GMTom wrote:I have to ask WHY take a train across the freaking continent vs flying?
The cost is probably similar but the time spent traveling (both ways) by the time you get there, you have to turn around and head back home!
True dat! Train travel in the USA is terrible, in large part because Amtrak doesn't own most of their rail, so trains can be really freaking late. Northeast Corridor (Boston to Wash DC) is fine, but outside of it, you can sit on a siding for an hour here or an hour there waiting for some freight train to pass. Yes, passenger service in many parts of the country has lower priority than freight! Also make sure you don't have to take a bus! While I have never done it, I've looked into taking the train from NYC to Detroit. The last leg is (an Amtrak) bus from Toledo to Detroit!
Also, and this is big, if you're going to do it, do it in the winter (at least in cold weather areas). Track maintenance occurs in the summer and that can and does completely wreck Amtrak's schedule. A friend tells a story of the train from Montreal to NYC that was more than a day late! On cross country routes more than 24 hour delays are not unusual!