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About shelzp

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  1. Basically the dining car employees see who enters from the sleeper car side vs. the coaches. We have endless discussions here regarding tipping and there are many different opinions on what needs to happen. Many people go with $3 $4 $5 for breakfast, lunch, dinner...some feel 15% is appropriate while others feel ya shouldn’t leave anything. Really up to your discretion depending on service received. As far as suitcases you do put them on a shelf downstairs and you’ll have access to it during your trip. Wishing you a great trip!
  2. Your credit card company may provide you with some travel insurance
  3. shelzp

    Zephyr in Winter

    I scheduled a round trip from Davis to Galesburg on the CZ this summer. It was just for the train ride with same day turnaround as I wanted to see the scenery since I’d heard so much about the gorgeous views. I have well over 40000 miles on Amtrak so never considered that anything on this particular route would bother me. Wrong. I was horrified when I saw the deep canyons from my roomette window. Not joking-by the time we got to Denver I was crying and called Amtrak to reroute myself onto the SWC when we got to Galesburg. Believe me it’s the first time I ever cried while on a train. I was horrified to see the edge of the track a few feet from the drop off. I never took my eye off of it either-if we were going over the edge I was gonna notice right off! It was an AGR trip and I had to pay the fare difference in points but that was alright with me. They did ding me for a penalty so I wrote a nice little note and asked if they’d consider refunding the fine and they did! I explained I didn’t mind paying the fare difference but respectfully requested they refund the 10% and was pleasantly surprised when they did so immediately. My reaction still surprises me but I’m glad I took the trip because it’s off the bucket list.
  4. I almost always eat in my room so when I board I mention that to the room attendant and say that I prefer to tip them instead of the dining car staff. They'll usually say that's their job and likely have a menu or two handy. Be prepared with a second meal choice though because sometimes the reality of the food service can be different than what you'd expect. I think you're prepared and will truly enjoy your trip! It's a relaxing way to travel.
  5. shelzp

    Checked Bags

    You're right that there isn't space in the roomette for suitcases-a small bag or backpack is the way to go.The downstairs luggage rack that we're referring to is easily accessed during trips. I feel comfortable leaving my suitcase there although I do keep a little lock on mine. During station stops the room attendants stand outside on the platform so there isn't much concern about somebody coming into the car and grabbing suitcases. Usually my trips involve several nights on the train so I use packing cubes with each day in mind so it's easy to grab one and put the previous one back into my suitcase. The luggage rack is close to the shower room which makes it convenient too.
  6. I almost always eat in my room. The room attendants have a menu or two ready to give out. I've even seen some tack it up on the wall so it can be seen easily. I've heard that some attendants hide out from time to time but I haven't experienced that at all. When I'm greeted by the attendant I always let them know I eat in the room and mention I prefer to give them the tip anyway. They'll ask what time to come back to take my order. The one time I never request a meal is on the last morning as they're so busy working. I do give my tip meal by meal and don't wait until the end of the trip for that.
  7. I listen to audiobooks I've downloaded on my phone. Sometimes I'll have a book about say railroad construction or fiction that's set in the area we're passing through. I have an earbud that splits right and left into one bud and I like that better than using the regular dual type but of course with the single you don't have noise cancelling ability.
  8. I took the California Zephyr a couple of weeks ago and the dining car was awful imho. I eat in my room and they had whited out several items on the menu the room attendant gave me. He mentioned that they were items their kitchen doesn't like to prepare plus they won't make side salads at lunchtime. I don't know what was whited out but it was definitely two or more items. Plus I noticed they didn't take reservations for lunch which doesn't matter to me but there were several loud announcements about 'We're as full as what we consider to be full and would the conductor please come to the dining room immediately to explain the matter'. I had scheduled myself a little AGR trip that involved LA to Davis (overnight in a motel) and then Davis to Galesburg and turn around there four hours later and go right back westbound to Davis (stay in the motel again) and return to LA the next day. I had never taken the CZ before and the experience was so upsetting with the constant berating PA announcements that I called AGR and asked them to reroute me back to LAX on the SWC. They charged me an additional 9000 points but I was just glad I didn't have to get on that westbound CZ. In fact while I was on the phone talking to AGR the person from the dining room was shouting so loud that the AGR employee commented 'She sounds friendly...' I was aware that the westbound crew probably wouldn't be like the eastbound one but I simply wanted off that route. No intention of taking the CZ again...
  9. Yes this afternoon I received a similar code on the Amtrak app on my phone and then couldn't log in with my iPad either. It worked for me about six hours later.
  10. Enjoyed every word of your report! I love the SWC and followed right along with your description of the beauty in NM.
  11. LAX and Kansas City. I particularly love KC because it was home to the Fred Harvey Company headquarters at one time and there are displays of company china and memorabilia in general. I always go in and take a look. I know it's more museum and event space there than train station but I still love it. As many times as I've wandered through there I do not get tired of seeing it. The ceiling is awesome and worth the time to go up. I always use the steps now as I've seen that elevator get stuck on more than one occasion and experienced a little delay myself the first time I used it. This was a fun question and it's interesting to read the responses!
  12. shelzp

    Empire Builder Route and Questions

    You might look at a roomette from Whitefish to Seattle because rooms clear out there due to people taking the train to Glacier. Some days can be fairly inexpensive and you'll get breakfast in the morning too. I think it could be difficult to leave a roomette and go back into coach. As far as sleeping nooks I don't know about that although I've heard of it.
  13. shelzp

    Empire Builder - Family Bedroom

    I prefer to be downstairs because it's easy to step on and off at quick stops. I don't notice difference in the views. I wouldn't have known about this except one time I was assigned a downstairs room and I considered calling to change it. I'm glad I didn't and now I call to ask for downstairs.
  14. If you're planning to see Hollywood anyway there's an option that involves LA's Red Line Subway that you catch right at Union Station. You'd take it to the Hollywood/Highland Station and get off, walk one block west and then one block north. The place is called Orange Drive Hostel and I've heard good things about it although have not stayed there since I live in Southern California already. I will say that I'm not afraid to walk around the area as it's a tourist hotspot and there are always plenty of people around. It could be considered easier to get to than the hotels near Union Station as it's so close to the Metro Stop.
  15. shelzp

    Roomette luggage

    I usually leave my suitcase on the luggage rack that is downstairs by the door where you enter the car. Most people here agree that we're not afraid to leave it unattended. But one time I had a lot of stuff with me as I was on a long two week cross country trip and I recall the SCA suggested that I might keep everything on the upper bunk which he left down for that purpose. I didn't love that solution as you gotta watch out for your head when you stand up but it worked out as the luggage racks were really crowded due to a full train.