Earlier this morning I received a notification from my phone and immediately I got butterflies in my stomach. 30 days until my Amtrak trip across the United States, and 30 days until the beginning of a new adventure.

So where am I exactly going? What will I be doing on this trip? Why the train and not flying? No worries, I’m here to fill ya in on all the juicy tidbits of this upcoming trip.


Why the train?

First off, let me tell you a little about the train and why I was really wanting to only take that mode of transport across the United States. The train and I are like adventure buddies, and every time a trip is on the horizon, we can’t imagine embarking without each other. Well, at least that is how it is for me, I don’t think the train can reciprocate.

When I decided in the fall of 2011 to travel for the first time, I romanticized a great American train adventure. It would be one reminiscent of the industrial era of the late 1800’s as Americans pushed West across the vast distances on Steam Engines. Or like 1950’s and inspire the kind of magic and excitement like the first Streamliner trains like the California Zephyr and the Super Chief did.

So was it like that? Well, yes and no. Obviously my lofty Western Movie style fantasy was a bit unrealistic, but the magic is still there today. I had never taken the Amtrak train anywhere before, and a 3 day journey is serious travel time, but for me there was no better way to begin a trip than a long journey itself.

On November 1st 2011 I visited my parents graves and left my old chucks behind and boarded a train to the West. From Washington D.C. I embarked on my first train trip, through Chicago where I ate my first deep dish, all the way to Albuquerque and its fiery desert sunsets, to Los Angeles California. Watching the landscape of the United States transform before your eyes really allows you to grasp just how vast and diverse it is.

And that is why I chose to travel by train again. The joy of travel is in movement, and instead of taking the quickest flight to California, I am going to take a train a different route across this time and again feel that magic of movement, of being on an adventure.

As a pitch to Amtrak and its PR/media representatives as a possible partnership for this blog and this trip, I put together this graphic below that explains why I love train travel.


Where am I going? 

This trip I will be again leaving on November 1st from Washington D.C. in the same fashion I left the last time. I will say my goodbyes to my parents and friends, and set off to Chicago which is the main transfer hub to the west. I will HOPEFULLY have time to visit another Chicago deep dish joint and nom nom-dominate one of my favorite foods, and then I will begin a long 5 day trip.


My last trip I took the green route on the map, but this time I will be taking the Empire Builder train on the blue route to Vancouver, Washington. Through the rugged northwest pines, over golden plains, and atop majestic mountains following in the footsteps of the first great American adventurers; Lewis and Clark.

My first trip I was hellbent on starting over and leaving my past behind, but just like the train I will be on, this time I am building upon myself and going the distance, not running away.

From Vancouver, I will have one overnight stay until leaving down the Pacific coastline and rumored to be one for the most scenic routes in the north Americas all the way to Los Angeles.

Amtrak Empire builder is crossing a huge trestle at middle fork of the Flat head river, Montana, U.S.A.

(photo credit: 4Rail.net)

When I’ve gone across the United States by train or even by car, I’ve always taken the mid/southern route, and finally getting to see the great northern expanse change before my eyes as I sit back in the viewing car has me crazy excited.

Gnarly things coming!

I am extremely excited to say that after conference calls with Amtrak’s PR company and pitching them the trip, that Amtrak will be sponsoring this whole journey! I feel proud that a way of travel I love so much is going to be providing the opportunity for me to show you all just why train travel is amazing.

I am using this trip before my flight to Southeast Asia to begin my push into travel videos. I have a history with videography, and I record a TON of travel footage wherever I go, but I’ve never really taking the leap into travel video blogging. This will be my next serious creative endeavor, and I will be recording the whole journey on the train, and then my whole year in Southeast Asia to visually inspire.

I’m über pumped up for this!

Want to come along for my Great American Train Adventure?

I will most likely be creating a special hashtag for this adventure, maybe #Railtales? I will also be showing snippets on video and photo apps like Vine and Instagram (justchuckinit). To follow along the route, make sure to follow me on Foursquare (justchuckinit) as a check in across the great expanse. I’ll be using Twitter (@justchuckinit) to hashtag about the trip and Facebook to share adventure updates and photos. After the adventure, I’ll be ramping up my Travel Videos section so make sure to stop by there and check out some of my older videos.

Have you ever been on a long distance train adventure?

Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post.  I received a free trip courtesy of Amtrak for review purposes.  The opinions, photos, videos, and use of the word “gnarly” are completely my own based on my experience.


  1. Toni October 1, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Given the incredible pitch, both with your heart and your graphic design, Amtrak had no choice but to hire you you amazing man!

    SO SO proud of you gorgeous! I can’t wait to follow your journey, watch your videos and be part of the ‘new you’ 🙂

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author October 1, 2013 at 2:28 pm

      Thank you Toni, that gave me a smile for the day. I’m happy to have a friend like you tagging along in spirit!

  2. Robyn October 1, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    I’m 31 days out from starting my big trip with my boyfriend! Overland via Greyhound bus out to Vancouver before I fly to JAPAN! So excited!

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author October 1, 2013 at 2:29 pm

      Wahooo! I bet you are Robyn! Sounds like a gnarly adventure in itself. But that distance sounds rough in a bus. Any plans for Vancouver? I’ve never been myself and I’m looking for ideas!

  3. Nicole October 1, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    And how lovely the view will be on your train ride, too! We take Amtrak from LA to San Diego from time to time. And we love it. It’s so pretty. Same with the one to Santa Barbara. Along the coast: can’t beat that.

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author October 1, 2013 at 5:11 pm

      Yes, I cannot wait to see the coast Nicole! I’ve always meant to take a train along it but never have, cannot wait!

  4. Mary @ Green Global Travel October 1, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    Amazing job on the Amtrak graphic! I hope that they choose to continue using it as it is really quite spectacular and certainly conveys the bliss of train travel! I am so excited for you and have no doubt that the coming year will be extraordinary and very much look forward to your video blogging series! Brilliant idea and addition to Justchuckinit!

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author October 1, 2013 at 5:35 pm

      Thank you Mary! Much appreciated! I would love if they used it, I hand drew it on my iPad for the pitch. Either way I’ll be using it as the banner during the trip. I’m happy that you’ll be following along and are excited about the videos, I know I am!

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author October 2, 2013 at 12:43 pm

      Yes, yes that will definitely be me. Ryan Goes West!

  5. Joseph October 6, 2013 at 3:34 am

    Train travel is great – last year when I was in the US, I took the train from Oakland to LA – it was 12 hours, but it was really, and I do mean REALLY great – seeing the sun set into the Pacific ocean just takes your breath away. Enjoy your trip and looking forward to reading the posts about it! 🙂

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author October 9, 2013 at 11:08 pm

      Joseph, I’ve hear about the greatness of the Pacific Coast route and I cannot wait to see it for myself!

  6. Britany October 8, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    Ahhh I love train travel. Its so great to see the landscape change as you move from one place to another. I’ve got a wedding in Chicago at the end of the year and I think you’ve just inspired me to try booking the trip via train!

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author October 9, 2013 at 11:04 pm

      Woohoo! Goal accomplished then! I have become such an advocate if train travel that this was a dream partnership and if I can’t get others interested, the better!

  7. Aaron October 9, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Did my first extensive train trips around TBEX Toronto time and loved it. Have a blast travelling across the country and then beyond. Look forward to following and seeing your videos!

    1. JustChuckinIt - Site Author October 9, 2013 at 11:03 pm

      Sounds like a wicked trip too! And I’m happy to see you are excited about the upcoming adventures, cannot wait to show you all!

  8. Lela November 18, 2013 at 10:14 am

    I will do this trip one day!

  9. Dan September 22, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    I see the last post is from November 2013 I am interested in seeing what happened and seeing the story about your trip as I am trying to do something similar. do you have a link to view your outcome of this trip?


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