The original idea here has always been to take Amtrak down to El Paso to start. That was the whole reason El Paso is the starting place, even though the official route starts/ends in a place called Antelope Wells, NM (a place even Google has never heard of). El Paso was the closest we could get to the start place and it was on the border, so we figured close enough.
But here's the rub. The train starts in downtown Chicago. This makes sense. But, the train from parts north (like Minneapolis, where Tim is at) gets there at 4:30 or so. The train leaving for El Paso leaves exactly one hour earlier -- and they only run once a day (and sometimes zero times a day). So, to get to the station you have to cobble together some sort of bus/car combination. Then, it takes over two full days on the train to get to Texas. (I have a feeling they did that
on purpose so they don't have to pay when the northern train gets in late and people miss their connections.)
So, like true red-blooded Americans we are renting a car in Minneapolis and driving down there. And get this -- you can get an unlimited miles, one way rental for right around $100 a day. And we will do the drive in exactly... wait for it... one day. Add $170 in gas, and it is both cheaper and three times as fast to drive than to use the train. Somewhere, an Indian is crying on Hertz's shoulder.
Someday, gas will be $6 a gallon. Until then, those trains won't be good for anything but graffiti.