Saturday, September 13, 2014

Amtrak through the Rockies

When I come to stay out west with Isaac and family, I usually take a mid-trip trip with the Aging Hippie. But as most of you know, she's buggered off to join the Peace Corps (here's her blog) so I went to Glenwood Springs for two nights on my own.

I travelled on Amtrak with a rotten head cold, the kind where you're wiping your nose every five minutes. I've not been on Amtrak before and was impressed by the warm-hearted staff, the spaciousness of the seats, and the relatively low cost of the fares. Unfortunately, the weather en route through the Rockies was dark, overcast, misty and rainy. I managed to take some photos through the window, but although the scenery was stunning, it reminded me - in that weather - of the worst excesses of Snowdonia on a rainy day. (I am not a fan of the looming Welsh mountains of dark slate. So bite me.) 

Here's the view east of the plains (from the moving train) as we left

And here are three more as we travelled west

We got as high as 9,000 feet going through the Moffatt tunnel, which goes through the continental divide. When you get to the other end of the tunnel you notice the rivers run in the opposite direction, and the weather is often vastly different. On Tuesday it wasn't.

Amtrak is wonderful. What is not wonderful is that freight trains always have priority, and Amtrak has to put up with it. We had to stop for an hour on the journey while workmen finished whatever they were doing on the track, and later we had to stop for two and a half hours while some other guys came up to move a boulder on the line (no-one's fault.) This meant that a six hour journey became a nine and a half hour one - the same time it took me to fly from Heathrow to Denver. 

My cold was getting worse and worse, as they do when you have chronic sinus trouble, so I was not a happy bunny when we arrived in Glenwood Springs. I got the cold from Lux when I first arrived in Boulder, but don't travel halfway round the world to see your grandchildren to then spurn their cuddles on account of their snotty noses.

The journey home on Thursday was sunny, and I wiped my nose only once. See the difference the sunshine makes to the scenery: it made it beautiful.

No comments: