These Four Trains Can Carry You From Coast To Coast, Where The Final Prize Awaits: The Vast Beauty Of The West

On the morning of Aug. 12, my wife, Laurel, and I were in New York City’s Penn Station awaiting Amtrak’s Northeast Regional No. 141 to take us to Washington, D.C.

This would be the first leg of a 3,447-mile, four-train odyssey to Seattle — in the other Washington — and it would offer a window into Amtrak’s pleasures and problems.

Next would come the Capitol Limited to Chicago, then the Empire Builder to Portland, Ore., and the Cascades north to Seattle, concluding our three-night odyssey.

To ride and write about Amtrak in 2017 is to bounce among three reactions: gratitude that trains with sleepers and dining cars still cross America to show off its vast beauty; fear that their days could be numbered; and frustration that amenities and service standards have deteriorated.

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These four trains can carry you from coast to coast, where the final prize awaits: the vast beauty of the West
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