Thursday, January 9, 2014

Winter Views from the Train: Provo, Utah to the Rocky Mountains, Colorado

 Keeping with our travel theme, in this post I'll share some recent photos from a train trip we took. We departed Provo, Utah very early in the morning and arrived in Chicago, Illinois about 32 hours later. This post will cover just the first day.

The train was scheduled to arrive in Provo at 4:30 am, so we set our hotel alarm for 3:30 am. Upon waking, the first thing I did was to check Amtrak's website, which said the train was running 45 minutes late, so we went back to sleep. When we reawakened, the train was reported as on time, so we got ready and headed out on the slippery streets to the small one-room station. A number of other people were also waiting. The station had some heat lights, but as we kept waiting and waiting, we decided to take refuge in the van to stay warm. Apparently there was another delay, and eventually one of the folks waiting with us called and found out it was another 45 minute delay.
 The snow was falling heavily by the time the train arrived, and we sure were glad to get on! About 15 people boarded the train.

The conductor said the train was full, but had saved us four seats all near each other. We put our suitcases in the luggage bins, and went to our seats, where we dozed off till it got light. Then we headed to the observation car to eat the breakfast we had brought and where we could be a bit louder.
 The observation car is on top of the cafe, where you can buy a variety of drinks and food. The observation car has lots of windows, so it's a great way to see the terrain. The assistant conductor hung out there, sharing his vast knowledge of the countryside we were passing.

 And my, it sure was beautiful! The early morning sun lit up the Utah desert. At one point, far off in the distance, we could even see an arch from Arches National Park!

 The kids didn't seem particularly interested in viewing the surroundings, but they were eager to work on their activities. We had packed a number of them for the trip.

 "You are here"--I just loved it.

 The frozen Green River.

 As we entered this canyon past Green River, the conductor told us to look for the steps American Indians had carved into the sandstone cliff. The snow highlighted them nicely, and we all wondered how they had traversed such a steep place.

The Colorado River was amazing. I had done this section of train trip in June, with a swollen river roiling over its banks. I figured the river in winter would be serene. I certainly didn't expect the jumble of ice on the river, piling up in places, cracked, buckled, and floating in pieces only to jam up again. The ice was mesmerizing, and I spent hours watching it.

 When we reached Grand Junction we got off the train to stretch our legs. I think I appreciated it more than the kids! We checked out the station and the gift store and almost missed the train! Yikes, with just one California Zephyr running a day, it would have been a long wait for the next train!

 Just past Glenwood Springs we entered Glenwood Canyon, a steep section of canyon with the Interstate engineered to cross the Colorado River repeatedly, go through tunnels, and even be double decker for a short while. It's some of the most expensive Interstate Highway in the country.

 At Dotsero, the tracks left the Interstate and headed north, following the Colorado River. In places the river looked more serene, without so much ice buildup.

 Desert Girl chilling out.

 Since it was Christmas break, there were lots of kids on the train, and Desert Boy quickly made friends.

 I kept watching the ice on the river, which was forming huge blocks, breaking apart, floating downstream, and getting mixed up.

 It was a fairly cloudy day so we couldn't see any distant peaks, but just seeing the canyon made the trip amazingly beautiful. The scenery surpassed my expectations.

Later we retired to our seats for a nap. Then the kids watched a movie while my husband and I read, waiting for our dinner reservation. Finally it was time to eat, and then to sleep, dreaming while we were gently rocked to and fro, speeding along in the darkness.

...to be continued...

1 comment:

Mimsie said...

I am a tiny bit jealous. Looks like a wonderful trip.

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