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Published: September 23rd 2016
So, I decided to add up the miles I have traveled by rail, including three trips across the U.S., and a trip across the Russia (one third of the earth's surface). The fascination with riding the rails began quite by accident. Somewhere, somebody gave me the idea that riding the passenger rails would be a great experience. They were right! My first trip cross country on Amtrak was the California Zephyr, from Chicago to Martinez, CA. Total time was close to 51 hours. The mileage was 2379 miles. It was relaxing and enjoyable, and I met many interesting people. Just for contrast, the Tour de France cycling race usually covers 2,276 miles. My second cross country trip was the Sunset Limited, from Los Angeles to New Orleans for Super Bowl 47. The total time was 48 hours. The mileage was 2078 miles. Not as scenic as the Zephyr, somewhat depressing, peering over the huge border wall to Mexico. I decided to try a foreign rail line, the Trans Siberian Railway, across Russia, starting in Vladivostok, on the Pacific Ocean, to Moscow, and on to St. Petersburg. Time was measured in days, not hours. Vladivostok to Moscow is 5669 miles (some say
5772 miles) or 9124 kilometers. And from Moscow to St. Petersburg was only 444 miles. Quite an experience! Maybe you read my blogs or my book? Here is more TSR info: In its century of operation, the Trans-Siberian Railway
has seduced and inspired countless filmmakers, novelists, poets, playwrights, photographers, and bucket-list adventurers. At its westernmost termini (St. Petersburg and Moscow), the expansive railway network connects with European trains from as far away as London.
My latest trip this week is the Empire Builder, from Seattle to Chicago. The time is 46 hours. The mileage is 2196 miles. I look forward to seeing more of the northern U.S., and Glacier National Park from a different perspective. One of my favorite national parks, I have visited several times, only by auto. Simply spectacular!
I am not counting several European trips on Eurail, the French TGV, and the Eurostar "Chunnel", nor several legs of the Shinkansen in Japan. Maybe I will live long enough to ride Jerry Brown's high speed rail between LA and SF?
The total rail mileage is: 12,766 miles. The earth's circumference at the equator is 24,901 miles. A rough approximation of
my Trans Siberian trip in miles, both air and rail is 22,974 miles. I started in San Francisco, headed via airliner east to Tokyo, then flew on to Vladivostok via Seoul, Korea. After reaching St. Petersburg, I flew to Frankfurt, then on to SFO. It was my first continuous trip around the world.
Some other rides I have taken:
Perhaps one of the most famous train rides is the round trip between Cuzco, Peru to Machu Picchu. It is only 70 miles, but takes the better part of half a day (3.5 hours). The Vistadome train offers great views of the Andes, and the bluest sky in South America, maybe anywhere. The Kuranda Scenic Railway is a fantastic, and ever so slightly terrifying way to explore the landscapes of Queensland, Australia (near the Great Barrier Reef). A haven for nature lovers, the train passes through an area that is home to roughly 200 species of tropical plants and trees, such as orchids and exotic palms. Outeniqua Choo-Tjoe Train, South AfricaThis South African railway takes you on a picturesque ride through the country's famous Garden Route, with spectacular views of the Indian Ocean. Although the line has been closed since 2009, the government is planning to reopen the once popular track. I took a similar train to the coast with Barry the V, Mrs. V, and Mr. Mike in 2012. I have also taken the Coast Starlight from Seattle to the Bay Area. It was just an overnight trip, but unfortunately, passed the best part of the trip under the veil of darkness. But it was my first "long" train ride, and helped prepare me for the California Zephyr. So, what remains? The Orient Express? Or the Rocky Mountaineer through western Canada? Most importantly, try to remember this is a wonderful way to travel and see the world. And I have met some wonderful people on board. If you want to see emails of past trips, let me know. Or if you have a story to tell, please share.
Tot: 2.69s; Tpl: 0.076s; cc: 40; qc: 153; dbt: 0.1308s; 2; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 5;
; mem: 1.7mb