Wednesday, March 9, 2016
10/52: All Aboard - Sunset Limited from Los Angeles to New Orleans
Last week Chick and I rode Amtrak's Sunset Limited from Los Angeles, CA to New Orleans, LA. The journey between the two cities is 1995 miles (or 47 hours). It was our first train journey through the southwestern part of the U.S. and our first time in New Orleans.
The train schedule was updated a few weeks before we left, which was frustrating....but in the end, leaving LA earlier in the day gave us the opportunity to get settled on the train and get our journey started in day light hours.
We flew into LAX Wednesday afternoon and went straight to Los Angeles Union Station. We boarded the train at 3:00 and headed east at 4 PM.
Before sunset, we went through Pomona, Ontario and Palm Springs, CA and on into Arizona. We had a nice bottle of wine in our sleeper car and a wonderful dinner before getting situated and going to sleep.
At daybreak we arrived in Lordsburg, NM before crossing into Texas.
Situated along the Rio Grande River and across the border from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, El Paso was not considered part of Texas until 1848.
You have no idea how big Texas is until you travel through it on the train. As the afternoon progressed, deeper towards the heart of the state we traveled.
After El Paso, our next station stop was 5 hours later in Alpine, Texas and by then we had enjoyed lunch and settled into our room for an afternoon nap.
We arrived in San Antonio, Texas about bedtime. As day broke on day two, the train pulled into Houston, TX, the fourth largest city in the U.S. and the largest in Texas.
The morning hours took us through Beaumont and into Orange, TX the easternmost city in Texas which lies on the Sabine River right on the boarder with Louisiana.
Lafayette, LA is situated at the center of Louisiana's "Acadiana" region consisting of low, gentle hills in the northern sections and marshes and bayous toward the south. It's primarily inhabited by Francophones, descendants of French Cajuns exiled from Canada's Maritime Provinces, particularly Nova Scotia. Cajun culture is kept alive with bayou food, music and traditions.
As the afternoon continued on, we continued into Louisiana to New Iberia and nearby Avery Island home to the McIlhenry Company which manufactures the world famous Tabasco Sauce.
Unfortunately we had to bus from New Iberia to New Orleans due to track work, but it gave us time to see the scenery that we wouldn't see from the tracks. At 4 PM we arrived in New Orleans.....the Big Easy....the Crescent City.
Founded in 1723, the city preserves the flavor of the Old South with a distinctively French accent. It is famed for its filigree wrought iron balconied Vieux Carre (French Quarter) and festive Mardi Gras celebrations. It's also considered to be the birthplace of jazz.
Welcome to New Orleans!