Andinia´s staff

On the Tracks of the Iron Horse (IV).

By John Pitt
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"Since I would be spending two nights on board the Zephyr I opted for the luxury of a private sleeping compartment this time. All long-distance trains have them and the modest extra ticket price includes meals in the dining car as well as fresh coffee and a
newspaper delivered each morning. You may even find a chocolate mint waiting for you on your pillow when you retire. The room felt a little cramped at first but was cosy enough, with a fold-down bunk and two seats that could convert into a second berth if required.

The train pulled out through residential suburbs then travelled over wide cornfields and marshes before dramatically crossing the Mississippi River on a 2,000ft high bridge. This gentle, tree-lined countryside is renowned for its covered bridges, which were made even more famous by the book and film of 'The Bridges of Madison County'. The Zephyr crossed the Missouri River as darkness descended and the sleeping car attendant came to make up our beds. Following a hot shower it was a pleasure to snuggle down and be swayed through the night listening to the comforting rhythm of the wheels on the track.

The most spectacular part of the journey began next day as we climbed the Rocky Mountain foothills, where deer and elk scampered among the aspens and pine trees. After going through the Moffatt Tunnel (the highest point on Amtrak's network) we followed the Colorado River through a series of brilliantly coloured canyons. On our left was the huge violet and purple mound of the Grand Mesa, the world's largest and perhaps most beautiful flat-top mountain. We looked for golden eagles riding currents of air along the warm red walls of Ruby Canyon then, at Westwater, entered a landscape of dry river beds and eroding sandstone mesas, passing the picturesque Sweet Grills Cafe featured in the film 'Thelma and Louise'."

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