I say good morning to Julio and he has coffee ready. He is not an ice tray guy. Says he doesn't keep it in his room anymore but let him know and he will get some. He keeps the aisle clear and the juice is on top. My wife Steph is ready so we head off to breakfast. It really was a treat eating French Toast and looking at Mt. Shasta.
One bummer was no parlor car. We had a substitute SSL. No breakfast there. We stopped in coming back from breakfast and met Eggie. I mentioned it was a bummer without a real parlor car. He said it would have been nicer with a cross country cafe car but you do the best you can. We talked more during the day. He really seemed to have a passion for the parlor car. He did serve lunch sandwiches there. He was able to find stuff to make a Paloma which my wife always looks forward to. I thought he did a great job with the substitute car.
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Great scenery and cruising along. We came to a stop and we were not in a siding so I grabbed my scanner. The power went off and there was radio chatter about a mechanical problem. I listened as they kept trying things. Someone said that the problem was at the private car. The power went on and off a couple of times and I heard something about an air problem being resolved. We started back up and headed up Oregon.
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Our SCA Julio was kind of a low key guy. He has been working there for years and he did his job very well I thought. Anytime we saw him pass, he would stop and smile and ask if we needed anything for our room. Made the beds and stocked the room while we had breakfast. Had brought ice on request. Kept the car in good shape. Good guy.
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Conductors seemed great. Wanted to keep things moving. We pulled in to Portland and were told quick stop. We exchanged passengers and got done quickly but pulled slowly out of the station, after a while backed back to the station. Then forward. Then back. Power off, power on. Then forward. The announcement comes over that Amtrak is sorry for the inconvenience but a private car was in tow. The speaker went on a small rant about rich people can afford privates cars and want it just so on the platform. He went on a little bit and I would guess the staff was frustrated losing time and he was just venting a little. Got moving again and had a wonderful time viewing Washington.
We arrived a little late into Seattle. Now our plan was to come up to the street, go 600 yards to southbound light rail. I studied the forum so I had it planned. Except the elevator didn't work. We found the stairs and got our bags up to the street level. Light rail was great! We figured out the ticket machine and got our $3 ride to SeaTac station. Car smelled of urine but next car was fine. Lots of riders. Was great seeing the neighborhoods roll by. Sea Tac station is at the airport so got off and waited for a shuttle to the Red Roof Inn. The place was clean and had a comfortable bed. Everything worked. Price was excellent.
Next day light rail to Seattle. Crazy weather. Lots of people. Saw the tourist spots. Ended up at Safeco. Interesting park. I thought one of the areas that had hard liquor was next to the bull pen was really funny. The big thing is grasshoppers. Fried grasshopper for $4. Lots of people bought them (We saw very few actually eat them). Mariners and Twins. A lot more Twin fans. Back to Sea Tac for the night.
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That was the routine until last day. Started out to the History of Flight museum. Bus stop to it is right in front of the Red Roof. We got there when it opened. Next thing was “goodbye, we are closing”. Wow! The whole day and we didn't get through it all. What a place! Plus saw the trains right beside the property as well as Boeing planes doing practice landings. We blew off the ball game.
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The number of Blue Jay fans at the Red Roof lobby the next morning was noticeable. We were headed back to King Street on the light rail. We were joined by dozens of folks in Blue Jay colors. The stadium station had a sea of Blue Jay uniforms. We chatted with fans going very early. They all got off at the stadium and we headed to the station.
Cross the street, in the station and the elevator not working. Around the corner, down the stairs. My wife sees the security guy and says the elevator has the doors open but not working. He says yes I know, been like that.
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I read on the forum about the station rehab. Wasn't what I expected. We went up to the ticket guy and a passenger waiting got upset and went off on something. I looked at him and told him to claim down, we were in business class. And his spot on the bench was safe I told him. The station guy knows your there. He was a bit jacked up and the line hadn't started yet. I looked at the group needed help on the train. He had a friend in that group that he was signaling to and calling to so got my attention. The Red cap with the group didn't wear a cap. Was a guy with a dirty red vest. Then the drug guys in the bathroom did a routine. Was ok, I hadn't ridden the Cascade before so I was focused on that. The 513 was just a little late.
The line for coach was forming and they called for business class. Got to see the Talgo set finally. Was a little worn but it was a great ride. I had time to look it over and take a picture. Not many in business, coach was full. Pulled out of the station and the conductor said we would be going fast to make up time. It was great having the speedometer and map display in the car. It was a great ride. Tried out the Bristol Car and it was nice. They had a variety of things, not all junk. The dining/observation car stayed full. Business class never did fill so we had lots of space. I enjoyed the views. We did make up the lost time.
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We stayed over in Portland. Visited friends. It was nice in Tigard.
The final leg back was on the CS. We went to the Portland station and we were hanging out outside for a bit and then we decided to try the lounge. It was nice, had a good station manager and the juices and coffee were right there. He waited until the train was close enough and got up to make his speech. Was a great speech until he got to the part about the movie in the parlor car. My wife and I looked at each other, really?
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Train arrived and we went to our car. Our SCA was standing at the door. I handed up our bags and he didn't move. Ok so I put them up and we got on board. He asked to scan the ticket and didn't say much. We stowed our bags and went to our room. The car was so hot. My wife turned the temp dial to cool and tried to shut the overhead vent. She went and grabbed our SCA has he was coming up the stairs and he came in and shut it. I said thanks and we introduced ourselves. He started to leave and I said “and your name?” He told us and left. We looked around and the room hadn't been turned I guess. So I went to find the SCA to see if we could get some water, a timetable and tissue. Couldn't find him. I did find him later coming out of A. I jokingly said the room needs a lot of attention. He said people can't bug him in there. I asked if he was ok and he said yes. He just looked glum and I noticed the always on jacket. I asked for a timetable and I got one. We already got water in the parlor car.
It was pissing me off a bit to find a lot of things missing like towels and soap. And the room just being out of sorts from the beginning. The temperature was crazy hot. No SCA. At one stretch stop at which he thought it was not necessary for him to stand there and told me so, I overheard a crew member saying no night chores. Someone will cover. I did catch him in his room after that and said hey man be honest, you sick? Yes. Ok great, get better.
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One the one hand I can see it. A new guy, starts out in LA. Gets to SEA and gets sick. Maybe he has no sick leave yet. They won't let him deadhead in the transitional sleeper I guess. He wants to get to LA so crew says just work and we will cover.
On the other hand, we paid hundreds and our service stunk. And if he carried back food to people, he wasn't doing them a favor. He was not helpful and all the folks from overseas riding in our car mentioned how trains are so different here. I have no idea on Amtrak sick policies, I only know in my career you weren't a man if you didn't report each shift until time went on and it was decided better to protect the public and workers than see who's the man. I don't think he was ducking work or a bad guy, I think he felt pretty sick and couldn't function.
Funny thing, in Portland we picked up the same private car we pulled north. I was hoping it wouldn't go bad order as we were making great time. It was not an issue.
The Parlor Car guy was Michael. He ran a good car. Very organized. I mentioned the movie announcement to him and he just laughed. The PPC was outstanding. We had a lot of people in there all chatting together, sharing travel stories and locals pointing out sites. Everyone participated. It has been a very long time since I have seen that. We had a lot of travelers from overseas which added to the fun.
I made up our beds when we woke in Sacramento. I took my shower. It was so damn hot that I just baked all night. When a pax asked our SCA about the heat said car was from 1994 and what would you expect? I have noticed more superliner HVAC problems on different routes. I heard the PPC have more and more issues. I was riding on the Zypher and was talking to someone on the crew and he cringed when he saw the conductor. She knows how to fix it. Watch it will be freezing in here in 5 minutes. It was. Then she will come back and it will be really hot in minutes. It was.
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Breakfast was great. Said goodbye to fellow travelers. Got into EMY and found the car was safe and undamaged. Our trip went according to plan. A huge thank you to forum members for giving us great planning tips. Aside from one sick SCA, Amtrak was an excellent trip once again. I think Texas may be up next.
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