Saturday 14th September; You might have splashed out on a sleeper roomette on the train from Charlotte for $190, but given that you would be in Atlanta at just after eight in the morning, maybe better to have saved your money, got a bit of sleep in your seat, had breakfast on the train, then made for a hotel with early check-in to catch up on some shut eye.
Sunday 15th September; A chance to check out Atlanta today, maybe catch one of the other NFL games at a sports bar in the evening…
Monday 16th September; last day in Atlanta and in the evening, it is game 3; the Atlanta Falcons hosting the Philadelphia Eagles at the recently constructed Mercedes-Benz Stadium. You would have seen a tight game with Atlanta prevailing 24 to 20.
Tuesday 17th September; a more agreeable start time than your last leg, this time it is back on the Crescent train at 08:38 to travel all the way down to New Orleans, arriving at 19:32 that evening. Time to find your hotel and settle in.
Wednesday 18th September; Unfortunately, this trip does not give you a chance to see the New Orleans Saints play at home, but rest up, maybe visit the SuperDome anyway, explore the famous city, music and night life; a big trip is ahead of you tomorrow. By the way we would have used up 4 of the 18 segments of our rail pass and we would be 12 days into the 45 days.
Thursday 19th September; the train doesn’t go from New Orleans until 13:45, so you have got plenty of time if you were out late in the Big Easy. You are catching the City of New Orleans all the way up to Chicago, although ultimately you are making for Kansas City. It would actually be quicker to change trains half way, get a connecting bus to St. Louis at some terrible hour in the middle of the night and then from St Louis catch the Missouri River Runner to Kansas City. However, because of how the Amtrak segments work, this would actually cost you three of your segments, rather than two by going the more circuitous route via Chicago. Also, you can get a better night of sleep by staying on the train to Chicago and changing trains the next day. So, unless you are planning on catching up with Judy Garland, I wouldn’t do this!
Okay, still with me? The City of New Orleans gets up to Chicago at 09:15 the next morning or 19 hours after leaving New Orleans, which by Amtrak standards does not seem that long to go across the heart of the country. A nice quick to view YouTube video of this particular train is here. It makes some positive and negative points, all valid, about travelling with Amtrak in general, that are worth thinking about, I suppose it all boils down to whether you like train travel. If you do then you are far more likely to be forgiving of some of the downsides of this mode of travel and appreciate the advantages, bottom line if you don't like trains you would not enjoy this trip for real, you might still like the blog though ;)!
I think on this train it would have been worth splashing out on a roomette for the first time. A surcharge of around $250 does sound expensive, but don’t forget you are saving on a night’s accommodation and the cost includes meals, so on this service you get dinner and breakfast in the dining car. I think there is something good about being able to eat and sleep while you travel, that you don’t really get this with air travel unless you go first class.
Friday 20th September; Right so we arrive in Chicago at 09:15, reasonably well rested and fed. A few hours and then we would be heading out West on the South West Chief leaving at 14:50, don’t worry we will be coming back to Chicago again later in the trip, its almost impossible to travel around the USA by train without going through Chicago at least once. There is a lounge you can use in the station, which will either be included in your ticket, or you can buy a pass for $35. The architecture at Chicago Union Station is probably worth a look at in its own right, also you are right in the heart of city if you do want to pop out for an hour or two look around. The South West Chief takes about three days to go all the way over to LA, but for now we are just staying on for a mere seven hours to arrive in Kansas City at about 22:00 and find the hotel for the night.
Saturday 21st; A day to rest up and take in Kansas City.
Sunday 22nd September; Week 3 of the NFL season and your fourth game, back to football on a Sunday afternoon as the Kansas City Chiefs host the Baltimore Ravens. Join the tailgaters outside the stadium pre-match; say you have travelled from Atlanta via New Orleans and Chicago by train to get to the match, that has got to be worth a beer and something off the BBQ. Arrowhead Stadium holds an impressive 76,416 capacity and is generally thought of as one of the best stadiums in the league, the team might do okay this season as well! If you went you would have seen the Chiefs impressively beating the rated Ravens 33 to 28.
In the next part we are California bound, heading out West over the Rockies and onto the City of Angels. To finish this part, here is a longer video of the the whole South West Chief journey from Chicago to Los Angles, to watch to between now and part 3, which is coming soon.