NY>LA via New Orleans With Sophia

NY>LA via New Orleans With Sophia

We caught up with Sophia Cheng, a self-described nomadic digital storyteller, after she traveled cross country with her significant other on an #AmtrakAdventure out west with a few stops along the way. Read her travel log below for a little trainspiration:


Sophia_cheng_with_many_rootsEver since I traveled from Denver to New York by train and bus back in 2009 I knew I wanted to come back and complete the journey to the West Coast. That opportunity has materialized itself 7 years later. We decided to take the Crescent to New Orleans and then the Sunset Limited on to LA; taking 12 days stopping at Atlanta, New Orleans, Houston and Tucson on route.

Heading South
The glamour of Manhattan faded quickly and we sensed just how industrial the East Coast is. I was easily lulled to sleep by the train’s motion, with plenty of width and legroom (not to mention reclining seat backs and leg rests) it was easy to get comfortable.

Dawn was beautiful and it was clear the landscape had transformed overnight, gone was much of the urban wasteland replaced instead by rolling hills and green trees. Shafts of light through the trees hit my Moleskine page like strobe lighting. Wider streets, more space, less brick. Trailer parks and Greek revival architecture.

After 24 hours in Atlanta, we were back on board. We treated ourselves to lunch in the restaurant cart to an oversized green salad and a refreshing iced tea.  Good intentions for working fell by the wayside as soaked up the scenery. By nightfall we were in New Orleans.

We listened in awe at Preservation Hall, stopped frequently for the excellent busking bands, avoided Bourbon Street, got comfortable on Frenchman Street, danced to jazz in The Spotted Cat, lunched on Magazine Street, ate gumbo, walked around the Garden District and took in the architecture.

Heading West
Early Saturday we boarded the Sunset Limited to Houston, one of the oldest train routes in the USA. Older in design and style, the Sunset Limited was nearly as comfortable as the Crescent. It’s selling point is the Observation Car with high windows and plenty of light.

We passed swamp and bayou land. Lush greens, new trees breaking the water’s surface and eerily creeping skyward. It seemed hostile and uninviting. We spotted old decaying boats and lookout posts. The train pulled into Houston an hour early.

Forty eight hours in Houston and we continued west on the  ride to Tucson. After a restless night we woke at dawn to new desert terrain. Spurred on by daylight I sat in the Observation Car to take it all in.

The mountains were beautiful as we entered wild west territory. Horses, cows, cacti, and canyons. Wooden fronted buildings, freight trains and pecan plantations. We crossed the continental divide trying to race the sun as it sinks lower in the sky to the west ahead of us.

After a pint at the beautifully renovated train station in Tucson we were onto our final leg. There wasn’t much to see by nightfall. Left with just our thoughts, I reflected back on the epic journey we had been on.

The train pulled in to Los Angeles at 4 a.m.  Bleary eyed we made our way to Santa Monica, straight to the beach. We stood, sand beneath our toes at our most westerly point looking out to sea as the sun rose. After 3,372 miles, we had made it.

Have you traveled cross country with us? If not, where would you want to go? Let us know in the comments below!