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Little Interesting Observations

Watch Out For The Folding Table!

Under every window in every private room in the Sleeping Cars is a fold out table. Don't put any weight on these tables! It will damage the table. I've been in a room where someone had obviously either sat or placed a lot of weight on the table and damaged it.

On both sides of the table there is a place to hold cups or soda cans. Just as a side note, I've never seen anything on a train fall over or spill, no matter how rocky the ride! However, watch out if you place a cup with a handle in the cup holder! If the cup handle is sticking out, opening up the folding table leaf will flip the cup! This can be an entertaining surprise if the cup is empty, but is a lot entertaining if there is something in the cup, especially if you are sitting next to it when it happens.

Which way to face?

Is it better to face the direction the train is going or face backwards? This is entirely a matter of personal taste. I think most people prefer to sit facing the direction in which the train is going. I think this is only natural. Most living things have been designed with a desire to keep an eye on where they're going and just not back blindly into the unknown.

For observing scenery, however, the best way to sit is probably facing backwards to the direction of the train. Why is that? As mentioned above we have a natural tendency to keep an eye on what's coming our way. Because of that, most people looking out the window will be focused on where they can see items first come into sight. As soon as that item leaves our leading edge of vision, we lose interest and our attention focuses on the next item coming into view. This results in new views rapidly entering and leaving from our focus.

When you sit backwards, exactly the opposite is true. Your mind has a large amount of items from which to select. As scenery enters from your peripheral vision, you will automatically select the item of most interest to place your focus. You can continue to observe that item and others aspects of scenery until they leave your view. Thus, facing backwards, fewer items grab your attention, but you get to view interesting items for a relatively longer time!

There is one little gotcha to this philosophy. You will probably still attempt to focus on the scenery as it first becomes available to you, though the effect is not as riviting as when you are heading into the new scenery. This causes you to turn your neck and mostly look out the window nearest you since that is where the new scenery appears. This is opposite to what happens when you are facing forward. When facing forward, you tend to look out the window next to the person accross from you since that is where the newest scenes first appear. Thus, attempting to grab new views as soon as they become available when facing backwards causes you to hold your neck in a turned position for a very long time. This could easily turn into a sore or stiff neck. Try to consciously look out the window next to the person across from you and not the window directly next to you. That should eliminate this problem and let you take advantage of seeing more when sitting backwards on the train.

Combo Routes

The Sunset Limited and the Texas Eagle are the same train for part of their route. Westbound, they leave Los Angeles as a single train. In San Antonio, Texas, the train splits up. The Sunset Limited continues to head east to Florida. The Texas Eagle heads north to Chicago, Illinois. Eastbound, the two seperate trains meet up in San Antonio, Texas, and head to Los Angeles as a single train. You will be seated in a particular coach or sleeping car according to your destination. Don't worry if you don't wake up for the break up in San Antonio. Your car will be attached to the correct train to get you to your destination!

Here is one that is a bit more complicated: The Desert Wind leaves from Los Angeles, California. The California Zephyr leaves from Oakland, California and the Pioneer leaves from Portland, Oregon. The Desert Wind and California Zephyr meet up in Salt Lake City to form a single train. That train then meets up with the Pioneer in Denver, Colorado and all three travel as a single train on to Chicago, Illinois! Eastbound, a single train from Chicago splits up in those cities to travel to those 3 destinations.


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