Thank you for all the planning information. It really helped.
San Antonio was a lot of fun. We had no idea we were catching the end of the 300th anniversary. The Riverwalk was just packed with people and it was just loads of fun and I was surprised we didn’t see anyone fall into the river. The parades were excellent. I haven’t seen that kind of spirit in decades.
It was strange on a Monday waking up to a “ghost town” but it was good for us as we got to do a lot of tourist stuff without huge crowds. The Alamo was fantastic and could have spent the whole day there. We did tours around town and tried various restaurants.
The Tower of America’s was a good spot. I am so used to my area that I absolutely get a kick out of seeing how flat the terrain is. The water tanks sticking out of all the trees reminded me of Star Wars. We could easily see the train tracks and watched freight trains rolling through.
We did a lot of hiking and put in many miles. Hiked away from downtown to check out San Antonio. Saw a lot of different neighborhoods and met a lot of friendly people.
The train station was everything you said it would be. We hiked over there during the day to check it out. No one around the station but we caught a crew repairing a switch to a siding that held one sleeper and one coach car. We debated walking to and from the train station for our arrival and departure but we opted for Uber. Turns out that was a good decision once we saw the area and the freeway under crossing
We left downtown a little after 2am for the train station. The station was full of people hanging out and we headed out to the train. The train was already assembled and we were on the Texas Eagle sleeper this time. It is a funny thing when I book that route, one sleeper is less expensive then the other(Sunset Limited) and this time TE was the lower of the two.
Our SCA greeted us and gave us a rundown on how he works things. He said the beds were ready and he left the bottom bed not fully extended so we could move around. We went up and got our stuff situated then I went back down to stretch a little before going to bed.
Our SCA was a nice guy. I went to look at the old steam engine and he came over and struck up a conversation. Soon a conductor came over and joined in. Then an Amtrak employee came over and talked about some tests he had run. He was going to show the conductor a trick on the air brakes and we all walked over to watch.
We had a bedroom and it was in good repair for the most part. I got in bed and listened to my scanner for a few minutes. Some laughing on the radio and I was thinking the crew is in a good mood. We left right on time and I was asleep in no time. Only thing of note was the bathroom door opening itself a couple of times during the night. Banged around until I woke up enough to shove my bag against it The air system seemed to be working well in this car.
Next morning we got up a bit late and headed for the diner. They were still serving and my wife looked at the menu noting it never changes. The diner crew was great, very nice and energetic. I met a nice couple and they were into trains. Turns out they are on AU! Talked about the latest Amtrak news and the different routes we traveled.
Our SCA continued to be excellent. Friendly as could be. He had converted the beds and set up daytime configuration with a couple more bottles of water. We headed back to our room and he stopped us to let us know he had ice for us, coffee was still going, juices were on top of the coffee station and he put out some pound cake from yesterday.
The conductor was very upbeat guy. One thing I enjoyed was his conversations with the crew. When they talked about a stop he would always finish with “and the wheels WILL be rolling on time”.
The coach cars were not full. People were sprawled out in many odd positions. Some had set up camp and were busy preparing meals. The SSL was never full. We noted three guys talking loudly while chugging half bottles of wine.
The first incident happened in our car. A stowaway! Our SCA found a coach passenger in a bedroom. He handled it quietly and it wasn’t until the next stop that we learned about it. The TE was running ahead of schedule so we had long stops. I had gone down to stretch for a minute and was stopped at the door by a few passengers, SCA and a conductor. They were watching another conductor deal with the stowaway. I thought he handled it very well. Kept a nice calm voice and said you can walk now or I call the police. Because those bedrooms cost over $300, that is a felony. You can go to jail or walk away now. The passenger fell to his knees, crying and begging to get on the train. But when it was time to depart, the wheels were rolling with one less passenger.
The conductors were great. Very clear announcements. Very informative announcements. Each stop meant a repeat of the greeting. But “and this is a family train” was added. Then next time “and no profanity will be tolerated”. I believe this was due to the trio in the SSL. They were drinking non stop. One of them was getting mouthy and would drop F bombs now and then.
At lunch time we met a couple of nice ladies traveling. Turns out they are on AU! We chatted about all kinds of things and since we were close to border, talked about the walls and which president built which part. Then we talked about the trio and started wondering if they would pass out or get thrown off. My wife said they should be cut off while the rest of us said the staff is probably hoping they will pass out from all the booze.
Shortly after, we did note a conductor being called to the lounge a few times and the conductor administered some direct warnings. We continued to be early, I couldn’t believe my luck. Smooth ride for the most part. Met a few more nice people in the SSL.
Somewhere in New Mexico the trio came to an end. Two of the bunch were wise enough to pass out in their coach seats. One was put off and again the conductor was great. Your choice, walk or I call the cops. I warned you over and over and your friends decided to cool it so now you walk or I call the cops. A number of us watched from the windows as he walked up a freeway on ramp with his thumb out
The dinner was pleasant and had good company again. We talked about the menus and changing to boxed meals. The staff heard some of it and said it is hard times for some workers and they hoped things would not get any worse. All the train type people I met had mentioned to the staff how much they appreciated the diner and crew and supported them. It did come up a few times during the ride. At one point the staff was talking about losing station agents and named people that were now looking for new stations to work. I asked about the agent in Maricopa and they said she probably is in LA now.
We just continued to fly across the route. We had so much time at the major stops. I think I could have toured all of El Paso. The SCA continued to be amazing. He would tell me about shops close by he liked and even took me to one at a stop. Really a nice guy who wanted happy passengers. Always had coffee, juice and ice ready. Always had a smile.
We got a rough stretch of track out of Arizona that woke me up a couple of times but I was surprised when a little after 4am, our SCA started waking people up. We are going to be in LA way early! And those wheels kept turning on time each stop. We were in LA super early and a number of us went to change our connections. I was able to get an earlier San Joaquin (which also was on time all the way).
Really enjoyed the crew. Really a very upbeat crew and they seem to handle things so well. And our conductors, I thought all of them were awesome. Train was so on time. We only had a couple minor incidents and they were not a big deal.
San Antonio was awesome and Amtrak was just so good on the trip back. Thanks again for the tips from this forum and great meeting some of you on this trip. Next up is our trip on the Canadian in just a few weeks.