Tuesday, November 18, 2008
All aboard for La Plata, Missouri
Today at 3:15 p.m. I'm pulling out from Chicago Union Station aboard Amtrak No. 3, the Southwest Chief, for a couple of days of writing and picture-taking at what might appear to the aggressively clueless urban sophisticate to be an obscure spot on the prairie.
For me La Plata, Missouri, has one important attraction: the Depot Inn and Suites, a railroad-themed hotel that has been open for just two years, yet is winning praise for its ambience, amenities and low prices from travelers who aren't necessarily rail buffs. Most of the mini-reviews on tripadvisor.com are highly laudatory.
For those who live to ride trains and love to watch them thunder by, the hotel lies just a few yards from the restored and picturesque old Santa Fe Railway station at La Plata. Its surroundings also feature an enclosed, heated lookout shack hard by the old AT&SF main line where shutterbugs can photograph upwards of 70 trains each day.
La Plata is just five hours and a sometimes (depending on how far in advance you book) less-than-$100 round-trip coach ticket from Chicago. Train times are civilized, too; departure from Chicago is at 3:15 p.m. and arrival at La Plata is 8:06 p.m. The return trip departs La Plata at 9:57 a.m. and ties up in Chicago at 3:20 p.m.
Veterans of this blog might remember a similar trip I took to the storied Izaak Walton Inn in Essex, Montana, in March, 2007, aboard the Empire Builder. It was fruitful both for writing (see here, here and here) and for photography.
I'll provide a similar illustrated travel dispatch when I return later in the week. Meanwhile, to get into the proper mood for the report, practice making choo-choo noises with your mouth.