Category: 2007 – Denver/San Francisco

Day 6

Well, today was our last day on our vacation. We decided to take it a little easy. We started the day late, around 11:00 and went to the Colorado Railroad Museum. We saw a bunch of cool train stuff (in case you have not noticed, I am a train person). Queue the pictures…







After returning from the museum, we hit Benihana’s for lunch right next door to our hotel. We then headed out to the big tent downtown to attend Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo.


This is my third Cirque show and as usual, it was stinkin incredible. It is amazing what these performers can do, and never see any mistakes. If you have not been to a traveling Cirque show, you really should. You will not be disappointed.

We will be checking out in the morning and heading back to A-town. We went through New Mexico on the way here. I decided to go 287 going back which will take us through the Oklahoma panhandle instead.

I will make one more post concerning this trip when we get back tomorrow. Thanks for reading.

Days 4 & 5

We started out early, we left the hotel around 5:15 and caught a bus at Fisherman’s Wharf at 5:55.


That took us to Emeryville across the Bay Bridge where we boarded Amtrak #6, the California Zephyr.



We moved into our rooms and settled in for the trip.



I have had some friendly conversations with the conductor, which is always cool. He keeps us up to date on what is going on.


We past the moth ball fleet (bunch of old Navy ships in mothballs). The most notable ship there was the USS Iowa battleship. We could only see the front end (numbered 61), but I snapped a shot. It is the curved front end.

About an hour after departure, they announced breakfast was being served so we went to the dining car and ate French toast.

This train is notoriously late. Our first delay is having to stop just west of the Sacramento station. There were two other Amtrak trains in the station and we had to wait for one to leave. We pulled in and got to step off the train for a few minutes.

Later on, we got stuck behind a freight train that went into some emergency stop. That delayed us 2.5 hours into our
next station (Truckee, CA).

For lunch I had a grilled chicken sandwich. Vicky had a salad, Stephen mac & cheese and Michael a hamburger. For
dinner I tried the lamb shank, not too good, Vicky had the roasted chicken (it was good), Stephen and Michael had
the same as lunch.

We all went to bed about 9:00 Pacific time. Everyone slept real well. This was the first time on a train I slept
real good. The past times I wanted to look out the window the whole time, but last night I was stinkin tired. I have
heard it said that sleeping on a train really stimulates dreaming. Well, that is totally true for me. I had very
vivid and interesting dreams. I don’t remember them, but I remember having them.

We got up this morning just as we were pulling into Salt Lake City at 6:37 Mountain time. We dressed and headed to
breakfast where we again all had French Toast. (if you cannot tell, train travel seems to be eating times with
short breaks between). This is the life! Seriously, we spend the time enjoying our country passing us by out the
window. This is the same places we flew over just two days ago and really did not appreciate it at all. Now, we get
to see it all up close and personal.

So after breakfast, we were told we were 2.5 hours behind schedule. That means a 10:30 arrival into Denver unless we
make up some time. They do pad the schedule in places so it is possible.
We entered Colorado around 12:45 (MT) while we were in the dining car eating lunch. Vick and I went with the burger
this time and the kids both did mac & cheese.



As side note about the dining car. Meals used to be cooked to order on board. Because of federal cutbacks, an
attempt was made to save money by offering pre-cooked meals that are heated up on board in convection ovens.
Obviously, the food is not as good as it used to be, but is is okay.

When Amtrak was started back in 1971, it basically replaced all the private railroads who did not want to run
passenger service anymore. They were losing too much money. For some reason, the federal government thought that
Amtrak should be a profit making company without federal subsidies, which is impossible. There is not a public
transportation in the world that is profitable without subsidies. Airlines have airports, FAA and air traffic
controllers all subsidized. Buses and even personal car travel is subsidized by all the roads that have been built.
All this to say that Amtrak does not need less subsidies, they need MORE. In this day and age, rail service should
be increasing. But this will not happen if our federal government does give Amtrak the money they need.

Back to the trip. We got slow orders before Glenwood Springs, CO to 50 mph because of heat. Because of welded
rails, when they get too hot, they have no where to expand . This can cause heat kinks so they have to slow trains
down. Who would have thought Colorado would be so HOT. This is not looking good for an on time arrival into Denver.

We ate dinner at 5:00 and enjoyed our last meal on a train for a while. After, we retired to our room to enjoy the
Rocky Mountains before it got too dark. The train snakes along the Colorado river all the way to Winter Park, CO.
Great scenery!

Here we are off the train at a couple of stops…

Somewhere in California:

Reno, NV:

Glenwood Springs, CO:

Here are a few pics from around the train…

In our adjoining rooms:

The passageway out side our rooms:

The passage between cars:

Stairway to the lower level of our car:

In the Sightseer Lounge car:

In our room watching the GPS on our laptop:
Around 8:00, we went through the Moffett tunnel. This is a very long 6 mile tunnel. Before it was built, the route
went OVER the mountains. It was 33 miles and took 5 hours. The tunnel takes 12 minutes!

Here is a picture of the inside of the Moffett Tunnel!

They announced we would arrive in Denver two hours after the tunnel. We arrived into Denver at 10:00 pm, two hours late. We then jumped on a light rail train that took us back to the station where our van was parked. Then the to hotel.

That is all for now. More tonight.

Day 3

You know what? I hate flying. Okay, I don’t mind flying, but all the hoops you have to jump through to get to the airplane just stink! We started this morning leaving the hotel at 4:15. After a quick stop at McDonald’s drive-thru, we headed to a park and ride. We boarded a bus that took us to the Denver airport. We then wait in line to get "screened." After stressing over what is okay and how to lay it all out for the screeners, we made it through and had about an hour and a half wait until departure.


We have a direct flight to San Francisco on Frontier airlines.

We had a two and a half hour flight, but it only took 1.5 hours because of the time change. We quickly boarded a BART train in San Francisco and rode it underground into downtown. We then switched to a MUNI street car that took us to our hotel.


We had lunch and then killed some time looking around Fisherman’s Wharf. We caught a good view of Alcatraz and the Golden Gate bridge.


We then boarded the boat to Alcatraz. I saw this building which I know I have seen but do not know what it is…


Alcatraz was very cool. See the pictures…

Cell House:

Inside cell house:

Recreation yard:


Don’t tempt me…

Taking a seat in the dining hall:

View back to SF:

We were pretty pooped, so a quick dinner next door to our hotel (the place that has SF’s Finest Pizza):

So, we are back getting ready to get to bed. We have another early morning tomorrow. We are catching a bus down the street at 5:55 that will take us to the train station across the bay in Emeryville. We then board and take our train trip back to Denver.

I probably will not be able to post tomorrow since we will be on the train (unless I find a connection along the way), so my next post will probably not be until late Thursday night or Friday morning. We shall see.

Day 2

We started our second day by going to the US Mint where we saw them making a lot of coins. No camera’s allowed so no pictures. After that, we were close to the Colorado state capitol building, so we stopped in.


We got to go up pretty high on what they call the dome tour (too bad you can’t do this in the Texas state capitol).


After the capitol building, we were getting in the car to go to the Nature & Science museum, when I received a call from a friend who shall remain nameless (Justin Nash). This person said they had been there and his opinion was it was not worth the money. He also recommended the Aquarium downtown. So that is what we did.




It was cool. The boys got to touch stingrays (though Michael chickened out).

After some time back at the hotel, we rode the Denver light rail down to Denver’s Union Station.



We then came back, grabbed some dinner and are back for an early bed time. We will be leaving the hotel by 4:30 in the morning. I cannot believe we will be in San Francisco tomorrow! Denver is the furthest West I have ever been. Before this year, Soncy had been the farthest west I had ever been!

More tomorrow from San Francisco!

Day 1

We left Amarillo this morning around 7:00. It took us just about 7 hours to get here. I have a pretty bad crick in my neck so the drive was pretty miserable for me. Otherwise it went smoothly.

We went straight to our hotel, but they were not ready for us yet, so we took off for the Denver Zoo.



We spent a couple of hours there before going back to the hotel to check in. After getting into our room, we set off for Casa Bonito.



The food was so-so. The place is really sold on its atmosphere and entertainment. They had comedy acts, fire juggler, and a cliff diver. It was cool.

After dinner, we made a quick run downtown just to check it out. Saw all the sports centers and also the tents for the Cirque du Soleil that we will be going to on Friday.

Now, it is off to bed. We will be visiting the US Mint in the morning and the Museum of Nature and Science.

More tomorrow!

Our next adventure…

I got a lot of positive feedback from blogging our last trip, so I thought I would do it again. Out trip this summer is not as big as last, but we are excited. Here is our itinerary…

Sunday, July 1st, Drive from Amarillo to Denver
We will spend Sunday and Monday in Denver

Tuesday, Fly to San Francisco
We will only be in SF for one day

Wednesday, Catch the Amtrak California Zephyr train
We will ride the train back to Denver

Thursday, we will arrive late back into Denver

Friday – We will spend one more day in Denver

Saturday – Drive back from Denver to Amarillo

I should be able to post daily at the end of the day, so check back often and feel free to post your own comments. Hope you enjoy!