LAX-OKJ, EMY-CHI & CHI-BOS January 2019

Discussion in 'Travelogues / Trip Reports' started by Veronica99, Jun 12, 2019.

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  1. Jun 12, 2019 #1

    Veronica99

    V

    Veronica99

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    In January this year I took my first trip to the USA by myself and my first trip on Amtrak. I was visiting my family in Boston, and thought that rather than flying across the country it would be far more fun to enjoy the journey by train, while getting to visit new cities like Chicago and San Francisco!

    This has been my second time travelling on overnight trains, after being on Snälltåget’s overnight ski train from Lund to Åre in Sweden!

    After spending several days enjoying Los Angeles and the warm weather, I began my first journey on the Coast Starlight on Saturday January 12th.

    When I arrived at the Union Station, I was surprised to be the first passenger at Amtrak’s Metropolitan Lounge. I woke up early that morning, being anxious to not miss the train! I did not want to repeat my holiday in Penang, Malaysia where I slept through my alarm and nearly missed my flight back to Australia!
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    As the morning progressed more and more people started filling the lounge, until an announcement was made that the Coast Starlight had arrived and was ready for boarding. Being my first time in LA, I was a bit nervous and unsure where to find the platform, but an older Canadian man let me follow him to the train. Seeing the Superliner cars for the first time was quite awe inspiring, as they are much larger in person than I expected! D92A129E-C601-4814-8390-286959E73697.jpeg

    Although this would only be a daytime segment for me from Los Angeles to Oakland, I chose to travel in a roomette as it was only $20 more than business class. The free lunch and dinner on the train made it a worthwhile investment!

    As the train started moving it was exciting to see leave Los Angeles behind and see the scenery change into rolling hills. 2F132ED4-EDF8-4A1D-B0C5-2783F52AEC4D.jpeg

    We received announcements from the Conductor informing us to stay in our seats until our tickets had been checked, and also from the cafe attendant Moses, who was hilarious. Soon after a dining car attendant came round the train taking reservations for Lunch. I chose the first sitting, but my ticket still hadn’t been checked by the conductor. Conflicted, I made my way over to the dining car - my ticket never ended up being checked at all on the journey.

    I got to enjoy Amtrak’s cheeseburger, which is surprisingly good for train food, and a delicious caramel parfait for dessert. I loved the caramel parfait so much it was the only dessert I had on Amtrak!

    My favourite part of the Coast Starlight was getting to spend hours next to the Pacific Ocean, just metres away from the sea! 62F62489-BF15-4EA6-BABE-F5E167ABC10E.jpeg 6AA00DFD-2890-4223-A3A8-CFCEE773761D.jpeg 739A85E6-D730-41F1-8391-F4E130BAD496.jpeg

    As we traversed inland we passed green hills that appeared like it was straight out of a Microsoft desktop photo. E32E491E-9EDD-477F-A76B-9EABF24A36DC.jpeg

    I arrived at Oakland - Jack London Square only one hour late, which seemed punctual by Amtrak standards!

    I was excited to explore San Francisco, and couldn’t wait for my next adventure, on the California Zephyr...
     
  2. Jun 13, 2019 #2

    Sauve850

    Sauve850

    Sauve850

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    CS is a great ride. Thanks for the pictures!!
     
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  3. Jun 13, 2019 #3

    caravanman

    caravanman

    caravanman

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    So nice to read a report from a first time Amtrak user. Some of us forget the mystery and excitement of that first train trip.
    Looking forward to hearing more of your Amtrak adventure!

    Ed.
     
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  4. Jun 13, 2019 #4

    Veronica99

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    Veronica99

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    The night before embarking on the California Zephyr I was so excited I barely slept at all. I spent the night in the Hyatt House in Emeryville, which gave me a great view of the passing Amtrak trains below.
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    After a buffet breakfast, I checked out of the hotel early on Tuesday January 15th.

    I sat next to an older woman in the station building. She told me she going to Sacramento, and was surprised I was going all the way to Chicago, saying “That’s a long journey!”

    After a short time a station attendant yelled at everyone “Things are about to get crazy, so listen up!” The southbound Coast Starlight, the Eastbound California Zephyr and a Capitol Corridor train would all be arriving in quick succession, and the attendant had to organise everyone to be on the right platform. Myself, and the other sleeping car CZ passengers were sent out to the Northern end of the station, where we waited for our train to arrive. It was a cold morning (by Australian standards!) and raining.
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    It was a relief when we could finally step on board the train!

    I received a warm introduction from the SCA, who later in the morning was able to help me when the PowerPoint in my roomette wasn’t working. We had an announcement welcoming us on the train, and also welcoming Amtrak’s youngest trainee Conductor!

    Though it was raining and cloudy for most of the morning on the train, as we climbed higher and higher up the mountains we started seeing the rain change to snow, quite quickly! Unfortunately though we had limited visibility of the spectacular valley views.
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    We ended up being in a snowstorm, with our train becoming stuck near Colfax.
    https://imgur.com/a/eXKqgwT
    This meant Union Pacific had to send a locomotive to rescue us! I uploaded a video of the announcement on imgur - unfortunately the file is too large to upload here.

    I had an enjoyable lunch on that day, being seated with a family travelling to Philadelphia. The father was studying a PhD in History of Science, the mother was a secondary school teacher and the son also a teacher, of history! This excited me as I am majoring in history in college, back in Australia! Same as on the Coast Starlight I had a Cheeseburger and a Caramel Parfait for dessert.

    As we neared Truckee, it was looking like a winter wonderland outside!
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    Part of why I chose to travel on Amtrak in winter is my love of snow! Unfortunately it’s something that almost never happens in Australia!

    However, the snow had mostly disappeared when we crossed the Nevada desert.
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    I ended up having an early night, as I was becoming a bit short of breath. Though it was quite cool waking up as our train entered Salt Lake City at 3am! It felt surreal, and now I’m curious as to what the city is like during the day.
     
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  5. Jun 14, 2019 #5

    Sauve850

    Sauve850

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    Did an east CHI to west EMY trip on the CZ in early March a while back. Coming from Florida the views were spectacular of the snow especially out the back window of the last sleeper. Enjoying your pictures.
     
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  6. Jun 14, 2019 #6

    Matthew H Fish

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    Matthew H Fish

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    The "Bliss" Photo from Windows XP was actually taken in Sonoma County, so you aren't far off.
    Sadly, there is currently no Amtrak service through Sonoma County, but there is commuter rail service there!
     
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  7. Jun 14, 2019 #7

    drdumont

    drdumont

    drdumont

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    Wonderful trip reports! Great pictures, too! Kep 'em coming!

    I'm working on my Summer vacation plans. If I can swing it, DAL-LAX, LAX-SEA, SEA-CHI and CHI-DAL.
    I may have to make it just SEA-CHI-DAL, which would mean flying DFW-SEA. Onliest problem is that AA is
    only using Airbuses on that route. I would rather eat a bug.

    May do EMY-CHI-DAL instead.

    I've not done the Empire Builder or the Calif Zephyr yet, Can't make up my mind which to do first. No interest in snow other than on a Margarita glass, so it is Summertime trips for me.

    -- Doc
     
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  8. Jun 14, 2019 #8

    Bob Dylan

    Bob Dylan

    Bob Dylan

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    No contest, make it the Zephyr from EMY-CHI, best Rail scenery in the Lower 48 .
     
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  9. Jun 14, 2019 #9

    drdumont

    drdumont

    drdumont

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    I've heard that from several quarters. I kindasorta think I am leaning that way. I can fly to San Jose, avoid riding an Airbus, overnight in SJC. Unless there is somewhere convenient near the Emeryville station.
     
  10. Jun 14, 2019 #10

    p&sr

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    p&sr

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    Except for the Amtrak Bus out of Martinez, which runs through Petaluma and Rohnert Park to Santa Rosa, and may continue (twice daily) on from there as far as Eureka, Arcata, and McKinleyville.
     
  11. Jun 14, 2019 #11

    Matthew H Fish

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    Matthew H Fish

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    Ah yes...sorry, I should have been more specific. There are no Amtrak Trains through there. There are Amtrak Thruways, some of which I might be taking next week.
     
  12. Jun 15, 2019 #12

    v v

    v

    v v

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    Love your photos Veronica, you are making the ordinary look extraordinary
     
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  13. Jun 16, 2019 #13

    Sauve850

    Sauve850

    Sauve850

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    EMY area has plenty of places to stay if thats what you are asking. I fly into Oakland and if I can get a window seat Im good on any aircraft.

    I enjoy most all trains but CZ is the best for scenery as stated previously.
     

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