Train Travel, the Only Way to Fly . . .

We’re having such fun on our train trip.  Some of you know I started doing this thing called “Twitter from the Twain” a couple of years ago, where I Twitter and send photos from what I call our “Room with the View,” whenever we go across country by train, which we do a couple of times a year, and have for the last twenty years.  I give train-travel tips, in case you ever have a chance to travel this old-fashioned and still-wonderful way, and little bird’s eye views of what it’s like. 

Here we are amid the hustle and bustle of arriving in Flagstaff last night!  Joe is getting the car that’s waiting for us, and I’m just waiting for him.  This is why I love trains. It’s just like this getting on too, like a little secret, everyone settling in their rooms, or just stepping off the train into the night.

The other thing I like is that train travel is so civilized; here we are having “tea” in our room.  We always bring a string-bag full of treats, to have with our newspapers and books in our room with a view.

We love the weather we see from our window. . .  this was last night, crossing the New Mexico desert; none of that ever got close to us . . .

We love the people we meet in the dining car.  This lovely Amish woman is the mother of, e  l  e  v  e  n   children.  She has 50 grandchildren.  She travels by horse and buggy, and train.  She and her husband were so nice and fun to talk to as we crossed over the Mississippi River together in the dining car.  You never know who you will meet on the train. 

There’s time for everything on a three-day cross country train trip.  I bring my journal, a good book, the tea pot, my pillow . . . the basic necessities of life.  But it’s the view that is most compelling . . . America the beautiful . . .

Someday I’ll have to tell you the story of my first train trip and how I discovered, by accident, this wonderful way to travel.  We always have so much to do at home, places we have to be, things we have to do, these three days of “down time” are the only way to fly!

It’s lovely in all seasons. We are cozy in room with view, while this rages outside our window (on another trip of course).

The train passes through woodlands, along rivers, through little towns with white church steeples poking high above the trees; it creaks as it moves slowly through high mountain passes, and makes a blur speeding along the coastline; we have moon lit starry nights, and sun rises that wake up the whole sleeping train.

Our country is in danger of losing the train as a way of travel, what a terrible loss that would be…I’m a one-woman band (not really, there are lots of us) marching to say, hey look at how wonderful this is. Let’s never let it go away.

Here’s a quick tour of a big bedroom on Amtrak; while it’s still neat and tidy, still in the station in Chicago, before we really “moved in” and made it un-video-friendly.

The last thing you should know … the movement of the train is soft and rocking.  You have a book in front of your face, but the rocking makes your eyes flutter closed, you fight for consciousness, but you lose. A nap ensues.  Then you try to read again.  Or knit. But outside, you see dragon fly following right along with the train, or a deer comes around the bend, or you see a little country road so beautiful you have to take a picture of it. So, you are very busy on the train, the time passes much too quickly.

That’s all for today.  Thanks for coming on our virtual train trip.  I have so many photos, I could do this all day.  But, now it’s playtime, with my dad . . . off we go.  You have a wonderful day.  Hope you’re all loving Willard . . . so happy we were able to manage that and be on the train at the same time!  Computer miracles never cease.  xoxo

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183 Responses to Train Travel, the Only Way to Fly . . .

  1. Maureen says:

    Due to a health issue I am unable to fly. (the pressure is not good on my veins). I have traveled to both coasts via train and it is a great way to go. My husband however ends up meeting me at the location where we are going because he doesn’t care to take the train but would rather fly.

  2. Connie says:

    After reading your (previous and now) train posts, it makes me want to copy you and travel by train. I once LOVED air travel but with the ridiculous things of today’s air travel it’s become a pain instead of pleasure. If hubby gets on board (pun intended), perhaps we can plan a lovely little get-away by rail. Thanks for your continued inspiration. I’ve been reading all your posts, just haven’t been leaving comments each time. I enjoy them all so much. I’m SO GLAD that you’re blogging too! Have a lovely, lovely day, my blog-friend. :))

  3. Margie from Lavender Cottage says:

    Susan: I read through your email with a smile on my face. Once I visit England I will definately take a cross country train trip. Last weekend when I had a “Girl’s Weekend” in the Hocking Hills with a few friends I found out that several of them wanted to do the same thing. Such a surprise – it will be such fun and I actually taught them to knit too!! Sounds like the perfect combination to me. Have fun with Dad!!

  4. nicole says:

    Thank you so much for sharing!
    amazing meeting an Amish women in the train!

  5. Hollace says:

    A few years ago we took a one month trip pass on Amtrak across to the east coast as far as we could go and then back through Canada from Gaspe to Prince Rupert. In the US we went from Portland to Chicago via Denver, then DC, NYC, to Vermont. It was a fabulous trip. We didn’t have a sleeper, though, just were in coach.
    The people riding trains seemed more open than your everyday folks, ready to talk and share experiences.
    We loved all the things you just said about it. I so agree. Maybe I will write a book about it someday.

  6. Christie Ray says:

    Keep marching, sister Susan..this is how we must travel from now on! Husband and I enjoyed a short but sweet train ride last summer from Seattle into Vancouver, B.C. And yes, the time much to see out the windows..the most incredible trees I had ever seen in my life along with eagles!! Wow!! I couldn’t concentrate on the movie they were showing, for all that was going on outside that window!
    Do trains travel from Tennessee up the eastern coast to new England? I will have to do my research…that’s where we want to travel to next.
    Enjoy your time with your daddy…precious memory making times:))

    • Nellie says:

      From where I am in East Tennessee, I would have to travel to Atlanta in order to board Amtrak, go into NC, or go to Richmond, VA. Somewhere I may have heard that there may be a connection in Memphis.

      • essuzy says:

        It may be closer…definitely less congested…to go to Greenville, SC. I know AMTRAK leaves from there. Yes, I’m looking into train travel too. Maybe they can start giving SB a commission 🙂

    • Jeannie M from NC says:

      I know there is a train station in Charlotte NC, Thats where I would go if I ever get to, I would like to take it to NYC someday, and also travel back to So Cal!

      • sbranch says:

        doitdoitdoit 🙂

        • Christie Ray says:

          Oh, girls…you have given me hope! I swore off flying altogether after Our flight home from Vancouver, b.c. Through Chicago, to Nashville…felt like we were the crew from gilligans island getting tossed around through storms…we were rocking sideways AND up and down. When they came around offering snacks, I asked if they had any nerve pills…they laughed..I was serious!!! Goodness gracious…put me on a train and I’ll go anywhere;))

  7. Pat Mofjeld says:

    Oh Susan, you make me want to take the train to visit my friend, Sandy, in Boston! I agree, it is the BEST WAY to travel across the country! Thanks for sharing your trip… 🙂

  8. deb webb says:

    I sooooooo love your Twitter from the Twain and all the cool, fun pix you post as you take us with you and Joe on your lovely trip to the west coast! ( I used to live in Los Osos!) I absolutely hate flying!!! I have to drug myself just to get on the darn things…flying cattle cars in the sky…..this would be so perfect!! I always knew God wanted us to either drive car or ride in a train…sensible travel! =)
    Keep the train posts coming, you make my day!!!
    Light and Love to you & Joe on your merry adventures!

    • sbranch says:

      You are so funny, “flying cattle cars in the sky” — I always felt like saying Moo when I boarded the plane!

  9. Country Gal says:

    Thank you for taking us on your wonderful trip ! We have a VIA Rail that travels across Canada and through the rocky mountains of Alberta, Papa and I would love to do that trip but it is very pricy ! One day I am sure we will I can just imagine the wonderful photos we would get ! Have a wonderful day !

  10. Suzanne says:

    Susan this is such a fun adventure! I have never been on a train before but I’ll tell you, you have definitely got me thinking about it. It does look like a lovely way to travel. I don’t think I’d be able to read or do anything, I’d be too nosy looking out the window at everything to see passing by! It must be really interesting seeing the way the landscape changes through each state and also meeting interesting people. I’ll be waiting for your next post!

  11. Tina in Ky says:

    What a way to travel, Thank you for sharing it with us…sometimes at night I can hear a distant train whistle…it is such a comforting sound!!

  12. Joan Lesmeister says:

    Mornin’! Love twain twavel & tweeting with you (& Joe), thank you! I see today it is nice & comfy weather for you, still hot up here in Sac area. Great visiting with Willard, he’s so clever, pretty, fun, nice, & giving & another thank you! Enjoy your SW visit with your Dad & H.B. to him!

  13. Sheri says:

    Your posts make me want to take a train trip with my hubby! But I have a question – how do you get a window on each side of your room? Are you in the very back? Just wondering where the public aisles are that take you to the dining car and other fun places in the train.

    • sbranch says:

      Yes the back of the train…the public aisles go down the center of the trains, rooms on both sides except at the back.

  14. Wendy says:

    Lovely! You’re making me want to take a cross-country train trip with my hubby. We would enjoy it so much! Took the Amtrak from Chicago (my home) to Denver several years ago and absolutely loved it.

  15. Patricia says:

    Hello (again!) Susan!
    Years ago, in the 70’s, my dear, USA-Loving Mother introduced us to travel via rail and bus. On our Trailways “Golden Eagle” we saw the “USA in a (not Chevrolet), but…. a luxury-equipped bus! We even had “stewardesses” in the bus, serving our meals, as we, my cousin Elizabeth and I, colored in our coloring books, with our new 64 count box of yet-used Crayola Crayons! (One of the best memory-evoking aromas is opening a brand-new box of Crayola Crayons!)
    Anyway, we slept, played games, and ate on the bus, never getting out at night, but stopping long enough at each station to have parents put their children on the bus, to have grandma and grandpa meet them at the other end! And my dear mother, along with the other passengers, would take the child “under their wing” and see that they were fed, and kept comfortable, til their journey’s end! My cousin and I loved welcoming new friends into our “inner circle (bus)camp” and our new companions always had such wonderful stories to tell.
    We even experienced a tornado hitting the bus while passing through Joplin, MO, on our journey home. And because smoking was allowed on the bus at the time, most passengers had broken noses from the impact of the bus hitting a large hill … from flying forward into the metal ashtrays that were on the back of each seat! My cousin and I, sprawled out across two seats each, fell to the floor and literally rolled under all the seats, toward the front of the bus… at 12 years of age, this experience was truly amazing to us. The driver ended up going through the windshield! Everyone was encouraged to go to the hospital, but my mother refused… she insisted another bus be brought in to allow us to
    continue our journey home without further delay…. and Trailways obliged! (My mother had ketchup all over her shoulder from the bottles flying out of the food compartments overhead – it terrifyingly resembled blood) .
    Incredible, wonderful memories from many years ago, brought back to life through your train travel blog! Thank you so much!

  16. DeAnna Passmore says:

    I’m hoping to take a trip to Salt Lake City this summer from Ohio. I wonder if the train can take me there. I’ve always wanted to travel via train. We have the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad here in N.E. Ohio. It was so much fun taking my girls on it and then having it stop off at Hale Farm & Village!

  17. Jean says:

    I’m ready to travel by train right now – so inspired by this trip of yours and the previous ones I’ve read about. I enjoy any opportunity these days to slow the pace down!

  18. Angie(Tink!) says:

    Good Afternoon Sweetest Sue (Hello Joe!) & Hello to Your Adorable Daddy…Yay! Oh how I Feel The Need to Travel on The Train….one Day I Shall…Years ago when I Lived on Long~Island…I took The Train (The Long~Island Rail Road) all The Time….but Mostly to New York City …so Short Trips…& I Loved it!….but I Dream of going cross country like You Sue…I know that one day I will… 🙂 anyway…Thank~You so Much for Bringing Us Along on Twain~Twitter…it’s so Much Fun Sharing this Magical Ride…I opened My E-mail this Morning & “Willard” was There…so I’ve been Reading & Re~Reading Every Word…Breathing In all Your Sweet Art~Work…ahhhhhhhhhh…sipping on a Lovely Cup of Peppermint Tea…My Heart is Filled with Autumn~Joy…Sweet September seems to Fly By…so I’m Savoring September Before We Twirl into October… 🙂 Anyway I just want to Wish You & Joe The Best Most Fun Time with Your Daddy….& I await the Next Train~Ride….My Bags are staying Packed! Love & Hugzzzz & Lots of Traveling Pixie~Dust! xoxo Poof!

    • Angie(Tink!) says:

      P.S. I just have to let You Know Sweet Sue…Omgggggg I Love Love Love The Owl~Bookmark! (From “Willard”) So Cute! Thank You! xoxo Poof!

  19. Sharon from Maine says:

    Oh Susan I am so jealous I have to say, I’d love to go on a train ride like that someday. But I’m glad you and Joe are letting us come along to enoy the wonderful views. They are truly amazing and it’s really a miracle that we are able to actually see it all through the computer. I wait everybody for your blog to see where the two of you are. It’s better than a bowl of ice cream – well almost! But really, I truly enjoy it so much as I know everyone else does. too. I don’t think there are many people who would take the time out of their busy lives to do that for us and that’s why we all love you so much. Hope you have a great time with your dad and can’t wait to see what’s in store for us tomorrow!xxoo

  20. Ginnie says:

    Love, love, love all your posts. So much fun seeing your views and how your cozy nest looked (before occupation).

  21. Joan B says:

    Love your vivid descriptions of train travel and all that you are experiencing. Loved my Willard today also – fall is my favorite season and you captured it so completely! I just might make those blueberry corn cakes for supper tonight!!
    Have a great time with your Dad and in all of your upcoming travels!!
    Sending love from Wellfleet…………..

  22. Awesome traveling, thanks for sharing your trip. The first time I ever traveled by train was about 4 years ago, we were in the New York area and it was Christmas day…our train got stuck in 3 feet of snow and could not go forward at all. They sent another train out to get all of us and it got stuck, finally they sent a BIG one out and our train all got on to it..we got a free dinner and met great friends! 😀

  23. Terri says:

    Thank you for the tour! I have wanted to ride on a train for many years, but have worried I would be seasick (‘trainsick?’), so maybe I should start with a short ride, first…
    p.s. I am sad, because apparently I fell off the Willard list! I will try to resubscribe, hope I can still get the latest one….

    • Pat Mofjeld says:

      Terri: The secret to not getting “seasick” on the train is to not have an empty stomach! I learned that the hard way–and was told that and found out later it was true. So, bring along some tea and cookies or crackers and cheese or something to nibble on and don’t start out without eating! 🙂

      • sbranch says:

        I get a little seasick on some boats, not all the time, but sometimes. But the train is no problem for me — maybe the movement is different. The idea of trying short hops first is a good one!

  24. Val says:

    A girlfriend and I are thinking about doing a train trip to Boston (and maybe a little side/day-trip on to Martha’s Vineyard [please, please, please, Universe!]) to celebrate my 35th birthday in May. We’ll see if we can get funds and work schedules and life-in-general to cooperate with our plans. But oh! What fun it would be! 🙂

    Safe travels, and enjoy the precious time with your dad. 🙂



  25. cecelia says:

    The train costs more than flying, but it’s worth it.
    Especially when you figure the cost of meals and hotel rooms if you drove yourself.

  26. Jacqui G says:

    Susan, just one question…when are getting on the train to Florida so I can see you at a book signing? 🙂

    • Karen P says:

      Maybe all we “girlfriends” should hop on a train and head to Martha’s Vineyard to see Susan?! Sounds like fun to me!

    • Doreen Strain says:

      Thank you for asking Jacqui! I was wondering the same thing. I would be wonderful to have Susan come visit our neck of the woods. How about it Susan…so you have any plans on coming down to visit Jacqui and I? I have a guest room. You and Joe are more then welcome. I even have a kitty that would welcome you. LOL ! Seriously, we’d love to have you come down to Florida to pay a visit and do some book signing. Maybe you’ll think about it when you thigh high in snow and we’re having those wonderful 70* winter days. …..Just saying!!!! LOL!! FOSB 4~Ever! ~Doreen~

      PS…I’ll even make you Cheese Blintzes for breakfast! Hahahaha! <3;)

  27. Jennie says:

    What a beautiful land we live in!

  28. Since I’m not a big fan of flying, train travel would be the way to go for me. Thanks for the tour. I think I would love it!

  29. Martha Ellen says:

    You guys look like you are having the time of your lives! Train travel—so romantic! My daughter loves train travel and like you is worried about its future! We must make certain it continues. Susan, as usual I love the current Willard—it’s always so inspiring and beautifully written and illustrated! I had to go out this morning and put up the autumn flags and change the mailbox cover too! Yesterday I picked the last of the basil and made a wonderful basil pesto and for dinner we had chicken with basil, pesto and pasta. I just love this time of the year and love reading all of your inspiring tips. Have a wonderful time with your Dad—you are so lucky to still have him!!

  30. Karen P says:

    Thanks, Susan, for that wonderful trip on the train! One day we’ll do that…my hubby and I have been talking about it, on and off, but now he’s booked a trip with his brothers to Egypt in January so we may have to put it off for awhile longer! (No Willard yet but I’m patiently waiting for it…I know it will come!) xoxo….kp

  31. bj says:

    My fondest memories are train rides from West Texas to see my daddy in Dallas. Oh, how I loved those rides. The dining car..the big powder rooms with cloth towels, hand lotions, perfumes…all set out on the counters…with a sweet lady to help us with anything we needed help with. A little 8, 9 and 10 year old always needed help with SOMEthing. 🙂
    I love the FEEL of a train…the SMELL…the ROMANCE ….I hope we never lose our trains…but, we probably will. I’m afraid not enuf people want to ride them anymore.:( bwaaaaa
    xo bj

  32. JudyCnNC says:

    Just must share this – Morningtown Ride – this is what I imagine it would be for me.
    Words and Music by Malvina Reynolds Performed by The Seekers (1966)

    Train whistle blowin’, makes a sleepy noise
    Underneath their blankets go all the girls and boys
    Rockin’, Rollin’, Ridin’, out along the bay
    All bound for Morningtown, many miles a-way

    Driver at the engine, Fireman rings the bell
    Sandman swings the lantern to say that all is well
    Rockin’, Rollin’, Ridin’, out along the bay
    All bound for Morningtown, many miles a-way

    Maybe it is raining where our train will ride
    All the little trave’lers are warm and snug in-side
    Rockin’, Rollin’, Ridin’, out along the bay
    All bound for Morningtown, many miles a-way

    Somewhere there is sunshine, somewhere there is day
    Somewhere there is Morningtown, many miles a-way
    Rockin’, Rollin’, Ridin’, out along the bay
    All bound for Morningtown, many miles a-way

    All bound for Morningtown, many miles a-way

    • Carolyn Ann says:

      Judy, I love that song. I just bought a Seekers greatest hits cd this past summer so I could listen to Morningtown Ride. I had their album when I was a teenager. So funny to see it mentioned on this blog.

  33. Laura says:

    So lovely! Makes we want to take a cross country train trip. We take the train from our northern Chicago suburb “down the line” during Christmas time. Union Station is such a busy & exciting place!!!

  34. Nellie says:

    Thank you, Susan, for letting us see the beauty of the United States as you have traveled across it. I’m ready to try a trip myself!:-) Sending along wishes for good visits with family. xoxo

  35. Peggy Cooper says:

    It is so sad that we don’t have more passenger trains in this country. When I was a little girl, we traveled from New York City to Berlin, NH every summer to visit my grandparents. It took all day, but we 3 kids never minded because we had lots of room to play, especially with the seats turned to face each other. Mom always brought a box of food to keep us fed and entertained, and we read comic books and played with other kids in the aisle. But then the train stopped running and we had to take the bus instead. 12 hours on a bus is not fun. None of us could read or eat because we would get bus sick from the motion and fumes. And mom didn’t like that there wasn’t room in the miniscule bus bathroom to get us washed up and changed before we met grandpa at the station.

    I’m definitely going to take a train somewhere, anywhere, soon. I’ve never spent a night on a train, so that would be a fun new experience. Thanks for sharing your adventures with us.

  36. Sheryle Towle says:

    Enjoyed the train ride; reminds me of “old” times when we would take the train from Portland to Boston to see the Ice Capades! Have a wonderful visit with your Dad; Love the new Willard & the bird clock! Tea time for me now.

  37. Pat McDonald says:

    Oh Susan, thank you for the wonderful inspiration and gifts! This Friday I am getting together with 7 friends and I wanted to give them a little treat to get into the mood for fall. I’m giving them a jar of my homemade applesauce with a perfect fall ‘to and from’ gift tag of yours. Also, they will each get a fall bookmark(fall ribbon attached of course), and a year at a glance calendar all thanks to your generosity! Really, thank you! For 7, it is hard to afford a cute gift and you made it possible. I have many of your books and your 2011 calendar is hanging in my kitchen. Love your products! Once more….THANK YOU! Pat McDonald

  38. Chris Power says:

    Hi Sue & Joe,

    I’ve been following your trip and enjoying it so much. Say hello to Jack & Jeannie for me and the California gang when you get there. Wish we could get away to see you in CA. Kathy is traveling to the east coast this weekend and I am just working away. I made your pesto for the first time to share with Kathy and I think I ate all of it myself…yummy! You make me appreciate all the little things in life.
    Have fun!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m in Dad and Jeannie’s kitchen right this minute . . . they are excited to be hearing from YOU! Please give our love to all the other Powers! xoxo Love you Chris.

  39. Cheryl says:

    Thanks so much for the picture of Union Station. I haven’t been there in ages, but used to take the train to the city same as my Mom did. Love trains! Wish we had commuter trains where I am now… what a lifesaver they are. Cross country trains are lot of fun. I have gone on two trips that way. Someday I want to take the train cross country in Canada and then take the Christmas train to Banff. What fun that would be! Thanks for sharing your trip.

  40. Tina says:

    So glad you have arrived safely Susan and Joe— and ever more delightful to have met you both and have faces with names. (Especially Joe’s as I had only seen his socks of late!) I’m kind of sniffly—- I didn’t get my Willard this time. Off to check that wily spam folder just in case. HUGS!

  41. Brenda says:

    Have always wanted to travel by train. Hubs and I have talked about taking the train across Canada but it is like pulling teeth to get my dear home loving husband to leave the state of Michigan. I looked for Willard in my e-mail but have not received it. So I have signed up again. I receive the blog post notices by e-mail so maybe I have not signed up correctly for Willard. So sad to miss it yet again. Have a wonderful trip and enjoy visiting your family.

  42. Susan, You totally make me want to take a train trip! I had never even considered going anywhere by train…except when I was a kid at Knott’s Berry Farm in the ’60’s. Everyone rode the train then! Happy travels! Hugs, Heidi

  43. Susan, I have never ever traveled by train, long distance anyway). New York subway doesn’t count. There are no beds on them, although a lot of people sleep on them, and eat on them, ect, ect. Someday I shall take the train. Maybe the Orient Express!!!!! Thanks for the peek inside your berth. You make it all so romantic. As it should…..Love, Angel

  44. Bev says:

    Loved my Willard yesterday morn…and I loved the owl bookmark..loved him soooo much I immediately printed him off (on card stock to make him special) for 3 friends along with the owl stationary and put pen to paper and wrote 3 letters of gratitude to the 3 friends to commemorate today “world Gratitude Day”…thank you on this Gratitude Day for the owl bookmark and for you Susan Branch…you and the blog make each a delightful gift…

  45. Barbie Tabb says:

    I look forward to hearing from you daily….I get worried if the posting is late! Glad you are loving your train trip across the country! How FUN! Thanks also for the Willard! and how funny that just this afternoon I was looking online for a good apple crisp recipe and low and behold there is one in the Willard 🙂 thanks, I’ll be making that in about an hour. I’m heading across the state tomorrow evening (not the country) via car to a huge event in Grand Rapids, MI called Art Prize. can’t wait to see all the ART and the PEOPLE and just GET AWAY from home. cross country or cross state it’s always great to have some new scenery and take time to refresh. I’m bringing with me 2 quarts of homemade applesauce and a big apple crisp (to my girlfriend’s house). Picked apples on Saturday and have spent the week baking pies, simmering apples and just going crazy with apple-ness! I will order your pepper jams – love them with cream cheese & crackers. It’s such a simple delicious appetizer to have on hand for when company drops in. “talk to you” tomorrow 🙂

  46. Kelly J. says:

    What a great way to travel, and thanks for sharing such really great photos of your trip! Also, this “little bird’s” heart is very warm reading all of the owl bookmark comments. I knew it would look cute! Thanks again for making it for us; my books love it too 😉

  47. Kristina says:

    Train travel…something I’ve always wanted to do, but never seem to have enough vacation time. We will…someday! For now, virtually traveling by train via your blog is wonderful. The photo of the barn. silo and other red outbuilding with the grasses in motion in the foreground took my breath away and brought tears to my eyes as I scrolled down to see it. I don’t know why…maybe because I grew up in the Midwest and that is a very familiar landscape. Whatever the reason, your blog is something I look forward to every day. Thanks so much! Enjoy your trip!

  48. Lisa says:

    Love this post! We too, look forward to a grand train trip one day soon. It makes me smile to know that you are only 80 miles away from me today. : ) We are northern Arizonians too! Enjoy your visit with your Dad, and this beautiful weather!

  49. Terri says:

    I am SO happy now – at last, I got my Willard – hurray! Just a delay or had I unwittingly unsubscribed? Who knows! I re-subscribed, just in case. Just so thankful I have it now – I wouldn’t want to miss a single one.Thank you so much for continuing to send Willards out into the world. They really brighten up the place!

  50. Oh, I am so loving this virtual train trip.
    Oh, and I read my Willard yesterday and downloaded my bookmark. Thanks.
    Mama Bear

  51. Kathy RS says:

    I loved your “Willard” and wanted to let you know… you left something off your list though, of things to do. The first thing I wrote down was look for Muriel’s Wedding music… and that is awesome as well. Thanks for the to-do list… keeps me from getting too bogged down in my own list: visit Richard at Otterbein, laundry, grocery, appointments etc… Yours is MUCH nicer. Oh, can’t wait to try train travel too. even if it is vicariously for now. Have fun!

  52. Gert says:

    Susan, thank you so much for this lovely post! So fun to see your room (before you got settled in…smile) & the dining room car! How great is it to be able to meet different people from all different walks of life! What an opportunity for a writer to travel by train or anyone (I have a question…is everything on one level? I’ve heard two different answers. Love to hear!)

    Have a wonderful time with your father & give him a birthday ((hug)) from one of your
    loyal followers!

    xoxo Gert

    Blessings & also thank you so much for a wonderful Willard!
    xoxo Gert

  53. Sweet Mormor says:

    Keep up the wonderful photos – I look forward to seeing them all! You have such a wonderful and interesting life! Since I’m “obliged” to remain somewhat homebound I LOVE your photos and writings – I can see things I would not be able to! Thank you so! I am using your Autumn wallpaper on my computer and loving the little corgi! 🙂

  54. Cindy Ellison says:

    What a great blog post! Now I am going to have to investigate traveling by train. We recently moved cross country and were pleasantly surprised to hear a distant train from our new home. To me it is a comforting sound. Having been a long time admirer of yours, today I subscribed to your blog. It was so nice to sit down and read this latest post … I ♥ it!

    • sbranch says:

      I love the sound of the train whistle, would be happy to live hear the tracks, but on Martha’s Vineyard we have to be happy with foghorns instead!

      • Karen P. says:

        Foghorns have kind of a soothing, comforting tone, though, don’t you think? But, I do agree about the sound of the train whistle and the clickety-clack of the track. (We live about 1/2 miles from the railroad tracks). Love it! Enjoy the trains, Cindy!

      • Jeannie M from NC says:

        Oh! I love foghorns Susan, I remember hearing them whenever I would spend a few days with my favorite Aunt in Corona del Mar CA, it always had such a comforting sound!

  55. Joan in TX says:

    Hi Susan, I’m dying over the great photos you are taking out the window, inside and plus all the tips and suggestions are great. Good PR for keeping train travel business in the USA going for sure. Just wondering what is the best size room to book and how far in advance do you book to ensure you have the size room you want? I couldn’t turn up the speakers on your video because I’m at work – but does your room come with it’s own shower?
    Guess what else. It has rained in TX, FINALLY!!! Woohoo! Happy days are here again.

    • sbranch says:

      So happy for you! Large rooms have showers. The bigger, I have to say, the better. Make reservations 3 mo in advance if you can, but you can still get what you want later.

    • Jeannie M from NC says:

      Oh, I am so glad you’re getting much needed rain! Hope the fires did not come near you or yours.

  56. Sandi Zier says:

    I must say I have been a fan of yours for years, I love your blog and hope some day when mine grows as large as your I still take the time to speak from the heart as you do. I live in Wisconsin, and your trip captured a few memories for me, Thanks for doing what you love so well. Willard is great, where did the name come from? Just curious.

  57. Laura says:

    What are you knitting, fellow knitter? Have you ever considered taking a trip to India and traveling the trains there? I loved going from Calcutta to Delhi in 24-26 hours time and seeing all of India (except for the sleeping part). Such a nice journey.

  58. What a great way to travel, I’ve put it on my “list”! ack…I’ll be sorry to miss you at Remnants since I have to leave early Sunday for my granddaughter’s 3’d birthday party. So sorry, hopefully next time. xo Lidy

  59. Jackie says:


    I think I love your train blogs more than anything….hasn’t your publisher said “Susan, you really need to do a Train Book”????? Yes please do it ’cause I want to know EVERYTHING…… Have a great time with your Dad!

  60. Kim Forester says:

    Hi Susan, and thank you for taking us along on your travels! What a joy it is to ride on the train with you and Joe!

    This morning, I had a thought — Would you ever consider writing a small (or large!) illustrated autobiography? One of my favorites is Trina Schart Hyman’s “Self Portrait”, written for young readers. I always loved Ms. Schart Hyman’s works, just as I love yours. You are such a warm treasure –The manner that you share yourself with us in your blog is a daily gift. (You’re like a year-round advent calendar, with special unexpected treats!) You would certainly inspire a great number of souls of all ages in illuminating/illustrating more about you and your life’s interests, experiences and inner influences. (I know you’ve shared a great deal through “Girlfriends Forever”, of course.) What do you think? Yes? No? Maybe???!

    Enjoy your continued journey and visits with loved ones!

  61. Joann says:

    This is amazing—I’ve taken a couple of Fall train trips through New England leaves, but they were very short…I LOVE trains!!! So, last year, I surprised Rod (get it; I surprised HIM!) with a short but awesome train trip for Orange County, CA to Santa Barbara….and yes, the lulling….it was wonderful. We shopped when we arrived there and had a wonderful Indian dinner, then boarded the train back and slept, bellies full, most of the way back….it’s a wonderful way to travel and I do hope someday to travel that way and sleep on the train….
    You’re once again very close to me….someday, you need to hop off in CO and come our way…..
    A wonderful post Susan; I am so grateful for all you share with us!!

  62. Liza-Ann Tucker says:


    The owl bookmark made my day!!! 🙂 Its been a crazy busy week (I work at a University Library) and I was cranky all day. Thanks you so much for sharing your generous sunshine. Its tucked into my latest book and makes me smile whenever I see it.

    Happy Travels!

    Love from your most devoted Canadian fan! OO

  63. Karen P says:

    Are those the famous brownies in the pic there? They look very yummy and chewy. I haven’t gotten around to trying them yet. And possibly lemon bars? Fall just brings out the desire to bake so I need to get going.

    • Nina says:

      Karen you really must try the brownies they are to die for! So easy and so cost effective too. As soon as I bake them though they disappear very quickly! xx

    • Andrea says:

      I think all of her reciepe’s are great, but SB’s chococolate truffles from Vineyard Seasons p. 127 and her Mollasses Cookies from Autumn p. 105 are the best… in my opinion. And you are right… what is it about fall that makes me want to bake? … and eat. 🙂

      • Karen P says:

        I don’t know, Andrea….perhaps it’s because it’s finally cool enough to turn the heat on and heat up the oven? The smell of freshly baked yummies from the oven is so “fall!”

  64. Lori says:

    Hello Susan ! Thank you for sharing your train trip with us! (It reminds me of an old 40s movie – with some romantic swell of music and a beautiful woman and a man in uniform …) Just got the new Willard and it is awesome, as always. All sorts of new goodies for us. I have to let everyone know that the blueberry corn cakes are wonderful. (I have even made them without the berries and enjoyed them. ) Such a hearty fare just hiding out in a Jiffy mix. Who knew?

    Some of my favorite train movies : Ill be Seeing You, Holiday Affair, The Major and the Minor and Hachi:A Dog’s Tale. Pop some corn, slice some crisp apples and get on track and watch one!

  65. Kimi says:


    All I can say to you here is, How wonderful everything looks! and how nice the pictures look… isn’t nature beautiful? gotta love it. Thank you for taking us along on your trip.

  66. Francine says:

    Guess I need to figure out how to get on Twitter! I am loving the train trip! And loved the owl bookmark. Owls seem to be a popular item these days! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Amish people!!! I would have been so excited to see a Amish lady on the train! That would have made my day, for sure!

  67. Buzz'n Bea says:

    It was our 50th Wedding Anniv. this year. We celebrated by taking the train last August/Sept. from Mi. to Palm Springs, Ca. (DH does not care much for flying or long car trips) We did fly from PS (son) to San Francisco (daughter) and then on to Seattle to visit more family and friends. We enjoyed the Empire Builder back to MI. the most. So interesting to see the “back” sides of towns. We, too, met interesting people in the dining car. However, the most beautiful was coming into St Lewis at sunset, orange/red sky with the arch in silhouette. Of course my camera was in our roomette so it is only in my memory. Speaking of roomette, we would definitely get a bigger one next time.
    I so enjoy your blog. You have a wonderful gift of story telling and bring us along with you on your journeys. Blessings

  68. patti says:

    I think you have sold me on the idea of taking a train….Can you go from NY to CA directly without switching trains? How noisy is it? Are you free to walk around? Is there a sitting room to go to or do you stay in your cabin (closet)?

    I have been a fan since book #1 and enjoy the Willard, the blog and would love to copy and paste the heading of the Willard (Autumn) on my blog and link it to your blog, with your permission of course, on a post about the fall weather here in central NY.

    I do have a link posted on the right side of my blog, too, which has been there for over a year and I have mentioned you and your garden a few times (once even wishing you and Joe would come and design a garden for me – and maintain it because I am not fond of gardening, but love gardens!!)

    Enjoy your trip…patti

    • sbranch says:

      You are free to walk about, and get off, whenever the train stops. You have to switch trains in Chicago, but that’s the best, because we get a 5 hour layover and Michigan Avenue is so close, all my shoes come from Chicago and they have great restaurants! It isn’t noisy, it’s quiet, muffled. Would love to be linked to you..thank you!

      • Christie Ray says:

        Oh, please tell Michigan ave hello for I have missed it! Husband and I took a trip there…during our courtship several years ago, and that was the first time I stepped into a Tiffany’s…it was fairly magical! We took the mile horse and carriage ride to see the beautiful brownstones and lake Michigan …how completely enchanting that city is in the summer.. They also have the most unique Cheesecake Factory there…gorgeous!
        Btw..since my orders have arrived, my house is officially Susan Branch-ised (making up words is what I do best;) the hook rugs are absolutely beautiful..beyond even the pictures online! Drank coffee from my British Birds mug and hung the 2012 calendar in the kitchen…so it’s flipped to the last page…I don’t care…it’s darling..and I love the teapot showing 4:00. The autumn book is displayed on my recipe stand in the kitchen window..too too cute! The brownies…OMG! Husband’s eyes went back in his HEAD! You rock, Susan Branch!
        Embrace this day,

  69. Heidi Rose says:

    Your train adventures brings back a wonderful memory for me…my Grandma grew up on a farm in Kansas in the 1890’s and always told me that someday, she’d take me on a train to go back to Chanute. So, in the summer of 1974, she, my mom and I took that train ride from LA to Kansas City! I think we were on the same train you’re on, the Southwest Chief. My mom and I slept in the (somewhat) reclining chairs, but Grandma being 84 got a sleeper. I loved watching the lightning bolts flashing across the prairie in the distance. It was a wonderful experience that I’ll never forget, especially since Grandma died the following year. When ever I think of trains now, I think of Grandma. 🙂 You’ll be happy to know that I read on the news that Amtrack is having their biggest ridership this year, more than any they have had in their whole entire history! Apparently, people are too fed up with air travel hassles and are hopping on the train now in droves. So, I don’t think they’ll be going out of business. Whew! I just have to share with you a favorite song of mine about trains called “Morningtown Ride”. I used to sing it to my son every night at bedtime. Now he’s a big grumpy teenager, so I don’t sing it any more, but I found this wonderful 1968 youtube version of the Seekers singing it. It brings back such precious memories for me, so I hope you’ll like it too! Thank you so much for the wonderful photos of your train trip and the wonderful way you share your adventures. I feel like I’m back on that train to Kansas City!

  70. BJ says:

    Just read your email. I LOVE the Tea Time magazine too. I’ve subscribed to it the last three years. So delicious to look at and the recipes are wonderful too. When you train out this way we can do a tea party! Your trip is sounding wonderful and I love that you choose to travel by train. How delightful.

  71. Sandra says:

    Traveling by train is really nice…virtually, as that’s all I’m doing today -smile-. Your train posts are so engaging, cozy even and I’ve enjoyed them all.
    More, please!

  72. Vita Avanesian says:

    As a girl, we used to travel by train from Houston to Denver because my uncle would not fly! I am so glad he didn’t! We have wonderful memories of rocking to sleep at night and eating in the dining car! So civilized! Your photos are so beautiful! Like paintings.

  73. Jacque says:

    Thank you for such a lovely post about the train trip….you give me hope that I might be able to go from SC to Wyoming, to see my folks (I just can’t bring myself to fly). The pictures you paint with your words are wonderful! Thanks for Willard — I got mine today, and loved every minute that I spent reading and re-reading it!

  74. I’ve travelled by train all over Europe in the past, but you are giving me the itch to hop aboard on this side of the water. It is such a great way to see the countryside without having to drive.

  75. Irene Talaasen says:

    Hi Susan,
    First I devoured the Willard that just came and then had to hop over to the Blog and enjoy more!! (sorry, I don’t do Facebook) Love your travel stories and do love your books too. Want to check about the new ones and wish I was in California to come to the Fair and book signing. But I am in beautiful Colorado and here I stay for the most part. It is God’s country!
    Thank you!!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      We took a car from Santa Fe, through Taos, up to Durango, and then meandered through the Rockies to Aspen, then over the Great Divide (not a recommended route if you have any sort of fear of edge-of-the-road-to-nowhere driving), to Denver. We still missed a lot, but what we saw was heaven.

  76. Sivje says:

    Oh Susan, I love your train posts. I love train travel so much. And Union Station is my favorite place to end up. I have not been on the trip from Chicago to L.A. before. When I started in Chicago, we went East to Philly. And my trips to and from Union Station have mostly been on the Coast Starlight. Oh how I love that trip. Bliss. Someday I hope to get the little room. But for me, breakfast in the dining car is the most wonderful thing. Such a treat! I hope your trip is wonderful!

  77. Barbara Whitebread says:

    I finally got settled and just read my Willard…..all I can say is “SIGH”…..happily(absolutely, of course!!!!) SUSAN BRANCH is an ANGEL 🙂 <3

    P.S. Blogs and Willards from Susan Branch. What more can a girl ask for 🙂

  78. Terri says:

    Thanks for the awesome fall Willard! Love the snail mail downloads and the bookmarks. Actually love it ALL! Thanks so much…
    And with your camera, do you have sports mode? I can’t remember what camera you said you used, when I am on a moving bus, vehicle and want to get a decent shot I put it in sports mode and it slows it down some… from one who loves to take pictures like me, and realizes the camera is smarter than we are! LOL! Well, I have come to that conclusion! I am still learning and I am a photo journalist… Hugs to you always!

    • sbranch says:

      I think I do have sports mode, now that you mention it!! 🙂 I will have to remember that for the scenery that wizzes by our train window!

  79. Pam says:

    Thank you for taking us with you on your travels across America, I really enjoy your posts. I received my second Willard this morning. (How have I missed all the previous ones?). I had a quick glance as we are on our way out, but isn’t it good to be knowing all day that there is something nice waiting for you when you get back home. Lovely!

  80. Nina says:

    O susan this trip is so exciting for all of us! Today I have the day off work and so after seeing the children off one to school and one “motorbike racing” I made pumpkin muffins and a pot of coffee and sat down to catch up with you! I knew there was a willard in my inbox and I was sooo tired last night I thought no I am going to wait until I am all fresh in the morning! (That is willpower for you! lol) And as always it was well worth the wait! And so is this and next I am going over to twitter to see whats going on there. (I have to confess though I am not to good with twitter I just read I have never commented don’t know how! lol.
    Thank you so much for the freebies! You really do make my day! Have a good day Sue & Joe xxxx

  81. Thank you for the tour…it makes me ready for another cross-country trip! Trains really are the best (not only because I fear flying!) but because it’s such a sweet way to slow down and enjoy traveling. The views out the windows, the naps, the people, the naps, the downtime, oh, and the naps. Thanks for sharing your photos with all of us. It helps bring back that simpler time I’m trying to capture…that little bit of Mayberry.

  82. Patsy says:

    I loved reading the latest Willard……oh so enjoyable. Everything about it was charming. Your train blogs are creating stirrings in my heart to jump on a train and travel a loooooooong way. Thank you for letting me take this trip with you.

  83. Tammy Heller says:

    Susan, I just love your blog, Willard, and….your shopping page! I have enjoyed reading your blog everyday…I love the Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and Cape Cod region…I received your “Cupcakes” hand hooked rug yesterday….and….I lovvveee it…:) I put it in front of my big white stove…(similar to yours…:)…..I’m hooked!!

  84. Jeannie M from NC says:

    Oh, Susan! I am loving our virtual tour of your train trip! Wish your Dad a Happy Birthday!
    Hugs to you, Joe, and your family!

  85. Gigi says:

    Oh, I love traveling by train too and so glad to know you’re having such a grand adventure! Sorry to say, there’s not much in the was of train travel available here in our part of the country. Although, when I was a little girl (back before the invention of dirt), my parents took me to Disneyland by train. We traveled from Sweetwater, Texas to L. A., and I thought it was the most fun I’d ever had (well, not more fun than Disneyland but close ;). Anyway, there was one of those cars with the glass roof — observation cars? — where they served drinks, etc. I went there with my dad and he ordered gingerale for me — it was the first time I’d ever had it. I loved it so much that I kept asking for more & more, and my nice Daddy let me have all I wanted. I still love gingerale to this day and always have a bottle in the fridge. Since then, we’ve gotten to travel by train a few times in Europe, and I always love it. Well, except for the time we traveled on the night train from Venice to Paris with our 13 year old (at the time) grandson. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Not! Our little room was the size of a postage stamp, and by the time we got all of our bags inside, there was hardly room to turn around. The beds were like 3 army cots sticking out of the wall – and poor Mr. had to climb a ladder to get on the top one where he practically had his nose against the ceiling and could barely turn over — talk about claustrophobia. But, it’s one of those experiences that we laugh about now, and in spite of a little temporary discomfort, a good time was had by all & wonderful memories were made on that special trip ;).

  86. Susan says:

    Wonderful train trip news. One question: how did you get to take a picture of the Amish woman? The old order Amish in western Pennsylvania don’t let anyone take their photographs. We had 2 Amish men rebuild our bathroom and they would never let us photgraph them. Such a pity; they were soo funny!
    Will you Tweet from the Twain on your return trip too?

    • sbranch says:

      These two, I guess because of being traveled and having so many children, were very outgoing and never said a thing… so I’m not sure. They answered all our questions about how life was for them, and had never seen one of my favorite movies, Friendly Persuasion — I asked. Bet they would have loved it.

  87. Amy B says:

    You’ve ‘sold’ me on train travel….how does one start? I would love to try this!

    Amy B

  88. Meg Ambabo says:

    My, that sounds like fun! I’ve taken the train many times between Detroit and Chicago, but that’s only about a 5 hour trip. I’ve often wondered how much fun it would be to travel cross country by train, and now I know – LOTS! Definitely adding this to my bucket list. Thanks for sharing – and for the fun Willard!!

  89. Deborah says:

    Thank you thank you,……..thank you!!! Love it, love it……….love it…………LOVE IT! the pictures,…the whole package….great blog!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • sbranch says:

      I just love it that you love it! Thank you!

      • Deborah says:

        Oh -I forgot, I printed the owl bookmark (one of my fav quotes, what could be better-Walt Disney)!! I have to say that is so darn cute, I love this thing! I put it on cream colored card stock, and cut the outlines as you suggested, but I doubled it, so it would be nice and sturdy,..I am going to do another the same, and modpodge it with a cute fall fabric on the back~ what a lovely gift you gave us!

  90. Mary Ann says:

    Hi Susan,
    Thanks for Willard, I enjoyed it all with my hazelnut coffee this AM and will soon be printing off the Owl, he (or is it she?) couldn’t be any cuter! The photos from the train are wonderful! It’s been many years since I’ve traveled that way but IQ still remember being 9yrs old and taking the train by myself from Chicago to Youngstown to visit my best friend who had moved. Picking my own meal and eating in the club car…oh my gosh I was so excited! Now I can’t imagine sending my grandkids off like that, how sad for us all. Looking forward to hearing all about early Fall on the west coast!

  91. julie says:

    your blog and your willard make me smile and relax all over. thank you so much for just being you and reminding us to take the time to slow down and enjoy the small things, God’s wonderful creation. you are so wonderfully talented, your products are stunning! and i love your recipes! thanks again for everything! 🙂

  92. Mary says:

    My daughter and I took a one day train trip a year ago from Union Station in LA to Emeryville (SF). It was absolutely magical for both of us. Thanks for letting me relive those memories and for the reminder to do that again!!


  93. Mrs.T says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this so we can all enjoy the trip with you and Joe. My hubby and I took a cross-country train trip in 2006 and absolutely loved it. If money (and especially time) was no object, we would travel that way every time we visit our daughter, son-in-law and grandkids in northeastern Nevada.

    We loved the trip through the Rockies, especially, and all of the wonderful views. We ate with an Amish couple for one meal, too! One person who made the trip so special for us on the way out was our fabulous sleeping car attendant, Gwendolyn. I believe she is often aboard the California Zephyr, so you may have met her too. What a delightful lady!

    Thanks again for sharing your trip and your art with us. Willard is great as usual and the bookmark a fantastic special treat!

  94. Andrea says:

    Train travel is the only way to go. I am such a fan. I traveled from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to San Antonio, Texas in December 2001 instead of flying and I had a very nice time. It loved watching the landscape and weather change from Pittsburgh sleet and snow to San Antonio sun and blue sky. And I got such a kick out of seeing Christmas decorations from the train. My traveling partner called it our “cross country twinkle tour”.
    My only recommendation to all the girls (and guys) out there is to try to get a ground floor suite. The rocking on the second floor isn’t as gentle on the ground floor and can sometimes be a little much.
    Also, Susan I just wanted to let you know that one of the little business cards you showed on a previous blog caught my attention. Enchanted Makeovers looks like a wonderful cause and I’m so glad I found it. Thanks to you, girlfriend. Glad you are having a great time on your trip. Looking forward to the next .
    Love from Waverly, NY and me xxooo

  95. Amy Lynn says:

    My husband, Steve and I were scheduled to take the Amtrak from Richmond to Ft. Lauderdale to get on our cruise ship nearly 10 years ago to celebrate our 10 year Wedding Anniversary~ Sadly, that was shortly after 9/11 and the discontinued the sleeper cars out of Richmond. Steve was in the military, and had traveled several times on a train. But I never have, so I was very disappointed, and now reading all this yummy stuff about your train trips makes me all the sadder that I didnt get to. I see a train trip in our “someday” future!
    Till then, Susan, thanks for sharing… everyday of your trip I have said to randomly to my husband… I wonder what Susan Branch is doing right now?

  96. Jane Santini says:

    Your train-travel blog makes me want to jump aboard. Hope I get to do that someday. It sounds so relaxing. I really look forward to reading your posts – the world needs more of Susan Branch, believe me. Thank you so much for sharing.

  97. carol pfeiffer says:

    love my Willard, I Do, I Do, I Do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Going to see if I can find that movie (Muriels Wedding). So many good things in Willard, going to have to re-read it.

  98. Suzanne says:

    Have you ever taken the
    train along the Puget Sound,
    from Portland {or even California!}
    to Seattle? It’s a really, really,
    beautiful trip. Sounds like your
    trip is just what the doctor
    ordered after The Creative
    Connection; enjoy your down
    time, Susan!
    xx Suzanne

  99. Emily says:

    Loved this blog of the trains- such beautiful pictures outside the train window of all the different seasons. Just finished reading your Willard! So happy that Autumn is here tomorrow- my favorite time of year and your Willard got me in the mood to cozy up!! My mom and I met you at The Creative Connection last week! It was so fun to get to talk with you and have you sign some of your books! You were even nice enough to give me a tip on watercoloring! 🙂 we were so inspired by everyone at TCC- we made so many amazing memories! Safe travels!

  100. Mindy says:

    Hi Susan! Whenever you visit your dad in Flagstaff, do you ever have time to sneak down to Cottonwood, Jerome or Prescott to antique and shop?

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