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Guest KleShreen

Need Cross-Country Advice!

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Guest KleShreen

Hello all! Hopefully I'll be around here a bit for the next year or so, but to get things started, I wanted to explain where I'm at.

 

My fiance and I are getting married in August, and our leading option for a honeymoon right now, the week of August 19th, is to get a bedroom on one of the Amtrak trains (from Chicago) and go to California, spend a couple days there, and then fly back.

 

Here is the predicament we are having.

 

Our end goal is to be in Los Angeles. We want to check out Disneyland and Universal Studios before we leave to come back on Sunday the 26th.

 

With that said...we were both thinking that the better scenery would be the Zephyr through Denver and Salt Lake, then transfer in Emeryville and head south to LA, but we wouldn't get there until around midnight Tuesday night or early Wednesday morning. Another option is to just go to San Francisco and spend a day or two there, then take a train to LA on a separate trip on Thursday for the weekend.

 

With the Southwest Chief, we would get straight to LA and be there Tuesday afternoon. So we could take what we perceive to be the "better" route and lose a day of activities, or take the "worse" route and gain a day of activities.

 

So my question to you guys is, for those who have taken both trains, do you have a preference on which route you prefer? Or how would you balance it out in terms of time and scenery?

 

My other question was going to be about the bedroom. I did some research and found some old posts in various spots saying that Bedroom "A" on the trains is the only one with a solid wall, and the other bedrooms all have flimsy partitions that can be pulled out to create suites. I wanted to see if things were still this way because we would obviously prefer the privacy. It is our honeymoon, after all! ;) haha!

 

Any help, particularly with thoughts about each route, would be very welcome! Thanks in advance!

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Great idea, several of our members have Honeymooned on LD Trains.😎

 

To most of us there's no contest, taking the California Zephyr to the Bay area, spending a couple of days in San Francisco,(Emeryville/ Ambus across the Bay Bridge included in your Rail ticket) then riding the Coast Starlight to LA is the way to roll!

 

Bedroom A is a little smaller due to its location. Honestly most of us prefer Bedroom E which is located in tge Middle of the Car ( better ride)next to the Stairs,and only has one wall next to bedroom D, with the other being solid in front of the Stairs.

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Great idea, several of our members have Honeymooned on LD Trains.

 

To most of us there's no contest, taking the California Zephyr to the Bay area, spending a couple of days in San Francisco,(Emeryville/ Ambus across the Bay Bridge included in your Rail ticket) then riding the Coast Starlight to LA is the way to roll!

 

Bedroom A is a little smaller due to its location. Honestly most of us prefer Bedroom E which is located in tge Middle of the Car ( better ride)next to the Stairs,and only has one wall next to bedroom D, with the other being solid in front of the Stairs.

 

Thanks for the info! We've both driven basically the same route the Zephyr takes, but when I drove that route I noticed what I assume to be an Amtrak track running next to me in some spectacular spots. One spot in particular where the road was on one side of a valley in the Rockies, then a river, and then above the river on the side of the mountain, basically, was a train track. I'm hoping that rail is part of the route! Haha

 

I just figured the Zephyr is going to give us better views overall.

 

I was worried on the bedroom thing because I'm a snorer and I saw multiple people report that the partitions don't muffle much more than a casual conversation, and the last thing I want to do is be "that guy" on the trip, haha!

 

Do you have to check large bags? Or is there an option to take them to the room with you? In an effort to only need one piece of luggage for each of us on the trip, I was going to throw all my diabetic supplies in to a large piece of luggage, and we were thinking of just putting our bags on the upper berth and we both sleep in the lower berth. Does that seem feasible? Or do they make you check bags of a certain size?

 

Edit: Oh! I was also going to ask how long any stops are? From what I've researched, it sounds like stops are usually 5-10 minutes, and maybe closer to 20 in bigger cities like Denver or SLC? Does that sound right?

Edited by KleShreen

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Thanks for the info! We've both driven basically the same route the Zephyr takes, but when I drove that route I noticed what I assume to be an Amtrak track running next to me in some spectacular spots. One spot in particular where the road was on one side of a valley in the Rockies, then a river, and then above the river on the side of the mountain, basically, was a train track. I'm hoping that rail is part of the route!

That is probably Glenwood Canyon. http://discuss.amtraktrains.com/index.php?/topic/62808-sights-on-the-cz-route/?hl=%2Bglenwood+%2Bcanyon

 

I just figured the Zephyr is going to give us better views overall.

That about sums up the CZ route - Climb the Front Range out of Denver, go over the Rockies, run next to the Colorado River for about 250 miles, the next day cross the Sierra Nevada mountains at Donner Pass. The CZ route veers away from I-70 between Denver to just before Glenwood Canyon starts at Dotsero, CO.

 

I was worried on the bedroom thing because I'm a snorer and I saw multiple people report that the partitions don't muffle much more than a casual conversation, and the last thing I want to do is be "that guy" on the trip, haha!

 

Do you have to check large bags? Or is there an option to take them to the room with you? In an effort to only need one piece of luggage for each of us on the trip, I was going to throw all my diabetic supplies in to a large piece of luggage, and we were thinking of just putting our bags on the upper berth and we both sleep in the lower berth. Does that seem feasible? Or do they make you check bags of a certain size?

All the sleeper berth walls are pretty thin and won't muffle sounds louder than casual conversation.

 

Amtrak has carry-on bag size limits. https://www.amtrak.com/onboard/baggage-policy/carry-on-baggage.html

Edited by KmH

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In my experience, the lower berth is okay for an occasional "visit," but it is very difficult for two people to actually sleep on the lower berth. It's about as wide as a twin bed. I think one of you will want to sleep in the upper berth. One expensive option is to reserve two bedrooms and slide the door between them open--that way you each get a wide lower berth.

 

There is not much space in the room for luggage, but there is a luggage rack downstairs. I take what I need to the room in a small bag, and go downstairs occasionally to retrieve or return what I need to my luggage. From my experience, Amtrak does not enforce size limits (within reason) for sleeper passengers.

 

The Zephyr does indeed go along that stretch you saw with a highway on one side of a canyon and the tracks on the other side.

Edited by Maglev

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It's your decision, but if I only had one week for a honeymoon AND had activities planned for LA, I'd take the Southwest Chief and have fun with my bride on the extra day. I'd definitely do the CZ soon, but I'd probably save it for the first anniversary.

 

Sent from my STV100-1 using Amtrak Forum mobile app

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Thanks for the info! We've both driven basically the same route the Zephyr takes, but when I drove that route I noticed what I assume to be an Amtrak track running next to me in some spectacular spots. One spot in particular where the road was on one side of a valley in the Rockies, then a river, and then above the river on the side of the mountain, basically, was a train track. I'm hoping that rail is part of the route!

That is probably Glenwood Canyon. http://discuss.amtraktrains.com/index.php?/topic/62808-sights-on-the-cz-route/?hl=%2Bglenwood+%2Bcanyon

 

I just figured the Zephyr is going to give us better views overall.

That about sums up the CZ route - Climb the Front Range out of Denver, go over the Rockies, run next to the Colorado River for about 250 miles, the next day cross the Sierra Nevada mountains at Donner Pass. The CZ route veers away from I-70 between Denver to just before Glenwood Canyon starts at Dotsero, CO.

 

I was worried on the bedroom thing because I'm a snorer and I saw multiple people report that the partitions don't muffle much more than a casual conversation, and the last thing I want to do is be "that guy" on the trip, haha!

 

Do you have to check large bags? Or is there an option to take them to the room with you? In an effort to only need one piece of luggage for each of us on the trip, I was going to throw all my diabetic supplies in to a large piece of luggage, and we were thinking of just putting our bags on the upper berth and we both sleep in the lower berth. Does that seem feasible? Or do they make you check bags of a certain size?

All the sleeper berth walls are pretty thin and won't muffle sounds louder than casual conversation.

 

Amtrak has carry-on bag size limits. https://www.amtrak.com/onboard/baggage-policy/carry-on-baggage.html

 

 

That's exactly the stretch! Glad to know it is on this route. Thank you!

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Good advice from Maglev and KmH.

 

For the trip from Oakland/Jack London to LA, I suggest yall ride the Ferry from the Ferry Terminal in SF to Jack London Square, then book a Roomette for the "Day trip" to LAX on the Starlight.

 

It's cheaper than a Bedroom, you still get Lunch and Dinner included, which should be in the Pacific Parlor Car!😍, and you can leave your bags in the downstairs luggage rack.

 

Having dinner in the Parlor Car while the Sun sets into the Pacific is memory book stuff!😎

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Great idea, several of our members have Honeymooned on LD Trains.

 

To most of us there's no contest, taking the California Zephyr to the Bay area, spending a couple of days in San Francisco,(Emeryville/ Ambus across the Bay Bridge included in your Rail ticket) then riding the Coast Starlight to LA is the way to roll!

 

Bedroom A is a little smaller due to its location. Honestly most of us prefer Bedroom E which is located in tge Middle of the Car ( better ride)next to the Stairs,and only has one wall next to bedroom D, with the other being solid in front of the Stairs.

 

Where do you lose space in bedroom A? Maybe I'm just overly worried about this partition thing. Haha

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Since Bedroom A is at the end of the Car next to the Door, the corner is cutoff where the hall turns to use the Door.

 

Also the combo Bathroom/Shower (lots of use prefer to use the much larger Shower downstairs) inside the Room has the door facing the room door (opposite of the other Bedrooms) and is harder to enter/exit when the Beds are in night configuration.

 

The ride is bouncer too since A is over the trucks.

 

Bedroom E is the one you want!

Edited by Bob Dylan

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The last room has to accommodate the turn in the passage for the end door, so the toilet cubicle is repositioned and some of the room area is scooped out. If you are a "person of size" you may find access challenging.

 

Sent from my STV100-1 using Amtrak Forum mobile app

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Good advice from Maglev and KmH.

 

For the trip from Oakland/Jack London to LA, I suggest yall ride the Ferry from the Ferry Terminal in SF to Jack London Square, then book a Roomette for the "Day trip" to LAX on the Starlight.

 

It's cheaper than a Bedroom, you still get Lunch and Dinner included, which should be in the Pacific Parlor Car!, and you can leave your bags in the downstairs luggage rack.

 

Having dinner in the Parlor Car while the Sun sets into the Pacific is memory book stuff!

 

This is good advice! So from what I could gather, the trip then would be...Chicago to San Francisco, arriving Tuesday evening, ride the Ferry to Oakland that night and stay there, then get on the Starlight Wednesday morning and get to LA Wednesday night around 9 PM. That's not bad, I suppose.

Edited by KleShreen

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I would not call the partition between bedrooms flimsy. Yes it can be opened by the sleeping car attendant (SCA) using a key, but I myself have never heard any excessive noises from the other bedroom.

 

The California Zypher follows basically I-70 between just west of Denver to Grand Junction, CO and then basically I-80 from Salt Lake City into California,

 

You can check baggage if you wish, but be aware that you will NOT have access to it until your final destination! You can also place your bags in the luggage rack on the lower level of the car, where you CAN access it during the trip.

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Slight correction: You will ride the Zephyr to Emeryville( North Oakland), then the Ambus across the Bay Bridge to SF.( included in your Rail Fare if you book it this way)

 

Returning, you'll take the Ferry to Oakland Jack London from the Ferry Building in SF ( the Amtrak Station is on Jack London Square with Street Running for the Trains) to catch the Starlight for LA.

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For those who have traveled CZ or the Starlight, how accurate do the times tend to be? I saw some horror stories of being 5-6 hours behind schedule, particularly if the route has to be changed. If there is a halfway decent chance that the CZ might be more than a couple hours behind schedule, or the starlight, then I'll hold off on getting hotel rooms or making plans until we actually get to the destinations. I wouldn't want to plan something in SF for the evening when I'm supposed to arrive at 5 PM, only to find out we're not going to be getting there until 11 PM.

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It's luck of the draw! Most days the Zephyr is a little Late into Emeryville(1-2 Hours), but Extremely Late is rare.

 

I wouldn't book anything with a tight time window for the arrival evening,or non-fefundable activities, but the Ambus is guaranteed and your Hotel will hold your room if you're booked.

 

San Francisco is a major tourist town and tends to still be bustling @ Night even if its Cold and Foggy!😄

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For those who have traveled CZ or the Starlight, how accurate do the times tend to be? I saw some horror stories of being 5-6 hours behind schedule, particularly if the route has to be changed. If there is a halfway decent chance that the CZ might be more than a couple hours behind schedule, or the starlight, then I'll hold off on getting hotel rooms or making plans until we actually get to the destinations. I wouldn't want to plan something in SF for the evening when I'm supposed to arrive at 5 PM, only to find out we're not going to be getting there until 11 PM.

This site will provide on time performance info. https://juckins.net/amtrak_status/archive/html/history.php

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For those who have traveled CZ or the Starlight, how accurate do the times tend to be? I saw some horror stories of being 5-6 hours behind schedule, particularly if the route has to be changed. If there is a halfway decent chance that the CZ might be more than a couple hours behind schedule, or the starlight, then I'll hold off on getting hotel rooms or making plans until we actually get to the destinations. I wouldn't want to plan something in SF for the evening when I'm supposed to arrive at 5 PM, only to find out we're not going to be getting there until 11 PM.

 

I've personally had excellent luck with Amtrak schedule keeping. None of my trains has ever been more than a couple hours late at the worst. That being said, there are lots of of true stories by other passengers who weren't so lucky. I'd personally avoid booking anything important or expensive within several hours of an Amtrak arrival. Once a train is delayed more than an hour or two it will continue missing its assigned window and keep falling further and further behind.

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I prefer and travel the CZ couple times every year. Glenwood Canyon is the area where I-70 is on one side of the Colorado River and the train tracks on the other side. But, for me, Gore Canyon is the spectacular scenic ride with the train traveling high above the river below going through several short tunnels as it winds around along side and high above the river..

 

Regarding privacy and solid walls. The train is not the place to be with noisy honeymoon activities yet all the bedrooms and roomettes do provide adequate privacy. The train while "moving" generates enough train style white noise that I've only noticed loud talking. I have never heard anyone snoring from another room. Actually, the roomettes are quieter and you hear less noise from adjacent roomettes than you hear in the bedrooms. I have been a life long snorer and never had anyone complain on Amtrak. Since I am a senior adult now(76), I've learned to sleep on my sides and have received few complaints and some have stated I have decreased my snoring considerably.

 

If you simply want to stay overnight in Emeryville and catch the next morning's Coast Starlight, I recommend the Hyatt House Hotel just across the tracks from the Emeryville station. There is a crossover over the tracks with elevators at each end. I simply walk with my luggage over the cross over and am in the parking lots for the hotel. So very convenient to go to and from the station. This area of Emeryville is a great area for walking to shopping and scenery along the Bay. I have ridden Emeryville to Los Angeles on the Coast Starlight several times in a roomette and only once has my train been delayed at that was due to a bridge between Vancouver WA and Portland OR being stuck in the up or open position holding up all rail traffic several hours. If you are honeymooners, I suggest you get off the Coast Starlight in Santa Barbara to spend the night or more and then take the Pacific Surfliner in the day time to LA or Anaheim, etc.

 

Anyway, congratulations and happy honeymoon.

Edited by Tennessee Traveler

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Once the CZ gets on the west side of the Continental Divide the population density starts dropping off.

Gore Canyon starts about 2.5 miles past Kremmling, and for the next 60 or so rail miles the CZ route goes through a part of the Western Slope that has very few roads and very little population. That's when the CZ rejoins I-70 at Dotsero.

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Thanks for the advice everyone!

 

I think we're going to go in to Emeryville Tuesday evening in a bedroom, take the bus to SF and stay there Tuesday night, take the Ferry back across to Jack London on Wednesday night and stay the night there (since it looks like the Ferry only runs in the early evening?), get on the Starlight there Thursday morning in a roomette, head to Union Station in LA for Thursday night and spend Friday and Saturday in LA before flying out Sunday. =)

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Nice plan, y'all will Love it!😎😍

 

FYI:

 

You can also ride an Ambus from SF to Oakland Amtrak since you have Rail to LAX or:

 

There is a 900am Ferry from SF to Oakland,arrives @ 915am with a Stop in Alameda.

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Hey do any of you know if there is free baggage storage in Chicago if you have a ticket for a bedroom? I thought I saw that somewhere but I can't find it now. We'd have about a 5-hour layover in Chicago and we wanted to go exploring during that time, and I thought we'd be able to put our bags in to storage for free.

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Hey do any of you know if there is free baggage storage in Chicago if you have a ticket for a bedroom? I thought I saw that somewhere but I can't find it now. We'd have about a 5-hour layover in Chicago and we wanted to go exploring during that time, and I thought we'd be able to put our bags in to storage for free.

Yes, in the Metropolitan Lounge.

 

 

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