I’ve always wanted to take a long distance trip by train, and I’m seriously considering taking the train when I go visit my parents in Wisconsin for Christmas.
If I go to Amtrak’s website and search for trains from Sacramento to La Crosse, WI, it wants to route me north on the Coast Starlight to Portland, and connect to the Empire Builder. However, the connection time in Portland is 1 hour 13 minutes. Given Amtrak’s reputation for being delayed, how likely do you think I’d actually make that connection? Especially considering that if I miss that train, there isn’t another one until the following day, that connection would make me a little nervous.
Option B would be to take the California Zephyr to Chicago, spend the night in Chicago, maybe see some sights, and then catch the westbound Empire Builder to La Crosse the next day. That option would take an extra day due to the overnight stop in Chicago, but on the plus side I’d hopefully have time to do a little sightseeing in Chicago, and I wouldn’t be worried about missing my second train.
On a different note, if I were to do a multi day train trip like that I’d definitely spring for the sleeper car. In the sleeper car I understand you’re expected to tip the car attendant. How much is a normal tip? And how does one go about tipping them? Just hand it to them? Leave it on the bed like tipping a hotel maid?