Getting the flavor of...Amtrak’s sleeping cars

One of our favorite lines is The Coast Starlight, which goes from Los Angeles to Seattle.

Amtrak’s sleeping cars

Never let it be said that Amtrak has to start offering 21st-century service, said David Netto in The Wall Street Journal. The “quasi-national” railroad may deny its public fast trains, warm food, and consistently attentive service, but my family has discovered that we’d rather take an overnight Amtrak than travel this country any other way. This isn’t about saving money: “There’s no point in doing trains on the cheap.” When I travel with my wife and two young daughters, we get adjoining private suites, entitling us to four bunks, two fold-down tables, and “an incomparable feeling of coziness and well-being.” The Coast Starlight, which rattles north from Los Angeles to Seattle, is one of our favorite lines. Don’t expect luxury—not unless your definition includes “hours of endless quiet, talking to your children, and the blissful monotony that comes with staring at the unfolding American landscape.”

Dallas’s lake country

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You actually can get outdoors during a Texas summer, said Andrea Sachs in The Washington Post. The Dallas–Fort Worth area can feel like a “giant fire pit” every time you venture outside an air-conditioned zone, but “Texas is big on water,” and the two sister cities are ringed by seven lakes that welcome swimmers. Though none are natural lakes, they’re fed by natural springs, creeks, or rivers, and every one can lower your “internal mercury.” At Grapevine Lake, I managed to score a secluded cove with my own covered picnic table. At playground-like Burger’s Lake, I watched braver bathers frolicking on five diving boards and three giant slides. As for real wildlife sightings, nothing topped my near run-in with a swimming beaver at Cedar Hill State Park. Mostly, I had to settle for trying to identify large birds flying overhead. “American—whoosh. Delta—whoosh.” For sure, there aren’t many egrets this close to an airport.

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