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First time on long distance train

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#1 Guest_Mike W_*

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 09:46 AM

My wife and I plan to take the California Zephyr next month from Chicago to San Francisco/Emeryville, and staying in a roomette. Three questions: 1. I'm a tiny bit claustrophobic, and wanted to see if anyone knew the height/clearance in the upper bunk. 2. Does Amtrak sell souvenirs onboard? Doesn't look like their online store has many Zephyr options. 3. Just curious if the elevations ever give folks any issues. We don't anticipate this to be a problem, but was wondering. Thanks!

#2 morgan51


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Posted 07 January 2018 - 10:00 AM

I am very claustrophobic too. I traveled in the small roomette on the same route between Nebraska and California many times, most recently last spring, with no problems. The roomette door can be left open with the curtain drawn for privacy if you want. But even when I closed the door, I was ok. The top bunk is close, folds partially up when not in use, and has no window. But having the door open really helped. There weren't many souvenirs but there are stops along the way that sell them. Just make sure to ask the conductor which stops are long enough to de-train a few minutes to shop. The elevations do fun things to things like unopened potato chip bags - which entertained my granddaughter immensely. She got minor ear pressure headaches, esp. over Donner Pass and the Rockies, but nothing serious. It's a beautiful route, my favorite.

#3 KmH



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Posted 07 January 2018 - 10:13 AM

Some ex-Amtrak employees have a snack/souvenir shop in the Grand Junction, CO station. Grand Junction is a fresh air stop and they usually top off the dining car water tanks too.

If the train is running late stops get shortened to help make up a bit of time.


I live at some 1000 foot in elevation so as we get higher I notice I have to breath a bit deeper as I move about the train or stroll the platform at mile high Denver Union Station.

The highest part of any Amtrak route is the 9200 or so feet of the 6.2 mile Moffat Tunnel the California Zephyr uses to go under the Continental Divide. At Donner Pass the train is at about 7000 feet.


Edited by KmH, 07 January 2018 - 10:14 AM.

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Amtrak - California Zephyr Coast Starlight  Southwest Chief Sunset Limited Texas Eagle  Illinois Zephyr
. . . . Amtrak miles - 16,383, so far. 7,320 more miles booked OTM - OKJ - EMY - OTM March 2018.

#4 the_traveler



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Posted 07 January 2018 - 11:03 AM

As far as the elevation, 9,000 & 7,000 may seem “high” but if you ever flew, planes are pressurized at an elevation of 13,000 feet.
Take it easy .......

Take the train instead and enjoy the ride!

The view is much better at 3 feet than it is at 30,000 feet!

#5 SarahZ



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Posted 07 January 2018 - 12:11 PM

I didn't have any issues with the elevation. You can feel your ears pop a bit, but you just yawn or swallow like you would when flying. When we stopped in Grand Junction and Denver, I noticed myself getting short of breath a little sooner than usual, but it wasn't anything terrible. I just had to remember not to walk so fast.


I'm claustrophobic, and I feel perfectly comfortable in a roomette. The windows are large, so it doesn't feel like there's a wall next to you. If you leave the door and curtain open, it's even better. (You also get more air circulation.) If you want privacy but still want fresh air, you can just close the curtain. It has a long strip of velcro to help keep it closed, and it covers most of the doorway.


I cannot handle the upper bunk, as it is too close to the ceiling for my comfort. Some people have nicknamed it "the coffin". If your wife is not claustrophobic, I would ask her to sleep up there while you take the bottom bunk. If you feel a little closed-in with the door shut at night, you can open the curtains and look out the window. I love looking out the window while laying in bed.


Sometimes the cafe attendant has packs of Amtrak cards to sell, but those are the only souvenirs I've seen. I was able to buy some things at the shop in Grand Junction. They also sell ice cream; I don't think a single person walked out of there without an ice cream treat. :)

Edited by SarahZ, 07 January 2018 - 12:11 PM.

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#6 Lonestar648



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Posted 08 January 2018 - 04:40 PM

My wife is claustrophobic, during the day in the Roomette, she was fine with the door open and the room wide window.  At night, with the upper down was too much for her, so we take two roomettes, each sleeping on the lower.  This is usually cheaper than the bedroom.  The bathroom in the Bedroom totally freaked my wife out with the extremely narrow space.  

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