blog for my upcoming trip
Posted 21 March 2012 - 02:17 PM
Cardinal--while the scenery is nice through West Virginia, I won't be in a hurry to do this train any time soon and will opt to drive to Charlottesville and catch the train to DC and take the Capitol Limited, instead. Compared to the rest of the trains we rode, there is just such a difference in service and amenities that I cannot like this train even though it serves my hometown. Food was okay in that it was edible but is extremely limited and the dining crew both directions were clearly not Amtrak's stars.
Southwest Chief-- I really liked this train for both the southwest scenery and the crew. The equipment was in good order, too. Nothing outstanding here but met all expectations.
Coast Starlight--definitely my new favorite train. Love the gorgeous scenery. Love the Pacific Parlour Car and the choices and services it provides. Crew were great, food seemed fresher, especially the salads (not just iceburg lettuce). Found the wine and cheese tasting much better than on my previous trip on the Empire Builder.
California Zephyr--really didn't like this train much when I took it last year, mostly because of the crew. Crew this time was soooo much bettter and we had a great trip. We especially had a bad dining car crew last year and this year the dining car crew were the shining stars and took very good care of us. Food was very good, too. The only complaint about the Zephyr this time was that it seems like the Zephyr always gets the worst equipment out there. The Sightseer Lounge leaked badley during the rains we encountered in California and the sleepers were unrefurbished and very worn. Showers had very little finish left and were all scratched and looked dirty, even if they really weren't.
On time performance--was really great this trip. Last summer my trains were 4 hours late, 8 hours late, and 7 hours late. This trip found early arrivals for the Card westbound, the SWC westbound and Zephyr eastbound. We had a slight delay (1 hours and 20 minutes) while the southbound Coast Starlight engine was removed from the tracks after it's collision with a camper/trailer. The Card eastbound was delayed 1.5 hours right out of Chicago while they let five freight trains roll through. It never made that time up and lost just a little more time.
Stations--always enjoy the Metropolitan Lounge. Was amazed at how busy LAUS was. It is a very beautiful station, too bad it doesn't have a real lounge for sleeper passengers. I thought Emeryville might be bigger and have a sleeper lounge, too.
No other trips planned on the horizon for now, but I have accumulated enough points that once I decide I want to go somewhere, I should be able to book it.
Posted 21 March 2012 - 03:33 PM
Ive taken the Cardinal twice,still like the Route,, but when the needed Improvments happen think it will be a much better Trip!( ie Real Diner, Another Sleeper, a Real Lounge, Daily Service, Track Upgrades etc., Better OTP etc. etc.!)
Edited by jimhudson, 21 March 2012 - 03:40 PM.
Hope to See See ya' in the Windy City for the Gathering in Oct!!!
"What a Long,Strange Trip it's Been!"-Grateful Dead
"..My heart is warm with the friends I make,and better friends I'll not be knowing,
Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,No matter where its going!.." -Edna St. Vincent Millay
Posted 21 March 2012 - 04:20 PM
Posted 22 March 2012 - 12:57 PM
I also really enjoyed the passengers I met on the train. I could name several but two really came to mind. There was our tablemate at the wine and cheese tasting on the CS that had been traveling the rails for more than a month around the country. She and her husband did that regularly, but he preferred to fly home so she was solo for this last leg of their trip. She was a great companion for the tasting because she paired wines and food on a professional basis and writes reviews for a publication. We also enjoyed dining with Lucille, 87, whose husband was a Pearl Harbor survivor and she told us about all the exotic places they lived while he was in the military (Cuba, Bangkok, etc). I told her I hoped I was still traveling on the rails at 87 years of age.
I was also surpised at the number of first time train passengers on each trip. Some we learned it was their first time in talking with them. Others, you could always tell because they would walk in to the sightseer lounge with a confused/lost look on their face and would then head toward the diner only to return a short while later. They were all looking for the cafe and could not seem to locate the center stairs in the car. I would say that more and more people are trying train travel.
Posted 22 March 2012 - 01:41 PM
Thanks a lot for the trip report and pics, I enjoyed them very much. I am on a trip of my own, and thankfully had a very warm and sunny day in San Francisco, yesterday!
I was myself rather surprised by the number of folk I have met on Amtrak trains who are taking extended trips, including one guy with a 45 day rail pass. None of these people had ever heard of A.U. and were just doing their own thing. I wonder if there is any way to improve the AU search engine response so that these solo rail enthusiasts might find and enjoy our site also?
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