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I'm on my way home, on my way home... LSL and EB


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#1 oregon pioneer

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Posted 22 February 2018 - 09:29 AM

(note: this is a continuation of my trip begun with the eastbound trip in January)

 

Thursday 2/22:

Wednesday morning, my sister parked her car “Tessie” at South Station, and we spent a couple of hours strolling around downtown Boston. She had an errand at the registry in City Hall, we got a popover at City Market, and then we walked the Greenway from Faneuil Hall back to South Station. I checked in to Club Acela with Debby as my guest. She had never been in there because, even though she and her hubby take the train frequently, the RTE station is so convenient fto their house and they have always (so far) been headed south to NYC and points beyond.

 

We drank some tea and coffee, and headed out as soon as they announced the platform. Coach passengers were heading out as well, but we were all stopped by the coach attendant at the rope and not allowed to proceed to our cars. It seems the conductor was not yet there. My sister gave me a hug and departed. Eight minutes before the train was due to leave, the conductor appeared and we all streamed towards the open doors. It amazed me when our train left right on time.

 

About 5:30, we passed our sister train in the woods of eastern NY. We were close to on-time, but they were nearly two hours late. In Albany, I went in to the station for awhile. I browsed the newsstand, and checked out the schedule for the bus to Vermont at the bus station on the first floor. Still no same-day connection to Burlington by any means that I can see, sigh. I got back on the train for the forward/back connecting maneuver, and soon after that, we were on our way – still on time.

 

Dinner in the diner-lite occupied the rest of the evening. I sat across from a charming French/American woman who was headed out to sunny SoCal for an interview with a tech startup. We, conversed in French first, as I always love to practice the language, but switched to English when she admitted she needed to improve her skills more before the interview. We debated about whether Victor, the LSA, had forgotten our dessert order or not, but agreed we had no place better to be and weren't in a hurry. Eventually, we asked, and found he had indeed forgotten. We also asked how long till Victor's retirement (not long at all), and whether he thought he'd get the new diner before he retired (not a chance, they have promised it so many times he knows they are lying about it ever coming). Eventually, the chocolate tarts arrived and we enjoyed them with the last of the red wine. I wonder why the cafe car has chamomile tea, and the diner only plain black Red Rose tea? Different stocking commissaries, I guess. I also wish they would practice community seating more rigorously on this route. So far, I have only sat with one other person at the table, even when other tables nearby were half-full.

 

I worked on photo editing in my roomette till 10 pm, and then climbed upstairs to sleep. I love the Viewliner setup, where I can leave my suitcase open on the rear-facing seat, and my “office” set up on the table, while I sleep in a loft with windows. Slept well – my body must still have the “muscle memory” of the train, from the trip east three weeks ago. I woke to find us a little more than half an hour late. Looking at dixielandsoftware (http://dixielandsoft...mapname=Midwest), I see that we lost the time between Syracuse and Rochester, just after I went to bed. At breakfast, I asked for more tea water, and Victor forgot. I tipped him anyway, and got it from the cook as I passed by the kitchen. Victor caught up to me there with the fleece vest that I forgot on the seat. We all get old.

 

More later.


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.


#2 OBS

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Posted 22 February 2018 - 08:24 PM

Thanks for the report!



#3 oregon pioneer

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Posted 25 February 2018 - 06:37 PM

You're welcome. But wait, there's more!

 

Thu 2/22, on the EB:

Well, that was a nice walk around Chicago! I've heard mention of the Magnificent Mile on this forum, so I thought I would check it out. I worked my way east and north till I got to Michigan Ave, then straight north till I got to the shops. I decided that I always need a belt that goes with blue jeans, so that would be a good thing to “shop” for (and a bonus if I found a good one). I went into Burberry's, because I had heard it was a very nice shop. Checked out the belts – no price tag. I found out that if you have to ask, that means you can't afford it (flings hand in air, purses lips and blows, rolls eyes). After several more “nice” shops, I actually found one I liked, and could afford, at Ann Taylor.

 

Returned to the Metropolitan Lounge, checked my email, and found an AU message that “Willem” had seen the first installment of this report, and was sitting on the middle level also waiting to board the EB. I went up and met him and his wife. We were enjoying a good conversation when they announced boarding for the train on track #19, and I went to get my luggage. I did not remember ever having been on the odd-number concourse, and needed to ask directions twice to find it. Once settled in roomette #5 in the Portland sleeper #2730, I found that I could not get power from the outlet on the wall. The receptacle was very loose. My wonderful attendant, Janell, called the conductor and we all fussed over it till I got the plug to deliver the juice. If it had not worked, I'd have been switched to roomette #10, right over the trucks (but also right next to the Railfan Window).

 

I went forward to dinner at 5:30, passing through two Portland coaches, the SSL, and one Seattle coach to get to the diner. I ordered the salmon, which was great  as usual, but the baked potato was inedible. To console myself, I got a chocolate raspberry tart for dessert. Not exactly suffering! Just as I returned to my roomette, we stopped in Tomah WI. I got to stare at the headlights of the cars on the  road as we blocked it for several minutes. By the time the train spotted twice and then left, the lineup at the crossing gate was about a block long.

 

Friday 2/23:

We had an interesting event this morning. I woke up at Grand Forks, ND, just about 5am, and it seemed like we were pretty close to on time (maybe 15 minutes late), so I rolled over to go back to sleep till dawn. Seemed like we stopped after that, and stayed stopped for quite a while. At 7am, when they started making announcements over the PA system, they said the Portland coach/baggage had a bad wheel, and we were going to proceed to a place where they could cut it out and leave it. I knew that meant power-out, so I dashed for the shower while others dashed for the diner. They said we'd be disconnected “for about five minutes.” Everyone on the car to be left was instructed to gather all their stuff and move forward a car.

 

I finished my shower in good time before the power went off, dressed, and prepared to take photos of the process. It took well over an hour to disconnect between the Portland sleeper and coach/bag, pull the train forward past the switch, back the train into a wye, disconnect the coach/bag, pull forward, back up to the Portland sleeper and reconnect it. The conductor put a big red flag on the switch till he was finished, and got down and threw it by hand for each maneuver. When he pulled the flag, I knew it was the last maneuver, but they had to back the train into the Portland sleeper at east five times to get the coupling properly seated. The engineer himself came back for the last couple of tries (not sure who was driving the train, an assistant engineer?).

 

As soon as the car was fully connected and unlocked, Janell (who had breakfast orders to fill) and I went forward to the diner, only to be told brusquely by LSA Jenny that she had to clean up and get the griddle hot again before she could re-open. My car-mates who had rushed to get there before the disconnect revealed they had been offered only the Continental breakfast, as the diner power had been shut down with all the cars while the decouple/recouple process went on. I was glad there was some oatmeal left for me.

 

After breakfast, I took my tea to finish in the Sightseer Lounge. A drama was going on there, as a weeping passenger was saying to the conductor that something important had gotten left on the car that was set out. While sympathetic, he was explaining that all he could do was call Customer Service. We passed through Rugby, about three and a quarter hours late. I had a chat on the phone with Hubby, who was following on dixielandsoftware.net. He had clicked on “details” to see what was projected for our train, and reported that they were quite accurate on the delay.

 

When I first boarded, and I saw the silk flowers and baskets of candy and snacks, I knew we had a good SCA. If she's not attending to beds or passengers, Janell is always cleaning something. The bathrooms are always immaculate. She has at least two passengers that need meal service, and she takes good care of them.

 

We are climbing imperceptibly across the snowy rolling prairie of North Dakota. When I blow my nose (I'm getting over a cold), one of my ears hurts, and when I open my water bottle, it lets out a little pouf of expanded air. I went to the SSL for awhile to crochet potholders, chat, and watch the snowy prairie scenery. Somebody says they saw a cougar, there have been a couple of coyotes, and a lot of deer. It's late afternoon, sun's sinking low, shadows are blue and the light on the snow is golden. We left Havre, still about two and a half hours late. The “padding” at Shelby helped – but not for long. By the time we left Cut Bank, we were three hours and forty-five minutes late, and I felt we were lucky – as the 10 hour 45 minute late #8 passed us east bound! They had left Essex only 29 minutes late. Conductor is telling folks for Whitefish and Libby that he'll wake them in plenty of time – but no promises what that time will be. What is ahead of us??

 

Sat 2/24:

I had been conscious as the east bound train passed us that the diner had been empty – really empty, as in all the tables were cleared off (not set up for breakfast). SCA Janelle thought they had suffered equipment issues with the diner, as well as weather issues in the canyon. We continued to sit at Cut Bank for awhile, then began to move forward so I went to bed. Some time later I woke up to find us stopped again, and saw out my window that we had only progressed to Browning. I looked out the other side to find a freight parked next to us, also waiting (I surmised) for the congestion in the canyon to get cleared out. We stayed there for quite a while, and when we finally moved into the canyon, the trip progressed normally. We were about nine and a half hours late at Essex.

 

By the time we got to Whitefish, it was just beginning to get light. Our crew had “gone dead” (run out of time) at Whitefish. In order to keep the train moving towards the new crew, we continued westward with a BNSF pilot. Close to Libby (our next stop), we pulled onto a siding and stopped. A minute later, the eastbound EB passed our car, having dropped off our crew. As soon as they took over control of the train, we proceeded into Libby. Consist is currently: two BNSF units, two Amtrak units, baggage, transdorm, Seattle sleeper, diner, Seattle coach, SSL, Portland coach, Portland sleeper.

 

Now we're between Libby and Sandpoint, stopped again. They just announced it's mechanical issues and they are walking the train to find and fix them. Another announcement, from the conductor: “we are a little low on compressed air, and we are talking with the mechanical team to troubleshoot and fix the issues.” The woman in the next compartment was upset this morning that she is going to miss her grandchildren's “sleep-over” party in Portland tonight, but she's a seasoned train traveler and I think she's resigning herself to it now. I'm just hoping against hope they have a spare consist in Portland, and don't put us on a bus from Spokane.

 

The Kootenai River/Bonner's Ferry area is beautiful! I've only seen it from a car (a long time ago), never in daylight from the train. We saw an eagle on a sandbar, then a little while later a heron. Lots of geese, and lots of deer. As we came in to Sandpoint, we could see the ski runs at Schweitzer Basin. There's a screaming toddler in our sleeper that just wants OFF, and his mother has totally lost patience with him. We were offered three selections from the café car for lunch, with chips and beverage (Will said “pop” but was happy to give me hot tea instead).

 

I have never, in either direction, seen the track between Sandpoint and Spokane in daylight. It's all pretty farms, snow and blue sky. There are folks out on the lake ice-fishing. The woman in the roomette across that hall was going to meet her son in Portland, and take the Cascades to Seattle with him this afternoon. Instead, she has been re-accommodated (informally, I think) in a revenue room in the transdorm, direct to Seattle. She'll cancel the Cascades leg so she can get a voucher for its value.

 

3:30pm

We finally leave Spokane, 12 hours and 45 minutes late, still on a train. Whew. They dithered around for an hour about how to configure the engines for the two sections. A couple of “vacationing” railroad people riding our train (one a VERY senior Amtrak conductor from the LA area, named Greg) offered opinions that helped speed up the process a little. I took lots of photos. In the end, they cut out the bad #12 engine, and the Seattle section left with the Amtrak HEPA unit and two BNSF engines. After the Seattle section left, they backed Amtrak engine #177 in for the Portland section, and got it hooked up quickly. Conductor just announced that we are due in Wishram at 8:45, and they will put on Kentucky Fried chicken for everyone at Pasco.

 

So happy to see Gladys’ smiling face when I alighted at Wishram, a little over 13 hours late. It was too late to start the four hour drive home, so I was grateful for her guest room hospitality. I know this trip report has turned into a saga. No new lessons learned, just a refresher on the basic one: plan to enjoy the journey's adventures, and allow for it to take an extra day. It was a pleasure to meet some special people on the trip: Willem & wife, Janell, Tammy, Amanda, Greg, and more. Pleasant journeys to all!

 

Photo link to follow, as soon as I can get them posted.


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 oregon pioneer

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Posted 25 February 2018 - 07:25 PM

Photos are now posted on facebook. This public link is valid whether or not you have a facebook account.


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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.


#5 Palmetto

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Posted 25 February 2018 - 08:37 PM

Very nice report.  Thanks!  Sorry the trip didn't run on time, but it's winter, and glad you got there--eventually!



#6 Tony in Ann Arbor

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Posted 25 February 2018 - 10:43 PM

Enjoyed your reports and pictures,

 

The chance to see the areas in daylight that you did seems to me a fair trade (that I would take at least one time) for the late train.

 

Tony



#7 Bob Dylan

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Posted 26 February 2018 - 12:34 AM

Most enjoyable Jennifer! Glad you go with the flow, and made it home safe and probably very tired!😉
"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

#8 oregon pioneer

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Posted 26 February 2018 - 12:44 AM

Thanks, there was only a little bit of Type B Fun* on this trip. Except for a few moments, I enjoyed it all. Yes, I was very tired at the end, but only because I woke up early in Mountain Time on the last day, and it took till after 11pm Pacific Time before I could begin to wind down.

 

* Type A Fun is the kind where you are having fun, and you know it at the time. Type B Fun may be somewhat challenging at the time you are experiencing it, but in retrospect, "It was awesome!" A useful concept when you are adventuring with kids. In fact, a useful concept for anyone, any time.


Edited by oregon pioneer, 26 February 2018 - 08:06 PM.

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.


#9 KmH

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Posted 26 February 2018 - 10:46 AM

I really enjoyed reading your event full trip report and looking at the photographs you popsted.

I would be contacting Amtrak for a voucher because of the dining car problems.


California Zephyr • Coast Starlight  • Southwest Chief • Sunset Limited • Texas Eagle • Illinois Zephyr • Capitol Corridor

. . . . Amtrak miles - 23,703, so far.


#10 Mystic River Dragon

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Posted 26 February 2018 - 12:28 PM

Thank you--interesting report and lovely photos--especially of the gorgeous Tribune Tower and Wrigley Building in Chicago! :)

 

You saw more wildlife than I did when I was on the EB last fall--no coyotes or deer for us, just bunches of cows in North Dakota looking really, really bored. :P



#11 oregon pioneer

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Posted 26 February 2018 - 01:07 PM

I would be contacting Amtrak for a voucher because of the dining car problems.

 

I sincerely hope that the passengers on that east bound #8 DO contact Customer Relations for vouchers. Our train #7/27 did not have any diner problems.

 

Thank you--interesting report and lovely photos--especially of the gorgeous Tribune Tower and Wrigley Building in Chicago! :) Thank you!

 

You saw more wildlife than I did when I was on the EB last fall--no coyotes or deer for us, just bunches of cows in North Dakota looking really, really bored. :P

 

:D


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.


#12 JRR

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Posted 26 February 2018 - 07:49 PM

Type “B” is what they call “good experience” in the Army. It’s something you survive and live to tell your grandkids about!


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#13 v v

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Posted 27 February 2018 - 12:06 AM

Read your report out to Rosie, we were both breathless by the end. Felt as though we were there with you, great real life story of an Amtrak series of mishaps, thank you Jennifer. 



#14 oregon pioneer

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Posted 27 February 2018 - 05:07 PM

I am so glad you all enjoyed reading about it! For me, only a couple of things can make a train trip less than enjoyable (cold, no toilets, or a bus). I can even deal with fast food, though I would not choose it otherwise. None of the truly bad things happened, for which I am grateful. I guess there was no consist waiting for the next day's train, as they cancelled it. Jamie, I am just glad that was not YOUR train.

 

Looking forward to my next Amtrak trip, whenever it may be...


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.





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