LaTanya Letcher was able to see spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and snow-capped mountains as she traveled through Northern California, Oregon, and Washington.
By Jason Lewis
LaTanya Letcher shared photos of her recent trip to Portland and Seattle in a Facebook group called “Black Travel Movement.” The group has over 377,000 members, and people post photos and reviews of their travels from around the world.
Letcher’s post received a lot of attention from group members, with many people being curious about how a trip like this works. Typically people fly or drive when they travel, so the ins and outs of planning a trip on the train could be foreign to many. On the Facebook post, some people asked if Letcher purchased one round trip ticket and got off the train as she went, or if she purchased multiple tickets.
Letcher gladly answered their questions. She said that she booked her trip on Amtrak’s website, and she selected “multiple cities.” She purchased three tickets. One from downtown Los Angeles to Portland, one from Portland to Seattle, and one from Seattle back to Los Angeles. She spent two days in Portland before continuing her trip to Seattle.
For Letcher, traveling with Amtrak brings back nostalgic feelings.
“Amtrak and I have had a 30-plus-year relationship,” she said. “It started with my grandmother, going from Chicago to Virginia every summer, and then from Chicago to Houston, Texas, when I was in college (Texas Southern University in Houston, a Historically Black College and University).”
When Letcher, who is a law enforcement officer for the probation department, moved to Los Angeles, she continued taking the train.
“I like it because you’re able to see parts of the country that you’ll never get to see while you’re driving,” she said. “When you’re driving, you have to pay attention to the road, and you’re worried about getting to a certain destination at a certain time. But when you’re on the train, you relax, you meet other people, you have good food, and you get to see nooks and crannies and other parts of the country that you would otherwise no see.”
On her recent trip, Letcher said that she went from seeing spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean to snow-capped mountains as she traveled through California, Oregon, and Washington.
“That experience was lovely because I had never been to Portland or Seattle, and I wanted to experience that part of the country,” she said.
Trains typically take a different pathway than the highways, giving people a different perspective on the landscape that they are traveling through.
“I’ve driven to San Diego a few times, and the drive there is beautiful, but I decided one year to take the train,” Letcher said. “It’s about the same amount of time, and the train was a far better experience because I didn’t have to pay attention to the rules of the road, so I noticed so many more things along that route that I hadn’t noticed previously when I was driving.”
Letcher does caution people that patience is important while taking the train because of the amount of time that it takes to get to your destination. She said that she enjoys being able to sit back and relax. The trains have WiFi and a dinning car where she was able to interact with other people who enjoy taking the train. She also said that when the train stops, she was able to get off and see other train stations, which have various types of restaurants.
Amtrak has sleeper cars at an additional cost, but Letcher typically brings her pillow and blanket, and she reclines her seat when she wants to sleep.
Traveling is very important to Letcher, as she has traveled around the world. This particular trip had special meaning to her because she battled breast cancer last year.
“All of 2018 was focused on my health and being cancer free, and preparing myself to return to work,” she said. “So I wanted to plan a trip as a congratulations to myself. I’m grateful and I’m blessed, and I wanted to see all of God’s beauty. So I chose this trip on the Starlight, because I wanted to celebrate life and celebrate being cancer free. I wanted a few days to myself to de-stress from everything, and to prepare myself to go back to work.”
To book a trip, visit www.amtrak.com.