ABOUT US / FAQS

Zephyr Route is a small privately owned business.  We are dedicated to offering high quality rail tours reminiscent of the way rail travel was operated in the past. To better assist you and hopefully answer some of your questions, we have put together the following information about who we are, and assembled of list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs).

Our commitment is to high quality affordable tours.  Our tours are not just "another seat on a train ride".  We take great pride in offering high quality, first class tours, in private restored vintage rail cars aboard scenic rail routes.   We always do our best to keep our tours affordable, while offering delicious meals on board, great accommodations, and interesting optional tours whenever possible.

 

We specialize in offering what we feel is a truly memorable rail travel experience. We always welcome your feedback for improvements.  If you have special dietary needs, special requests, or need special assistance, we will do our best to accommodate you.  Check out our previous menus on our website which will provide you with a glimpse of the tasty options we have offered.  Menus are changed regularly.

About Us

Mike Abernethy - Owner

Mike formed Zephyr Route as a way to host tours to raise money to restore his vintage rail car, the Silver View (click here for the restoration progress pages), following retirement as a school teacher.  The initial tours launched in 2009, and have expanded little by little to include new destinations and longer tours, as Mike splits his time between organizing and running the tours, and working on the restoration efforts.

zephyr360@att.net

Timm Bottoni - Website

Timm started helping Mike back in 2009 when the first version of the website was launched.  As a fun hobby, this allows Timm to help out in his free time, while still paying the bills as a Business Analyst.  The most recent website version was created in late 2016 with a new design and hosting company.  Updates are continuously being made and suggestions are welcome.  One of Timm's other hobbies is amateur astronomy, which was a nice addition to the 2017 Great American Eclipse tour.  

t.bottoni@comcast.net

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FAQs -- Frequently Asked Questions

Do we take online reservations and payments?


Not really, but please let us explain why. Reservations are taken as we receive them, and always subject to availability. You can inquire about a reservation using one of our online forms, by email, or phone. See the " Contact Us" page for full current contact information, or visit any of the Journeys pages and fill out the form you see at the top of any of the pages. This will record your inquiry and simultaneously send us an email and log the information in our website mail section for historical verification. Please be patient, we will get back to you as quickly as we can, but every customer will have the same hands on approach to making reservations. However, we sometimes get really busy when we announce new tours, and being that it's really just Mike taking care of all reservations it can take him time to get back to everyone. If you don't hear back from him within 48 hours by email or phone, call or email using the contact information seen on the site. Payments can be made several ways, but we aren't set up for online payments, because we have a very personalized customer service approach, and don't have enough onine business to offset the extra costs taking online payments. And sometimes we sell out before we can update the website, so we wouldn't want to take a deposit for a tour that isn't availabe. We do take some credit cards, and each customer is contacted directly to arrange for deposits and final payments. Be sure and read our "Terms and Conditions" document found in the footer of every page for important information.




Are the tours all-inclusive?


No, but the costs of each tour, and what is included is listed in each Journey Page, with full details also written out in the downloadable fliers. The goal of our tours is to provide a first class memorable journey, with high quality food and beverages included while on board the rail car. If it doesn't state that something is included in the price, then it genearly isn't. Most of the weekend tours include all costs of the hotel, and we strive to choose high quality hotels with distinctive locations and features. On some tours we offer optional tours at an extra cost, and we will let you know that in advance so that there are no surprise costs associated with tours. If a tour is optional, but no extra charge, we will state that as well. You aren't required to go on any of the optional tours, but we hope you do, because they are quite fun and interesting. Many of our passengers are "Rail Fans" and enjoy riding the train and simply relaxing at the destinations. We intentionally choose locations with interesting tour options for everyone. You should plan to pay for your own meals while OFF the train, and in some cases we will arrange for special restaurant options, or other special choices which you are welcome to take advantage of. You should also plan to have some cash for tips or other incidental costs, because there are times where credit cards aren't taken.




Are the vintage cars air conditioned and/or hearted?


Yes, all of the restored vintage rail cars have been modernized with comfortable cooling and heating. Please bring a light sweater, jacket or outer layer that can be taken off or on while in the car. Depending on the direction of travel, you may be on a sunny side or a shady side, and the car will need to be kept cool enough for those on the sunny side to be comfortable, resulting in the shady side being cooler for some travelers. There is room at your seat for small carry on items as well.




Does the tour have boarding location choices?


Yes. We use restored vintage private cars, attached to the back of existing Amtrak trains. Many of these originate and end at Chicago's Union Station. This means that the train will stop at all Amtrak stations on the route to board passengers per their schedule. You will not be able to move into the Amtrak cars from our private car, nor will Amtrak passengers be able to move into our private car. Because we are in a private car, we often have to limit where passengers can board or depart due to a variety of reasons. Check each tour schedule, or contact us with questions regarding a stop that isn't on ourtour page or downloadble flier for any tour you are interested in, as we may be able to make special arrangements to board or depart there.




How far in advance should I make a reservation?


As soon as you know you can go! Our tours often sell out quickly, and we will then create a waiting list because we occasionally get cancellations. We take reservations in the order we receive them, so if there is a tour you really want to go on, don't hesistate to make your reservations.




What happens if Zephyr Route has to cancel or change the dates of a tour?


Occasionally we have to cancel or reschedule a tour for unforseen reasons, and while we do everything possible to prevent this, it does happen. You will have the option of either receiving a refund or applying the amount towards any other available tour we have now or in the future.




Are the tours only for Rail Fans?


Not at all. Everyone enjoys our tours. While we have a lot of passengers who are rail enthusiasts, either from rail clubs, or on their own, the tours appeal to all people of all ages and backgrounds. While we certainly have a good number of returning passengers, we are excited to welcome many new passengers to the joy of riding on a vintage restored rail car.




When will Silver View be fully restored?


We don't have a date just yet, but going on one of our tours provides additional money needed for the restoration. As you might imagine, its expensive to find the talent, parts, and time needed to restore a Vista Dome rail car built in 1947. Each tour you take, allows us to get one more step closer to completion, and we will be very excited to announce the completion of the restoration of Silver View as soon as we can.




What is required for a depost and payment?


We have a published Terms and Conditions document that you can download and print, available by clicking the link at the bottom of every page of the website. There you can find all of the information regarding deposits, final payments, and other information regarding our Terms and Conditions. Putting it all in one document allows us to more easily maintain it.




Can I bring alcoholic beverages on board?


No, we serve complimentary alcoholic beverages in moderation, to those of legal age, while en route. The cost of beverages is included in the fare. If you have a special request for a brand, please ask while making reservations.




Are there any accommodations for dietary restrictions?


Please mention any alergies or dietary restrictions while making your reservations. In most cases, we will do our best to accommodate your special needs.




What happens if our train gets delayed?


Amtrak is pulling our private car, usually on the tail end, on one of their regularly scheduled routes. Trains can be delayed for any number of reasons and Amtrak will make every effort to get back on schedule. Please be understanding of the situation, whatever it may be. Cooperation is key when delays occur. When delays occur before we board the train, we will make every effort to keep everyone comfortable and board as efficiently as possible including waiting in a comfortable area before moving to the boarding location. When a delay occurs on board, passengers must remain on the car, we will do our best to make everyone comfortable on the train.




Are you just a tour booking agent?


No, we absolutely are not just a tour booking agent. Mike Abernethy is the owner of Zephyr Routes and goes on every tour. This ensures that the tours are run in professional way to maintain our outstanding reputation.




Is smoking allowed on board?


Smoking of any type including electronic devices is never permitted on board any part of the train.




Is Travel Insurance Offered?


To protect investment in travel, Zephyr Route encourages and can arrange travel insurance at additional cost. Some bank cards also have a travel insurance provision which passengers should consult their card company for details.

If travel insurance is desired, consult www.travelguard.com website. Then call them directly to get insurance coverage information that will be specific to you and your trip.