WHAT'D I MISS? If you've ever been on a good-sized train journey before -- let's say one that's three hours or longer -- you know that long-term dozing is to be avoided. Oh, sure, the smooth movement of the train on the tracks may lull you into dreamland, but you don't want to nap for long. There's too much to see, especially if you're on one of California's ocean-close rides, or an engine that wends by Southwestern canyons, and travel-type sleeping is for planes. But there is a train where napping is encouraged, and, nope, you won't miss anything out your window. Why? Because, spoiler alert: The scenery will remain the same from sundown to sun-up. We speak, of course, of the famous "train hotel" of California wine country, and if you remember that it is located in Nice, well, you get an extra hearty high five.
MORE WHIMSY: Nice, California indeed sounds like a town name from a storybook, but so does the train-themed stay-over. The Featherbed Railroad Bed & Breakfast is its name, and it is indeed made up of colorful cabooses that now serve as private rooms. The Orient Express is one -- it sports a cupola up top -- and the Wild Wild West has a clawfoot tub. Each caboose could loan out quaintness to a dozen other in-need-of-quaintness hotel rooms elsewhere and still have more than its share. And the final storybook-sweet feature to add to the town of Nice and the Featherbed Railroad? The offbeat destination sits near Clear Lake, which, again, sounds as if it hails from a 19th-century romance novel.
IF YOU'RE WONDERING... how you can take in two of NorCal's most famous train-y to-dos in a day -- the Napa Valley Wine Train followed by a night in a Featherbed caboose -- you can. The Featherbed is about two hours north through wine country, which is, spoiler alert, a rather pretty drive. Call it the all-train, all-wine weekend, and add a "toot toot!" onto the end of the sentiment for good measure.