The California Zephyr

We love trains and train rides. For the scenery and for the vacation it spells for us. We are able to spend quality time with each other without any engaging ring tones or emails. We are also lucky that Medha enjoys it as much as we do. She basks in the 100% one-on-one attention she gets when we travel by train.

We took the California Zephyr from Denver to Chicago on one of our innumerable trips from New Lenox to Louisville last year. It was supposed to take just 14 hours but took almost 17 hours. Since Amtrak does not own the railroads, they are at the mercy of the railroad companies whose freight trains get first preference. We don't mind the delays as we give up all semblance of control and enjoy the train ride. However, I was a little apprehensive as that was a year ago and the route from Denver to Emeryville, California is 36 hours long. But it was so much fun that I would do it again in a heartbeat.

The bedrooms were sold out so we booked two roomettes instead. Luckily for us, these were across from each other so we were able to hop over from one side to the other whenever the scenery changed!



The train glides through the Front Range into the Rockies and the spectacular scenery begins...


We crossed the Continental Divide when we went through the 6.2 mile Moffat Tunnel, at an elevation of 9000 feet.

The Colorado river then joins the route and runs alongside the train through most of the route in western Colorado...


...with views of the river basin...


...and white-water rafters, who gave us the Amtrak salute, if they were rafting through calm waters. It was Medha's first exposure to mooning and she just kept yeowing, after the initial wide-eyed jaw-open silence.


...and mesas and canyons...


...through rocks from a hundred years old to over a million years old.


I felt like I was looking into a set for Mackenna's Gold.


The Colorado river bade us farewell near the Utah border and the relentless desert of Utah began.


The lack of scenery and the fading light outside allowed me to teach Medha how to knit. She took to it rather quickly, having woven potholders with looms before.


I took the opportunity to finish the scarf I have been knitting for about five years now and started on my next five year project, a crocheted airy diamond Afghan.


The Sierra Nevadas started soon after Reno...


We also passed the exquisite Donner Lake area that nestles in the Sierra Nevadas.

The gradual descent and the approaching signs of civilization signaled that the first truly relaxed and amazing part of our vacation was over. We reached Emeryville, California with a renewed respect for Mother Earth and her natural beauty.

We stayed for a week, camping at Big Sur, checking out Slow Food in San Francisco and experiencing the city. We flew back with a stop at Las Vegas, which I have awarded the dirtiest and most horrible airport in the USA. The landing and take-off at Vegas were very bumpy. So bumpy that the landing at Denver seemed rather smooth in comparison. We reached home so exhausted that we felt like we needed that proverbial vacation to recover from the last one. But it was really just the last leg that drained us. If I have to do it again, I will fly out to California and return by train, relaxed and rejuvenated! But, it's good to be home again.

I will be posting pictures of the rest of our vacation on Inner Lens. These will include pictures of our camping trip at Big Sur and the city of San Francisco.

15 comments:

KrishnaArjuna said...

Nice pictures Manisha, looks like you had a great time.

Nabeela said...

oh wow.....those certainly look beautiful. I'm glad you had a wonderful time...
btw I was in Big Sur for a day trip too on july first....i wonder if we crossed paths :)

Manisha said...

KrishnaArjuna, we did! I'd like to do the train ride again. It was like being in God's country.

Nabeela, now that would have been fun! We were in Big Sur last week. I was very grateful for the clean restrooms and running water at the campgrounds. I really enjoyed myself. Once we had checked out, my husband asked me if I had heard any rattling sounds...apparently, rattlesnakes are not uncommon in the area. I was a classic example of what-you-don't-know-won't-hurt-you cos I had no qualms about wandering around once it was dark and even ventured to the restrooms on my own. Next time? Probably not! :-D

Nabeela said...

now that's funny about the rattle snakes Manisha....
btw I really envy you living in Colorado among mountains and mountain lions...ok, maybe not the second part ;)

RP said...

Beautiful pictures! Thanks for sharing. Really enjoyed it. Is there any website where we can learn basics of knitting? My daughter bought a book from school, but things look too complicated in there. By the way, that pink butterfly shirt looks very familiar. :) My dauhter has the same, but red color. She wore it for her last year's school picture.

Manisha said...

Nabeela, don't envy, just move! It's beautiful out here. The thin air takes a bit of getting used to but within at least a couple of months, your body adjusts and starts to make the most of each breath. I saw the mountain lion signs in Pfeiffer and took them seriously because of what we have been experiencing here. Which reminds me that I need to catch up on the latest on that issue!

RP, my mother taught me how to knit and I passed on whatever I know to my daughter. I am now trying my hand at crochet so that I can teach her that, too. She's very keen and is my best cheerleader. My husband does feel left out when the girls sit together with their knitting! Medha was very surprised to find out that her father can knit. He actually helped her quite a bit!

Try this search on Google to see if you can find anything that helps you. I picked up a Knitting Kit for kids from Walmart before we left. It was under $10. And, today I picked up a real neat kit, also for kids, from Sam's club called Knit Now for about $8.32 plus taxes. It is like a binder with great illustrations, basic stitches, how to recognize and fix mistakes, as well as some neat projects. (The instructions in the Walmart kit were 2 pages and not so great.) If it's not available in your local Sam's club, you can buy it off Amazon: Knit Now by Megan Bryant.

The butterfly tee is really cute, isn't it? It has straps that criss-cross at the back. It's at least 2 years old and looks like new and even though she's growing out of it, she won't let me give it away! I'm sure your daughter looked like a real sweetheart in her school picture!

indianadoc said...

You seem to have had a wonderful trip Manisha...and a very live description too!!

indianadoc said...

yes...manisha...a true communion with Nature...

RP said...

Thanks for the links about knitting. I will check those out. Yeah, the butterfly tee does have criss-cross straps at the back. I had to hide that shirt from my daughter when she grew out of it recently. She loves it a lot. I forgot where I bought it, and I am not sure if I still can find a bigger one for her. Just want to make her happy. :)

Manisha said...

Indianadoc, it's a beautiful journey. I wish I had the gift or talent to write poetry. I would have written my opus by now! A friend from Oz mentioned that his son made the same journey a few years ago when he went on a world trip.

RP, it has to be one of Penneys, Target, or Kohl's! I haven't seen the tee again either so we're both out of luck there! Glad to have been of help with the knitting. I hope she enjoys it! Medha is enjoying knitting. Let's see how long it lasts!!

Anonymous said...

how did u make pav baji pizza and paneer pizza. The recipe name sounds yummy.

Manisha said...

Hey Anon! Welcome! I didn't make the pav bhaji pizza or the paneer pizza that I referred to here. We had it at an indoor fun-place for kids in Newark/Fremont, CA called Kids' Castle. It shouldn't be difficult to make though. Follow the instructions at RP's Pizza 101 to make the dough and instead of the pizza sauce, slather pav bhaji on it. Top it off with cheese.

For the paneer pizza, use a mild pizza sauce and top off with shallow-fried paneer that has been lightly spiced thereafter (it tasted like a bit of garam masala with chaat masala). I don't think there was any cheese on this pizza. I wish I had taken pictures! A friend of mine goes there frequently - maybe I can ask her to do me a favor! Let's see!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the recipe idea. I will try and let u know the results.

desiknitter said...

Beautiful pictures! Its nice to see all the photos now that I'm back at a decent connection. The Southwest is just gorgeous, isn't it? I have to take that trip myself sometime, although after my road trip this summer I'm all canyoned out.

Lovely scarf, btw! Congratulations on finishing it. What you said over on my blog about quality time knitting: I certainly experienced that with my mum this summer, despite the heat!

Manisha said...

Anon, I hope you had fun creating Indianized pizzas!

desiknitter, you swung the vote in favor of the train ride for us! And we are really glad we did it. I want to do it from California to Denver though ie on the return trip home. I would love to get back from a vacation totally relaxed - the way I felt when I got off the California Zephyr.

The scarf is soft and very cuddly. It's baby wool (yarn?), after all! Medha has finished knitting her first ever belt. Now we have to stitch around the sides and make daisies as decorations.