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About Yumacool

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    Service Attendant

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  1. I've ridden coach on the Sunset numerous times over the last few years and the lower level bathrooms on those cars are showing their age tremendously. They need an overhaul.
  2. Yumacool

    Builder coach meals?

    I rode the Coast Starlight in both directions over the past two weeks, traveling between LAX and Centralia, Washington, by sleeper, and the return trip in several segments. The northbound diner left LAX without several lunch offerings (including the mussels), but the service was excellent and the car well-patronized. I experienced coach and business class service on the return, sitting for one two hour segment on the lower level of a Superliner Coach. It was lunch time and the coach attendant came down to take lunch orders for those who needed assistance, which he retrieved from the Sightseer Lounge Café. "Just for You" meals were also offered to coach passengers for both lunch and dinner. On the portion of the southbound trip nearing the final destination of LAX, the diner was open for dinner for only a short time. All reservations were given to sleeper passengers. An announcement stated that coach passengers could order dinner in the diner to bring back to their seats. A few did, but I do not know how many.
  3. Yumacool

    New National Menu for Long Distance Trains?

    My wife and I are tomorrow riding the Coast Starlight from Los Angeles up the coast to Washington, so I will be very interested in picking up any rumors from the Amtrak crew about the future of the menu and meal service in the diner in general. If Amtrak goes with box meals, I will try it, but it will likely be a killer regarding lengthy train travel. My wife must be gluten free and the box meal selections described on Amtrak Unlimited seem terribly unhealthy, with tons of wheat, carbs, sodium, and sugar.
  4. If this kind of meal service comes to the western long distance trains where sleeper passengers pay astronomical ticket prices and will be forced to endure five or six of these abominations, my Amtrak travel will decline precipitously. This is really a sad situation.
  5. Yumacool

    Trip on Zephyr

    Three years ago my wife and I were riding the Coast Starlight from California to Portland, connecting to the Empire Builder heading to Montana. The train was several hours late by the time we reached the Oregon/Northern California border in the early morning, so Amtrak planned to bus all connecting passengers between Klamath Falls and Spokane -- a multiple hour trip we had no interest in taking (we had roomettes all the way.) We immediately got on the phone and called customer service. They booked us on the next day's Empire Builder out of Portland and upgraded us to a bedroom. We spent the night in Portland on our own dime and had a great time. I think we booked the last Empire Builder room, too ...
  6. I'm sorry, but the cold boxed meals that could be served on future Amtrak western long distance trains would be a disaster, in my opinion. I can't imagine eating poor food like that for several days on end. One of the best experiences in long distance train travel is sitting in the diner and engaging other passengers in conversation. I've met some great people over the years. To take this away would corrupt the very idea of long distance train travel. Just the other day I met with a couple to discuss taking a future trip on the Coast Starlight. They knew I traveled by train a great deal and wanted to pick my brain. They are enthused about booking a trip on a sleeper, as well as eating in the diner. If I knew they were going to be served pre-packaged meals in boxes, the romance and fun of the trip would definitely be reduced. They probably wouldn't go. My wife and I almost always travel together in a roomette when taking the train. The dining experience has always been a highlight. I see the box meals as a disaster -- especially breakfast. I have to watch my carbs and my wife has to be gluten free, which means the muffin, banana bread and overly-sweet yogurt would not be eaten. No entrée salad offerings at lunch would be bad for both of us. Lack of seafood at dinner is also a non-starter. Dining cars never paid for themselves, even in the glory days of passenger trains. They were used as loss leaders to make the travel experience better and to attract riders. Expecting bean counters to think creatively and outside the box is rare indeed.
  7. I have been a passenger many times on the Coast Starlight during the Thanksgiving and Christmas periods over the years, but never on the actual holidays. As many have mentioned, the dining car used to offer a special holiday turkey meal which I always ordered. That went away a couple of years ago. The crews decorated the diner and Pacific Parlor (late lamented) cars in holiday decorations, which I always thought was classy. With all the cutbacks taking place, it has to have depressed employee morale, so I dread what is coming later this year. My Amtrak travel on holidays began in the 1980s when my wife and I rode the "Spirit of California" (remember that short-lived train?) between San Jose and Los Angeles on New Years Eve. My wife expected partying and joyful hub-bub in the Amdinette, but there was absolutely nothing. It was open but quiet. A few years ago we took an airline flight on Christmas day and were surprised that things were pretty much the same as the rest of the year. There was a "a Merry Christmas" announcement on the intercom, but that was it. My brother once took a cruise over Christmas and there were holiday decorations aboard, but nothing big. He said Santa Claus visited the restaurants Christmas Eve -- the ship photographer took photos and charged passengers through the nose for prints. It's fun to ride a train in the late evening during the Christmas season to see all the holiday decorations that abound on houses throughout America. I think it's a time that binds us together ...
  8. My wife and I have been passengers on the Coast Starlight many times over the past 20 years, normally travelling by sleeper. We particularly enjoyed the "glory" days of the train -- not that long ago -- when local cuisine was featured in the dining car, free wine tastings featuring California and Washington wines took place in the Pacific Parlour car and the train seemed "special." We have now seen many years of gradual downgrades, from removal of flowers (even silk ones) from the dining car, standardized menus in both directions that change only twice per year, and the use of minimally maintained, aging equipment with no plans to purchase new cars. I also fear the trend of switching meal service to box lunches, which could be a killer. And sleeper prices remain high. I still remain a loyal Amtrak traveler, but it is getting tougher to justify. I suspect things will be bad for awhile, but, hopefully, eyes will open and service ultimately improves. The Coast Starlight offers some of the best scenery on any train in the nation. The route deserves a great train experience.
  9. Yumacool

    California, Here I Come!

    Interesting post and nice photos. My wife and I have ridden the Coast Starlight many times over the last 20 years and particularly enjoyed the "glory" days when the dining car menu featured local cuisine, the Pacific Parlour car featured wine tastings and local wines, and overall service was on the upswing. It has been a long trip downward, to standardized menus that don't change in either direction, the cancellation of the parlor car, and the reduction of amenities such as no flowers (even silk ones) in the diner. I still like traveling by train and, at the same time, I am disappointed that Amtrak has fallen so far. I am afraid of the trend toward box meals, for that could be a killer. Equally disconcerting is the age of the equipment being used, not enough maintenance, and no plan for replacing old cars with new ones. And sleeper prices continue to be pricey. But I remain a loyal customer and hope the trend changes. Long live the Coast Starlight!
  10. Yumacool

    Amtrak's New "Fresh Choices" Dining on CL & LSL

    True, but breakfast can be the worst meal for gluten free people eating pre-packaged meals, for they can't eat muffins or breakfast sandwiches.
  11. Yumacool

    Amtrak's New "Fresh Choices" Dining on CL & LSL

    No one has yet commented (that I have seen) on the new cold meals for gluten free or wheat free passengers. It is probable that special meals of this type would be salads. But if one is truly taking a long trip, salads at each meal just don't cut it. Look at a train like the Lake Shore Limited. An end-point to end-point ride involves numerous meals and an all-salad menu doesn't sound appetizing. And what if this menu was implemented on multi-day western trains? That could kill the deal as far as long distance travel. Many of us have spouses with whom we take train trips. I've taken my wife along for years and she has always enjoyed the dining car experience. If that is gone, it will be difficult for me to get her on a train.
  12. Yumacool

    Amtrak's New "Fresh Choices" Dining on CL & LSL

    Lots of comments here, so I might as well add my two cents. I realize these cuts are coming because of a wrong-headed congressional mandate, but dining cars are essential to long distance travelers. My wife and I have been on numerous long Amtrak trips and eating in the diner and associating with other passengers has always been a highlight. Moving to cold meals of sandwiches and chips sounds terrible. Also, my wife has to be gluten free and these meals don't allow for that. And, besides, who wants to travel on two or three day trips that feature cold meals/box lunches all the way? And breakfast sandwiches and sweet yogurt that my wife can't eat? Very disappointing, and we've traveled tens of thousands of miles on Amtrak. Another point. Sleeper travel on Amtrak is hugely expensive -- much more than air fare. Taking away the diner experience will be the end of the road for many long distance sleeper customers. What does this mean for the future of the long distance passenger train?
  13. I am traveling from Paso Robles, CA, after Christmas to Yuma, AZ. I will catch the Coast Starlight for the trip to LAX, then connect with the Sunset Limited. I booked the tickets through Amtrak, but am somewhat worried about the connection in Los Angeles. Though I have made this trip many times with no problems, I know Amtrak has been discouraging the connection in recent months, and I am worried that I won't make it in time. Should I change my reservation to ride on one of the earlier in the day bus/Pacific Surfliner trains? I don't want to do this, but will if it overcomes a problem. I will appreciate your input ...
  14. Yumacool

    Sleeper prices in January and February

    Can you provide the URL for the new Amsnag?
  15. Yumacool

    Sleeper prices in January and February

    Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but despite whatever future dates I list, all amsnag shows is the Amtrak fares for the next 30 days beginning Oct. 5.