The California Zephyr

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The kids and I took the California Zephyr this week from Sacramento to Chicago. We have been on several long train rides before, but this was our first time on this route. The route takes you through the Sierra Nevadas and the Rockies on your way to the Midwest. It was truly breathtaking and made all the better with the cold weather and snow that covered the ground for most of our trip.

We had to get up at 2:45 in the morning in order to get to Sacramento in time for our 11:00 departure time. The kids were not too happy about this but they did fall asleep right when they got into the car so it was not too bad for them. We arrived in Sacramento with time to spare so we explored the station before boarding the train. It is an older station that was in the process of being restored. It was quite charming especially with all the pigeons living in it.

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Waiting to board our train in Sacramento

Waiting to board our train in Sacramento

Finally we boarded our train and set out on our journey. It would take us a little over 48 hours to get to Chicago which meant we would be on the train for two nights. Because of the long journey I decided we needed a family bedroom so the kids would be able to stretch out and enjoy themselves. The family bedroom has ample seating during the day and four beds at night and includes all your meals. The only downside is that there is no private bathroom, but the space seemed more important to me than the convenience of a private bathroom. I was glad to have all the room on the long journey as I am sure the kids would have gone stir-crazy in a smaller room.

The kids spent a good deal of their time reading in our room. Decca also entertained himself on his iPad.

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And of course we all spent time looking out our windows. In the family bedroom you have two windows on both sides of the train. The views were spectacular from the moment we got out of Sacramento and headed towards Reno and the Sierra Nevadas.

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The first day passed fairly quickly and before we knew it we were getting ready for bed. The kids were so tired and the train was so peaceful that they ended up going to sleep around 8:00.

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The next day we were up early (it was still dark out) eating a nice breakfast in the dining car and then making our way to the observation room. The observation room is my favorite place on the train, but you have to get their early to get a seat. We stayed a few hours that morning because the view was so spectacular that we did not want to leave.

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The twins were half asleep when I forced them to eat breakfast.

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Later that morning we had the opportunity to step off the train in Colorado. It was only 14 degrees so the kids and I didn’t stay long. We did stay long enough to play in the snow and to find icicles.

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The rest of out trip we enjoyed the views of the Rockies, elk and deer in the mountains, eagles over the Mississippi, and the excitement of getting closer to our destination. I took so many pictures in my excitement but will only share a few more.

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Viewing the many eagles by the Mississippi was the highlight of the trip for me.

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In a week we will be on The Southwest Chief heading back home and I am sure I will have more photos to share then. Until that time I will leave you with this picture of Santa that my youngest son got while on the train. It may be hard to spot Santa, but he is driving that old train.

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