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L.A. to Richmond V.A.


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#1 TaTahi

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Posted 03 August 2017 - 01:15 PM

This is my first submission to this forum. I've been following it for two years now. I appreciate the tips and experiences of other forum contributors.
More than two years ago a colleague I was talking with told me how years ago while travelling in the United States he had brought an Amtrak Rail Pass and how he enjoyed engaging with his fellow travelers on the train while criss crossing the country.
I had been brought up in the 1950's alongside the rail tracks in New Zealand and have always had interest in trains, in those days travel was most always by train. My father worked for the railways and we were able to purchase priv (privilege) tickets for one eighth of fare. My last trip to the United States was two years ago and while here decided to research travelling by train. As well as following the Forum I've found U Tube video of most Amtrak routes. I've used Amtrak's App to work out various routes, West to East and viz versa. Ten months ago I made my first booking, Los Angles to Richmond V.A. I chose the southern route, the reason being aircraft arrival times. My flight would be arriving at 3.30 pm at LAX. the Coast Starlight departure is 10 am and would require an overnight stay in L.A. The South West Chief was too tight with a 6.10 pm departure. So I chose the Texas Eagle to Chicago, a 10 pm departure connecting to the Cardinal to Charlottesville and thruway bus to Richmond Staples Mill. I found I could catch the Flyway bus from LAX to LAX Union Station and although when I arrived there the South West Chief was still there but due to depart any minute I'm pleased I didn't select it. It was too tight a schedule for safety. I booked a roomette all the way. At Union Station I waited in the Metropolitan lounge and was taken by Red Cap to the train which started boarding from 8.30 pm on-wards. Steven our room attendant was polite and helpful showing me how to make up my bed. Departure was on time and I sat and watched the night lights of L.A. until sleep overtook me. I slept pretty well after my 12 hour flight and woke about 5.30 am and showered before Maricopa. I had breakfast with an elderly couple travelling with their granddaughter on the SunSet Limited portion of the train. I learned that I should try Grits something that I had never heard of, however I had already ordered.
I enjoyed travelling through this southern countryside either in my cabin listening to my music or in the sight seeing car with fellow travelers. I found the seat in my roomette more comfortable than the sight seeing car, there is probably a reason for this i.e. seat turnover. I found this portion through to San Antonio the the most interesting the scrubby dessert then cropping land, El Paso and "the Mexican Wall." Rusty steel spiked and fortress like. The message I received from from my cell phone provider in New Zealand. Welcome to Mexico. Calls cost $7.39/min, data $10/mb. Travelling on that afternoon we uncounted thunder and lightning and torrential rain. The hard sandy scrub land was quickly covered in sheets of water. Small gullies and creeks became raging torrents. The train slowed and even stopped during these events. But it was all clear before Alpine (Big Bend National Park). This Texan countryside had become grazing country with interesting land formations highlighted by the sun setting from behind us. Waking on arrival at San Antonio, we had to wait until the Sun Set Limited portion of the train had departed before alighting and the journey resuming before breakfast was available after 8 am. The journey Northward included commentary hosted by National Park's explaining that we were following the early cattle droving trail, the early settlements and settlers, the reason for each settlement as the country greened up, the harvested corn/maze and on to Austin. I stepped of the train in Dallas, I thought of JFK, couldn't believe how hot it was and soon retreated back inside the air conditioned train. Morning and we were coming up to St Louis. I Learned at breakfast from a fellow traveler that we had been following the Mississippi river and was shown photo's. I was a little disappointed to have been missing this important water way, as I thought of Huckle Berry Finn and their adventurous journeys I used to enjoy so much in my youth. We stopped in St Louis and it was announced that our train crew had arrived late and that by Federal Law they must have an eight hour break before we could proceed, we would no longer be departing by 8 am but after 10 am. The dinning car from San Antonio had become a smaller version with only half the car used for dinners, the train crew were established in the other half. The menu had remained the same, I tried Grits for breakfast, but was not for me. I had had two hamburger lunches and was looking forward to something a little different. I chose the Thai-spiced pulled pork sliders, I didn't know what sliders were but was disappointed in a small microwaved bun filled with a flavorless texture of pulled meat .I did get to see the Mississippi after departure from St Louis and was also able to catch a photo of the St Louis famous Arch from the sight seeing car. Cardinal train travelers as well as other passengers that had connecting trains out of Chicago were called to the other half of the dinning car to be advised by the train crew that we Cardinal passengers would be detrained at Bloominton-Normal and bused to Indianapolis to join the Cardinal. That became a disappointment. It was about 3 pm when we arrived, we would have to wait until 7.30 pm and be taken by Trailways bus to Indianapolis, four and a half hours waiting. It was a comfortable station with free wifi, the first access I had had since the Metropolitan Lounge in L.A. I walked the small business area, purchased an ice-cream. It appears to be a University area with cafe's, bars and boutique shops. I received an email from Amtrak with my new travel details and revised invoice. They charged me for the bus, $38.25, I had loss the use of my roomette from Bloominton to Chicago. From Chicago to Indianapolis and evening dinning. My revised fare remained exactly what I had paid. There were about 12 other passengers to be bused, coach, business class and sleeper. We arrived at Indianapolis at about midnight when the Cardinal was due, but it was 1 am before we were on the train and on our way again. My roomette was made up. I had had no dinner and was dying for a drink I tried for coffee in the sleeper, but none was available, I saw our attendant and was able to get a bottle of water. Thank goodness. I slept till about 7.30 am, close to Charleston West Virginia I showered and went to breakfast and joined other bused passengers. We were following the Kancwha River, there is some small shipping, then a Hydro dam or reservoir and small settlements. The train has wifi which provides journey information, train speed, time to next station and the route. This was good to use as well as the internet. I used my book USA by Rail to pick up on the small town information as we passed by. By lunch time we were following the Green Brier River, camping spots, people canoeing, small towns. I found the countryside from Charleston to Charlottesville very scenic. The dinning car and room service staff were very good (thanks Mama) also that they are with the train from N.Y to CHI return. We arrived at Charlottesville about half an hour late and I was directed to our thruway bus, once on the highway we were again delayed due to a road crash and finally arrived about 6.30 pm. My daughter and grandsons were waiting. My how technologies have changed, I was able to message my daughter of my progress and of delays encountered. I'm here in Richmond for the last month of the school holidays. We will be travelling to N.Y by train, returning three days later. When I depart in September I will also travel by train. I have reservations on Northeast Regional to Washington D.C., the Capitol Limited to Chicago with a one night stay over. Joining the Empire Builder to Portland with a transfer to the Coast Starlight to Emeryville. Departing San Francisco about 9.30 pm on a 12 hour flight home. The worst Part.

Hi to Family and friends, I thought I would copy to you my submission to this Amtrak forum, of my travels.

This is my first submission to this forum. I've been following it for two years now. I appreciate the tips and experiences of other forum contributors.
More than two years ago a colleague I was talking with told me how years ago while travelling in the United States he had brought an Amtrak Rail Pass and how he enjoyed engaging with his fellow travelers on the train while criss crossing the country.
I had been brought up in the 1950's alongside the rail tracks in New Zealand and have always had interest in trains, in those days travel was most always by train. My father worked for the railways and we were able to purchase priv (privilege) tickets for one eighth of fare. My last trip to the United States was two years ago and while here decided to research travelling by train. As well as following the Forum I've found U Tube video of most Amtrak routes. I've used Amtrak's App to work out various routes, West to East and viz versa. Ten months ago I made my first booking, Los Angles to Richmond V.A. I chose the southern route, the reason being aircraft arrival times. My flight would be arriving at 3.30 pm at LAX. the Coast Starlight departure is 10 am and would require an overnight stay in L.A. The South West Chief was too tight with a 6.10 pm departure. So I chose the Texas Eagle to Chicago, a 10 pm departure connecting to the Cardinal to Charlottesville and thruway bus to Richmond Staples Mill. I found I could catch the Flyway bus from LAX to LAX Union Station and although when I arrived there the South West Chief was still there but due to depart any minute I'm pleased I didn't select it. It was too tight a schedule for safety. I booked a roomette all the way. At Union Station I waited in the Metropolitan lounge and was taken by Red Cap to the train which started boarding from 8.30 pm on-wards. Steven our room attendant was polite and helpful showing me how to make up my bed. Departure was on time and I sat and watched the night lights of L.A. until sleep overtook me. I slept pretty well after my 12 hour flight and woke about 5.30 am and showered before Maricopa. I had breakfast with an elderly couple travelling with there granddaughter on the SunSet Limited portion of the train. I learned that I should try Grits something that I had never heard of, however I had already ordered.
I enjoyed travelling through this southern countryside either in my cabin listening to my music or in the sight seeing car with fellow travelers. I found the seat in my roomette more comfortable than the sight seeing car, there is probably a reason for this i.e. seat turnover .I found this portion through to San Antonio the the most interesting the scrubby dessert then cropping land, El Paso and "the Mexican Wall." Rusty steel spiked and fortress like. The message I received from from my cell phone provider in New Zealand. Welcome to Mexico. Calls cost $7.39/min, data $10/mb. Travelling on that afternoon we uncounted thunder and lightning and torrential rain. The hard sandy scrub land was quickly covered in sheets of water. Small gullies and creeks became raging torrents. The train slowed and even stopped during these events. But it was all clear before Alpine (Big Bend National Park). This Texan countryside had become grazing country with interesting land formations highlighted by the sun setting from behind us. Waking on arrival at San Antonio, we had to wait until the Sun Set Limited portion of the train had departed before alighting and the journey resuming before breakfast was available after 8 am. The journey Northward included commentary hosted by National Park's explaining that we were following the early cattle droving trail, the early settlements and settlers, the reason for each settlement as the country greened up, the harvested corn/maze and on to Austin. I stepped of the train in Dallas, I thought of JFK, couldn't believe how hot it was and soon retreated back inside the air conditioned train. Morning and we were coming up to St Louis. I Learned at breakfast from a fellow traveler that we had been following the Mississippi river and was shown photo's. I was a little disappointed to have been missing this important water way, as I thought of Huckle Berry Finn and their adventurous journeys I used to enjoy so much in my youth. We stopped in St Louis and it was announced that our train crew had arrived late and that by Federal Law they must have an eight hour break before we could proceed, we would no longer be departing by 8 am but after 10 am. The dinning car from San Antonio had become a smaller version with only half the car used for dinners, the train crew were established in the other half. The menu had remained the same, I tried Grits for breakfast, but was not for me. I had had two hamburger lunches and was looking forward to something a little different. I chose the Thai-spiced pulled pork sliders, I didn't know what sliders were but was disappointed in a small microwaved bun filled with a flavorless texture of pulled meat .I did get to see the Mississippi after departure from St Louis and was also able to catch a photo of the St Louis famous Arch from the sight seeing car. Cardinal train travelers as well as other passengers that had connecting trains out of Chicago were called to the other half of the dinning car to be advised by the train crew that we Cardinal passengers would be detrained at Bloominton -Normal and bused to Indianapolis to join the Cardinal. That became a disappointment. It was about 3 pm when we arrived, we would have to wait until 7.30 pm and be taken by Trailways bus to Indianapolis, four and a half hours waiting. It was a comfortable station with free wifi, the first access I had had since the Metropolitan Lounge in L.A. I walked the small business area, purchased an ice-cream. It appears to be a University area with cafe's, bars and boutique shops. I received an email from Amtrak with my new travel details and revised invoice. They charged me for the bus, $38.25, I had loss the use of my roomette from Bloominton to Chicago. From Chicago to Indianapolis and evening dinning. My revised fare remained exactly what I had paid. There were about 12 other passengers to be bused, coach, business class and sleeper. We arrived at Indianapolis at about midnight when the Cardinal was due, but it was 1 am before we were on the train and on our way again. My roomette was made up. I had had no dinner and was dying for a drink I tried for coffee in the sleeper, but none was available, I saw our attendant and was able to get a bottle of water. Thank goodness. I slept till about 7.30, close to Charleston West Virginia I showered and went to breakfast and joined other bused passengers. We were following the Kancwha River, there is some small shipping, then a Hydro dam or reservoir and small settlements. The train has wifi which provides journey information, train speed, time to next station and the route. This was good to use as well as the internet. I used my book USA by Rail to pick up on the small town information as we passed by. By lunch time we were following the Green Brier River, camping spots,people canoeing, small towns. I found the countryside from Charleston to Charlottesville very scenic. The dinning car and room service staff were very good (thanks Mama) also that they are with the train from N.Y to CHI return. We arrived at Charlottesville about half an hour late and I was directed to our thruway bus, once on the highway we were again delayed due to a road crash and finally arrived about 6.30 pm. My daughter and grandsons were waiting. My how technologies have changed, I was able to message my daughter of my progress and of delays encountered. I'm here in Richmond for the last month of the school holidays. We will be travelling to N.Y by train, returning three days later. When I depart in September I will also travel by train. I have reservations on Northeast Regional to Washington D.C., the Capitol Limited to Chicago with a one night stay over. Joining the Empire Builder to Portland with a transfer to the Coast Starlight to Emeryville. Departing San Francisco about 9.30 pm on a 12 hour flight home. The worst Part.



#2 Mystic River Dragon

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Posted 03 August 2017 - 02:50 PM

Welcome, and thanks for posting this. :)

 

What an adventure you had! I am glad you found the scenery interesting and that parts of the train trips were good. You have seen Amtrak at its most inconvenient, too (buses and delays)--hopefully your next trip on it will be smooth all the way!



#3 Tennessee Traveler

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Posted 03 August 2017 - 09:54 PM

I really enjoyed reading your travelogue.  Should you return I suggest you schedule your stay over in Chicago on the way west to east since connections on Amtrak trains west to east are the most likely to be disrupted by late arriving trains from the West Coast.  Since the east to west trains beginning in east travel shorter distances usually only one overnight they mostly arrive around 9 AM to 10 AM and the west bound connections leave beginning 1:45 PM for the Texas Eagle and are followed 2 PM CA Zephyr, 2:15 PM Empire Builder and 3 PM Southwest Chief.  I've never missed a connection going east to west but the trains from the west can be anywhere from just a few minutes early to 2 to 4 hours late and occasionally really really late if something unexpected happens such a engine failure to collision with cars/trucks crossing the tracks.



#4 dogbert617

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Posted 06 August 2017 - 01:49 PM

Sigh, the Texas Eagle. That train was always known on a lot of days to be a little late, back when I used to attend a college in Normal, IL. At least there are other corridor trains on that line (starting in Saint Louis) that aren't as late, vs. the Eagle. And that they allowed you to make your connection to the Cardinal, via a bus to Indianapolis!

Sounds like you had interesting train trips, especially on the Sunset Limited part from Arizona to Texas and also the Cardinal part in West Virginia and Virginia.

#5 Bob Dylan

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Posted 06 August 2017 - 02:17 PM

Outstanding! Thanks for sharing!😎😊
"There's Something About a Train! It's Magic!"-- 1970s Amtrak Ad
 "..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

#6 MikefromCrete

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Posted 06 August 2017 - 04:59 PM

Yeah, stay away from the grits. I never understood why Southerners love them so much. 



#7 VAtrainfan

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Posted 08 August 2017 - 04:21 PM

Yeah, stay away from the grits. I never understood why Southerners love them so much. 

 

This Southerner hates them :wacko:



#8 TaTahi

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 09:32 AM

Thank you all for supportive comments. It's only a week now till my departure from Richmond VA. travelling  again by AMTRAK to Emeryville. Due to arrive in Washington DC About 9.30am. Departing on The Capitol Limited at 4.05pm. From reading on the forum I must go visit the postal museum which is close by. Any other suggestions? Arriving in Chicago ETA 8.45am staying overnight. The architecture river cruise sounds appealing, and if possible a visit or tour of Frank Lloyd Wrights buildings. Any suggestions? Departing 2.15pm next day on the Empire Builder to Portland/ Coast Starlight. I hope I don't have to be bused again if we are running late.

What to do on arrival at Emeryville ETA 810am- depart San Francisco 9.45pm. Did I read of a rail museum close by, any help please.

 

We had a great trip to New York and return on the Eastern corridor train travelling coach. 123 mph on the electric section, fastest I've traveled by train.



#9 Tennessee Traveler

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 07:26 PM

The California State Railroad Museum is located in Sacramento, CA, next to the Amtrak Station in Old Sacramento.  Best Railroad Museum I have visited.

 

I have ridden the Amtrak California between Emeryville and Sacramento to and from to visit the museum on a day trip.  



#10 TaTahi

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Posted 21 August 2017 - 09:15 PM

Do you think I should get off at Sacramento and visit the museum. How would I make my way to San Francisco Airport? Thank you for your sugestión.

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#11 Tennessee Traveler

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 06:04 PM

If you want to see the museum I do recommend getting off in Sacramento and staying overnight to visit the musuem during the next morning.  There are almost hourly Amtrak California trains to Emeryville, Oakland, and San Jose.  Then it is possible to use public transportation to get to the SFO airport.  I have stayed in Emeryville and rode Super Shuttle to and from SFO.  I live in Nashville, TN, with no Amtrak service so I often fly to or from the West Coast and ride Amtrak the opposite direction.  In Los Angeles, fly away bus takes you to and from LAX and Union Station.  You need to take some type of local shuttle service to SFO.  I also think that British Airways flys 787's non stop between San Jose and London.  

 

And great news - while Amtrak still does not come to Nashville, British Airways will fly nonstop between Nashville and London Heathrow beginning May 2018 and reservations are bookable now.



#12 Devil's Advocate

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Posted 22 August 2017 - 08:14 PM

Interesting trip report. Not the routes or schedule I would have chosen but to each his own. Could probably use some paragraph dividers though. Also looks like it was double posted by accident?


Yeah, stay away from the grits. I never understood why Southerners love them so much.

 
This Southerner hates them :wacko:


Same here. In fact I can't think of a single person who genuinely enjoys the real flavor and consistency of actual grits. For the most part it seems to be the butter and cheese people like and grits just happen to be the medium of delivery.


I also think that British Airways flys 787's non stop between San Jose and London. And great news - while Amtrak still does not come to Nashville, British Airways will fly nonstop between Nashville and London Heathrow beginning May 2018 and reservations are bookable now.


Maybe I missed something but how does BA flying from London to Nashville help someone from New Zealand?

I used to be with ‘it,’ but then they changed what ‘it’ was. Now what I’m with isn’t ‘it,’ and what’s ‘it’ seems weird and scary.


#13 Tennessee Traveler

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Posted 23 August 2017 - 02:29 PM

Interesting trip report. Not the routes or schedule I would have chosen but to each his own. Could probably use some paragraph dividers though. Also looks like it was double posted by accident?

 

 

Yeah, stay away from the grits. I never understood why Southerners love them so much.

 
This Southerner hates them :wacko:

 


Same here. In fact I can't think of a single person who genuinely enjoys the real flavor and consistency of actual grits. For the most part it seems to be the butter and cheese people like and grits just happen to be the medium of delivery.


I also think that British Airways flys 787's non stop between San Jose and London. And great news - while Amtrak still does not come to Nashville, British Airways will fly nonstop between Nashville and London Heathrow beginning May 2018 and reservations are bookable now.


Maybe I missed something but how does BA flying from London to Nashville help someone from New Zealand?

 

 No, I'm just plugging Nashville.  






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