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You’re going on a cross-country trip. Airplane, train, bus, or car? (Or something else entirely — bike? Hot air balloon?)

I’m dreaming of a vacation across the United States and Canada by train. My husband and I are terrible drivers — neither one of us like to drive long distances.

We fly to Seattle at least twice a year and occasionally see the landscape below. How wonderful it would be to see it close up by train, without having to worry about the driving. We’d both have the chance to take in the whole landscape.

Last night on television, a series began called “Making North America: Origins”. Presented from a geological perspective it highlighted some of the most outstanding scenery in the United States. Of course I’ve seen photos of the Rockies, learning how they were created makes their appearance even more astounding.

One summer about 7 years ago, we flew to Calgary, and drove with my daughter, her husband and first child to Summerland in British Columbia. It was awesome. We spent one night in a small town called Revelstoke. It was a lovely place in a small valley amidst the mountains. On Mt. Revelstoke nearby we saw our first glacier, and some of the most breathtaking scenery as well as fields of wildflowers. Then on to Lake Louise, absolutely lovely: a placid blue lake surrounded by mountains and forest.

Summerland is inland from Vancouver and, as I learned, a fantastic area for growing fruit and wine-making grapes. A few wineries are near the shores of Okanagan Lake, which is also a great place for watersports. I didn’t realize that it is located on the north end of the Mohave Desert, although at this point it doesn’t look much like a desert, but it does affect its climate. That same desert is also what makes the two halves of Washington so different.

I might choose the California Zephyr route, that goes from Chicago to San Francisco via Denver and Salt Lake City, then take a Canadian train from Vancouver to Toronto. Some journeys allow stops and/or side trips. To get between San Francisco and Vancouver (with a stop off to see family in Seattle), I’d like to try the Coast Starlight via Portland.

Of course taking the train means you have to stick to where the tracks take you, but some of the photos I’ve seen of scenery along the routes makes it seem like a good option. It would be impossible to see everything the Midwest and West have to offer, especially with two reluctant drivers!

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