Ever since they came on the scene, American trains have had a strong hold on the popular imagination, inspiring countless stories, songs, films and legends. A rugged charm sets them apart from more mundane means of transport and their ecological soundness is again in vogue.
An Amtrak train today pollutes less, rarely suffers from weather delays and won't give you jet lag. You can choose your companions, read a book, have a snooze, sleep horizontally and enjoy most of the comforts of home. One reason for travelling this way is especially compelling: itís much more fun.
You can take an Amtrak train to all the big cities as well as to Disney World, Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon. Pampered by helpful attendants, you might travel from coast to coast, explore the Rocky Mountains and ride directly alongside two oceans. You cross rivers, lakes and deserts and see places which sometimes can not be visited any other way. Less expensive than flying, more comfortable than the bus, trains keep you relaxed and in touch with an ever-changing landscape.
Amtrak train coaches provide generous reclining seats, observation domes, air-conditioning and snug bunks. This may not be the fastest way to travel but the civilised pace is perfect for sightseeing and if the fine scenery palls you can always go for a stroll, enjoy a meal, make friends in the bar or watch a movie. At night a gentle rocking and the steady rhythm of the wheels are sure to lull you to sleep.
Not many people would mourn buses if they became obsolete, and even fewer entertain fond thoughts about airports, but children still count freight cars and wave as the train goes by. Instead of leaving you exhausted and surly, trains create a sense of adventure and romance. No wonder people still find the plaintive sound of a locomotive horn at midnight a sure sign that it's time to move on. As the bell clangs and the conductor calls out ĎAll aboo-aard!í youíll soon discover why the Amtrak train experience remains so essentially beguiling.