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A few weeks ago, I finally did it. I took the train across America – from Chicago to San Francisco.

In the age of the airplane, it might seem confounding to op for a three day journey when the same can be done in the air in under 5 hours.

But I have a fascination with connecting places and watching landscapes melt into one another.

As longtime readers are aware, I pulled a similar move between Amsterdam and Rome, taking a bus between the two and watching the gradient of culture and landscape morph over every mountain and every river.

In the United States, the transformation as witnessed from Amtrak’s California Zephyr was much more landscape than culture. The vast spaces of Iowa and Nebraska stretch for thousands of kilometres with no perceptible change in architecture or land form. Here, vast oceans of farmland are punctuated by tiny homestead islands – little clusters of trees and sheds in a sea of green.

The train stopped briefly in the major cities: a half hour in Denver, Salt Lake City, Reno – giving witness to the reemergence of train travel – newly renovated and gorgeous central train stations that are manifestations of a renaissance of slow movement in line with the principles of slow food.

Going over the Rockies was thrilling, then down into the mesmerizingly beautiful deserts of Utah. When I’m older, I’ll go back. Another highlight was the Sierra Nevadas, then quickly into the agricultural coastlands of drought ridden California.

Yes, indeed, I took the train across America – and I’ll do it again when I get the chance.

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