Saturday, July 19, 2008

Amtrak Adventure - Part 3

I’ll be taking a departure away from technology issues for the next few posts to submit a little online journal of my travel across the country with Dad on the Amtrak Coast Starlight and California Zephyr.

July 17 - California Zephyr

The upper bunk was a little narrower than I expected. Thankfully there were safety straps from the edge of the bunk clipped to ceiling of the compartment that kept me from rolling out during the night. The rocking of the train took a bit of getting used to, but eventually sleep found me. I think I dreamed I was in that old “I Love Lucy” episode where they slept in the upper berth on the train from Hollywood to New York.

During the night we passed through the Utah salt flats, Salt Lake City, and Provo.
Morning included another first - a shower on the train. Nothing glamorous here. Think of a tiny tent trailer or RV shower. Were not talking about the Hilton suites but there were plenty of clean towels.

Breakfast was an added surprise as Dad discovered that the people sitting across form us were Iowa relatives of one of his best friends. As soon as I can get a WiFi signal Dad plans to e-mail Jules and tell him we had breakfast with Chick & Opal.

The ride through Utah, Glenwood Canyon, and the Colorado Rockies was stunning. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves. We rode through some beautiful canyons and valleys that can only be seen by train passengers and backpackers, following the Colorado River all the way to the town of Granby. You might remember this little town was in the news about 4 years ago when a disgruntled citizen built his own “tank” out of a bulldozer and destroyed a 13 town buildings including the Granby City Hall.

The Moffat Tunnel was our passage under the continental divide. This 6.2 mile long tunnel takes about 12 minutes for the train to go through. During that time, passengers are warned stay in their own cars and not open the doors between cars in order to keep out the diesel fumes and coal dust.

Dinner included a very interesting conversation with a man from the Canadian Coast guard. He shared his first hand experience with the staggering effects of global warming on the Arctic ice pack. “Icebergs used to break off in the summer and reform in the winter, but now they’re not reforming,” he shared noting that estimates predict that by next year the ice may have thinned out enough to create a shipping lane from Greenland to the Bering Strait. We also discussed the drastic effects a minute change in ocean temperature, salinity, and acidity could have on algae growth, fish population, and the formation of coral. Its amazing to think about how all these seemingly separate systems are actually connected and dependent on each other. I just hope we haven’t figured all this out before its too late to do anything about it.

Sunset brought us to Denver’s Union Station and a last chance to get out and stretch our legs before turning in for the night.

CLICK HERE for Part 4

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Still No WiFi?
I tried to locate wireless access point at every station stop today, but I think I’ll just have to accept the fact that I won’t be able to get online until arriving in Chicago or Milwaukee.

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