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Mike's Epic Cross-Country Trip on Amtrak Trains

Two Coasts. 7,300+ Miles. 9 Days.

Two Coasts.

7,300+ Miles.

9 Days.

Life at 50-60 MPH.

In early December 2004 I decided I needed to get away. Having just watched the movie Before Sunrise, I was inspired to look into an Amtrak train trip. I had always assumed that Amtrak was expensive but upon investigation I was surprised to find that that is not the case. I went ahead and started planning a trip. My initial trip consisted of going from NY to Seattle, spending a few days in Seattle and then flying home. But then I realized I really didn't want to spend a few days in Seattle -- that would require expensive meals, hotels and all sorts of distractions to fill my days. This would not do. I then considered extending the rail portion of the trip and before I knew it my little rail trip had turned into a big adventure! The trip I finally ended up booking went from NY --> Chicago --> Sacramento --> Portland, OR --> Chicago --> NY.

A few days before I was going to embark on the trip the weather out west got out of hand. A boulder fell on the tracks that run through Colorado. A train crashed into it. There was confusion. There were injuries. There were delays. Finally, there were cancellations and the near death of my adventure.

Thankfully I was able to get on the phone with Amtrak as soon as they announced the closure of the California Zephyr (which was to take me to Sacramento) and had my trip re-routed on the Southwest Chief. This new route would now take me through the southwest part of the US and into Los Angeles. I would then have to take a series of trains and buses, because of the recent mudslides in this area, up to Sacramento. It would be a bit more work. A bit more effort. A whole lot more fun!!

There are close to 80 images scattered throughout my site. I tried to keep them as small as possible. I would suggest viewing the site the way I approached this trip: slow and at a leisurely pace! I hope you enjoy reading about my adventures on Amtrak!

To begin, please click on a ticket below. Or, you can click on a link at the bottom of the ticket. You can return to this page by clicking the header at the top of each page. Unfortunately I can't find my ticket from New York --> Chicago, so please click here for it.

New York to Chicago * Chicago to Los Angeles * Los Angeles to Sacramento * Sacramento to Portland

Portland to Chicago * Chicago to New York

All map images are from All other images and text (C) Michael Christiansen 01/2005

UPDATED ON 3/2: Added 15 pictures from Chicago

Questions, Comments, Complaints? Email me:

"Shop for security over happiness and you buy it, at that price"

-Richard Bach

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one corner of the Earth all one's lifetime."

- Mark Twain

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