Train tracks and ties in a raised gravel bed in Winnemucca, Nev.

Arriving almost an hour before the train, we sat on the platform and covered our ears against freight traffic before our California Zephyr arrived. Then we headed eastbound, backwards and uphill, away from the bay, up through the Delta and into snowy piney stretches before settling into empty purply desert sunset. The scenery should have been the focus for all that we saw of it, but the rails remained never present, rattling under our car and rocking in a steady tempo.

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