Mountains, Rivers, Canyons, Oh My!

Amtrak Adventure 12/31 (about October 11th, 2021)

This update might be out a bit late; I’m writing it near Wellington, UT, where there is absolutely no cell service to speak of.

Yesterday was day #2 on the California Zephyr; we passed primarily through Colorado, seeing the sights that make this route among Amtrak’s most famous.

They divided the lounge car reservations into three two-hour sections: “Mountain,” “River,” and “Canyon.” We managed to score lounge seats for the second two (but had a good view out our window for the first anyway).

In the “Mountain” section, we headed out of Denver and scale the first of the Rockies. It was tight and curvy, which enabled cool shots like this (of the train in front of us passing into a tunnel). There were many such tunnels!

After a 10-minute tunnel under the Continental Divide, we started following the Colorado River westward (hence the second section’s name). This part had a lot of scrubland, fall-colored foliage, and of course river.

Apparently there’s a tradition in the area that people rafting down the river “moon” Amtrak trains whenever they see them—we hadn’t heard of this until the conductor announced this to the whole train, and thankfully didn’t see much of it either.

After a while, the Colorado River starts g

etting tired of all the hills, and carves right through them instead. There are about 4 canyons in a row, all of which we followed next to the river at the bottom; most famous is the Glenwood Canyon, where our conductor pointed out remnants of all the different fires and mudslides that have blocked passage in the last few months.

Not exactly comforting, but we made it through safely!

At the end of the canyons sits Grand Junction, CO—where my coworker Clint lives! He met us at the station with his two kids when we stopped for fresh air, and gave us a box of delicious local toffee. It’s always strange to meet friends in real life for the first time—I can never correctly guess how tall they’ll be.

Thanks for coming, Clint! It was a joy to say hi 😊

I spent most of the day programming—quite a challenge, given that I was dealing with unfamiliar tools on intermittent WiFi. It’s not very fun to load up an entire website of documentation in one browser window… only to accidentally reboot your computer in an Internet-free zone!

But I got a ton done. I’m porting my personal finance tracker—which has officially grown too complex for Google Sheets—to a full-stack web app. At this rate, I’ll be able to launch a private beta for it in a few weeks!

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