Riding the California Zephyr from Denver!

By Patrick Butler

Denver was well worth the three days and four nights my wife Karen and I recently spent there. We stayed at the Oxford Hotel, which was built in 1891 and is surrounded by some good restaurants. The hotel housed a popular speakeasy during prohibition and I am sure my maternal grandfather, a politician and resident of Denver who possessed a fondness for bourbon, paid it a few visits.

We visited three museums, Molly Brown’s home, and the Denver Botanical Gardens. The Gardens were one of the best stops on our trip. We had planned to meet up with my second cousin and her brothers, but her father recently died and they were in mourning. Another disappointment was using Google Instant Street view to find my grandfather’s and aunt’s homes. The first was demolished for commercial development and the second was replaced by a University of Denver classroom.  Both of my parents graduated from there, which for some reason is called DU.

We flew in and took the train back. The CA Zephyr starts in Chicago and ends up in Emeryville, an Uber ride from our home in Palo Alto. The train leaves Denver at 8:05 AM and all meals in a nice dining car (white table cloths and a choice of several dishes) are included. The Rocky Mountains train route often goes where the only other way to see the steep passes is, if at all, by whitewater rafting. The tracks reach 9,280 feet high and one tunnel is 6.8 miles long. The Irish dug most of it, and the Chinese labored on the Sierra passes.

Our little compartment was turned down into a sleeper (Karen took the upper berth) and we slept during the more boring parts of the trip, the deserts of Utah and Nevada.  We arrived at the terminal at about 5:00 PM the following day after a beautiful trip over the Sierras.