Day #1: All Aboard

April 19, 2023

Matt arrived yesterday late afternoon..April 18. I spent the day putting finishing touches on packing and preparing myself and house for being gone for a month. Good productive day. Picked him up at the airport, went to Burma for dinner, got good nights sleeps. That meant that today… we were ready to board the train! Got to the station early (just to make sure) and were assured we were confirmed, then headed to Cloud Forest for a relaxed cup of coffee. Returned to the train station, ready to board!

The train was late.. ugh.. but arrived (not at 10:36, but) at 11:15….

One of my favorite things: when the train stops on the platform, train personnel jump out and stride right over to where you are and say things like, “Kari and Matt Peterson? Come right this way!” Our car’s porter, Jason, proceeds to load and stow our bags, and give us a quick orientation — lunch will be served at such and such, bathrooms and showers are here, observation car is there, snacks and drinks can be purchased down below, bed service is … etc. We each have a button in our roomette for summoning Jason, as needed.

We’ve said goodbye to Jim, the train rolls out… and after a quick tour of the entire length of the train, Matt proclaims, “I could do this for a long time!” (His tune will change slightly after his cold shower at the start of day two).

We are happy. We settle into the observation car and watch the world roll by.

The valley is beautiful, and takes awhile to move through. We have lunch with a couple from England.. charming. We will see them frequently over the next couple of days.

Colfax is quaint:

Then comes the first-day’s highlight.. views of dramatic foothills and the very snowy Sierra.

The American River…

Approaching Donner Summit… (takes about four hours to get to the summit!)

Donner Lake. And of note: we are cruising along the tracks visible (and seemingly covered in snow) last week when Jim and I were snowshoeing at Donner Summit. We asked a conductor about snow on the tracks and were told that the train moves slowly enough that it simply clears the tracks as it goes. Snow is typically light and fluffy, largely because the number of trains passing through precludes too much snow from settling and icing up. They have been known to stop the train and chisel snow as necessary.

Matt and I did a bit of this: pre-dinner cocktails and gin rummy. So, so fun.

More lovely eastern Sierra shots and the Truckee River…

And then passed Reno and onto the Nevada portion of the trip.

We have 6:30 dinner reservations… and the scenery is lovely. Steak for Matt, Salmon for me…

And the sun sets on our first day..

Jason sets up each of our roomettes and we hit the hay pretty early. We’ll sleep through the rest of Nevada and most of Utah.