I got my ticket for the long way ’round

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max model trainLast year on my birthday, we went to the Alameda County Fair… part of the fair, one of Max's FAVORITE parts in fact, is a huge model railroad display. The mini towns and factories, with mini-scale train tracks winding in and around the styrofoam hills and mountains.
The iPad-mounted drive in movie theater, the inch tall people having adventures and living their lives behind plexiglass. He's enthralled every time we get to see model trains, for sure.
While we were there, I picked up a brochure for the California Zephyr. It's an Amtrak line that runs from Chicago to Emeryville (basically San Francisco) and takes just over 2 days to make the trip.
Remembering when we took the train to Salt Lake when I was 6, I held on to the brochure and filed it away in my “someday vacation ideas,” right next to Cooperstown and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

And then they announced that Blogher was heading back to Chicago.

It seemed perfect! I knew I wanted to go to Blogher again, so I'd already be there! We started talking and calculating… I fly out for the conference, Max and Jamie join me, we go to a game at Wrigley, explore Chicago a little, and come home!


And so it was decided, and we booked our tickets for the long way 'round (the one with the prettiest of views).
Screen Shot 2013-06-11 at 9.06.05 PM

The California Zephyr will take us through seven states total, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Nevada and then California.

There are two reactions when we tell people about our plans. It's either “OMG, that's awesome! You guys will have so much fun, I've always wanted to do that!” or “OMG, that's insane! You guys are crazy! Haven't you heard of airplanes?”

I can see both sides, but I'll tell you; I have the best memories of our overnight train trip, and I wasn't obsessed with trains the way Max is. I'm not a fool; we've booked the family bedroom for the duration, so we have our own space to relax, our own windows to watch the scenery roll by, and a door to close when we just need some quiet. We'll load up the tablets with a couple of movies for Max, but plan to spend the time reading, playing games, and just enjoying the experience.


The train costs more than flying, yes, but we think that the experience can't be replicated. Because we've booked the bedroom, we're considered first class passengers, so our meals are all included, and can be taken in the dining car or in our room. There's a panoramic-windowed lounge car, which will be amazing for our journey through the Rockies and the Sierras!

Once we cross over into California, the train will be boarded by historians who will talk to us about the gold rush towns in the area, and some of the fun facts of that incredible region.

So are we crazy? Maybe.
Are we excited? Absolutely!

What do you think about train travel? Insane or awesome?

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  1. AWESOME! I always wanted to do that too. As a matter of fact, I wanted to take a train when I moved from my hometown of Chicago to San Francisco for the first time back in ’98. And, oddly enough, I now live in Emeryville!

    1. We’re practically neighbors!
      The Coast Starlight is a GORGEOUS train line; I took it from Oakland to Santa Barbara a number of years ago and fell in love with train travel!

  2. Lizz, I didn’t know Max is into trains. You guys need to come over for a visit one day and see my hubby’s huge layout in our den. Also, there is a model RR club in Point Richmond you can take him to anytime from Spring until Christmastime called the Golden State Model Railroad Museum. It has running model trains of all scales I believe except G. Robert is a member of the club there, we can give you a card. It a fun thing to do on a Sunday afternoon especially if there is food destination in the nothpart of the East Bay you’d like to hit up.

  3. As kids, we’d take the train from Omaha, Nebraska to Winter Park, Colorado to ski every year. We always had a blast! I’m so jealous!

  4. That’s such a fantastic idea!! I have yet to make it to a BlogHer conference yet, but that’s a great way to include your entire family. Love, love, love. My 5 yo is a train lover, as well so that would be an awesome trip.

  5. I think that the train ride across the country sounds perfect! I know that I’d love to give it a try sometime.

    I’m taking the train to Chicago too!

  6. My husband and boys have taken the train cross-country to New Mexico several times and they LOVE it. We’re looking at a family train vacay next summer!

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