Okay, back to the beginning...
We arrived at LAUS at around 4:30 pm & returned our rental car (conveniently located right next to the Metropolitan Lounge). We took the elevator up one floor to the Metropolitan Lounge, where we were informed that the SWC would be boarding around 5:30. I had some unhealthy snacks (they had chips, cookies, muffins, and soda) & tried out the wifi (our hotspot is a touch faster) At about 5:20 pm, an Amtrak employee gave a schpiel about boarding, Redcaps, etc. The most interesting thing to me was that he took time to point out Amtrak's magazine, "The National." Apparently, Amtrak's trying to get everyone to read their magazine - it has feature articles about destinations around the country, & the idea is that you read the magazine & get ideas for your next Amtrak trip. Sound marketing advice, but I dislike how they no longer put printed timetables in the rooms on the trains.
After the boarding speech, most of the passengers availed themselves of Redcap service to the platform at about 5:30 pm. They had already told us where to find the train (platform 11), so we were planning on walking out there at about 5:45. However, we definitely got a "closing time" vibe from the Metropolitan Lounge staff (i.e. they kept shouting "Four passengers left... three passengers left..." out the door to the Redcaps. So, we strolled down to the platform - only to find that the train wasn't even there yet.
The train arrived at the platform at about 5:50, but somehow we all managed to make it onboard & depart on time at 6:10 pm. I was disappointed to find that we had another Superliner II for this trip - I much prefer the refurbished Superliner I cars. The other sleeper was a Superliner I, which makes it more frustrating. We're in roomettes so it's not that much of a difference (as compared to a bedroom), but it still would have been nice.
My wife and I had booked roomettes across the aisle from each other, which is definitely our favorite way of experiencing Amtrak. We usually share a roomette, but neither of us like that cramped upper bunk. Sharing a roomette also means that someone has to sit facing backwards. We've tried having a bedroom, but neither of us wants to used the cramped shower/toilet (shoilet?), and there's really only one good seat by the window. By booking two roomettes across from each other, we each get a lower bed, a front facing seat, and our own personal space when we need it. We also keep the curtains open most of the time, enabling us to see out each other's windows, or even share a roomette if the view is great out of one side. Having 2 roomettes can be prohibitively expensive, but we had a surplus of AGR points after not traveling via Amtrak for 2 years now, and our balance just covered it.
I somehow thought SWC passengers had dinner immediately after departing LAUS, but that is not the case. We were offered times of 7:00, 7:30, and 8:20. We chose 7:30. As for the food itself - one of my biggest disappointments on this trip is Amtrak's lack of a new menu. For as long as I've been taking Amtrak, they've updated their menus every spring and fall. I've always liked the "summer" menu - aside from having Railroad French Toast (my favorite breakfast item) instead of pancakes, I've always thought the summer menu specials were better. No luck, as we're still on the menu from September 2017.
I ordered the steak & mashed potatoes, which is always one of my favorite dinners. I asked for medium rare, but received a very rare steak. On last week's trip my wife ordered a medium, which ended up being well done at one end and completely rare at the other (we joked that it avergaged out to a medium, so maybe they got it right). Tonight they were also temporarily out of steak knives, making the meal a little more difficult. For dessert I got the chocolate raspberry tart. My wife likes raspberries, and says the tart tastes very strongly of them. I don't like raspberries, and only taste them a little in this dessert - it mostly tastes like chocolate to me. I think I have weird taste buds. Still, it's a good dessert. My wife ordered the thyme chicken, which she said was very dry - she had to ask for a steak knife just to cut it. She ordered the cheesecake for dessert, and they presented it to her on a plate - upside down. Seriously, the chefs downstairs & our dining car attendant didn't notice/care that the dessert was upside down?
Leaving the dining car was unusually difficult. We were leaving just as the 8:20 shift was arriving, so a whole lot of people were cloggging up the entrance to the dining car. Also, they had put the first sleeper with the roomettes toward the dining car. They really should not do that - the bedroom end has enough of a vestibule that people can pass each other on the way in or out of the dining car. I know sleepers are oriented randomly, but you'd think they could pay attention to that ONE connection. Anyway, we were also camped out at the San Bernardino station, which was clearly a popular place for entraining. The SCAs must have told new passengers to head straight down the dining car, so the 8:20 people & San Bernardinoans all arrived & clogged up half of the first sleeper. I barely made it through, and my wife ducked down the first stairwell to let some people through. I think she's still down there.
We just left Victorville, and it looks like we're running a little late. I don't mind if that continues, as I've never seen Flagstaff or Winslow in the daylight. Just in case I'm going to set my alarm to make sure I'm awake early enough to see them tomorrow morning.
Please enjoy this lovely photo of beautiful downtown Los Angeles.
Edited by D.P. Roberts, 10 June 2018 - 12:08 AM.