Eureka, California to Vancouver, Washington: a roundabout journey

Discussion in 'Travelogues / Trip Reports' started by Matthew H Fish, Jul 26, 2019.

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  1. Jul 26, 2019 #1

    Matthew H Fish

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    Matthew H Fish

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    Hello All!

    This Monday, I took an Amtrak trip from Eureka, California to Vancouver, Washington. This was a trip for practical purposes, although of course, I did get to see some great scenery! As some of you might know, but most of you don't, Eureka, California is a small town on the North California coast, and accessing it by any type of transit is difficult.

    To go north from Eureka, I first had to go south. About 300 miles south, to Martinez, California (East Bay), and then get the Coast Starlight going north. At 10 AM, I boarded an Amtrak thruway bus outside the Eureka Denny's. The stop was just the normal Eureka city bus stop, and it was only when a few other people showed up that I knew I was in the right place. I got on the bus with little fanfare (they didn't check my ticket, just asked my name), and then started heading south. I was pretty tired, so I dozed off a little, but since it was a six or seven hour bus ride to Martinez, I had plenty of time to see 101. The bus had maybe a dozen people on it, maybe more as we got more towards Santa Rosa. The bus driver was very nice and friendly. Unlike Greyhound bus riders, who are sure to tell you that you are on your own when you get off at a rest stop, he took rolecall to make sure we were all there. There was, of course, some interesting terrain to see along the way. There was a lot of traffic jams in the Marin and Solano County areas, but we still got to Martinez an hour early.

    Martinez was the low point of the trip. There was a six hour wait between getting in, and the Coast Starlight leaving. Which, it would turn out, would be extended by an hour because the Coast Starlight was late. Martinez was nice enough, there is a nice harbor park next to the station. But I was pretty tired, and had my luggage, so I didn't really want to walk around town. Outside the station, a woman asked me if I knew where I could find crystal meth. So, I also didn't feel like spending a lot of time in the environs of the station. The station staff weren't also particularly helpful, and the station didn't have wireless. I think in this day and age, internet access should be a natural thing for travellers. It costs virtually nothing and is important when we are travelling. But I would be out of signal until Portland.

    Once the train boarded, around midnight, the rest of the trip was clear sailing. There was a tag for the seat next to mine, but there was no one sleeping there, so I moved over to the window seat, spread out, and went to sleep, waking up the next day sometime around 7 AM. around Mount Shasta. I got pictures of Shasta and Lassen. Two things happened that morning: the toilets went out of order in our car, and someone was smoking (probably electronically) cannabis. There was a man whose attire bragging about his marijuana consumption made him an obvious suspect, and I think that at one of the stops, the conductor had "a talk" about it with him, but I never saw exactly what happened.

    The route over the Cascades in Oregon is beautiful, and the Willamette Valley is very nostalgic for me, because I grew up there. I met some people in the lounge and talked to my seat mate, so everything about that part of the trip was good. I got wireless in Portland so I could alert my host in Vancouver to my arrival and check my e-Mail. We were an hour late into Portland, but left early, so I got to Vancouver and hopped off.

    That is the basic narrative of my trip...feel free to ask questions.

    As to why we had to go south from Eureka, I will put that in a follow-up comment, because it is a story in itself.
    Also, pictures:

    (Somewhere south of Garberville)
    [​IMG]

    (Ukiah Amtrak stop)
    [​IMG]

    (Martinez Amtrak/Intermodal)
    [​IMG]

    (Mount Shasta, I believe)
    [​IMG]

    (Possibly Medicine Lake Volcano?)
    [​IMG]

    (Klamath Falls Amtrak:)
    [​IMG]

    (Somewhere in the Cascades)
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Jul 26, 2019 #2

    Matthew H Fish

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    Matthew H Fish

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    So why can't I go east or north from Eureka?

    From Eureka, California, to Redding, California is less than 100 linear miles. It is 147 miles, and 3 hours, by road. This seems to be doable. But it is a rough road, and there aren't that many populated towns along the way. There is public transit from Eureka to Redding, but it involves three different buses, and waiting in two different small towns along the way.

    If you go north to Crescent City, 100 miles north of Eureka, there is an Amtrak bus going east, that ends up in Klamath Falls. The problem is, it leaves first thing in the morning, so you can't get there by public transit in time to catch it. You would actually have to have two hotel stays, in Crescent City and Klamath Falls, in order to do that. So that doesn't work.

    And if you go another 200 miles north, to Coos Bay, Oregon, itself a pretty difficult process, you can find an Amtrak bus going east, but once again one that would involve waiting overnight in Coos Bay.


    This is one of those problems that looks obvious on a map, until you actually see the terrain, and see how dispersed the population is. Between Santa Rosa, California and Newport, Oregon (where the "populated" part of the Oregon Coast begins), there is 500 miles of windy road without a population center bigger than around 50,000 people.

    Also, I think state politics take a role: while it might make more sense to have a route north from Eureka, up to Crescent City, and across to Medford-Klamath Falls, California subsidizes Amtrak in California, and they might not want to pay for a route that would up mostly serving Oregon.
     
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  3. Jul 26, 2019 #3

    flitcraft

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    flitcraft

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    Nice photos! Thanks for sharing them.

    On the issue of the passenger apparently vaping marijuana, I have to say, what an idiot! With edible cannabis products so readily available at local pot shops, there's just no excuse for sneaking around smoking or vaping the stuff in public.
     
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  4. Jul 26, 2019 #4

    Matthew H Fish

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    Matthew H Fish

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    Yeah, as a person who has no objections to cannabis use, I still think people should be able to forego it for a few hours in a public place. I think this guy was kind of a troublemaker. But the entire conflict still seemed pretty cute to me.
     
  5. Jul 27, 2019 #5

    JayPea

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    Nice report!! I remember taking a family vacation, in 1971 or '72 (don't remember which year) and we took the road between Eureka and Redding. I remember it as being narrow and winding.
     
  6. Jul 27, 2019 #6

    railiner

    railiner

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    At one time, Greyhound Lines ran 4 thru trips a day between San Francisco and Portland over US101, serving that area...alas, now there none.
    Another one of those, "you can't get there from here" scenario's, unfortunately...
     
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  7. Jul 27, 2019 #7

    anumberone

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    Lot of Canibus grown north of Santa Rosa. Used to be the one of the major money making endeavors. Not surprised to see someone wearing a I LIKE WEED tee shirt. Frustrating to see someone burning a joint or vaping on a train. Besides all that, sounds like you had a good trip, took some nice photos and filled us in on the Geography of Northern California. I also like that Willimette Valley.
     
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  8. Jul 29, 2019 #8

    Matthew H Fish

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    Matthew H Fish

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    I took one of those Highway 101 Greyhound trips, in 1999, from Corvallis to San Francisco. That was my first trip on the coast south of Newport, Oregon, I believe. I remember it being pretty overwhelmingly large, seeing so many new things. I also realized later that I remembered some things incorrectly: in my memory, Brookings, Oregon and Crescent City, California, were right next to each other, but when I went back later, they are more than 20 miles apart.

    When Greyhound ended service to many Oregon locations, the Oregon DOT replaced it with the Oregon POINT service, or other replacement services.
     
  9. Jul 29, 2019 #9

    oregon pioneer

    oregon pioneer

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    I live in the wilds of Eastern Oregon, so I love the Oregon POINT bust services. But you are right, they do not make some of the obvious connections to other services. I have a friend in the Arcata area who regularly takes that AmBus to Martinez to initiate his cross-country Amtrak journeys (yes, even on the northbound Coast Starlight, LOL).

    Thanks for your trip report.
     
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  10. Sep 20, 2019 #10

    shelzp

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    I grew up in Humboldt County used to take both the Greyhound and the NWPRR as a child in the 60’s and am sorry to know ‘you can’t get there from here anymore’. At the time there were flag stops and I was so young I thought people were out there waving the train or bus down from any point they felt like.
     
  11. Sep 22, 2019 #11

    Willbridge

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    The through Portland - San Francisco US 101 service by Greyhound was taken over from Oregon Motor Stages (SP), likely to keep anyone else from operating that way. In the regulatory era bus companies would operate alternative through services between major cities for that reason.

    Pacific Greyhound Lines, headquartered in SF, in my opinion had the best scheduling and route planning of any of the major bus companies. When that function was folded into Phoenix and then Dallas, there was a noticeable decline. Here is the southbound Oregon Coast line-up from Portland effective 31 Oct 71. (Northbound was just the reverse of this.) (I omitted some quirks south of Willits.)

    7:30 am = McMinnville, Newport, Coos Bay, Coquille, Brookings, Crescent City, Eureka, Willits, San Francisco 3:55 am.

    12:30 pm = McMinnville, Newport, Coos Bay, Coquille, Myrtle Point 7:30 pm.

    5:30 pm = Salem, Albany, Corvallis, Blodgett, Newport 9:20 pm.

    7:15 pm = McMinnville, Newport, Coos Bay, Brookings, Crescent City, Eureka, via Avenue of the Giants, Willits, San Francisco 3:45 pm.

    1:15 am = Salem, Albany, Corvallis, Eugene, Drain, Coos Bay, Brookings, Crescent City, Eureka, via Avenue of the Giants, Willits, San Francisco 10:50 pm.

    I rode "the Redwood" as the 1:15 am trip was called in 1967 Spring Break from Portland to San Francisco. There were 13 passengers crossing the Oregon-California line. It was tiring, but a beautiful trip, scheduled for maximum scenery.

    On a Friday night after work in late July 1967 I rode the 7:15 pm trip to Bandon (arrive 2:09 am). The trip was run with three sections, one to Newport, one to Coos Bay, and one through to SF. We met the northbound in Bandon and the drivers made it an unofficial rest stop. While they talked shop, the local cop interviewed me. It was a scene out of the Old West, where a stranger arrives in town on the stage and the sheriff asks him his business.

    Now instead of running multiple sections they would just have the computer raise the price for a summer Friday night out of the big city -- or not serve Bandon at all. Intercity bus ridership in Oregon peaked in 1965, with the exception of the '73-'75 Energy Crisis, but in my '67 trips the bus industry was still celebrating the approaching collapse of intercity rail passenger service.
     
  12. Sep 24, 2019 #12

    Matthew H Fish

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    Matthew H Fish

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    Back in 1998, I took a trip to San Francisco on Greyhound.

    Funny story about that...I was actually planning on buying an Amtrak pass, but this being 1999, there wasn't an internet to find out about it on, and I found out different things. I couldn't get a straight story, so I just asked my mom to take me to the bus station, and I would take a Greyhound bus to San Francisco (I would have been 19 at the time). That was Corvallis, and from Corvallis I go to Newport and then south, south, south. At that point, I had lived in Oregon since I was a kid, but had never been south on the coast past Newport. It was quite an adventure, although it all probably blurred together. I wouldn't be back to that region until 2012, which would be a long while.
     
  13. Sep 24, 2019 #13

    railiner

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    Other locations besides Oregon, have made various attempts at 'filling in the vacuum' created by Greyhound's mass abandonment of many of its local routes across the country...some by county operation's, some by subsidies to private operator's, etc. These are deemed socially essential services for those that can't drive their own cars for one reason or another.
    In most of these cases, the routes are set up to take people from the rural towns into and out of the nearest metropolitan city, for health, shoppiing and outside world transportation access. This does not provide the optimum for those wanting to take a thru trip along the former thru route...
    For example, in Oregon, there are local services from various segments of US-101 into and out of Portland, but if you want to just stay on 101, it may no longer be possible in some places, and next to impossible for others, without extreme backtracking...
     
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  14. Sep 24, 2019 #14

    railiner

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    I agree that Greyhound did a superb job in their hayday, in putting together a fantastic network of routes and connecting schedules. Pacific Greyhound Lines in the West, and Pennsylvania Greyhound Lines in the East, in particular. Even after those companies were absorbed and merged into ever larger divisions, that expertise continued. Even after the corporation moved from Chicago to Phoenix it continued. The big decline in the companies fortune started with ICC ending, and bus deregulation. The divestment of the bus line and major strike in 1987 was the watershed year...

    One nice thing about the time of multiple trips over the entire route, was that you could travel scenic area's by day, stopover, and then continue the next morning, so you would not miss anything.
     
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  15. Oct 7, 2019 #15

    Matthew H Fish

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    Matthew H Fish

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    In a lot of areas, these type of intermediate distance, rural transportation networks are operated through senior councils, or are funded by grants for seniors. Public transit is seen as a social service, for the benefit of those too old, poor, or sick to own a car. Obviously, this means those services are not at all geared for people seeking efficient long-distance transportation.

    It does make sense economically. Because while subsidizing a ride is expensive, it pales in comparison to the cost of emergency health care. If you are in county government in a rural county, a $30 per ride subsidy so someone can get to the doctor for regular check-ups makes a lot more sense than waiting for them to have a medical emergency and needing thousands of dollars of emergency room medicine.
     
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