Lounge Car (upper level)
The upper level of the lounge car is a large observation room, almost always buzzing with activity and sightseers throughout the day. The single rows of seats facing the windows on either side encourage seat sharing, and indirectly, conversation between passengers.
Spending the rest of the morning in the lounge car, I talk to a couple from Pennsylvania, taking the train to Vegas ("We decided to go retro"). I ask them about the scenery so far ("Lots of grassland"). They ask me where I'm coming from ("Colorado!"), where I was originally from ("California, where all the fruits and nuts come from!"), and what I've heard about the route from my friends ("Assorted varieties of tumbleweed.")
I run into a couple from the San Fernando Valley, leading the girl scout troupe on a train trip returning from Chicago ("We always take the girls on a long train ride each year"). I remark loving trains but having been burned pretty badly on my last Amtrak trip (Them: "Let me guess, Coast Starlight from LA to SF?" Me: "Yeah." Them: "Oh yes, we were late 15 hours into Seattle when we tried taking that one. The girls made us promise never to do that one again.")
Them: "You sound like you grew up in California, which part?"
Me: "Is it really that obvious?"
Them: "You said 'soda' instead of 'pop' and also used the term 'back east'."