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LAX-CHI-ROC, First time overnight Amtrak trip.


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#1 Adrouault

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Posted 08 June 2017 - 10:50 AM

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http://imgur.com/a/Ym9gp

 

 

Greetings to all.
This trip report will cover my first ever long-distance experience on Amtrak, from Los Angeles' Union Station to Chicago's Union Station, and then continuing on to Rochester, New York. I traveled with my girlfriend.
Initial leg:
Amtrak Train 4.
Southwest Chief
Los Angeles to Chicago.
Dep: 06/03/2017,
18:00.
Scheduled Arrival,
06/05/2017,
15:30
We arrived at Union Station 90 minutes before the scheduled departure time of 18:00, and went to the Metropolitan Lounge, a small lounge (by aviation standards) which served soft drinks, coffee/tea, and had a few pastries available. Nothing impressive, but it was nice to be secluded from the chaos of Union Station. At 17:30, the Lounge agent announced that boarding was about to begin. An army of "Redcaps," Amtrak porters came running in to help with luggage. Our bags were loaded onto a cart, and we were driven to the door of the sleeper car, where we began to settle in. Our sleeper car attendant came by to welcome us and show us the features of the room. A few minutes after departing a smoggy Los Angeles, the dining car attendant came by to schedule our supper. We got a seating time of 19:30 and were seated with an older couple from Colorado. 

Dinner consisted of salads for all the sleeper passengers (Coach passengers could purchase them) followed by choice of mains. I had the Steak-Shrimp combination plate, which was perfectly adequate. Steak was ordered rare, and arrived perfectly cooked. The Béarnaise sauce was a greatly flavorful addition to the steak. After roughly an hour of polite conversation with our fellow diners, we retired to the room, which had been prepared for the night. After a nightcap, I was able to fall asleep, on and off for about 5 hours. I woke up just outside of Flagstaff to see the sunrise. 

When we reached ABQ, it was announced that we had a 40 minute stop to allow for an equipment and crew change. Upon hearing this, I quickly grabbed my phone, and looked to see what was near the station. I was in desperate need of a real coffee, with real milk. Amtrak's coffee with creamer wasn't cutting it. I found a café within walking distance and made my way off the train as soon as we stopped at the station. Espresso Fino on Gold Avenue, 5 minutes from the station, proved to be the perfect rest stop. The coffee was strong yet had a very mellow flavour profile. 

We dashed back to the train, and departed the station soon thereafter.
A few minutes later, our lunch time was called, and we made our way to the dining car. I had a bacon-cheeseburger, which was perfectly adequate, followed by a delicious lemon tart. Spent the meal debating the veracity of climate change with a couple of fellow travelers. (My head almost ....ing exploded)
Went back to the room to rest and watch the scenery, as we wound our way through New Mexico. By 5 pm local time, we reached the station of Raton, the last station before Colorado. I noticed that we were stopped for quite a while, so I went to the door of the train to look at the station and see if i could discern a cause for the delay. I saw four local police vehicles pull up alongside the train. A few minutes later, they return to their vehicles, dragging a passenger with them. Apparently he was transporting cannabis in a very obvious way, and was therefore detected. 


That drama over with, we continued our journey through the Raton tunnel and into Trinidad, Colorado, when I went up to dinner. I had the steak and shrimp again, and it was quite good. Having been awake since 4 that morning, I was exhausted and ate mostly in silence.
Retired to the bedroom and slept a solid 8 hours undisturbed. Woke up as we passed Kansas City on a very foggy morning. After a breakfast of French toast, packing up the room, and a lunch of pulled pork sliders, we were arriving in Chicago, where we bid farewell to the crew and made our way to the Metropolitan lounge. 

Given the lack of a reliable internet connection aboard this route, a perfectly pleasant yet slightly monotonous routine is quickly adopted. Wake up, eat, look out the window, eat again, rest, eat, sleep, and repeat. It was a totally new experience for me, and I really enjoyed it. It was quite nice to arrive in Chicago this evening without even a hint of the back and neck pain that invariable follows even a short flight.
Lake Shore Limited
Chicago, IL to Rochester, NY
Departure: 06/05/2017 21:30.
Scheduled Arrival: 06/06/2017 09:50 (Actual arrival was 11:50)
After a brief visit to Chicago, during which I tried deep dish pizza, and enjoyed it, 'twas time to continue the voyage. We went back to the Amtrak's Metropolitan Lounge, enjoyed a coffee, and it was then time for boarding. The redcaps arrived immediately to drive us to the platform, and again we were dropped off right in front of our door. As soon as we left Chicago, our sleeping car attendant came to put down the beds into the nighttime configuration. The wi-fi worked exceptionally well on this route, and I used the internet until I managed to fall asleep, just past South Bend, Indiana. I woke up at around 7:30, looked out my window and saw a DL Md-88 departing CLE. We were stopped right in front of the airport, due to rail traffic ahead. I dozed off a little more, and then was woken by an announcement that it was the final call for breakfast at roughly 8:15 EST. The special breakfast item on this train was a chicken biscuit sandwich, which was perfectly adequate. The chicken was crispy, and biscuit fluffy. At 11:50, we arrived at the Rochester Amtrak station, two hours late, and 62 after departing Los Angeles.
It was a greatly enjoyable trip across North America. The beds were comfortable, crew was very friendly and professional, and the food was more than decent. I enjoyed seeing the country at a much slower pace, and being able to see little towns, and converse with people from totally different backgrounds. 

Thank you for reading. 

 

Note about sleeping arrangements. 

We booked this trip very last minute, and had the Family Bedroom on the first leg, and Viewliner Roomette on the econd leg.


Edited by Adrouault, 08 June 2017 - 11:19 AM.


#2 Bob Dylan

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Posted 08 June 2017 - 02:48 PM

Excellent trip report and pics!😎

Thanks for sharing, and when's the next trip?😄
"There's Something About a Train! It's Magic!"-- 1970s Amtrak Ad
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Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,No matter where its going!.." -Edna St. Vincent Millay

#3 oregon pioneer

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Posted 08 June 2017 - 03:05 PM

Enjoyed your trip report, thank you!

 

Nice to hear a little bit about the menus (new since I last traveled), and your routine (much like mine, LOL -- but I sometimes add a little bit of writing on my laptop, picture taking, and maybe knitting as I watch the scenery roll by). I also have trouble sleeping on the first night, and after that it's "sweet dreams!"


Jennifer

 

I'm a "little Old Lady in Tennis Shoes" (LOLITS) from Eastern Oregon. I love to travel by train, though I live way out in the toolies, far from the nearest Amtrak station (Chemult). My station would have been Baker City, but they cancelled the Oregon Pioneer just before I took my first long-distance train trip as an adult. I've taken most trains in the West, but I'm still exploring new routes in the east.


#4 Adrouault

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Posted 09 June 2017 - 05:03 PM

Excellent trip report and pics!

Thanks for sharing, and when's the next trip?

Thank you for your praise! Not sure when the next trip will be. It was my first time traversing the country, and I'm thinking it'll be some time in the next couple month.

 

Enjoyed your trip report, thank you!

 

Nice to hear a little bit about the menus (new since I last traveled), and your routine (much like mine, LOL -- but I sometimes add a little bit of writing on my laptop, picture taking, and maybe knitting as I watch the scenery roll by). I also have trouble sleeping on the first night, and after that it's "sweet dreams!"

Thank you for your praise. Yes, there definitely is a routine! 

It was so much fun.



#5 Railroad Bill

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Posted 10 June 2017 - 09:30 AM

Enjoyed your trip report. Sounds like the food and service were excellent and that is how all Amtrak trips should be.
The new menu sounds good. We hope to try out the steak and shrimp next week on the Chief.


Amtrak Trains Ridden So Far:
Lake Shore Ltd, Capitol Ltd, Pennsylvanian, NE Corridors, Crescent, City of New Orleans, Empire Builder, California Zephyr, Hoosier, SW Chief, Surfliners, California Capitol Corridors, Coast Starlight, Cascades. Texas Eagle, San Joaquins, Missouri River Runner,Cardinal, Downeaster, Silver Meteor, Keystones, Auto Train, Adirondack, Lincoln Service, Illinois Zephyr, Carl Sandburg, Texas Eagle Detour Rt, 2013 Autumn Express Tour PHL, Silver Star, Sunset Limited -Acela Express-  2015 Autumn Express ALB  - Empire Service 81,815 Amtrak miles & counting    Via Rail Corridor Trains Cobourg-Ottawa-Montreal,(round trip)  The Ocean (round trip)--   2,250 miles


#6 Adrouault

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Posted 11 June 2017 - 07:19 AM

Enjoyed your trip report. Sounds like the food and service were excellent and that is how all Amtrak trips should be.
The new menu sounds good. We hope to try out the steak and shrimp next week on the Chief.

Thanks! 

Are you taking the Chief all the way from CHI-LAX? 

 

Yes, I know that my sleeper car attendant was truly exceptional, and for that, I wrote an email to Amtrak, praising him.






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