Friday, January 14, 2011

Southwest Chief - Lake Shore Limited

Over the next week or two before we leave, I'll briefly summarise and link the train legs of the trip.

When we leave Big White on Feb 16th, Diane, Casey and I will say our goodbyes to the rest of the group at Kelowna International as we fly to LAX via Vancouver and they fly to Vegas via Edmonton. For the Franks and Kaye-Smith's it will be 'See you back in Sydney', for Clive and Lorraine it will be 'See you in Reno on the 1st!!'

We arrive at LAX around 19:00 and check into our hotel adjacent to the airport Sheraton Gateway LAX. After dinner, Casey will probably freshen up and we will head to the airport for Casey's flight back to Sydney which will depart around 23:00.

Next morning we will catch the Flyaway Bus from LAX to Union Street Station in downtown LA. This is a very convenient and cheap option to get from LAX to the train station. We'll check our baggage and have a look around LA to kill a few hours before the start of the 12 days on the rails.

Just as a guide, here is a map of the USA and it's states...

The first train leg is the longest, 43hrs on the Southwest Chief which runs between Los Angeles and Chicago. This link is a great reference to all the trains, the routes and points of interest along the way. The Southwest Chief is a Superliner and we have roomette 4...

We depart at 18:15 and head east for the long trip. It will be dark when we leave, so I guess we will grab dinner and bunk down for the night and try and get used to our, well let's call them 'smallish', accommodations. It will be a far cry from the king bed in Big

The route travels through California and crosses the border into Arizona about 01:00. The first scheduled short stop is at Flagstaff just after 05:30. Flagstaff is a major hub for tourists to access the Grand Canyon. It's also the change point for passengers to transfer to Phoenix.

From Arizona, we cross the New Mexico border around 08:00, arriving in Albuquerque at midday where we stop for 30 minutes.

Leaving Arizona around sunset, we enter the south eastern corner of Colorado for the start of our second night on the train. A short stop at La Junta at 19:30 and we are back underway for our journey into the night. We leave Colorado and enter the state of Kansas at around 22:00.

At 07:30 we cross the border and arrive at Kansas City, Missouri. We then travel across Missouri, briefly pass thru the south eastern corner of Iowa before crossing into Illinois at midday.

At 15:15 on the 19th we arrive in Chicago, Illinois.

Time: 43hrs
States: 8
Kilometres: 3624

We have a 6 hour stopover in Chicago which will give us ample time to look around. Our bags will be checked thru to Boston, so need to worry about them. I have already had some tips on pizza places to eat at from a guy on ChipMeUp, a poker staking site and forum I moderate at. Apparently Chicago is famous for 'Deep Dish Pizzas'. I'll no doubt give them a

The next leg is on the Lake Shore Limited, a 22hr 40min trip from Chicago to Boston.

The train leaves Chicago at 21:30. Because it is after dinner time, the sleeping class passengers have a wine and cheese tasting on board before the train pulls out. Hopefully that should prove a nice nightcap and we can settle into our beds and get a good nights sleep. This section is on a Viewliner sleeper and we have roomette 6...

Just after we depart from Chicago, we follow Lake Michigan around and cross the state border into Indiana within the first hour of our journey. At midnight we are due thru South Bend, home of Notre Dame University which holds special significance to my fellow Swans fans with 'Cheer, Cheer the Red and the White' being sung to the famous Notre Dame Victory March.

About 01:30 we leave Indiana and enter the state of Ohio. Not long before breakfast at 05:30 we arrive in Cleveland on the southern shores of Lake Erie. Leaving Cleveland we follow the shores of Lake Erie heading north-east towards New York State.

We leave Ohio and briefly cross the far north west corner of the state of Pennsylvania before heading into New York State and stopping briefly at Buffalo at 09:00. Diane and I have vivid memories of Buffalo en route to Niagara Falls in 2008. Walking out of the terminal in Buffalo to grab a taxi to take us the 50 miles to Niagara, we were hit by the absolute coldest wind and weather I have ever experienced. That 'coldest ever' tag was beaten 12hrs later at Niagara whilst walking to the casino, but I've already told that story in the 2008

We leave the lake and head east towards Albany in the middle of New York State. Albany is a major train hub, where travellers to New York City change trains to head south east. Leaving Albany at 15:30 we soon cross the state border into Massachusetts and head east towards Boston.

We finally arrive in Boston at 21:10 and head to our hotel for the joy of a king

Time: 22hrs 40mins
States: 6
Kilometres: 1629

Total time: 65hrs 40mins
Total states: 13
Total Kilometres: 5253

We arrive in Boston on the evening of the 20th Feb, which is on the Sunday of the long weekend for Presidents Day on Monday 21st. I was a bit worried about getting my usual great accommodation deal on Priceline, but as usual, by playing the system and using my rebid zones to advantage, we secured 2 nights at the Boston Park Plaza for $99 a night + tax.

Next I'll detail the leg from Boston to New Orleans via New York and the leg from New Orleans to Chicago.

Until then....


  1. Bob, I am loving your "early" blogging and I am jealous as all hell i can't do what you are doing! Two things however.

    1) You are going to regret not spending a day or 3 in Vancouver. Easily, the most beautiful city in the world.

    2) About grabbing dinner before leaving LA on the do know meals on Amtrak are free with sleepers right? To my recollection, the SW Chief does serve supper upon departure from the City of the Angels.

    Have fun dude and I look forward to reading your live reports. I hope Amtrak puts it's best foot forward and provides an enjoyable experience.

    Have fun Bob :)

  2. Thx for leaving a message Dean.

    We spent a few days in Vancouver in our 2008 trip before heading to Whistler (link at the side), so not a real biggie, u can't see them all. You are right tho, nice city.

    I'm aware about the meals on Amtrak, in fact that was one of the things that swayed the decision to take the I meant that once I'm on the train I'll grab dinner.

    I hope you continue to enjoy the blog, cheers.