Saturday, August 27, 2016

California Zephry: Planes, Trains and Baseball

August 27, 2016 Denver, Colorado -- I have wanted to ride the California Zephyr for years.  They say the actual leg from Denver to Salt Lake City is one of the most beautiful stretches of train travel in the United States and its been on my list for some time. 
So my travel buddy, my brother and my dad planned a guys weekend of travel aboard a plane, the train and automobile (ride from the train station).
To add to our adventure the idea to catch the Rockies vs. the Cubs added one more reason to make this trip happen.  We planned for a couple of months so we weren't going to be denied when weather started to be a factor.  A freak August storm blew in and temperatures dropped to mid-50's and rain which we were not prepared.  Of course we actually only thought about the weather for the first time as we circled Denver International Airport waiting for a break in the storm.

But not to be denied we managed shorts and all to get on the commuter train and made it to Union Station in downtown Denver just in time to find a TJ Maxx before game time and we bought some warm clothes.

Thanks in part to a rain delay we were able to eat at one of my favorite diners in Denver. Sam's No. 3. The portions are massive and for four hungry guys it was a perfect meal before the ballgame.
There is just something about generations watching America's past-time together at the ballpark.
After a rain delay the game started with the Cubs jumping to an early lead.
It wouldn't be until extra innings that the Rockies would rally and come from behind to beat the division leading Cubs...
Denver is an awesome city and we woke up early to get back to Union Station (riding the free 16th Street Mall buses) to make our 8:00 am Amtrak train departure.

Soon we had Denver in the background as we headed west to climb the Rocky Mountains.
As the train snaked over the prairie and gradually climbed hills that turned into the mountain you could feel civilization starting to lose grasp on our thoughts.

It was almost as if every turn, or coming through every tunnel another impulse to take a picture inspired us.
I literally lost track of all the tunnels we passed through as we snaked our way deeper into the mountains.

First stop was Winter Park.  Nothing more than a train platform high in the mountains we were able to stretch our legs and breathe the crisp mountain air.

Back on the train my travel buddy kept himself entertained with games and a trip to the refreshment car.
But soon the scenery itself would draw attention away from technology and food and as we meandered high about the water we couldn't keep from visiting every side canyon in our minds.

The observation car is a great place to let experience a 180 degree view of the surroundings and we loved listening to the conversations and people watch while we let the world pass by.

As we pulled into Glenwood Springs it was time for our diner reservation. There is something unique about eating in a dining car on a moving train.

Our next stop was Grand Junction, Colorado.

Here we had time to get some treats at a small store and explore a small terminal connected to a couple of older buildings that had echoes of a time gone by when train travel wasn't just a novelty but the preferred way to travel the country.  Next stop... Green River, Utah.

I've always been partial to the unique beauty of the desolate landscapes of the west.  Each vista is a new and different.  We say coyotes, antelope, prairie dogs and deer on this quite stretch.

We hit sunset just outside of Spanish Fork, Utah and the lights of the Wasatch front brought us back to Salt Lake just before 11:00 pm.
Minus Denver being freezing in a freak August weather pattern it was an awesome weekend.  The train was an adventure that will surely be remembered for a long time.