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California Zephyr train heads east

Image: Steve Collins

A few years ago I embarked on a train trip across the United States of America from San Francisco to New York City, simply because I really like trains.

This is a video of the first day of the journey from San Francisco to Emeryville, where I boarded the California Zephyr, and then on to Elko, Nevada. I actually travelled to Provo, Utah on that first leg, but couldn’t film at night.

Because I was stopping along the route, I travelled in the coach, instead of booking a sleeper.

The first part of the journey follows San Pablo Bay to Sacramento, the Capital of California. It’s a scenic route and San Pablo bay is an extension of San Francisco Bay. After a short stop in Sacramento, we followed a route through the Central Valley, which is one of the most productive farming lands in the US, before beginning the climb into the High Sierras.

As we climbed higher we entered snow country, which became more abundant the higher we climbed. It is a very beautiful part of the world, and a place worth visiting. We passed through Emigrant Gap and up to the highest part of the line in this part of the world, the Donner Pass.

We also stopped in the historic town of Truckee, and by following the Truckee River we soon crossed the border into Nevada and were soon pulling into Reno station.

Unfortunately, arriving by train in Reno is disappointing because the station is encased in a large culvert, so all you can see is a concrete wall.

Once we started moving, the view became good again, and then we started moving through country that was very picturesque, indeed.

We soon entered the Lahontan Valley and a section of the valley called the 40-Mile Desert, a high-altitude desert that was very flat with little vegetation, but still fascinating to see.

By this time, I had been exploring the train, and thoroughly enjoyed visiting the panorama carriage which had a glass ceiling, comfortable seating and excellent viewing. I also enjoyed some excellent conversations with fellow passengers as we sat back and chatted with our eyes taking in the wonderful scenery.

We stopped, for a short while, at the town of Winnemucca, where I had the opportunity to walk along the platform to appreciate the true size of the California Zephyr and to appreciate the rural town of Winnemucca.

Image: Steve Collins

Shortly after leaving the afternoon, it turned to dusk, and it was a most beautiful sight watching the colours of the Nevada desert change by the minute. There was a full moon out, which added to Nevada’s allure.

After it got dark, I walked to the restaurant car to enjoy a meal. The food was reasonably priced and of pretty good quality. I am always amazed at how chefs can turn out such good food in their tiny galleys.

I had been chatting to a lady who was alighting at Elko, She told me that it was a gold mining town and that Nevada is the fourth-largest producer of gold in the world. So it has a lot in common with Western Australia, where I live. Western Australia is the world’s second-largest producer of gold.

We had a brief stop, and I farewelled my new friend, then settled down to sleep, which was easy, as we headed off towards Utah.

Go here for more information: https://www.amtrak.com/california-zephyr-train

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