Zephyr.
Long distance Amtrak trains feature an observation car. There is a cafe downstairs.
The dining car is one of my favorite features. The waiter is presenting the Zephyr's menu.
My roomette features facing seats that the car's attendant slides together to make my bed. There is an upper bunk, too.
In contrast to St. Paul's depot, Denver's downtown station is a vibrant hang out and hub. It is also beautifully renovated.
After Denver, the Zephyr climbs up the front range.
At higher altitude, the fog dissipates and we see dramatic views.
The tracks follow the Colorado River through dramatic canyons.
We pass through the Ruby Valley as we approach Nevada.
On the western Amtrak trains, the cars have two levels.
The Zephyr arrives at the end of the line in Emeryville, California.
I next took the Coastal Starlight through the California hills on my way south to Los Angeles.
Finally, I see the Pacific Ocean.
The Los Angeles Union Station was a dramatic surprise. What a beautiful facility!
The station is the last great railroad depot built in the U.S., in 1939. After falling into decay, it was recently renovated and is often used in films.
Another great Los Angeles building, the Disney Concert Hall. Frank Gehrey is said to have been inspired by billowing sails.
The Bradley Building was built in 1893. I think the architectect was heavily influenced by Louis Sullivan.
The Last Bookstore opened in an abandoned bank building in 2011. The name reflects the assumed futility of traditional retailing of books. It was a huge success and is my second favorite book store, after the Strand in New York
A Park Service volunteer provided commentary on the coastal scenery. My young friend got impatient.
We passed gangs of field workers in the Salinas valley, the salad bowl of the U.S.
The Coastal Starlight rounds a tight curve coming down from the mountains.
We pull into the downtown San Diego station.
As with so many of the grand old stations, the Santa Fe depot was beautifully renovated.
I am glad to see many of the old touches are retained.
I made a quick visit to the Midway aircraft carrier, in service until the first Iraq invasion.
The crew was triple bunked with this personal space plus a small locker.
Siesta time for sea lions.
My California relatives (minus Anne, the photographer)
The final treat: a view of the southern end of the Grand Canyon from an airplane window