We reach the mile high city (5280ft asl) in the late evening and have only one day before we board the Amtrak train; just long enough to take a tour of the city and to visit the Capitol Building with its gold dome (Denver found gold in 1858). we climb the staircase with its 77 steps and its 176 brass banisters - one man is employed just to clean the brasswork full time. This is a seriously big city with 2.4 million people and we country hicks are just a little daunted.
But next day we are up bright and early to catch the Amtrak California Zephyr as it heads West from Chicago to Los Angeles. It is due into Grand Union Station, Denver at 9.30am. We arrive at 9am only to find that it is already two hours late. That gives us two hours to wander round pedestrianised down-town Denver with its lovely shops and walkways (shops were not open which pleased the farmer no end.) We sit a while in Writers' Square alongside Thomas Jefferson on his bench, then it's back to the station - and what should we see but a whole wedding party in 1890's costume. They have hired a special "bullet" carriage en route to Reno and the wedding. You can see the bride and groom in the photograph. They are all so happy that it starts our journey off on a jolly note.
When the train arrives it is long - very long - two storeys of shiny silver metal pulled by three huge engines. We take our very comfortable reserved seats and settle back to enjoy the ride.
We climb zig-zag out of Denver up into the Rockies at 5 mph and after travelling for an hour we can still see the city below us.
What a feat of railway engineering. The labour which must have been involved in its construction is awesome. In some places the line has been cut through solid rock and we slide through with what looks like only inches to spare. Electric wires are stretched along the rock faces to give early warning of rock falls.
We glide smoothly past enormous conifer forests, ranches straight out of High Chapparral, river valleys and areas of barren wasteland. We are deep in the Rocky Mountains and we see wonderful scenery but very few people.
Attendants bring us drinks, guide us to our Dining Car, and finally, when we arrive in Salt Lake City at three o'clock in the morning (four hours late by this time) that same attendant is there - with a smile - to help us down his steps onto the track. Yes, he assures us, we are in Salt Lake City - but of the station and any platform there is no sign. We climb down, collect our luggage and make for our hotel The Marriott, and a very welcome cup of tea.
##Apologies for the poor quality of the photographs - they are stuck in a journal and I have had to photograph them from there. They are - from the top: Statue of Jefferson in Denver Writers' Square, The bride and groom in 1890's costume, Grand Union Station, Denver, The waiting room, the Great Salt Lake.