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Round trip, cross country trip planning. Advice needed.


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#1 trainfanmom

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Posted 27 July 2016 - 06:34 PM

Hello everyone,

It has been a while since I posted here.  Everyone was so helpful before when planning our first trip on the Coast Starlight that I was hoping for some advice again.

 

This time my son and I are doing a round trip, cross-country adventure.   We are looking at taking the CS from LAX to either Portland or Seattle, overnight in that city, then take the Empire Builder to Chicago and spend one night there.  Then we would return back to LAX on the Southwest Chief.  We are looking at booking a single roomette on the CS since we hopefully will have the Pacific Parlour Car on that train (and it not, it is only one night).  Then we will most likely book bedrooms on the EB and SWC.

 

What I was hoping for help with was any suggestions for hotels in Portland, Seattle and Chicago that are near the station and easy for the two of us to get back and forth to the train station.  

 

Price wise it is actually a little cheaper if we go all the way to Seattle but I like the idea of having the additional time in the evening we would get if we stay in Portland instead.

 

Another consideration is the EB consist.  My DS would love to be in the last car and be able to see out of the back of the train (he always makes me walk with him to the very back, LOL).   But I think I would prefer to be on the Seattle section that is closer to the dining car, etc.     I would love to hear your experience for those two starting cities.

 

Our original plan was to just connect to the EB from the CS in Portland but both DS and I are worried about not making the connection if the train is delayed.  If we get bumped to the next day, we would miss the SWC portion of the trip also.  So we would rather not spend our time on the CS worried about not making the connection ;)

 

Oh, we just returned from another round trip from LAX to San Jose on the Coast Starlight last week and had an amazing time.  Great service, both trains on time, etc.  Only negative was them running out many of the menu items in the dining car at dinner (before arriving at LAX), LOL.

 

Thanks!! 


Edited by trainfanmom, 27 July 2016 - 06:41 PM.


#2 pennyk

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Posted 27 July 2016 - 07:09 PM

I just came back from a similar trip going the opposite direction.  I traveled from Florida to Chicago to Seattle, Portland, LA then back to Chicago on the Southwest Chief, and then back home to Florida.  In every city, I stayed at Hilton property hotels that were walking distance from the train station.  In Seattle, I stayed at the Arctic Club Doubletree.  It was pricey, but I had points.  The Marriott Courtyard is about a block closer to the train station.  In Portland, I stayed at the Embassy Suites Downtown.  Although I did not overnight in Chicago this trip, the last 2 times I was in Chicago, I stayed at the Palmer House, which is walking distance from Union Station.


Amtrak miles: 230,820; Routes: Silver Meteor, Champion, Silver Star, Auto Train, Capitol Limited, Empire Builder, Lakeshore Limited, Adirondack, Vermonter, Cardinal, California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Texas Eagle, Missouri River Runner, Acela Express, Southwest Chief, Cascades, Crescent, City of New Orleans, Hiawatha Service, Maple Leaf, Keystone Service, NE Regional, Downeaster, Piedmont, Carolinian, Lincoln Service, Autumn Express 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, Empire Service, Sunset Limited, San Joaquin, Capitol Corridor, Pennsylvanian, Illinois Zephyr, Carl Sandburg, Ethan Allen Express, AEM-7 Excursion, Pacific Surfliner, Palmetto.  VIA miles: 4,584; Routes: The Canadian, Ocean; Alaska RR Denali Star: 356 miles


#3 George K

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Posted 27 July 2016 - 08:03 PM

Our last two times in Portland, we stayed at the Marriott residence inn. Not particularly cheap, but very, VERY, convenient to the Amtrak station in Portland - about a 3 block walk.

 

We LOVE being on the Portland sleeper - as you say being at the end of the train is wonderful, and you'll get views like no other. Seattle doesn't give those options. Yeah, the walk to the diner is long (2 coaches, SSL and 2 more coaches), but it's nice being at the rear of the train for the views.

 

Attached File  IMG_5773.jpg   106.94KB   29 downloads

 

Penny, the Palmer House is a great hotel, but it's a bit of a hike from CUS to the hotel. 4-5 city blocks.


Edited by George K, 27 July 2016 - 08:05 PM.

4/1/1955 - NYC "Pacemaker" - NYP to CHI; 9/14 - EB - CHI to PDX , CS - PDX to EMY, CZ - EMY to CHI; 3/15 CONO - Round trip; 9/15 CL CHI to WAS, Acela WAS to BOS, LSL BOS to CHI; 11/15 CONO - Round trip; 5/16 EB - Round trip; 12/16 CONO -  Round Trip; 5/17 EB - Round trip; 10/17 CONO - Round trip

#4 pennyk

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Posted 27 July 2016 - 08:13 PM

 

 

Penny, the Palmer House is a great hotel, but it's a bit of a hike from CUS to the hotel. 4-5 city blocks.

 

I consider anything less than a mile, "walking distance."


Amtrak miles: 230,820; Routes: Silver Meteor, Champion, Silver Star, Auto Train, Capitol Limited, Empire Builder, Lakeshore Limited, Adirondack, Vermonter, Cardinal, California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Texas Eagle, Missouri River Runner, Acela Express, Southwest Chief, Cascades, Crescent, City of New Orleans, Hiawatha Service, Maple Leaf, Keystone Service, NE Regional, Downeaster, Piedmont, Carolinian, Lincoln Service, Autumn Express 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, Empire Service, Sunset Limited, San Joaquin, Capitol Corridor, Pennsylvanian, Illinois Zephyr, Carl Sandburg, Ethan Allen Express, AEM-7 Excursion, Pacific Surfliner, Palmetto.  VIA miles: 4,584; Routes: The Canadian, Ocean; Alaska RR Denali Star: 356 miles


#5 George K

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Posted 27 July 2016 - 08:23 PM

I consider anything less than a mile, "walking distance."

Yeah, but you're (probably) younger than I. When I go downtown, I *always* cab it from Michigan Ave to CUS. 

 

.78 mile walk.

 

Attached File  Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 8.27.39 PM.png   382.27KB   26 downloads


Edited by George K, 27 July 2016 - 08:28 PM.

4/1/1955 - NYC "Pacemaker" - NYP to CHI; 9/14 - EB - CHI to PDX , CS - PDX to EMY, CZ - EMY to CHI; 3/15 CONO - Round trip; 9/15 CL CHI to WAS, Acela WAS to BOS, LSL BOS to CHI; 11/15 CONO - Round trip; 5/16 EB - Round trip; 12/16 CONO -  Round Trip; 5/17 EB - Round trip; 10/17 CONO - Round trip

#6 trainfanmom

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Posted 27 July 2016 - 11:39 PM

I just came back from a similar trip going the opposite direction.  I traveled from Florida to Chicago to Seattle, Portland, LA then back to Chicago on the Southwest Chief, and then back home to Florida.  In every city, I stayed at Hilton property hotels that were walking distance from the train station.  In Seattle, I stayed at the Arctic Club Doubletree.  It was pricey, but I had points.  The Marriott Courtyard is about a block closer to the train station.  In Portland, I stayed at the Embassy Suites Downtown.  Although I did not overnight in Chicago this trip, the last 2 times I was in Chicago, I stayed at the Palmer House, which is walking distance from Union Station.

 

Thank you so much.  My son was just reading about the Palmer House in Chicago (in his summer reading book) so we looked it up.  That looks like a perfect option for us.   How is the area (not just for walking to and from the Union Station but also for walking around to check out a few things before we go back to Union Station the next afternoon)?   I saw that they have baggage storage so we could let them hold our bags and use up some of the spare time checking out the sights.  Or do you know if they have a late check-out option?  I didn't see it on the site.   The price for the time we will be there looks great though.

 

I will check out the suggestions for Seattle and Portland also. 

 

Our last two times in Portland, we stayed at the Marriott residence inn. Not particularly cheap, but very, VERY, convenient to the Amtrak station in Portland - about a 3 block walk.

 

We LOVE being on the Portland sleeper - as you say being at the end of the train is wonderful, and you'll get views like no other. Seattle doesn't give those options. Yeah, the walk to the diner is long (2 coaches, SSL and 2 more coaches), but it's nice being at the rear of the train for the views.

 

attachicon.gifIMG_5773.jpg

 

Penny, the Palmer House is a great hotel, but it's a bit of a hike from CUS to the hotel. 4-5 city blocks.

 

Thank you. That image is exactly what my son has in mind.  I may have to go ahead and pay a little more for the Portland option ;)   Besides, I will probably need that walk to the dining car to get a little exercise, LOL.    The Residence Inn in Portland is the one I was looking at because it seems like it would be easy to walk to.  Is there any concerns for us walking in that area (I have never been to Portland except when the CS stopped there, LOL).

 

 

 

 

Penny, the Palmer House is a great hotel, but it's a bit of a hike from CUS to the hotel. 4-5 city blocks.

 

I consider anything less than a mile, "walking distance."

 

 

I think we will have to see how much luggage we end up bringing to determine if we are walking or taking cabs.  We will probably try for two small bags but since we have overnight stays in hotels, we may end up with one bag that we store in the luggage rack and at the hotel stops and we will swap out the clean and dirty clothes in our small bags.

 

We have been to the Amtrak Station in Seattle before (took the CS from Seattle to LAX) and I'm wondering about that area at night?  I'm guessing if we do the Seattle option, we will want to take a cab at least in the evening when we arrive since it will be dark.   Will we be able to get cabs easily?

 

Oh, I thought of one more question.  We are planning this trip for next April (so we want to book as soon as possible).  Do you know of any concerns with those routes during that time.   I did read that they take the Parlour Car off the CS Jan - Mar for maintenance.  Is that still the case?

 

Again - thank you so much for the help :)



#7 Bob Dylan

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Posted 27 July 2016 - 11:51 PM

trainfanmom: what a great trip, we are envious.

There's pros and cons to taking both Sections of the Builder, but having done both several times, heading East to Chicago I prefer the Seattle Section, #8 because you get to ride along Puget Sound and up into the Cascades in Daylight,,( far as the Cascade Tunnel). Also the Diner is on the Seattle Section so you get to have Dinner instead of a box meal out of Portland ( although it's an excellent boxed meal,)and it gets dark fairly quickly after you leave Portland heading up the Columbia.

As for Hotels, Portland and, Seattle both are Pricey when the weather is nice(ie any time it's not Winter) but there are plenty of chain hotels of all types in both cities that can be booked thru one of the many travel sights(I like Kayak).

Same for Chicago, which usually has better deals than the other two cities, unless some big event is happening in the Second City.

FYI, the connection between the Starlight and the Builder in Portland is guaranteed, but y'all may have to ride a bus to catch the Builder if the Starlight is running late. It may be from somewhere in Southern Oregon to Portland or as far as the dreaded bus ride to Pasco,Washington, but you'll make your connection.

All things considered I say that doing the Seattle and Chicago overnights
is the prudent and most fun way to roll but Portland is excellent if you decide to go with that option.

Please share your trip with us when you return!

Edited by Bob Dylan, 27 July 2016 - 11:54 PM.

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#8 bmjhagen9426

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 01:48 AM

the connection between the Starlight and the Builder in Portland is guaranteed, but y'all may have to ride a bus to catch the Builder if the Starlight is running late. It may be from somewhere in Southern Oregon to Portland or as far as the dreaded bus ride to Pasco,Washington, but you'll make your connection.

All things considered I say that doing the Seattle and Chicago overnights
is the prudent and most fun way to roll but Portland is excellent if you decide to go with that option.

Overnighting between trains is a good idea, and you probably are gambling if you decide to go same-day connection. I would definitely recommend overnighting between trains, lest you run the risk of being bustituted. I don't know about the SWC->CS bustitution (as I never have been in that situation), I believe that the CS->EB bus bridge can get as worse as a Klamath Falls to Pasco bustitution (which I would dread). You're better off adding a day or two to your trip by an overnight layover, than having to be bustituted along I-5 (or even on OR-58 if the dreaded Klamath to Pasco bustitution occurs). You should consider overnighting in LA more than in the Northwest, as the SWC's on time performance is reportedly poor. As for where to stay, look up on hotel booking websites (I prefer Expedia). Things to look for are price (lower the better), book later available, free cancellations, proximity to the station (direct access between the hotel and the station by transit also counts).


Edited by bmjhagen9426, 28 July 2016 - 01:49 AM.

Trains taken (US): Coast Starlight, San Joaquins, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Hoosier State, California Zephyr, SP4449 excursion 2015
Current Amtrak mileage: 29716 miles


#9 George K

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 06:08 AM

The walk to the Palmer House from Union Station is perfectly fine and safe. It's in the heart of the city, the "Loop." I walk from Michigan Avenue (a block east of the Palmer House) to Union Station frequently (when I can't catch a cab after a concert), and it takes about 15 minutes for my aged legs to get me there. When I walk it, it's about 10 PM and I'm safe. A cab ride from Michigan Avenue to Union Station is about $10 if you include a generous tip.

 

Similarly, the Residence Inn (Pearl District - NOT Downtown) is in a safe area of Portland - the Pearl District. I would have no problems walking there either. 


4/1/1955 - NYC "Pacemaker" - NYP to CHI; 9/14 - EB - CHI to PDX , CS - PDX to EMY, CZ - EMY to CHI; 3/15 CONO - Round trip; 9/15 CL CHI to WAS, Acela WAS to BOS, LSL BOS to CHI; 11/15 CONO - Round trip; 5/16 EB - Round trip; 12/16 CONO -  Round Trip; 5/17 EB - Round trip; 10/17 CONO - Round trip

#10 pennyk

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 06:54 AM

I agree that the walk to the Palmer House is very safe.  I have done it many times and at different hours of the day and evening, alone and with others.  (I am a 60+ year old woman who loves to walk).  I do not know if they have late checkout.  I usually check out early and store my luggage in the Metropolitan Lounge while I spend the day in Chicago.

 

In Portland, I was a bit uncomfortable walking to and from my hotel using the street directly in front of the bus station since it was packed with people.  I opted to go one block out of my way to avoid that crowded sidewalk.  I only made that walk during daylight hours.

 

In Seattle, there were crowded sidewalks also, but had no issues.  There were a couple of serious hills between the train station and my hotel, but I managed with my roller bag and backpack.  I only walked alone during daylight hours in Seattle.


Amtrak miles: 230,820; Routes: Silver Meteor, Champion, Silver Star, Auto Train, Capitol Limited, Empire Builder, Lakeshore Limited, Adirondack, Vermonter, Cardinal, California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, Texas Eagle, Missouri River Runner, Acela Express, Southwest Chief, Cascades, Crescent, City of New Orleans, Hiawatha Service, Maple Leaf, Keystone Service, NE Regional, Downeaster, Piedmont, Carolinian, Lincoln Service, Autumn Express 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, Empire Service, Sunset Limited, San Joaquin, Capitol Corridor, Pennsylvanian, Illinois Zephyr, Carl Sandburg, Ethan Allen Express, AEM-7 Excursion, Pacific Surfliner, Palmetto.  VIA miles: 4,584; Routes: The Canadian, Ocean; Alaska RR Denali Star: 356 miles


#11 trainfanmom

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 11:54 AM

trainfanmom: what a great trip, we are envious.

There's pros and cons to taking both Sections of the Builder, but having done both several times, heading East to Chicago I prefer the Seattle Section, #8 because you get to ride along Puget Sound and up into the Cascades in Daylight,,( far as the Cascade Tunnel). Also the Diner is on the Seattle Section so you get to have Dinner instead of a box meal out of Portland ( although it's an excellent boxed meal,)and it gets dark fairly quickly after you leave Portland heading up the Columbia.

As for Hotels, Portland and, Seattle both are Pricey when the weather is nice(ie any time it's not Winter) but there are plenty of chain hotels of all types in both cities that can be booked thru one of the many travel sights(I like Kayak).

Same for Chicago, which usually has better deals than the other two cities, unless some big event is happening in the Second City.

FYI, the connection between the Starlight and the Builder in Portland is guaranteed, but y'all may have to ride a bus to catch the Builder if the Starlight is running late. It may be from somewhere in Southern Oregon to Portland or as far as the dreaded bus ride to Pasco,Washington, but you'll make your connection.

All things considered I say that doing the Seattle and Chicago overnights
is the prudent and most fun way to roll but Portland is excellent if you decide to go with that option.

Please share your trip with us when you return!

 

I will definitely come back and report how the trip went :)    I'm going to share your comments about the Seattle/Portland sections with my son tonight.  I didn't think about having him check the sights (pros/cons) of those two routes.  We definitely have more to consider on that portion, LOL.

 

 

the connection between the Starlight and the Builder in Portland is guaranteed, but y'all may have to ride a bus to catch the Builder if the Starlight is running late. It may be from somewhere in Southern Oregon to Portland or as far as the dreaded bus ride to Pasco,Washington, but you'll make your connection.

All things considered I say that doing the Seattle and Chicago overnights
is the prudent and most fun way to roll but Portland is excellent if you decide to go with that option.

Overnighting between trains is a good idea, and you probably are gambling if you decide to go same-day connection. I would definitely recommend overnighting between trains, lest you run the risk of being bustituted. I don't know about the SWC->CS bustitution (as I never have been in that situation), I believe that the CS->EB bus bridge can get as worse as a Klamath Falls to Pasco bustitution (which I would dread). You're better off adding a day or two to your trip by an overnight layover, than having to be bustituted along I-5 (or even on OR-58 if the dreaded Klamath to Pasco bustitution occurs). You should consider overnighting in LA more than in the Northwest, as the SWC's on time performance is reportedly poor. As for where to stay, look up on hotel booking websites (I prefer Expedia). Things to look for are price (lower the better), book later available, free cancellations, proximity to the station (direct access between the hotel and the station by transit also counts).

 

 

 

Yeah, I think we have decided for sure to overnight in either Portland or Seattle.  We don't want to spend the CS portion of the trip worrying about any delays.   :)     And I don't think either of us want to give up a roomette for a bus.  Plus I like the idea of breaking up those two portions with a hotel stay.

 

We live in Southern CA so we will start and end at LAX.  We are OK with any delays on the SWC.   It will be no problem if that one gets in hours late since we will be coming home on a Saturday (no rush to be anywhere, even the next day).  

 

The walk to the Palmer House from Union Station is perfectly fine and safe. It's in the heart of the city, the "Loop." I walk from Michigan Avenue (a block east of the Palmer House) to Union Station frequently (when I can't catch a cab after a concert), and it takes about 15 minutes for my aged legs to get me there. When I walk it, it's about 10 PM and I'm safe. A cab ride from Michigan Avenue to Union Station is about $10 if you include a generous tip.

 

Similarly, the Residence Inn (Pearl District - NOT Downtown) is in a safe area of Portland - the Pearl District. I would have no problems walking there either. 

 

 

I agree that the walk to the Palmer House is very safe.  I have done it many times and at different hours of the day and evening, alone and with others.  (I am a 60+ year old woman who loves to walk).  I do not know if they have late checkout.  I usually check out early and store my luggage in the Metropolitan Lounge while I spend the day in Chicago.

 

In Portland, I was a bit uncomfortable walking to and from my hotel using the street directly in front of the bus station since it was packed with people.  I opted to go one block out of my way to avoid that crowded sidewalk.  I only made that walk during daylight hours.

 

In Seattle, there were crowded sidewalks also, but had no issues.  There were a couple of serious hills between the train station and my hotel, but I managed with my roller bag and backpack.  I only walked alone during daylight hours in Seattle.

 

Thank you both.   After looking at the area, we have decided to stay at the Palmer house.   We will probably do the same as you, Pennyk, have breakfast at or near the hotel then walk to the station and drop off our bags.  Then we can explore a bit more before catching the train.   I see plenty of places where we can have a later lunch and stock up on snack items before we go (bonus, LOL).     

 

If we do the Seattle option, we will definitely opt for cabs over walking.   But we are still on the fence between Seattle and Portland, LOL.  Lots of great advice here :)

 

Oh, side story about our CS trip last week.   We came to a quick stop not too long after leaving San Jose.  Quick enough that they announced on the PA for everyone to hold on and for sleeper car passengers to please stay in their rooms.  We were a bit concerned about the very strong smell right afterwards (turned out to be the brakes, I guess).   They come back on the PA quickly to let us know we had a near miss (or would that be near hit) of a couple of people on the tracks - yikes.   We watched the conductor walk the length of the train to check everything and then have (what looked like) some few choice words with the people that were on the tracks.    

 

Then later we got to see a man thrown off the train (not literally).  We heard them arguing with him in our car between stops.  Then right before the next stop the conductors announced on the PA that his bags would be put off at the next stop and he needed to leave the train.   We got to see security walk him away from the platform.

 

Both things were firsts for us :)


Edited by trainfanmom, 28 July 2016 - 01:01 PM.


#12 George K

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 12:00 PM

If you're overnighting in Chicago, the Palmer House is about a block and a half from the Art Institute of Chicago - a truly world-class museum. Since  the Chief doesn't leave until mid-afternoon, you'd have a morning to explore the Chicago loop, if you wish. 


4/1/1955 - NYC "Pacemaker" - NYP to CHI; 9/14 - EB - CHI to PDX , CS - PDX to EMY, CZ - EMY to CHI; 3/15 CONO - Round trip; 9/15 CL CHI to WAS, Acela WAS to BOS, LSL BOS to CHI; 11/15 CONO - Round trip; 5/16 EB - Round trip; 12/16 CONO -  Round Trip; 5/17 EB - Round trip; 10/17 CONO - Round trip

#13 SarahZ

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 12:07 PM

The Palmer House is my favorite hotel in Chicago. I hope you love it as much as I do. :)

They offer late checkout (for a fee), and they have free baggage storage at the bellhop desk.

Amtrak Miles: 43,318

 

Amtrak Routes: Blue Water, California Zephyr, Capitol Limited, Carl Sandburg, City of New Orleans, Coast Starlight, Crescent, Empire Builder, Hiawatha, Illinois Zephyr, Lincoln Service, Southwest Chief, Texas Eagle, Wolverine

 

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#14 bmjhagen9426

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Posted 28 July 2016 - 09:26 PM

 

Oh, side story about our CS trip last week.   We came to a quick stop not too long after leaving San Jose.  Quick enough that they announced on the PA for everyone to hold on and for sleeper car passengers to please stay in their rooms.  We were a bit concerned about the very strong smell right afterwards (turned out to be the brakes, I guess).   They come back on the PA quickly to let us know we had a near miss (or would that be near hit) of a couple of people on the tracks - yikes.   We watched the conductor walk the length of the train to check everything and then have (what looked like) some few choice words with the people that were on the tracks.    

 

Then later we got to see a man thrown off the train (not literally).  We heard them arguing with him in our car between stops.  Then right before the next stop the conductors announced on the PA that his bags would be put off at the next stop and he needed to leave the train.   We got to see security walk him away from the platform.

 

Both things were firsts for us :)

 

Stopping shortly after San Jose, that's unfortunate. I'm guessing that's how I have been delayed on the CS a couple of times, but for my case, the train actually hit a road vehicle just after SJC (happened on my Emeryville->Klamath Falls trip last September). Never seen a man been thrown off, but I've seen someone almost being thrown off on my Portland->Los Angeles trip about a year ago, for trying to drink a can of his own beer, although he was only warned by the OBS (or maybe by the conductor), which happened shortly after I boarded at Portland. I wonder if the man being thrown off for drinking alcohol outside his compartment, or whether he was drunk or caught smoking. If not, I wonder for what.


Trains taken (US): Coast Starlight, San Joaquins, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Hoosier State, California Zephyr, SP4449 excursion 2015
Current Amtrak mileage: 29716 miles


#15 tomfuller

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 01:20 AM

 

the connection between the Starlight and the Builder in Portland is guaranteed, but y'all may have to ride a bus to catch the Builder if the Starlight is running late. It may be from somewhere in Southern Oregon to Portland or as far as the dreaded bus ride to Pasco,Washington, but you'll make your connection.

All things considered I say that doing the Seattle and Chicago overnights
is the prudent and most fun way to roll but Portland is excellent if you decide to go with that option.

Overnighting between trains is a good idea, and you probably are gambling if you decide to go same-day connection. I would definitely recommend overnighting between trains, lest you run the risk of being bustituted. I don't know about the SWC->CS bustitution (as I never have been in that situation), I believe that the CS->EB bus bridge can get as worse as a Klamath Falls to Pasco bustitution (which I would dread). You're better off adding a day or two to your trip by an overnight layover, than having to be bustituted along I-5 (or even on OR-58 if the dreaded Klamath to Pasco bustitution occurs). You should consider overnighting in LA more than in the Northwest, as the SWC's on time performance is reportedly poor. As for where to stay, look up on hotel booking websites (I prefer Expedia). Things to look for are price (lower the better), book later available, free cancellations, proximity to the station (direct access between the hotel and the station by transit also counts).

 

The connection from the SWC to the CS is guaranteed. If the SWC is running very late, they might bus you from Fullerton to Burbank or even Santa Barbara to get you on the same day CS.

As for the Klamath Falls to Pasco run. the route was up US  97 with lunch at Biggs and then Interstate to Pasco. I don't think they have done that route for at least 2 years.

The cheapest alternative in PDX, SEA and CHI is the HI Hostel.



#16 bmjhagen9426

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 02:08 AM

 

The connection from the SWC to the CS is guaranteed. If the SWC is running very late, they might bus you from Fullerton to Burbank or even Santa Barbara to get you on the same day CS.

 

As for the Klamath Falls to Pasco run. the route was up US  97 with lunch at Biggs and then Interstate to Pasco. I don't think they have done that route for at least 2 years.

The cheapest alternative in PDX, SEA and CHI is the HI Hostel.

 

I believe that Amtrak has done that dreaded bus bridge recently, when they held up the CS at Klamath Falls for two hours recently when UP was doing trackwork on the tracks on the mountain pass. And whoops, my bad on that bridge routing. Meant to say US-97.


Trains taken (US): Coast Starlight, San Joaquins, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Hoosier State, California Zephyr, SP4449 excursion 2015
Current Amtrak mileage: 29716 miles


#17 KauaiJohn

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 02:38 PM

The Palmer House is one of my favorite hotels. I usually stay there when in Chicago.

#18 KauaiJohn

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 02:42 PM

As for Portland, there are pretty good hotel deals out by the airport and the really nice light rail makes staying out there do able.

#19 tricia

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 05:43 PM

As for Portland, there are pretty good hotel deals out by the airport and the really nice light rail makes staying out there do able.

 

Does the really nice light rail go directly to Union Station?



#20 trainfanmom

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Posted 29 July 2016 - 08:43 PM

Thank you again everyone!!  My son weighed the pros and cons and decided on the Portland route for the EB.    Bottom line, he didn't really like Seattle that much when we were there before so he wanted to try Portland instead.  Plus the possibility of our sleeper being at the end of the train and being able to look out the back as much as he wanted was just too much for him to pass up :)  (he knows another car could be added to the back but we will hope for the best).

 

I just got off the phone with the best Amtrak Customer Service agent!!!    I did the reservations over the phone to get the rooms we wanted.  He was so patient with all my requests, LOL.   I had him do the EB portion of the trip first to make sure we could get rooms we wanted and then added the other two legs, which were both still at the lowest bucket pricing (bonus).  His pricing was coming up even higher than online for roomettes on the EB, I guess due to the pricing buckets (one room still in a lower bucket) so he kept working with the reservation until he got it to price one room lower and one room at the next bucket.   It came out even cheaper than what was showing online (bigger bonus!)

 

We ended up with one upper roomette on the CS (middle of the car), two upper roomettes on the EB (middle of the car, across from one another, so we can get a view from both sides of the train) and a bedroom on the SWC.  

 

So this trip is a go and for cheaper than I was expecting!!!    We have the Palmer House booked in Chicago and now we just need to decide on the Portland hotel.  We are trying to decide between the Residence Inn near the train station but with less things around it or another hotel downtown with easy access to restaurants, 7-11 to restock on snacks, etc. 

 

I think I'm more excited about this trip than my son ;)

 

Thank you all again!


Edited by trainfanmom, 29 July 2016 - 08:45 PM.





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