Hello from Sunny California! As some of you know, I posted lots of photos of our cross-country train trip on Twitter . . . but I know not everyone is on Twitter, so I thought I’d do a little recap here for those of you who missed it.  I’m posting from our hotel room in Seal Beach, California, starting with MUSICA and a question:

adventure and tea

Let’s do both at the same time! You will need sustenance for this post! I’m not kidding. I would suggest you make a pot! I’ve been working on this post off and on, between visits with my family, early in the morning, getting the photos together, this is my third day . . . and here we go!


So this was me (and Joe), in our train “room with the view” crossing the country the pretty way, from Boston to Los Angeles, “Twittering from the Twain,” a very human, feet on the ground type of travel. And with all the connectivity we have today, it’s very easy to “work” on a train. Not a lot of sketching and painting, because of the train rocking, but almost anything else; knitting, writing in diary, reading, having tea, anything on the computer; all is possible on the train.


We start at dawn on Martha’s Vineyard with a boat ride.  This is what it looks like when the first morning boat comes in, lots of worker bees coming to the island, trucks and cars unloading and loading. I discovered, watching this, that the new-man purse is a cooler.  Almost every guy getting off the boat carried one ~ I figured out it was more than just lunch when I saw someone open his and pull out a hat!  See that cart in the background, upper right ~ when you come and go from the island, you put your luggage on the cart, they drive it on and you can pick up your stuff on the other side. Very sane.  In thirty years, we’ve never had anything go missing.

Joe, loading up the cart

Joe is just finishing putting our luggage on the cart.


off we go

And off we go, 45 min to the mainland.


Arriving in blue-sky Boston at about 10:30 am.


South Station and here’s our stuff, on the cart, ready to board.

South Station. Boston

South Station . . .Boston, USA.


Our other three black bags on the cart behind Joe will be put in the luggage car; we won’t see them until LA.  We of the “bring it all mentality” (if that counts as a mentality) will have these bags in our room.  Joe is in cat-bird seat of joy of travel.  See Club Acela in the background?  That’s where we go to wait for our train.


Anyone who has a room on the train, gets to hang out in the Club Acela (most big cities have them) and drink free cokes and coffee and have free pastries while waiting for the train to arrive.


And here it is.  All Aboard!  Are you ready?  The red cap comes and gets us and our bags, we follow him to the train and he deposits us and our stuff in our room with a view.

zee pillow

This is the viewing perch.  We have brought the necessities of life for train travel.  I’ve been taking the train to California and back since the 1980’s when I realized just how much I did not enjoy the whole flying experience, since, despite appearances these days, I am not cattle, and so I decided to try something else.  And fell in love with the quiet gentleness of it.

slow down


We get settled, hang up our jackets, get out our books, and soon, in the gentlest possible way, the train moves a tiny bit, and then, rocking gently, we lumber out of the station on the first leg of our trip. There are hooks in the room, perfect for hanging these very accommodating French market bags filled with the little extras from home that make life sweet, carrots, oranges, celery and peanut butter, gingersnaps, and somewhere in there, a large chocolate bar. You can see what you want through the holes before you go for it.


I used to only bring an extension cord.  But we had to get over that as we’ve been “gifted” with more and more electric equipment: must have: battery chargers for iphone and camera, cord for computer, then there is the most important of all, the tea pot.


Because what is morning without your own cup of tea in your room with a view?  Minus the normal styrofoam cups. Why? Because we can. Oh, so civilized.


And so here we go . . . with appropriate MUSICA . . . to see how America is looking these days . . . past lakes and rivers . . . it’s



She is looking wonderful, as we ride along roadsides . . .


Passing traffic as we leave the city . . . Where our train, speeding in one direction, and this truck going in the other, gives quite an interesting distortion for the camera.


And then it gets truly beautiful as we head toward Chicago . . . a one-and-a-half-day overnight trip from Boston.



The gentle rocking movement of the train encourages three things, sleeping, eating, and watching out the window.  It is exactly the same sort of “watching” we do when we watch flames in the fireplace, or the Atlantic ocean when we cross on a ship.  Mesmerizing.



It’s fall, in case you didn’t notice!

the world is a garden



East of Chicago, trains are different than the ones on the west side of the country.  The west-side ones are double-deckers, with rooms upstairs and down. The trains on the east are like these, only one level but with high windows.  Doubling the viewing pleasure.

leaf border


What can I say? This part of the country is all rivers and streams, lakes and trees and woods.

back of the train

Our dear conductor did very nice thing and opened back of train so I could take a photo, so I could see it the way Lincoln saw it, or Roosevelt, from their little porches on the backs of trains.  Train travel is our heritage. The history of it is long and interesting.

leaf border


the views from the lounge were spectacular . . .


And so it goes, rocking and swaying down the tracks . . .


And this is the perfect place to do it!


On a very colorful day . . .

what a wonderful world


We are going fast and the late afternoon sun is turning everything gold. Thank you God.

storm brewing

Weather was coming into Chicago, and as we got closer we felt it and saw it . . . I just love this photo.  The train moves so quickly that often you just don’t get the photos you want.  This one was a little miracle.


in the woods

Hill and dale . . .westward we went . . .


It began to rain . . . I loved the way this tree was dropping its leaves. Lots more nature for the viewing down here at people level than at 30,000 feet.  Leaves blow past our window in constant tatters, piles of them flying by too fast for our cameras to catch.


We stop all along the way, night and day, to pick up and let off passengers.


Many streets and neighborhoods look like this.  You often see pumpkins on people’s porches ~



and once, at four AM Halloween morning, we were stopped in a train station somewhere, I looked out the window and saw a witch getting on the train!  Hat and all! No, I did not go looking for her, I stayed tucked in my bed. Next day, Chicago . . .

good witches


And here we are, arriving in Chicago.


Back to Club Acela . . . we were late coming in; so what is usually a six-hour lay-over between trains, was only one. That was good news and bad news.  Bad news: no Michigan Ave for shopping and lunch.  Good news: it was freezing and storming out there, not fit for man nor beast, and we didn’t have long to wait for the next train, the one that would take us the rest of the way, to Los Angeles. 



In the station, amazingly accommodating Red Caps pick you up at the train in these little carts, see the wagon on the back?  That’s our luggage; we sit on the front. They deposit you in the Club Acela, then come back and get you when it’s time to go.  Heaven forbid we should walk the length of a train! Actually we did give our cart up on our way in, to someone who had walking issues, but on the way back, we had it all to ourselves.


And here we are again, in our room with a view, heading west ~ we each have our own window, there is one behind me too.


And just in case you would like to see the dining car, this is it.  It’s where we sit for each meal (if we want to come, they will even deliver it to your room if you ask nicely); meals come with your ticket, but tips are appreciated by the servers.  We are usually seated with perfect strangers from every walk of life, from 747 pilots, to Amish couples, to people traveling through America from other countries, kids going back to college, doctors coming home from conferences and us. Some are very friendly, rarely someone isn’t, but politeness is the name of the game in this room.


Here’s the breakfast menu . . .

get-attachment.aspx  I think they might be lying when they say this is the low-cal choice!  Of course, being the health nut that I am, this is what I had, every day.

too much of a good thing

get-attachment.aspxOn the left, those are two Albuquerque doctors we actually met later that night at dinner; they just happen to be in this picture; and that’s Joe behind them with his camera.  This is the Observation car, speaking of rooms with views.

The thing to do, if you want to travel by train, is get an Amtrak credit card (Chase, Mastercard) … you get points, and travel for free. Oh yes, you do!


Can you imagine? Free! While rocking in your little bed on the train.


there's the moon

And the moon too, and the stars, all from your bed.  There are many in congress who would like to do away with the train system (not the freight part, just the people part).  Over the years I have seen a huge difference as they cut back on everything. Many of our routes have already been discontinued; a few years ago they came this far →.← from taking away the Boston to Albany birdroute, which meant I would have had to drive five hours to get the train in New York to get to Chicago! We were saved by the bell, but it’s a very bare bones route these days, no dining car for one thing; and often not the kind of repairs you would hope to see in the sleeping cars. But many other routes have not fared even this well; they are already starting to put trains in museums.  Some folks have to drive hundreds of miles to get on a train. Beggars can’t be choosers. It’s a terrible thing in my opinion . . . and in the opinion of this guy . . . 

the situation

Just a regular person, not an Amtrak employee (fighting for his middle class job), but just someone who cares, who took the time to write this smart letter, make copies and leave them lying around in the lounge car.  I could not agree more.  Even if you will never take the train yourself, I would hope our children could see our world from these windows if they want to. It’s birdvoting day, an appropriate time to think about the stuff that makes America great; personally I vote a straight “I love the train” ticket.  Train lovers love America, they love the middle class. Trains use much less energy than any other form of travel, they could even be updated using our wonderful American we-can-do-it kind of know-how; it costs nothing to drag along a few extra train cars . . . maybe a massage car, or a meditation car, a car for MUSICA, a children’s play room, a library, a tour guide or lecturer, or any old thing; I wish Disney would buy it!  But not to be too picky, if we could at least just keep what we have I would be happy.  The cross-country trains provide much needed down time in this crazy world of ours, that’s something to protect.

FYI, with lve from the Heart of the Home and me.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming.


wide open spaces

And now, for your arm-chair training enjoyment, the wide open spaces of the wild and wonderful Mid-West . . .


Skies began to clear, the storm was behind us . . . And here is just a part of the Heartland of our beautiful country.  Falling in Love with the English Countryside?  Now we fall in Love with the American Countryside.



Where generations of families came from all over the world to make a place for themselves; here they farmed the land. I know some would have us believe there is a disconnect between the coasts and the Midwest, but I don’t think so.  So many of us have roots here, my mom was born in Iowa, I think the Iowa in me is my best part!


Here they laid mile after mile of track; we see houses that are so far from each other, we’re pretty sure they must celebrate Halloween at The Grange!  It is not neighborhood door-to-door trick-or-treat around here! But when we have come ‘cross country on the train at Christmas time, we’ve seen every house lined in colored lights. It was touching to see them, those houses, some seemingly in the middle of nowhere, twinkling celebration in the dark, the whole country, lit up cities and towns, pulled together in gratitude.

a picture

another sunset

Another sunset, getting redder all the time, as we go toward Colorado . . . whistle blowing across the land . . .


And stop here in Albuquerque. Sometimes we get off here, get a car at the airport and drive one hour to Santa Fe, then up and over the mountains to see our family in Durango . . .


  It’s always a one-hour layover, they wash the windows and we get to walk and drink in the fresh air . . . and look at the Native American jewelry they sell in the station. 


The dirt in New Mexico is red! The sky is blue, the trees are green and the adobe is either white or brick colored.  It’s very primary out here.

wild and wooly west

And now for the land of sagebrush and rock . . . it’s cowboy country right outside your window . . .


There’s a poem called Out Where the West Begins written in 1917 that sings a song of this part of the country . . .



“Out where a fresher breeze is blowing . . .”


“Where there’s laughter in every streamlet flowing . . .”

IMG_8204  “That’s where the west begins . . .”

last night

One more of these . . .



And the next morning we come over the mountains to arrive in Los Angeles, our destination, and travel spot for the next three weeks.

oh my

hearts and flowers

Yes, to go away we had to leave these faces for three weeks . . . and it was hard, but our friends, Will and Debby, are staying at our house on the island and sending photos and we know they are in good hands . . . And in exchange . . .

Paden and Mason

We get this . . . for the last two days we’ve been with these faces; my nephews, along with my mom and my sister Shelly ~ and my sister’s twins, Paden, on the left and Mason, on the right.  They are eleven and this is the first time in my life I’ve totally been able to tell them apart. Whew!  Maybe they can now forgive me for all the times I’ve had to say, “Which one are you?”


the boys

Paden on the left, Mason on the right.  Poor things, they don’t know how to have fun. I feel so bad for them.


They helped us move into our hotel . . .


After they finished with the cart . . .


which took a while . . .

the boys helping us

But we finally got it together . . . it’s so nice to have some (extra) men around the house. 


Yes, I know, I’m almost done being delightful. 🙂 I just want you to know, it might take me a while to get your comments moderated (which I have to do in order to prevent spam from loading up our comment section), but I’ll get there ~ never fear.  We’re off to my mom’s as soon as I get done here. Until then, one small favor? If you could close your eyes for a moment and say a little prayer for Blog Daddy, he doesn’t feel well.  We’re going see him in Arizona on our way home in a couple of weeks, but until then, could you please surround him with your blessings, Girlfriends?  Thank you! You are the best! XOXO to you and a special Muah! to Blog Daddy.

If you don’t have our November Calendar, here’s what you almost missed!  Happy November Girlfriends! XOXO Make it a wonderful one for you and the ones you love.


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466 Responses to A CASE for AMTRAK

  1. Jeanette in Illinois says:

    Although I followed along on Twitter, your blog post was most-delightful!! What a lovely sojourn and to take us along with you, a big squishy hug!!!

    Prayers for Blog Daddy, for sure. My Daddy, who’s lived with us for the past three years has been unwell lately too, so hard. Trying to do everything possible to help him feel as best as possible. Tonight we had Chinese food by candlelight for dinner and have a lovely checkerboard cake with buttercream frosting for dessert! Must celebrate all the small moments…if you could say a prayer for mine too, I’d be most appreciative.
    Love and hugs, prayers and blessings to you & and B Daddy!!

    • sbranch says:

      Happy to do that Jeanette!

      • Jeanette in Illinois says:

        Thank you, Susan!! XoooX

        • Rhonda D. says:

          Jeanette, I will add your Dad to my prayer list too. I live beside the train tracks, and the train just went by, whistle blowing. Every time I hear the train, it will remind me to pray for your Dad and Blog Daddy too. Sending hugs to both of them.

          • sbranch says:

            I love that idea, thank you so much Rhonda . . .

          • Susan P. says:


            My daughter name is Jeanette also. I love the idea, of Rhonda D, when the train goes by and whistle she will say a prayer for your dad also. We can hear the AM track and also the other trains from various places….So when I hear the whistles…prayers for all….and their caretakers also. God Bless you all and take care. Love Susan P.

          • Jeanette in Illinois says:

            Thank you Rhonda and Susan P!!! Your comments made me get tears in my eyes…it’s been difficult. I feel lifted up by you both and Susan. Most grateful. Hugs.

  2. Linda T. from Maine says:

    Thanks so much for a look see through the train windows . Nice to see so much countryside. I lived in New Mexico for 10 mouths and ran back to Maine as fast as I could go. No place like home. I was so home sick. Was not my “cup of tea” out there. Hope Blog Daddy is ok. We were told today at the hospital that MUM is gettting bad now..COPD and Cancer, that we have to go into hospice and family needs to make a decision with in two days. If we take her home and do this or a hospice place. I did hospice in 2005 at home when I lost my husband.. so hard to do..but you do what our loved ones want no matter what. We care. We love them.Thanks for bringing up my spirits if only for a moment. Big Hugs to blog Daddy.

  3. Linda T. from Maine says:

    Thanks for listening.

  4. Jean says:

    We love train travel. Last week we rode the train from Lynchburg, VA to New York to visit our son. Last spring we took the Auto Train from DC to Sanford, Florida. That trip was an overnighter and we had a nice room as you had on your trip. We plan on a do over of that trip next spring. Such a great way to travel and we had our car with us. Love the train!

  5. Martha Ellen of VA says:

    What a lovely train trip across our country! I’m going to check with my representatives and see their stand on the future of trains. Our daughter absolutely adores train travel. She and her family usually travel between Boston and Va by way of train when they visit with us. I will keep Blog Daddy in my prayers. Get well Jack! We think the world of you! xo ♥

  6. diana from ancaster says:

    prayers for Blog Daddy?
    consider it done.

    thank you for bringing us along with you and Joe …….. I love travelling by train…VIA Rail here…..just as civilized.


  7. jennifer farnes says:

    i LOVE taking the train! when i was 20 i traveled clear across the country on the last run of the union pacific railroad. that’s when they had dining cars with real waiters all dressed to the 9’s and white cloth tablecloths and napkins and actual china and silver. the porter i talked to let me take a union pacific spoon. it is so dear to me. i would be devastated to think the trains would no longer run in this country. utterly. the amazing photo you took of the church as you neared chicago looks EXACTLY like a maxfield parrish painting. it is amazing! you ought to sell that thing on postcards. prayers for blog daddy and wishing you safe journeys.

  8. Lois Rehm says:

    Dear Susan,
    Just checked your blog, hoping you would have had a chance to let those of us
    non-twitterers know that you and Joe arrived safely on the West Coast. How wonderful to find your pictures and trip comments! Train travel such as you describe is far more appealing and therapeutic than the herding, cramming,
    and cramping that takes place with air travel these days.

    Wisconsin is my home state, and I’m distressed with the Gov.’s position on Amtrak and on other issues. Thanks for urging all to check closely the views of our legislators on Amtrak and other matters.

    Last, my prayers for your dear father. I hope he feels the warmth, affection, and prayers of all the girlfriends during his convalescence.

    God bless and keep you and Joe safe and well.

    Lois from Scarsdale

  9. Linda Kramer says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your train trip. A friend and I took the train from Oakland, California to Eugene, Oregon and it was so beautiful and so soothing. I just love that clickety clack of the rails and the subtle swaying of the cars. The things you get to see-such beautiful landscapes. I don’t travel that much these days- just through your blogs. So again, thanks for taking the time to share. Hope your daddy feels better soon.I’ll add my prayers to the others-for peace and healing.

  10. Kit in Montana says:

    My that was fun! I have never traveled by train but it looks like such a wonderful way to go. Thanks for sharing! Safe travels. 🙂 Kit

  11. Chris Wells In Knickerbocker, W TX says:

    What a great blog! I had so much I wanted to comment on, until I got to the end and read that Blog Daddy Jack is under the weather. Then all of that drifted away.
    Dear Blog Daddy, sending prayers and God speed for a quick recovery! You are the best! You are very much loved out here in blog land. I love the thought of all those “prayers from all over the country…and the world….rising to meet in the air all those that are praying at that very hour…expanding into the living ether.” Loosely quoting Kahil Gibran.
    Get Well from West Texas!

    • sbranch says:

      I love that too . . . I talked to him last night, he’s feeling a little better and loving reading your comments. xoxo

  12. Wendy Louise says:

    Dear Susan,
    Thank-you for a fabulous trip across this great nation, I can’t wait to try this out ! When we do, I hope to get some pointers from you and Joe. Things go better when you know a little bit about what you are doing and you two are PRO’s ! They better never get rid of the train system ! What a way to go, I too like my feet on the ground or water ! My whole family is sending heartfull prayers to Blog Daddy,that he feels better real soon ! Have a lovely rest of your trip and give your Daddy a Big Hug and Kiss from Wendy – Louise ! OXOXOX

  13. Christie says:

    What a wonderful train ride at the most glorious time of year! It’s so much fun to travel with you and Joe 😉 Sending prayers for Blog Daddy. Healing hugs Blog Daddy… feel better soon.

  14. Isabel says:

    Dear Susan,
    I used to travel on Amtrak from Florida to New York in my non-flying days. The last time I flew was in 2006 and I really don’t want to do it again. Not now, anyway. The only problem with that is there are some places you can’t get to, such as some of the beautiful states I would love to visit, including the Mid-west. I had wanted to go to Colorado to visit a friend who I have not seen in about 15 years but would not fly. But I would have to go from Orlando to Wash. D.C. to Chicago to Denver. And not having a room, and changing trains 3 times, I don’t know if that is possible. I am not as young as I used to be. It is kind of hard having no privacy and no restroom for 3 days. I also would love to take a cruise to Alaska but would have to get to Portland or Seattle, I think or some city on the West Coast. So when you said you were going on the train to California, I wondered how many trains you would have go get on, but that was not bad, staying on the same train from Chicago. I LOVE the train, very relaxing, even though it only took 24 hours to get to New York. But some of those trips were a nightmare. I could write a small book about them over the years. Thanks for listening to me. Just wanted to touch base with you since you know what is involved with train travel cross-country.

    Blog-daddy is in my thoughts and prayers. Hope he is feeling better very soon. Look forward to hearing more from yours and Joes travels.

    • sbranch says:

      That’s the problem, it’s too bad a route from Orlando directly to Chicago was not available. You do have to be young not to have a room; One time in a blizzard I was going out of Boston and when we went to board the train they told us the sleeping cars “hadn’t made it.” That was an interesting surprise. I was with a girlfriend, we made a little nest for ourselves in the regular passenger cars, and the train ended up being so late, we missed our connection to CA and had to get a hotel in Chicago. Things do happen!

  15. Marion Rose says:

    Thank you Susan for taking us across this wonderful land called America. Would love to take the same type of trip. I think you left the Island at the right time. We had a Nor’Easter on this past weekend! The wind was wild, with heavy rain. We also had snow in the rain and it collected on some of the
    roof tops here in Sandwich. By Sunday night it was still raining and blowing and we had the most beautiful orange sky at sunset. Monday morning the sun was out and the sky was a perfect blue. Amazing! I have added Blog Daddy to my prayer list——I’m sure he will feel the warmth of all our “Girlfriends”
    coming to him. Enjoy your family, love those sweet boys—Safe travels, Marion

    • sbranch says:

      I had two friends visiting the island and they both got stuck there because of the storm! Couldn’t fly out as planned. I missed a good one! Thank you Marion! xoxo

  16. Kim Wilson says:

    Hi Susan. I know I am a dork but when you posted a pic of a view of the view thru a window you said there was a window behind you. How? Isn’t it a room , the aisle, then another room? Told you I was a dork. Welcome home to California

    • sbranch says:

      This room is downstairs, in the very back of the car, on the west bound train out of Chicago, and it is the entire width of the train, so you get both sides (two windows). There’s only one in every sleeping car, all the rest of the rooms are the way you are “seeing” them. Not a dork, pretty darn intuitive if you ask me.

  17. Sharon at the Farm in South Carolina says:

    I finally got to the end of this blog (and no doubt . . . enjoyed every single photo and description) to find out about Jack! More later about this special trip, but for now, thinking of your Dad and hoping that he feels a bunch better before you and Joe get there to visit with him and his nice wife.

  18. Danella on the Canadian West Coast says:

    Dear Susan, Hope you and Joe are having a wonderful time and that your Dad is feeling better real soon. Praying for him and for your safe travels too. Thank you for another lovely blog. Such beautiful pictures! Blessings to you all.

  19. Pam says:

    Another adventure added to my bucket list! Thank you for the beautiful pictures and words!

  20. Cristina Pyper says:

    Dear Susan, you are so very generous to find a lovely way to share your experience and include us, your readers, in the joys of your travels. Thank you for Copland’s music, for breath-taking images, for sharing such beauty in every possible way on here! I did follow your advice and made myself a cup of white tea and had a delightful read before bedtime. Have fun in Cali, and enjoy family and friends, and let them enjoy you!


  21. Anne D. S. says:

    When I think of trains I recall the amazing descriptions that Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote of building the westward railways in her book, “By the Shores of Silver Lake.” It was as mesmerizing and magical as your photos and narrative of this trip! We are so fortunate to live in such a big and diverse country.
    I hope that your Dad begins to feel better–prayers for him, and you, too.

  22. Tiina says:

    I loved all the pictures! Your right the train is amazing! I remember taking the Amtrak in 5th grade on a field trip! So fun. We took 120 first graders on one and also saw the train museum is Sacramento. They had so much fun. If you ever get a chance check it out. The old trains and dining cars are amazing. Being a big believer in the power of prayer, I will say a few extra for your Dad. Have a good time in Cali, I’m only a few hours away from you in Atwater (Central Valley) near Modesto. Best to you and Joe!
    xo Tiina

    • sbranch says:

      What a great thing to do for children! Joe and I took my mom, two 14 year old nieces, and one 12 year old nephew on the train once! So much fun!

  23. Willa says:

    Dear Susan, first and foremost we (Sam – lung transplant recipient and I0 will be praying for Blog Daddy. We KNOW the power of prayer after what we have been through since June! It will be a privilege to lift up your Dad to the Great Physician!

    You probably don’t remember, but several years ago – long before your wonderful blog – I emailed you and asked about taking the train on a long trip. You sent me the most informative email listing the pros and cons for the various size sleeper cars and what to take, etc. It was a wonderful and a very useful “newsletter” for Sam and me. Last year at Thanksgiving we finally took that trip. LOVED every minute of it! Didn’t sleep very much because I just could not stop looking out the window! Your pictures brought back all those memories. Thank you for the perfect post today for us! Have a terrific trip! And let us know how Blog Daddy is doing! Love, Willa

    • sbranch says:

      The first time Joe joined me on the train, I would wake up in the night, and there he would be, nose pressed against the glass, he didn’t want to miss a thing. I’m so glad you enjoyed it Willa!

  24. Christine Perica says:

    Thank you for such a peaceful trip across America the Beautiful! Enjoy your visit with your darling mother and know that prayers are being lifted for Blog Daddy right now. Traveling mercies.

  25. Susan ( an Ohio gal in SoCal ) says:

    Saying a prayer for your dad! Somehow, I overlooked that part, but saw mention of it in the comments. Hope he feels better quickly!

  26. Nancy B says:

    I said a prayer for your dad, Susan. Hope he will be feeling quite chipper by the time you visit him on your return trip. This is such a lovely post. I will make sure my husband reads this one…maybe he will get inspired to take a train trip. Our last flying adventure was quite stressful. Have a wonderful visit with your family!
    Nancy (from Bakersfield)

  27. Sue Miller says:

    Thank you for the trip! Because of you, I have a chance to travel a little from my kitchen table. Prayers for Blog Daddy. Daddy’s are special, mine is the reason I can not travel at this time. My pleasure to return some of the caregiving to him. Have a wonderful trip!
    Sue Miller
    Buffalo, N

    • sbranch says:

      I know how you feel. Our parents don’t want to be a “burden” — they have no idea how much we want to return the favor as we were the burdens at one time!

  28. Pat Johnson says:

    Oh the train ride was fabulous!! I so love the train as well. Took trips as a family (with 4 children) when I was young – to IOWA! Makes me want to jump on that train! And I scrunched my eyes and wrapped my arms around myself and sent the hugest “get better” message to Blog Daddy!!! Can’t have this!! Rest and get ready for the fun……. I am traveling home to Paso Robles tomorrow (Wednesday) and should be there by Friday AND THEN I get up in the morning and take the trip to CAYUCOS AND MY BFF!! What a wonderful treat!! Enjoy your entire journey…. OH, how could I forget that I will be seeing the BFF’s FABULOUS – WONDERFUL – GREAT SIGNIFICANT (for sure) OTHER!!!! Have to get that hubby in, too. Sending my love to you both. XXXXOOOO

    • sbranch says:

      Oh Pat, I just love this — now you have to clearly tell me, “Pat from Paso Robles,” so I know who I’m talking to!

  29. Carol on the farm in Iowa says:

    I am praying for your daddy. Love your trip sharing, photos are wonderful! Noticed the wet wipes. They are some of my best friends!! The family teases me about it, but who do they turn to when they need to wipe their sticky or germy hands? You guessed it! Have fun!

    • sbranch says:

      For travel these days, I think you might be a little crazy not to have them. Who wants to spend your vacation with a cold!

  30. Lisa R says:

    Thank you Susan, for sharing with those of us not on twitter. To take the time to share with us, in the midst of your vacation, is very, very nice of you. I thoroughly enjoyed your travels! ….Praying for your dear Daddy. Hope he is doing much better by the time you arrive, and you enjoy a sweet visit with him. We have had a gorgeous fall in Arizona, just now starting to get chilly up here in the northern parts. You’ll love it.

  31. Lisa Jorgensen says:

    What great photos of your wonderful trip. Looks like a beautiful time of year to see the country. Enjoy your visit to California. Wish you were doing a book signing in the Valley.
    Prayers will go out for your dear Daddy.

  32. Joanne Wood says:

    You say the train doesn’t allow for good pictures – but so many great one’s I say, and others look beautifully impressionistic – don’t you think? I love the sounds of approaching trains. Reminds me of going to the station to meet my aunt coming in from far away Detroit to Kalamazoo in the ’40s – and the thrill of a real steam engine – and watching for the red caboose. I sigh for the things that may or are disappearing from our lives. I am not against progress – but —– just sayin.

    • sbranch says:

      It’s just those ones that “got away!” Like the witch. No camera at the ready for that one! I like progress too, my computer is my friend! But like England, where they’ve held on to so much of the past, I’d like us to be a little more aware of what we give up as we go along.

  33. Thinking of you today, Jack! Sending lots of warm, healing hugs and prayers.
    Susan, thanks for sharing your adventure and all of the fun along the way! Enjoy all of your days in California. Before long, you will be hugging your dad in person! It will be the best medicine!
    Safe travels, dear ones!
    Warm hugs!

  34. Linda Hill says:

    Now I will have to add this train trip to my bucket list if I can ever afford it!!
    Have loved trains since I was a little girl and got to take the train (about 1 hour trip ) back in the day to Grandparents house…………I was allowed to even go alone at about 5 years old when the porters were trusted to take care of us . Have a safe trip back and thanks for the journey.
    Will put Jack in my prayers. Linda from Idaho where it is starting to get cold (low 60’s) but my begonias, geraniums, roses, marigolds etc are still blooming and even picked some cherry tomatoes from my garden to eat yesterday!! Thank you God!!!

    • sbranch says:

      Get that credit card and start accruing points! It’s like a little savings account where you don’t actually have to put in money!

  35. Audrey by the sea. says:

    I am very sorry to hear that Blog Daddy is not feeling well right now. I remember a comment that he posted to one of the girlfriends on your blog. He wrote, “every day in every way, I keep getting better and better.” I hope he is saying that to himself as much as he can.
    Susan, you make everything so special on your blog. I just love it. Thank you.

    Sending LOVE to Blog Daddy.

  36. Susan Mixon says:

    First things first…prayers for Blog Daddy for feeling better as each day comes and goes, and that your time together will be just wonderful. HThank you, Susan, for such a meaningful train ride across this beautiful country of ours. This past May, HUBBY and I went by car through the southern route, through big Al, as I liked to call it, and then on up to Sequoia National Park, and to CA . What a special perspective riding the train across provides…I have always loved the West but when I saw Mr. Chapman’s poem, it was then my eyes got misty for I have long loved that poem and even found an old framed picture poem of it a few years back. Thank you, Susan, for bringing us to beautiful places for us to see, not only with our eyes, but with our hearts.

  37. Patsy in Nixa, MO says:

    Amtrak should name you Vice President in charge of Promotions. You make us want to hop a train immediately.

    Love to you, Blog Daddy. Get well.

  38. Pat W. says:

    Thank You so much for the lovely blog & as I do not “Twit” it is so appreciated. What a wonderful means of travel – enjoy every moment – it seems as if you are. And, how fortunate to be with your family. Prayers for Dad going out to him daily. You are a “treasure”….

  39. I always enjoy your train trips. Such style! Welcome to California! Xo

  40. Penny says:

    What an amazing train system you have! It looks so comfortable….. I love all your photographs, but the one of the little church is astonishing, it looks like a painting somehow. Sending love and healing thoughts to your dear Dad xxx

  41. Vida Howard says:

    Safe Travels. Father God please strengthen and protect Blog Daddy. Amen

  42. Jane Franks says:

    Hi Susan: This is just what I needed, this morning in our hotel, on way home, letting Gene sleep an extra hour. I was feeling blue leaving the island behind (Marion Rose described the storm perfectly, by the way.) It was just so magical walking around VH stopping in the shops, having steaming cups of coffee the snow flakes swirling but not lighting — just magically disappearing! And the day before, my wonderful 3 hour tour with Cheryl King, stopping in Menemsha for lobster bisque, and seeing the lovely countryside of Chilmark. I have decided I like shoulder season best! I was SO glad to miss my connections and get marooned for an extra day! I felt like Robinson Crusoe, or better yet, the 17th century Puritan girl, Bethia, I’m reading about in “Caleb’s Crossing”! I met another friend, on my extra day, and had lunch at the Black Dog Tavern in VH on the beach! Fried oysters! Heavenly!
    But. . .this morning, reading your blog has lifted my spirits. We truly ALL are a wonderful, beautiful country. Your insights on our middle western friends and family was heartwarming and true. The scenes from your windows brought back many happy memories of road trips with my family growing up. And of course, your first photos of leaving the island and arriving in Boston were a special, emotional review of my own recent journey over those very same steps. I didn’t know about the luggage cart at the ferry!! (Should have done more homework!). I carted my one piece behind me everywhere! I’ll remember that next time, and then I can tour the ferry better!
    Your upbeat, can do spirit, finding the best wherever you go is such an inspiration– and gives me courage to pursue my own dreams, and face the challenges of caring for Gene. I aim to go forward doing it all with grace and style!
    And last but not least . . . I will indeed be praying for your dear Dad. As we move on through life these times become more and more precious. And there is beauty in every season.
    God bless, and have a wonderful time in California making lovely new memories. Give Joe a big hug & squeeze, too!! xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      “And there is beauty in every season” — lovely Jane, so true. Feel so blessed. I’m thrilled that you got that extra day on the island with all the excitement of the storm. You are the perfect person for all of that! Sending love to you and Gene. xoxo

  43. ann hyde says:

    This has probably been said before, but I love a corny joke:
    I know why the witch got on the train…..because her broomstick broke! See, I said I like corny 😉

  44. judi says:

    Love your delicious travel post! What a perfect time of the year to do it with natures paint palette ablaze. The pictures were captivating and I think we all, if we could, would love to jump on the nearest train for an adventure:)

    Dear blog Daddy, may you feel the prayers and gentle hugs from around the world!!! sent to you. I am sending my prayer, hug, hand squeeze and kiss on the forehead to you. xoxox judi

  45. Winnie Nielsen says:

    What a delightful trek across America on Amtrak! It is a gift to see all of the little towns and our glorious landscape from the east coast to west! I am so glad you shared this all with us today. From our trip on Amtak this past summer from Chicago to Glacier National Park, it too was made aware of the desperate need for funding and support for train travel. There was an article in the little Amtrak welcome paper in our room with an article from the CEO stating that Amtrak was working hard on the issues it faces today with lack of funding and the new competition with freight to even have predictable access to the train tracks. It was explained to me, by one of the conductors , that oil freight from North Dakota, followed by Grain transport freight have priority over passenger train for use of the tracks. Alas, we had many long delays and sat on the tracks waiting for 100 long car oil tankers to pass before we could continue. Amtrak desperately needs funding and people who value the need for train travel as a viable means of routine transportation. I hope that our country will not let this important and historical means of transportation continue to suffer cuts and lack of support. Your photo journey should be used for a marketing campaign to generate some much need love on Capitol Hill for our nations Empire Builder train!

  46. Susan Joy says:

    Thank you for sharing your train trip with us. Just beautiful! Your father is in my thoughts and prayers.

  47. Carol from The Heartland says:

    Dearest Susan,
    Amazing photographs! Thank you for sharing. When I saw the gorgeous photo of the harvested cornfield and the white farmhouse across the field I wept. I love the Midwest and our hardworking, honest, down to earth folk. I am so glad you love us as well. Am praying for your father.

  48. Tammie C. says:

    Oh, now you’ve done it…I want to go on a train trip too! I’ve never been on the Amtrack. You’re an awesome advertiser for them!
    I’m sending up prayers right now for your sweet Daddy. I’m sure your visit with him will be like a good dose of healing medicine!
    XO, Tammie

  49. Jack says:

    Thanking all you girlfriends for your prayers and good wishes — when God saw all that
    coming in he said, “who is this guy ?” … Flipping over to the S’s in his big book
    The medicine from the E.R. For bronchial infection is working ….just that nagging cough
    To get over . I’m going to schedule a visit to Mayo Clinic in Phoenix and get checked over by a Pulmonoligist to see if I can get better O2 distribution …..lungs were damaged. doing shipbuilding in the 40s…..
    I think Sue will be in Arroyo Grande and Santa Barbara today , signing and visiting with all the GFs . Busy girl , loving what she does!

  50. Ann Jane Koerber says:

    Dear, dear Susan: I’m glad that this blog is viewed in private at my desk at home, because right now I am a “blubbering idiot”……..cried all through it and then saw that Blog Daddy wasn’t well……………that sent me to the Rosary. So I’m back and just want to say that I am so amazed at what you do and how you view life. These pictures are great…… my heart was right with you on that there train, enjoying every morsel of our land. Then the musica………Woody Guthrie………OMG……very moving indeed! Have you ever met Arlo Guthrie? He resides not far from here and plays at quaint little theaters/places now and then when not on tour. Love him too! Enjoy your trip and my prayers will be with you and Blog Daddy every day. xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      Hi Ann! Haven’t met Arlo, only gone to concerts on the island. Thank you so much, have a wonderful day!

  51. Claudia says:

    Prayers for your dad, Susan. Thank you for this wonderful post. I want to travel across the country via the train so badly! It looks heavenly. What a gorgeous trip you had!


  52. LindaH (northern IN) says:

    Hi Susan,

    Glad to see your dad’s post, that he is feeling better. Sending a prayer for his recovery! I thoroughly enjoyed your wonderful post! You do an excellent job of conveying your love of train travel. I have taken the train many times, but not on such long trips as yours. I can feel that chug-a-lugging feeling of the train moving, so soothing. I think that I had better schedule another, (longer) trip of my own to take advantage of those gorgeous views! Enjoy the rest of your trip!

  53. Marty from NYC says:

    Dear Blog Daddy Jack–

    Such a relief to come to the end of the current comments and hear that you are feeling better, Jack. So many thoughts, prayers and loving wishes are with you in your recovery.
    As much as the doctors and medicine, I hope that your clever mind and good humor will see you through this. We are all looking forward to your visit with Susan and Joe.
    Hugs all around to you, your family and to Susan and Joe and best wishes for their safe trip to you. Most Fondly, Marty

  54. Kathy says:

    Oh my, my, my what a WONDERFUL trip I just took. Thank you so very much for posting this. As I listened to the music and saw the lovely pictures it brought back memories of my childhood when our family would leave Florida and travel by train to New York city to visit my grandparents. Thank you for sharing your trip with us. You have such a sweet and calm way with words, it always give me a joyful peace of mind.

  55. Rhonda P in Woodson, TX says:

    The “BEST” desk chair trip I ever took! Thank you so much for the beautiful post!!

  56. Virginia says:

    Susan, Your blog is always so special, such a quiet and delightful interlude in my day. I always feel calm and happy after reading it and enjoying your really marvelous illustrations and photos. Thank you, thank you for sharing with all of us.

    I know you must be loving your trip to California and family but it’s late fall in Massachusetts, a warm-ish day and the oaks are very colorful this year, vivid russet and gold. Your blog makes me stop and appreciate them even more than usual. I put just one leaf on my kitchen counter and have enjoyed it so much, an object of meditation. Thank you for that.

    And prayers for Blog Daddy as well. I hope the news is good. Safe travels, Virginia

  57. Sharon in So. Calif. says:

    So glad to hear you are feeling better blog Daddy. Lots of love and prayers sent your way. Have a wonderful visit with Sue & Joe, we all know you will. Sue thank you so much for this blogging from the train post. I have never been on a train (but would love to), the scenery is the best. Have loads of fun with your family and wish you safe travels, always. xoxoxo

  58. Mary in Phoenix says:

    An Irish Prayer for Blog Daddy: “May God grant you always … A sunbeam to warm you, a moonbeam to charm you, a sheltering angel so nothing can harm you”. You have warmth in Arizona (although it’s cold right now!) … have more charm than most … and your sweet angels Sue and Jeanie watch over you … but an Irish prayer always helps 🙂 Glad you are feeling better!

    Dear Susan … thanks for the inspiring ride across America ♥ Curious if you saw the Castaneda Hotel in LV, NM? Does the train ever stop there? I just went to a book signing at the Heard Museum for Stephen Fried who wrote “Appetite for America ~ Fred Harvey and the Business of Civilizing the Wild West One Meal at a Time”. OMG … It’s a page turner! Add it to your book list! Have fun in CA soaking up that sunshine. Hard to believe it was one year ago that we celebrated my friend Mary’s birthday with you and Joe at the Madonna Inn 🙂 What a memory … xoxo

    • sbranch says:

      I missed it! I must have been in the shower. Joe saw it, and so far, he says he can’t see that any changes have been made to it yet. Such a wonderful old building. I’m thrilled about the people who bought it. Only last year! Seems like a long time ago. Tell Mary, Happy Birthday again!

      • Mary in Phoenix says:

        Will do … thank you ♥ Sounds like the people who bought the Castaneda also bought another historic hotel, The Plaza, and have worked to get that open so people have a place to stay when they come to town. They’re having a “FredHead Weekend” in Las Vegas, NM this weekend with the LV premier of “The Harvey Girls: Opportunity Bound”. Sound fun! Have fun in your neck of the woods. Seal Beach, Santa Barbara, Cayucos and Arroyo Grande … doesn’t get much better than that 🙂

        • sbranch says:

          No, you are right . . . so far it’s been beautiful. We drive north today, book signing in Santa Barbara this evening!

  59. Toni from Sylvania OH says:

    Dear Susan…what a wonderful trip across country I just had:-))) thanks so much! Your pictures are just breathtaking:-) Would love to try the train experience…sounds very romantic…maybe not as much as the Queen Mary, but nonetheless…just to get away with my honey…sounds like heaven:-) Prayers for your Dad and your safe trip. Waiting for your next installment…
    love and hugs, Toni from Sylvania OH oxoxox

  60. Amy says:

    Prayers and best wishes to Blog Daddy! Thanks for posting the pics of New Mexico. I spent 5 years in Albuquerque, and I miss the big, blue sky in the Fall, and visiting Santa Fe. Thanks, also, for the info about trains and for reminding us that it’s fading away as a means of transportation. It has inspired me to move train travel up on my bucket list. Happy Autumn!

  61. carmel says:

    I will pray for your beloved dad everyday. He’s so loved by us too.
    Those pictures of Paden and Mason are joyous! Thanks for posting those. And thanks for taking the time to post all those life giving photos of our beautiful country. Were those buffalos out in the field? Cows are nice too. Even though I
    fly a lot when I travel, it would be terrible not to have passenger train service. I’ve taken the train from DC to Philly and NY. So relaxing and gives you time for reflection. I love your description of Joe wanting to experience everything even at night on the train. He’s so endearing. Please keep us posted on your dad. My love to him, Paden, Mason, their mom, your mom and the SB staff (and to you & Joe and all I’ve missed!).

  62. Darcy K Los Alamitos says:

    Well, I can see from your pictures that your hotel is just blocks away from my house! What perfect weather we are having for your trip here. I loved seeing fall across America. Fall here is what we make of it with pumpkins on our porch or in our ovens, so it is such a pleasure to see it from the window of a train across the whole country. Thank you!!! Enjoy every minute of your time here and sending good wishes in blog Daddy’s direction.

  63. Kathy R from Iowa says:

    I don’t twitter, so am grateful for the blog. I haven’t ridden the train, but I think those who do must view scenery that many never see – beautiful. I agree with your statement – “I think the Iowa in me is my best part!” 🙂

  64. Pam says:

    Thanks for sharing the journey with us, it looks wonderful 🙂 . Train travel is so much better than driving. I hope your dad is feeling much better now.

  65. Elly says:

    You and Joe are two very blessed individuals, traveling across the country by train. My daughter, granddaughter and I made a train trip from Toronto to Edmonton Alberta, a number of summers ago; the joy of it still fresh in my memory! I certainly hope that those lawmakers in D.C. understand the blessings of traveling by train, and how it is more eco-friendly than other modes of travel. Unfortunately, too many people in peer only think about the “almighty” dollar!
    In regards to your “Blog Daddy” I will keep him in prayer, and ask the Lord to uphold your loved one, and surround him with His love and care! <3 and (((hugs)))

    • sbranch says:

      What a wonderful memory, and thank you on behalf of my dad. xoxo And yes, “almighty dollar” expenditure depends on goal: if the goal is a beautiful life for all people with healthy vegetables, clean air and water, educated children, lovely health system, then money goes there instead of drones to deliver Amazon packages an eighth of an inch faster than the day before. The post office always seems to have worked out ok to me.

  66. Bev Brewer says:

    Was going to write a comment about your New England fall post, but time slipped by and now this beautiful train post has captivated me, too. I guess I should just say thank you for all your wonderful posts and for you taking the time to share so much with us. I was going to mention the Queen Anne’s lace photo in a prior post, because I have always thought it so pretty and sweet. A florist friend shocked me by saying it was regarded as an invasive plant in some areas, but wasn’t there a quote from long ago stating that “it must be a much beloved plant to have been given such a beautiful name”? You would know more about quotes and their origins, but I still think it is a lovely plant. So glad to hear your wonderful Dad is feeling better—what great news!

  67. Susan Cook says:

    Offering prayers for blog daddy, may he be blessed with good health.

    I want to confess I have a cranberry problem, love, love cranberry sauce. And your recipe is now a staple for both myself and now my daughter. Sooo good and easy, no fail , no fuse perfection. Thank you.

    Ps also I got my little bird and have fallen in love with it. She is on my kitchen window sill happily chirping away ( at least that’s what I think).

    • sbranch says:

      Easy to fall in love with. At first I thought my birds would be a summer decoration, but I was wrong, they are good for all seasons! Cranberry Sauce! Nectar of the gods!

  68. Maria Penner says:

    Hi Susan….I can tell you are very concerned about Blog Daddy and I want you to know I am going to our church this afternoon and lighting a big honker candle for him. I send my good thoughts your way along with hugs and love and prayers.
    We moved to California on the Santa Fe Super Chief in 1957….it took three days and I remember stopping in Chicago, Kansas City and Alburquerque and Needles!
    Train travel is wonderful and I loved reading about your trip. My girlfriends and I hope to see you in Cayucos this Saturday for the book signing!

    • sbranch says:

      “A big honker candle” — who could ask for anything more, that is so sweet Maria! See you in Cayucos, be sure to say you’re “Maria from the Blog (with the big honker candle)!”

  69. Hi Lovelies!

    First and most importantly: sending well wishes and huge pink healing bubbles to Blog Daddy. May the golden light of health wash over you and fill you with energy and vitality. <3 🙂

    Loved your post about the trip Susan! I love the train. Rick and I took the California Zephyr from Salt Lake to the Bay Area one Christmas with his parents. We had a tiny little sleeping car but felt like pure luxury to me. I imagined myself like Myrna Loy in "The Thin Man series" it was a dream come true. Such joy!
    I hope they save the Amtrak system for passengers. Too much of our civility slips away in the interest of greed.
    Have lots of fun with your handsome nephews and other family. These are the times of a good life.
    That one miracle picture with the church steeple reminds me of a Maxfield Parrish or N.C. Wyeth painting- the clouds are perfect and the colors dreamy!
    Enjoy your trip and travel safely and give that lovely daddy of yours an extra big squeeze from us all!! 🙂

  70. Pam G says:

    first hope your Dad is feeling better-prayers for him. What a wonderful trip you took us on! I have never been on a train journey but I think it would be way better than flying and my hubby would love it. Hopefully we can plan one someday. Have fun in sunny California. Thank you for sharing the journey!

  71. CarolK says:

    NJ hugs to Blog Daddy. You have to know that when you’re hugged by a Jersey Girl it makes you all warm and fuzzy inside and out and it brings the color back to your cheeks……now.don’t make something of that else you may make me blush……..Hey, maybe a little shot of Jack Daniels and a twist of lime will calm the cough. Susan, loved your blog, have to tell my hubby about the room with two views, we weren’t aware…….Jersey hugs to you and Joe too…..

  72. Heather L. says:

    Oh what fun!!! And what amazing scenery — and how it changes!!!! I’ve hardly been out west — just to Montana. Someday I will have to see more. Enjoy your time with family!!! I’ve already bought my 2015 mini calendar. hoping that maybe the regular size one will come as a gift….. 🙂 It’s always exciting to turn over the next month! Oh! I need to go and order a copy of your Christmas book so I have that on hand for the next season!!!

    • sbranch says:

      I just found out last night, we are completely sold out, no more, of the large desk blotter calendar! I can’t believe it, but it’s true, so if you’re after that (any of you Girlfriends) and you see it somewhere, grab it, because there won’t be anymore.

  73. Jody says:

    What a treat for the eyes. Thank you for taking the time to post about your Amtrak train ride. I enjoyed the ride very much. I’ve always wanted to take a train somewhere, but haven’t yet. You inspire me. Sending up a prayer for Blog Daddy.

    • sbranch says:

      I used to hear the train whistle in San Luis Obispo . . . it’s a wonderful sound. I would be happy to live near the train tracks!

  74. Mary Ann says:

    I said a prayer for blog Daddy. Hope he starts to feel better quickly. I laughed when I got to the bottom of the post. I recognize the hotel and in fact had dinner just across the street tonight. If you love sushi cross the street (at the light please) and head in! Our favorite sushi chef at Kobe’s is Manny. Only in SoCa do you get to try and order your sushi in Spanish while Manny laughs with you! But my favorite is the Hot Mermaid roll and any special he wants to try out on us! And for a real treat order the garlic edamame, so yummy. Of course lots of lovely fish places in Seal Beach too, Walt’s Wharf is so good. Glad we have given you lovely warm weather this week. If you stay long enough head up The street a bit and eat at Shendoah’s at the Arbor. They have a lovely deck built around several huge old Morton Fig trees full of twinkly lights and evening scents. A koi pond at the edge bubbles merrily. They start dinner with tiny hot apple fritters…another yummy treat! So they you are, your very own YElp report for the area, although I bet your family knows some of these too!

    • sbranch says:

      I’m in love with a restaurant called Boat House by the Bay ~ it’s actually in Long Beach, on the Bay, with the seagulls chasing after fishing boats, the water, the sun and breeze, and delicious salads. We’ve gone there everyday for the last three days! The weather has been stupendous. Sometimes I forget what a sunny happy place California is. We had a huge gorgeous moon last night. Walt’s Wharf is one of our favorites too. I will have to check out Shendoah’s at the Arbor. Thank you Mary Ann! LOL ordering sushi in Spanish, gotta love it!

  75. Gina P. from NY says:

    Susan: My usual train trips are from where I live, into NYC – which is probably about an hour, with stops. There are train stations all around me – they run the length of the Hudson River here – and there are stations in most towns along the way. I have always been fascinated by trains… We can actually hear the train whistles from where I live, in the distance. On a summer night, with the windows open, it is a beautiful thing… The longest train trip I’ve ever been on was up to Syracuse to visit a friend several times (on Amtrak). It was not a sleeper train, nor did it have a dining room, but it did have a snack bar, and like Joe, my nose was pressed on the glass almost the entire way. I remember one time, I left very early from Croton on Hudson (nearest station w/Amtrak) and we followed the Hudson River quite a ways up, until we got farther up north and started heading west. It was a very cold winter morning, and it had sleeted the night before. All the trees were covered with thick ice. As we traveled along, the sun reflected off the tree branches covered in ice, and they sparkled like diamonds! It was so mesmerizing and beautiful! I would love to take a train across country and experience sleeping on one. I don’t know how the bathroom situation works, but I’m sure one has to have an open mind about this, as you do whenever you are away from the comforts of home. In any event, I’m with you – I am in favor of remaining on “terra firma” as supposed to being 30,000 feet up. And the bathroom situation on the train certainly cannot be any worse than it is 30,000 feet up!

    I think this is one of my favorite posts of yours. I absolutely loved the pictures of the beautiful cities and homes all in their fall colors. The prairies and the farms fascinate me – especially the flat open land. It is so mountainous here where I live, and I love it, but it’s always nice to see something different. Thank you for sharing this with us. I don’t “tweet”, so thank you for this lovely post.

    My prayers go out to Blog Daddy for a speedy recovery and getting back to his old self! Enjoy your family Susan!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Gina. You truly do live in a gorgeous part of the country for train-riding! The views are outstanding up there. I have also been gifted with an icy view . . . very beautiful, and hearing the train whistle in a snow storm!

  76. Linda Hurst says:

    Susan, my sister and I took this train trip in 1994! I remember the stop in Albuquerque! It was fabulous! We were escorting Judy’s in-laws to see their daughters in California and Oregon. We returned over the mountains, it was beautiful. We both wish we could go to a dining car for lunch one day. Why isn’t there a restaurant like that!! Thank you for taking me along this time. I loved it!

  77. Carol Lichwala says:

    Thank you so much for your “trip along the way” description. I love train travel. Have a wonderful visit with your family. My prayers for Blog Daddy to be well.

  78. Christine says:

    Hi Susan~
    Thank you for taking us along on your train ride. I learned so much about the train (menus, showering (Twitter), and especially what one has to take along). Tempted to go on my own train trip. Wonderful pictures. Makes me feel so good to see the heartland of our country and the farms producing food for all of us. Hope your Dad is feeling better. Enjoy your time in CA with family and friends!

  79. Gladys Marie says:

    Blessing * Peace * Wellness * & Lottsa Love Upon Your Daddy

  80. Ginger says:

    wow…thank you.

  81. Bonnie L says:

    Dear Susan,
    Thank you so very much for this delightful posting!
    Yes, I will pray for Blog Daddy….my mother died on October 23.
    It was while I was caring for her in 2011 during her episode with breast cancer that I found you in an issue of The Country Register…in Iowa 🙂
    Thank you, again, for all you do and are….I am so grateful.
    Love and Hugs, Bonnie

  82. sue hall says:

    I’ve never written to any famous people before…but I love your blog. It’s happy and it makes me happy to read it. I love going to England and I love old movies and songs, old dishes, old quilts and kitties. I have all your books and the recipes that were in Country Living when my children were babies. And then you went to Albuquerque….my little corner of the world. I’ve taught Kindergarten here for over 25 years. Thanks for giving us beautiful things to see and to read. sue

  83. Julie says:

    Every time you share a trip I add it to my bucket list. A trip cross country on the train, in our own little room with that ever changing view of our country. Sounds like a dream. Books, lots of books, knitting, great conversation, beautiful vistas, the steady hum & vibration lulling one to sleep, a food car full of interesting people and yummy entrees, lots of room & time to think, to plan, to remember. Bliss.

  84. Gert~Iowa says:

    Dear Susan, what an amazing post! Loved this ride along with you and Joe! I would like to ride an Amtrak train, now thanks to you I can! Wow, it sounds so wonderful and soothing…smile.. When I saw that photo of Boston…eeeks ..all those buildings. (You can tell I’m old and a small town person! Ha!) Such a nice thing to say about your Iowa roots..I’m sure your mother would love to hear that! You got so many great shots…I know how difficult it is to do that out of a moving vehicle and especially a fast moving train! Between the church and those sunsets..yes, we are all blessed across this beautiful country of ours!
    Your Dad is in my prayers for a speedy recovery! God loves hearing from us!

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Gert! I told my mom about you yesterday! I hoped she’d say, Oh Gert! I remember her! But no, still, I like to think your paths crossed at one time. Thank you dear, I always especially love to bring you with me.

      • Julia says:

        I loved hearing that your mother was born in Iowa.
        So was my father and his father was born in Sweden.
        I haven’t been there since I was a little girl. Would
        love to go for a visit.

      • Gert~Iowa says:

        Susan, So glad to hear you got time to spend with your mother! I’m sure she loved every minute of it! And I appreciate it that you mentioned ‘me’ from Iowa to her. (sweet) Knowing how the Master walks in our lives..I bet some way or another there is a connection between your mom and me…if not myself in particular..possibly a family member!

        Blessings to your day!

        • sbranch says:

          Oh, I have no doubt, if nothing more than kindred spirit! We’re heading back for another couple of days with her before we go. Thank you Gert, happy day!

  85. Janet in Rochester says:

    Oh Sue! You were spot-on telling us to make a pot of something-hot – it was the perfect way to “experience” this post. I can’t say just read it, because it was much more than that. I felt like I was right there with you every step of the way. PS – that is your strength, you know. You have the gift of describing things so well we all feel like we are traveling along with you in the back seat, or across the aisle. Train travel really does give one the opportunity to observe and learn, doesn’t it? Even if all you do is sit and stare out the window at the landscape zooming past, you’re learning something. And definitely things you’d NEVER get on a jet. You and Joe have train travel down, that’s for sure. If I ever take a long train trip, I’m going to bring the goodies you list here. My mom loved train travel too. She went to New York for the first time in 1950 when she was 18 with some girlfriends. I think they saw “South Pacific” on Broadway with Mary Martin. ?? Once all these moms were empty nesters they started going again, every Fall for a long weekend. And some years they’d trade off and go later in December to see New York all dressed up for Christmas, the Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall etc. Mom always talked about how nice it was to travel by train and what a shame that people were in such a big hurry and had to fly everywhere now. She loved meeting new people from all over on the train and often ended up making friends she wrote to later. If you and Joe were ever on the same train with my Mom, I think she would pretty much have adopted you both for the duration of the trip. I actually got tears in my eyes when I read your statement about Amtrak being done away with, because I totally agree with you. I’m hoping that the energy and environmental crises that we have now will help to resurrect the passenger train business in the US during the coming century. For all the reasons you stated so well. If smarter people than we have around now are able to prevail, train travel may enjoy a wonderful resurgence. Have fun with your family in California, especially those two nephews of yours [too cute], and thanks for this tremendously-great post. I’m putting this one in the Hall of Fame I keep [you have many other posts there as well, just so you know]. Happy travels!

    • sbranch says:

      I think your hope that energy and the environmental crises will help bring back the train just might be the thing that does it. We always have to make our reservations months in advance because they sell out. We ask them why they don’t just add more sleeping cars to the train. But they don’t have “the equipment” which is what they call additional sleeping cars! There would be more jobs if people were building more cars. But this may be just the wishes of head-in-the-sand, too-romantic person.

      • Pat Mofjeld says:

        I don’t think the latter–we just all need to decide to make ourselves heard…

      • Janet in Rochester says:

        I think there are many more “head-in-the-clouds romantic” types out there than we realize. Maybe it’s even MOST of us. And if they all began speaking out, who knows what wonders would be accomplished?

  86. Janet in Rochester says:

    PS – forgot to say that I too am thinking about Jack and sending all the warm healing energy I can his way. Love from chilly-ish upstate New York, Jack…

  87. Chris Wells In Knickerbocker, W TX says:

    I love it when you take the train. I love the pictures. My dad was a lover of all things train! So when I was probably 10 years old, we took a train ride to somewhere and back, wish I could remember, because he said trains would not always be around and he wanted us to experience it. It is so funny to me that my grandson Will is a lover of trains, his Great-Grandpa would be proud!
    We have to fight for our Post Offices and fight to keep Amtrac, it makes you wonder who our elected government is working for……don’t answered that. Maybe everyone in Congress should have to wear uniforms like Nascar drivers, so we could identify their corporate sponsors!
    A shout out to Bog Daddy…so glad you are feeling better, take care of yourself.
    Hugs and well wishes from West Texas!

  88. Robyn Brown says:

    I’d love to travel by train. Anywhere! Just the experience would be enough.
    Prayers for Blog Daddy too. I’m praying he’s feeling much better quickly.

  89. Treese says:

    I added Blog Daddy to our Prayer Circle.

  90. Susan, I will add Blog Daddy to my prayers, certainly. My own dear father-in-law, Elmer C., just passed two days ago and it was a long 10 years with a horrible old-timer’s disease, but he’s at peace now, thankfully.

    I am loving this train journey and I think you for this gift. I have always wanted to take this trip, across an entire continent by train, but never have, and probably never will. Your photos are really fun – I love the “whizzing by” effect of them!

    Thank you so much. I so enjoy all your offerings! xoxox Bex Crowell xoxox

  91. Carilyn Wolski says:

    Hello Susan! Your train traveling tea time is spectacular!!!!! Your photos and words carry us along the way with you just as though we share a seat along with you and Joe! Thank you for including us! Thank you for the November page in your 2014 calendar…..each day I smile, with a tear in my eye….a gift to treasure forever! Have lots of fun with your cute nephews and family! Said a Hail Mary prayer for your father’s complete recovery so he will be 100% healthy for the coming holiday season! Take care of yourself!

  92. My mom sent me over to read this post as my husband and I are planning our first Amtrak trip this coming spring. I love how you described this adventure, and I am more excited than ever to step on board. We will be traveling from Iowa to New Mexico, and I think this will be a great time, and maybe our new favorite way to travel!

  93. Hi Susan, all best wishes for a comfortable recovery to the dear B.D., Jack… and may I mention that if you are ever looking for an easy New England train ride, try the Downeaster. It departs from North Station in Boston and the end of the line is a brand new train station in downtown Brunswick, Maine. I took it to Boston and back twice this year. Getting in touch with my inner hobo. ;O)

  94. Kristi says:

    Thanks for a lovely post. I remember riding the train from Portland, OR to Sacramento, CA as a child. Then I-5 was built and we drove to CA. My husband and I will have to plan a train trip soon. Thanks for the inspiration.
    Thoughts and prayers go out to Blog Daddy!

  95. Barb from Ohio says:

    Traveling by train seems like a great adventure; no worries about having to do all that driving, and the sights you see as you cross the country are so much better than any quick plane trip could give you. I really enjoyed seeing all the pics and comments as you made your way to sunny California. I wouldn’t blame Joe for going native and enjoying the sunshine out there, there’s too little here in the east now. Hope Blog Daddy is feeling better real soon and can enjoy your visit in a few weeks. I said a little prayer for him and hope to see his comments on here again soon as well. Have fun out there and soak up some sunshine for all of us!

  96. Carrie in Medina says:

    Sending Blog Daddy prayers and healing thoughts! Thank you for this great post!
    What a wonderful ride — thank you for taking us along! Love the photos — especially In Love with Nature — love the way the movement of the train blurred the foreground making it look like an impressionist’s brush strokes! So Van Gogh! Paden and Mason are just too cute! Can’t help but to giggle just looking at them! Thank you for sharing!

  97. Ann says:

    Susan, Always enjoy your train travel entries. It IS a wonderful way to travel. My sister and I took round trip train from Nice, France to Venice, Italy 6 years ago, it was an exciting adventure. Our room was over heated (the window wouldn’t open), the clackity clack kept us awake, and the bathroom down the hall, but it still was great. The view of the Mediterranean and countryside was terrific. We had to bring food no dining car but we had a uniformed train attendant that took our coffee orders for a continental breakfast the next morning. He had a little kitchenette with a very large and fancy espresso maker. Leave it to the Italians to make the best espresso, the pastry tasted great in our excited famished state. The cherry on top was walking outside the station to my first view of Venice. Wow I thought this looks like Disneyland! then laughed and said to myself honey this is the real deal in all its decaying glory. Gomer Pyle said it best to these life experiences “GOOLLY”! In regards to your dad I’m sending Positive energy his way the Southwest is a great place to heal.

  98. What a wonderful trip! Definitely would love to try that one day too. No rush. No fuss. Enjoy the view. Lovely, just lovely. Sending prayers out for Blog Daddy.

  99. Julia says:

    Hi Everybody, just got back in town. I’m sorry to hear that our blog dad
    is under the weather. If you are not already better, Blog Dad, we will pray
    you well !
    The post is fabulous. Would love to do that. Love the fall except for one
    thing. It gets dark a little early for me. I’m in holiday mode and will
    spend all next week in the sewing room. Hope you are having a good trip.

  100. sondra fox says:

    Oh Susan, your train trip has me all motivated to get a train from CA to OH. Just loved your pictures while on the train, traversing our wonderful country. Hard as it is to face reality in these times, I must say, “how can we expect anything good from our government?” Our government tries it’s best to NOT accomodate it’s citizens. I’m surprised that the WI governor is against passenger trains though. Why should I be surprised? Your little hints on train travel will serve me well in coming months. Amtrak seems to take passengers into consideration, with their waiting areas & mini shuttles within the stations. Thanks for all of the info you supplied us with, on train travel.
    After a recent trip from Washington, D.C. to Copenhagen, via airplane, then having to return the same way back to the states, I’m not anxious to subject myself to the whims of the airlines. I was so uncomfortable in the airline seats. It was really horrible. Changing planes is another horror story. We ran at least four miles in the D.C. airport, trying to make our Los Angeles connection. Just made it! I was one sweaty mess as I sat down in my cramped seat on the plane, readying myself for a long flight to Los Angeles. And then, the guy in front of me put his seat back, so that he was in my lap! Honestly!!!! My friends are talking about another trip! I told them I’m not getting on another airplane! I recently heard on the news that airlines are going to take another few feet out of the passenger sections. Do they ever think of the comfort of their passengers? Well, perhaps they’re thinking of First Class passengers, eh?
    Jack, I want you to know that I’m praying for you. I have a direct line up to our Maker, who is the Great Healer. He has helped me through the grief of losing my husband of fifty-five years. I can tell you this, He has brought peace to my heart, & after a year of sadness, I’m finally feeling much better. I hope you’ll soon find strength & a feeling of well being. God bless. Oh, & I take lemon juice & honey, mixed together for a cough. (Sandy from Chihuahua Flats)

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