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'18 Travels through America

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I agree new T2 is wonderful and a very pleasant surprise specially compared to the original T3 which was - to put it mildly - a disgusting cesspool. T4 was ok the last time I went through there on Continental. Haven’t been to T5 except to walk through to the Hilton and yes signage is a bit chaotic.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Amtrak Forum

Edited by jis

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I don't like the performance that is deemed necessary to be able to get on a plane and Terminal 5 London's newest terminal is a few steps backwards from the older ones. Very crowded, slightly chaotic and badly organised, no wifi and very little obvious info desks or other help or advice. There are more shops though if that's what you need.

The current T2 is about six years newer and it's hard to imagine that T5 is objectively worse than the old T3. :wacko: I'll never forget the missing ceiling tiles and moldy air in the drippy arrivals dungeon or the scratched plastic windows and soggy carpets on the way to the departure gates. The new T2 is a clean and welcome surprise to anyone who remembers how things used to be. :wub:

 

 

Happy to be corrected re T2. If it were my choice alone I would look for another airline if I had to fly from T5 again

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Wednesday 21 February - Day 1 continued...

Updated Thursday 22 February on-board the Coast Starlight.

 

​Interesting arriving at San Francisco (SFO) by plane for the first time as it's over water of the bay. After a reasonable wait for passport control had an interesting discussion with the border officer about travelling by public transport, America in general and Oklahoma. When we got round to the reason for being at passport control and he asked what we were going to do but first where we were going I said "you don't really want to know" but corrected that immediately with "but of course you do it's your job!".

Great reply though, "well I might want to know as I may want to come along too". Very jolly he was too and a credit to his profession.

 

Just called for dinner as it's early today, we're just under 2 hours outside of Seattle

 

More later...

 

As we wanted to try to get a look at the Bay and Bay Bridge we opted for a SamTrans bus into the TransBay Terminal (SFC). About 50 minutes door to door with a full fare price of $2.20. There were 3 or 4 buses per hour picking up from several terminals including the I (International Terminal).

TransBay is also the bus transit center for Amtrak Thruway buses across to the Emeryville Amtrak station.

(If arriving at the I terminal it's right out of the arrivals gate, to the end of the concourse, down one level by escalator, walk about 30 yards straight ahead then through the the door, right then the bus stop for the #292 bus is another 20 yds further on. At this point you will be at Courtyard A, Bus Stop F).

Arrived at a bus stop opposite SFC on Folsom St and Beale. Well done San Francisco for having interconnected transport systems.

 

We had a 6 hour layover before our Thruway bus across the bay to Emeryville, so after such a long flight decided to walk into China Town and find something to eat as we will board the Coast Starlight after the on-board diner is closed.

Had the names and locations of 2 Vietnamese restaurants which were about 30 yds apart, so took a pleasant stroll through downtown into China Town.

Stood looking at both restaurants and saw maybe 8 or 10 people walk into the Golden Star in Walter U Lum Place, so decided to follopw the crowd. Good choice as it was very busy with people giving their meals serious attention. Was seated and ordered, just hoped we had got it right.

Have to say it was delicious if too much, it was our 3rd major meal in 24 hours since we had started out.

 

Back at SFC we had 30 minutes to spare so started this report using the excellent Greyhound wifi, then Thruway bus out to meet our train at Emeryville. We were directed to our sleeper car and there was our friend Milton waiting on the platform for us. He had boarded the 14 Coast Starlight back in Los Angeles. Quick hugs and after 30 hours of constant travel we fell into and up to our bunk beds. We had survived the first 'busy' day but paid the penalty with being properly exhausted. Fell asleep with the gentle rock and roll plus train noises helping.

Edited by v v

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You are headed off for your adventure, and I am on my way home! We will pass, not even like ships in the night, but rather like planets on different orbits...

(written on the LSL approaching Chicago, boarding the EB #7 this afternoon).

 

Guess you are home now Jennifer, hope it was as enjoyable as your trip out.

 

 

The Seattle Underground Tour is fun.

 

We have 1 more full day in Seattle with unsettled weather, may well take the underground tour, thanks

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Thursday 22 February - Day 2

Updated Friday 23 February...

 

​Interesting ride between SFC and Seattle King Street station. The diner which we think is the real centre of Amtrak train life had a real character as dining car boss. An Asian-Indian man who had arrived with nothing more than hope and determination and was now doing very well indeed, as were his wife and daughter. He explained a number of things Indian to us and how he had and does work all hours possible whether on-board or away from Amtrak on his days off. It is the true story of how many immigrants arrive with a will to succeed which often outshines the local population.

 

Rosie, Milton and I were allowed small liberties in the diner which always ended with another piece of the story of how this man went from a Mumbai slum boy to a respected person in American society.

He intends to try to make a small budget film of his life story, it sounded pretty amazing to us and we wish him well too. We wouldn't be surprised if he succeeded in getting such a film made.

 

A second part to a very enjoyable journey on the north-bound Starlight was it had snowed heavily from Klamath Falls and all points northwards, a true winter wonderland which equalled in our minds some of the best of the Californian Zephyr in winter.

 

The third part was once again sharing an Amtrak rail journey with our friend Milton. We were instantly reminded why we enjoyed sharing our travels with him.

 

We all three were still tired from our various exertions to get ourselves to the point of joining the CS so were pleased that we arrived at Seattle on-time, managed to buy our transit passes and get out to the airport hotel for an early night.

 

We planned to visit the wonderful Museum of Flight to the south of Seattle the following morning then on to the cinema in the early evening, so another long day ahead.

 

More later...

Edited by v v

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You are headed off for your adventure, and I am on my way home! We will pass, not even like ships in the night, but rather like planets on different orbits...

(written on the LSL approaching Chicago, boarding the EB #7 this afternoon).

Guess you are home now Jennifer, hope it was as enjoyable as your trip out.

 

If I'm reading the status for the correct train, Jennifer's Empire Builder lost three hours between Devils Lake and Rugby and five hours between Cut Bank and Browning. She hasn't made it to Spokane yet.

 

Jennifer, if you see this, what happened?

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Glad to know you have arrived safely in the USA, and that your first few rides have been on time. I agree that Terminal 5 is a big disappointment, it was supposed to be "super special", but I think each time I have had to get a shuttle bus to the B.A. plane, rather than walk straight on via a ramp.

 

Keep enjoying yourselves!

 

Ed.

Edited by caravanman

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Friday 23 February - Day 3
Updated Sunday 25 February...

 

The wonderful Museum of Flight south of Seattle is wonderful, the range of exhibits is enormous. Our museum favourites are the mysterious drone next to the Blackbird spy plane, the NASA Apollo mission exhibits and the very passionate talk by a docent of some of the Apollo mission high and low points. Also the 2 young children who were in awe of the very tall well dressed man who gave the passionate talk, and possibly our favourite, Airforce One used through the 1960's and 70's.

 

We were left remembering the 10-ish year old boy who kept coming back with incredible technical questions and his 9-ish year old sister who had a string of more practical questions. When they were asked would they like in future to go into space the young man declared that he thought not as he had a weak stomach. His sister took time to consider her answer and finally said she would like to know a bit more about what would be involved in such an undertaking, both priceless answers!

 

Airforce One fascinated all 5 of us as we tried to imagine Kennedy and Khrushchev on board using various sections of the plane. From these deep thoughts we all declared the most interesting aspect was what did each of them think when sitting on one of Airforce one's toilets.

 

Midway through our visit we 3 were standing in the center of the main hall as I caught site of a well built man, head down, scowling and charging towards us, it was obviously trouble. As he got nearer I thought I had seen him before but where and then it clicked, it was one of our friends we were due to meet the following day! What the Hell was he doing in the museum a day early charging towards us for? At 5 yards away he breaks out in one of his big smiles with handshakes and hugs all round, but it didn't explain why he was there.

After being told he had driven with his wife Dee Ana to our hotel, been directed to our room which had a 'Do Not Disturb' sign on the door, then had waited for 2 hours patiently in the lobby for us to appear (very polite people). At some point they worked out we were not actually at the hotel decided to track us down as he knew we were off to the Flight museum. But why didn't he let us know they were going to arrive a day early as we would have waited for them?

Internet on the Coast Starlight was patchy or didn't exist, only got a few minutes of it over the whole journey. They did write they were arriving tomorrow but we read the email a day after it was sent...

 

We all laughed at that and continued on as a growing bunch of visitors to Seattle having a great time.

 

More later...

Edited by v v

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You are headed off for your adventure, and I am on my way home! We will pass, not even like ships in the night, but rather like planets on different orbits...

(written on the LSL approaching Chicago, boarding the EB #7 this afternoon).

Guess you are home now Jennifer, hope it was as enjoyable as your trip out.

 

If I'm reading the status for the correct train, Jennifer's Empire Builder lost three hours between Devils Lake and Rugby and five hours between Cut Bank and Browning. She hasn't made it to Spokane yet.

 

Jennifer, if you see this, what happened?

 

 

I finally got home (to an internet connection) just a couple of hours ago. The full saga is now posted here. So glad I was keeping a trip diary! Photos soon, to be linked from the trip report.

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Jamie, did you and Rosie get to the Izaak Walton this morning? If that's the train you were on, you dodged the worst of the problems! It looks like your train was only 55 minutes late at ESM, but went later just east of there, in the canyon between there and Browning. Here's hoping you had a fantastic day in the winter wonderland I passed through only a few days ago.

 

Tomorrow's train is now on the way. I have my fingers crossed it gets to you at a reasonable hour, and stays reasonably on-schedule.

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Jamie, did you and Rosie get to the Izaak Walton this morning? If that's the train you were on, you dodged the worst of the problems! It looks like your train was only 55 minutes late at ESM, but went later just east of there, in the canyon between there and Browning. Here's hoping you had a fantastic day in the winter wonderland I passed through only a few days ago.

 

Tomorrow's train is now on the way. I have my fingers crossed it gets to you at a reasonable hour, and stays reasonably on-schedule.

 

Yes thank you Jennifer we arrived exactly as you write, only 55 minutes late. Lots of people on the train de-training. Apparently this is becoming the ski area to head for at the moment as it has had it's largest amount of snow through the winter since 1996!

It's a true Winter Wonderland, we were out walking for hours today and will probably fall asleep at dinner. All the snow is very pristine indeed, hardly any animal tracks either as it keeps falling, 10" last night alone and has started snowing again now at 7pm.

 

Hope your family visit was all you hoped it would be but bet it was good to get back home to hubby.

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Essex looked like the best place for snow in the entire west. Yes, it was great to get back home to Hubby, and especially to my freezer and root cellar full of home-grown vegetables.

 

I sent you a message with photo links.

Edited by oregon pioneer

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Friday 23 February - Day 3 continued

Update written Monday 26 February.~ Izaak Walton, Essex, MT

 

​Following the Museum of Flight visit we jumped into Steve's car and headed for Pikes Place and market. Predictably touristy but some of the produce on sale looked superb and pretty interesting. Not sure how it carried it off but even with the slightly tacky side and lots of visitors it didn't diminish our enjoyment even though we are not very good at being tourists.

 

After an hour or so we decided it was time to eat and remembered the recommendation by Woodcut60 for the Athenian (thank you), so upstairs for a table for 5. It was all Woodcut wrote except we had a savvy waiter with a good sense of humour. Excellent menu choice, two of us had Halibut for the first time and all agreed well presented and prepared meals. No deserts all round except for me, a very strong willed person usually until it comes to deserts, puddings and pies.

There were a couple of knowing grins when I ordered the chocolate brownie but nothing was said, waiter had a smile when he handed me 5 spoons, me still none the wiser except he'd got it wrong as only I was having pudding.

Then the brownie arrived and even a pudding fanatic wasn't going to cope with that chocolate brownie. It's lovely to eat a communal desert, wonderful way to end a meal. Thank you waiter.

 

End of a great day as we had enjoyed our friends company (2 1/2 hour meal Jennifer), Milton had picked up some tips for running his new combine from the expert Steve, and Steve and Dee Ana now have a an invite to upper New York for the next amateur rocket launch that Milton encourages his local rocket club enthusiasts to stage on his farm. Milton and Steve + Dee Ana had never met before today but got on so well.

 

Next day Saturday 24 February (Day 4) was also a full one with us seeing Milton off at King Street Station for him to return to Los Angeles on the Coast Starlight, later meeting with Steve and DA again, then off to the Gates Foundation, a meeting in a cafe with 2 lovely ladies, across to the LeMay Car Museum (up there with the Museum of Flight), then to Discovery Park to get a view of Seattle at dusk (here Steve and DA persevered for around 30 minutes to find the perfect view point as some of the roads in the park were closed), and finally an evening meal then on to a cinema showing a 3D version of Black Panther. What a day again! and what memories of our first visit to Seattle.

They are a generous couple indeed running us around Seattle and back to our hotel at SeaTac all the while pretending they enjoy driving in traffic.

 

Tomorrow leaving Seattle on the 8 Empire Builder...

 

ps: Rosie and I know nothing about movies so here's our review of Black Panther:

 

Enormous fully reclining seats 5 / 5 ~ Actors and make-up - very dramatic 4 / 5 ~ Credits at the end of the film 5+ / 5, never seen the like of 20 minutes of credits ~ Story line 4 / 5 ~ Filming and special effects 3 / 5 could do better

 

pps: For rail fans. While sitting quietly writing this update there are numbers of powerful locomotives rumbling backward and forwards outside our window, wonderful...

Edited by v v

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A few photos of the start

 

 

Ready to go, Brentwood, Essex, UK Railway Station very early morning

 

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Rocky mountains in southern Canada near the US border

 

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Exciting

 

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Here you are Rob & Martine, Temporary Transbay Terminal (SFC). Excellent multi transit center in downtown San Francisco. Amtrak, Greyhound and local bus

 

post-6862-0-36208500-1519715179_thumb.jpg

Edited by v v

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Sunday 25 February - Day 5

Updated Tuesday 27 February.~ Izaak Walton, Essex, MT

 

​Lazy morning at hotel then into Seattle with the Link light rail, such a well thought out transport system. That regular downtown buses use the same (downtown) platforms as the Link trains is something we have never seen before, very clever use of a rail / roadway.

 

The incoming 7 Empire Builder (our outgoing 8 EB) was several hours late arriving. It arrived almost exactly 2 hours before our scheduled departure but they still had to clean and re-stock it for the long journey back to Chicago.

 

Amazingly we left bang on time to the minute, all credit to the Amtrak staff who managed that.

 

More later as our outgoing 8 Empire Builder is due...

Edited by v v

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Can't wait to see how you liked the Izaak Walton, so glad you were not scheduled to leave Seattle one day earlier!

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San Francisco to Seattle photos

 

14 Coast Starlight arriving on-time in Emeryville (San Francisco)

 

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Plenty of snow at Klamath Falls, OR and northwards

 

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Going home from work

 

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Not seen this older? logo on an Amtrak train before

 

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Activity at Klamath Falls

 

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Lot of snow indeed...

 

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... and then it was gone in northern Oregon

 

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Edited by v v

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Sunday 25 February Day 5 - leaving Seattle

Written sitting waiting for freight at a pass just after ESM Tuesday 27 February

 

Train was very busy as we left Seattle, with a further announcement that after the next two stops we would be full, all seats sold.
Travelling coach this time as it was a not too long 16 hour overnight and we like to mix up how we ride. Amtrak coach seats are like nothing else we have ever used with the exception of the 'Mountain Train down the center of Malaysia riding 1st Class. Size, space and comfort are unparalleled, fantastic value for money.

 

The Sound to the left of the train as it heads north is very pretty in places, for us some of the best views in the north west.

By the time we had left the sound and turned east towards the mountains every seat was taken in our car. A largish group of younger people had boarded, turns out to be a college basketball team on their way to tournament in/near Chicago. What a good way for a team to travel with time to relax before their big competition.

 

That evening we were seated at an empty booth in the diner but not for long, first a 30 something woman joined us and then a 20's man. Both were intriguing companions for the couple of hours we sat eating and talking.

 

She was a social worker employed by a not for profit organisation (charity?), her area of operation was various aspects of counselling and more so prevention of children and adults who were abused, mainly sexually. She is very passionate and dedicated about her work as we have found with a friend of ours who works in a similar field.

 

He was a professional Skate Boarder and apparently very well known within his own sport? art? His name is Bobby Dodd and can be found on YouTube. At 28 years old he has travelled the world with skateboarding, is married with 3 children, but now on the edge of being too old to compete! His efforts now are aimed at inventing, perfecting and displaying new moves. He was a very confident and happy many, couldn't stop smiling and also had many wise words too. His parents and he are Native American and he's very pleased to be so it appears.

 

Both he and she had never met or knew of each other, but small world comes to mind when they realise they both know Def Paul a BMX proffesional rider. To her Def Paul is her ex husband, to him a good friend, co-incidences where-ever we go.

 

We enjoyed this EB train journey in coach, comfortable, warm, good company and superb scenery in extremely heavy snow. How they managed to arrive at Essex, MT up in the mountains with all the snow they had had the previous week only 55 minutes late is amazing, leaving would be a little different...

Edited by v v

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In Seattle Friday photos

King Street Link light rail station. A regular bus pulls up at the same platform a Link train had stood just a few minutes before

 

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A wonderful Blackbird spy plane, pretty dramatic

 

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Spooky spy drone (pun intended)

 

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A Monk Fish at Pike Place market

 

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Large Ferris Wheel outside the Athenian restaurant

 

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Edited by v v

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Nice photos! Not an especial lot of snow for the Chemult area in Oregon, and I hope you waved in a general easterly direction as you passed. Western Oregon usually has no snow, as the elevation there is near sea level (as compared to 4,764′ at Chemult).

 

I am sure the reason your train was full is that the days before, #8 was cancelled. Some took the 11 & 6 option (that I heard was offered), only to arrive at CHI on the same day as those that rebooked for the #8 you were on.

 

The "vortex" that eats trains was just east of Essex, can't wait to hear what happened as you continued east, after your snowy sojourn at the Izaak Walton!

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Thanks for taking time out from your trip to post reports and photos here! I enjoy it all!

 

The "Amtrak America" logo and paint scheme is on the new Viewliner II baggage cars and diners.

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In Seattle Saturday photos

 

Lost my heart to this Porsche 918 Hybrid car

 

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Perfect colour match

 

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Seattle at dusk

 

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Leaving Seattle Sunday 25 February photos

 

Views of the Sound from Seattle to Everett

 

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From Everett to Spokane

 

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Edited by v v

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​Arriving at the Izaak Walton Inn, Essex, MT ~ Glacier national Park - Monday 26 February

 

Only 55 minutes late even though heavy snow en-route to the mountains

 

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