Boarding the Southwest Chief
at Chicago Union Station

At 3:16a last Monday, I was home and finally crawling into bed. My trip was downright amazing and I was exhausted as a result.  

Now that I’ve been home and settled back into the groove of my life and feel as though I can pull together a few semi-intelligible sentences, I’ll attempt to begin catching readers up to speed on my Amtrak trip!

Why a trip to California? Here’s the short answer: My beautiful niece, Kailin, is temporarily residing in Encinitas, California — with my upcoming graduation, I felt it would be the perfect time to take a trip out West to spend some time with her and, of course, tour a few libraries while in the area.

As most travelers do, I contemplated booking a flight. It’s quick, pretty affordable… And, in my opinion, downright horrible. I recalled my last experience which entailed being herded like cattle through airport security — complete with a pat down — and onto a tin can with wings. Once upon the plane, I witnessed a man groping his wife (mere inches from my face) as she proceeded to make her way to the restroom…and…the groping session resumed upon her return. And how could I forget the fact that I am 5’10” tall and a curvy woman which resulted in me feeling smothered while seated on the plane?! The claustrophobic feeling came soon after the gentleman in front of me decided that he wanted to take a nap during the flight. That experience flying was one that will never be included in the category of a “good time.” Flying was quickly ruled out.

My second idea was to drive, but soon realized when looking at possible routes, that I would be a prisoner of the highway for roughly three days and my sightseeing opportunities would be pretty limited. For the same reason, Greyhound was ruled out.

Beyond a trip to Toronto when I was still in diapers, I haven’t traveled by train. It would be exciting…an adventure. And if you know me, I love a good adventure…

Enter Amtrak.

Using the other seat as a foot
rest and a place for my books!

Another ‘who’ question that has been asked: was I alone? Yes, I traveled cross-country alone. To those closest to me, it didn’t come as a surprise. One of my best friends said, “I know how independent you are…I’m so chicken, I’d never venture out like you…” My thoughts on traveling cross-country alone: you definitely need to be comfortable with yourself.

Now for some of the ‘how’:
My trip involved a total of three different Amtrak trains. The Wolverine (Royal Oak – Chicago), Southwest Chief (Chicago to Los Angeles), and the Pacific Surfliner (Los Angeles – Oceanside). I had sleeper accommodations on the Southwest Chief because I was on that train for about 40 hours.

The awesome folks at Enterprise in Oceanside (*waves to Joey at the Coast Highway office*) picked me up from the Amtrak station in an American car (per my request) and after a quick bit of paperwork, I was headed to my accommodations at Carlsbad by the Sea Resort.

More soon on my train experience as well as the sights and adventure!