We traveled through seven states in two days.

Let me ask you something. When I say the word vacation, what is the first thing that comes to mind? For me, I think of beaches, cruise ships, traveling abroad, or getting away to a remote place where no one cares that I just want to read books all day and sip wine. That, to me, is what vacation entails. Vacation does not involved boarding a train for two days and five hours and choo-choo-ing our way across the nation.

But it's what my husband wanted to do.

Don't worry, he knows that I wasn't super stoked about this idea before we even booked the tickets. However, he encouraged me to keep an open mind. When I told others what we were doing, some were super excited and couldn't wait to hear stories. So, I turned my focus on the adventure that lay ahead of us.

It was phenomenal.

We started in Chicago, Illinois and completed our travels in Richmond, California, essentially San Francisco. As we continued across this gorgeous chunk of land it became more and more clear to me that we live in such a diverse and unique nation. On our journey we saw wide open spaces of farmland, massive mountains, miles of dessert and even the ocean. I saw states and sights that I have never seen in my life and it was really spectacular.

I should probably point out that we never got off of the train.

There was no destination on this trip, just the journey. What a metaphor for life. The journey on the train was the destination. For this reason, I don't have any photos of Nebraska and only one photo of Nevada because we went through those states overnight. This is also the reason why all of my photos are taken from inside a train car. You'll see reflections of the window, my phone, and even myself and my husband, but just try to block those out and focus on the beauty of the United States.

Aside from Illinois we went through Iowa where the fields stretched for miles and miles. It made for one gorgeous photo with the sunset.


@missradiojess via Instagram

We traveled through Nebraska overnight so I didn't take any photos, but the next stop was Colorado which is always beautiful. We traveled through Denver and then snaked our way through the Rockies before hitting Grand Junction. The tracks run right along the Colorado River so we saw plenty of people fishing, rafting, swimming... Oh, and mooning us. Yes, pulling their pants down and showing us their hind quarters.

Apparently it is tradition to moon the train.


@missradiojess via Instagram

Our journey through Nevada was also during the night, but we did get a glimpse of it in the morning. Well, I did. Hubby decided to sleep late, but I'm more of a morning person so a sunrise and cup of coffee is my jam.


@missradiojess via Instagram

The next state was Utah with its red rocks and open spaces that look like something straight out of Star Wars.


@missradiojess via Instagram
@missradiojess via Instagram
@missradiojess via Instagram

And finally we arrived in California. We saw some gorgeous spaces in the Tahoe National Forest before getting into some serious smoke haze. Remember all of the fires that tore through the west in 2020?  At one point we could smell the smoke on the train. Much of the sky was orange. It was heartbreaking.


@missradiojess via Instagram
@missradiojess via Instagram

I didn't take any photos of the orange sky, but now I wish I would have. When we flew out of San Francisco it looked apocalyptic. It was dark and the sky just looked heavy and thick. We could also smell the smoke during takeoff before finally breaking through and flying above it.

As far as the train trip, I recommend you give it a try. It's not the most glamorous trip, but it is great for the adventurous type. In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I'm tempted to take another cross-country journey across North Dakota, Montana, the tippy-top of Idaho, and Washington. I feel like it's such an easy way to see the country in a short amount of time. Then you can decide where you want to go back and get an Airbnb.

What's the most adventurous, out-of-your-comfort-zone vacation you've ever taken?

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