The last time I travelled by rail in North America must’ve been when I was in Grade 4 and took a train with my entire class for 1-2 hours into the middle of nowhere…to stay at a Coast Salish Longhouse for three days. This year, I knew that I needed to be in Portland, Oregon for the World Domination Summit in July. The thought process then went something like this:
And that is how I decided that aside from an initial flight from Ottawa to San Francisco – as there is no quicker way of coast-to-coast intercity travel than flying – I would be traveling by rail. No reliance on cars or the Greyhound (the smell inside the coach bus makes me sick). After three legs on the Coast Starlight and Amtrak Cascades trains, I have a few observations about rail travel:
The Amtrak portion of my trip is complete and I am absolutely satisfied with the rail experience that they provided. It was a bit uncomfortable sleeping on the Coast Starlight train (I boarded at 11pm in Emeryville, California, bound for Portland on an overnight train) but you had far more space than you would’ve on a plane (unless you can manage Executive class, which I can’t) so can’t really complain. Oh yes, the train also provides pillows on the Coast Starlight! And they’re better than the cheap ones that you have to buy aboard planes nowadays.
Otherwise, it was a great experience. Obviously there are pros and cons with traveling by train, just as with any other mode of transport, but I hope that more people consider rail as a valid travel mode. More relaxing and beautiful scenery.