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Los Angeles To San Luis Obispo, CA On Amtrak's Coast Starlight
Saturday, October 20th, 2012
  After a quick Diet Coke at the Traxx Lounge inside Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal, I walked back out to the platform as the attendant at the lounge advised me the train would be on Track #10A (Track 10 - Platform A). Once arriving on the platform, the train had still not yet pulled into the station which I thought was rather strange. There are signs on the platform indicating where you should stand based on what sleeping car you're ticketed for. I took the time before the train arrived to take some photos on the platform of what was there including a Metrolink train and a Pacific Surfliner train! Eventually, the Coast Starlight pulled in, having backed into the station. I was set to board the 1430 car in Roomette #2. Once the train stopped, I boarded my car and put one suitcase on the floor in the lower level of the car where you can store luggage. I put my other bag in the room along with the camera bag. I immediately ran back outside to get more pictures of the train and car numbers. The consist for today's train is shown below...
  I was ticketed in Superliner I Sleeping Car #32007 in Roomette #2. We departed Los Angeles at 10:30am, 5 minutes late for unknown reasons but regardless, it ended up being no big deal. The usual welcome announcements were made by the crew along with announcements by our sleeping car attendant as well as the attendant in the Pacific Parlour Car which is a First Class Lounge only available to sleeping car passengers. The movie that would show later in the theater portion of the car would be "The Hunger Games". Shortly after departing Los Angeles, our sleeping car attendant gave out free bottles of champagne! I spent some time in my sleeping car taking pictures and enjoying the free champagne. Among the amenities on this train: There is a “train map” on the wall telling you where each car is along with the name of your attendant. There is a huge basket of fruit in the hallway along with the usual free coffee and bottled water. Inside each room, there was also a small toiletry bag embroidered with the Amtrak logo on it along with an extra blanket. There were also 2 plastic cups and napkins in the room in addition to what’s located next to the coffee maker.
  The next 3 stops are Burbank, Van Nuys, and Simi Valley. All 3 of these stops are "Pick-Up Only" as frequent local service is available on Metrolink. Therefore, there was only a quick announcement at each of these stops just saying the name of the station. A member of the dining car staff came through the sleeping cars to take lunch reservations. I opted for the 1:00pm reservation since it was after our stop in Santa Barbara which is a smoking stop (or for me, a photo stop). Our next stop was Burbank, CA-Bob Hope Airport Station where we arrived at 10:49am and departed at 10:53am running 9 minutes late. We passed by the Burbank Bob Hope Airport shortly after departing that station. Our next stop was Van Nuys, CA where we arrived at 11:00am and made a double spot before departing at 11:06am running 11 minutes late. I headed out to the Sightseer Lounge car to take a few photos as we moved through a few tunnels on the way to our next stop of Simi Valley. We arrived at Simi Valley at 11:28am. It was around that time, an announcement was made by a Customer Service Representative from Amtrak...WHAT? They actually have a Customer Service Rep on this train? How refreshing!!! This is something that has been sorely needed on ALL long-distance trains! It was great to see Amtrak have someone who can directly handle customer service-related issues instead of having the conductor be bogged down with such issues! We departed Simi Valley at 11:30am running 11 minutes late. I spent some more time in the Sightseer Lounge before I walked back to my sleeping car and ate a couple bags of peanuts I had with me while watching the passing scenery.
  Our next stop was the first pick-up and drop-off stop of this train which is Oxnard, CA (this will be my "home base" for 4 days a little later in the trip). We arrived in Oxnard at 11:59am and departed at 12:04pm running 12 minutes late. I then spent a fair amount of time in the Pacific Parlour Car taking photos of the beautiful Pacific Ocean once we got out of Oxnard. This car was very well patronized as I couldn't get a swivel chair for awhile. Our next stop was Santa Barbara where we arrived at 12:47pm, 1 minute early. This was designated as a smoking break so of course, I'm off to get more pictures! The platform in Santa Barbara was under heavy construction when we arrived there. At 12:55pm, we departed Santa Barbara, running 7 minutes late.
  Now it's time for lunch! I had a choice on if I wanted to eat in the Pacific Parlour Car or the Dining Car and based on menus, I opted for the dining car on this trip. I was seated with a passenger from Brazil who didn't speak much English but was very much enjoying the trip and taking lots of pictures! I was also seated with a couple from Anaheim who were on their first Amtrak trip. I told them it was my 49th trip! Lunch today was the Angus Steak burger with kettle chips and a Diet Pepsi with a cookies and cream cheesecake for dessert. All the food was excellent, and unlike on the Southwest Chief, it was all served on real china plates verses plastic. This train is marketed as one of Amtrak's premiere trains and thus there are little touches like this added to enhance the overall experience. I do remember a time when all long-distance trains used china dinnerware. Let's hope this is something that can be brought back at some point! After lunch, I was walking back to my sleeping car when the Customer Service Representative had called me over and we started talking for awhile about all things Amtrak. I will say this again, there needs to be a Customer Service Rep on all long-distance trains! There were two of them on my ride on the Texas Eagle and Sunset Limited last year. It makes all the difference in the world to have someone whose job is just handling customer related issues and just let the train crew be the train crew!
  After a very nice conversation with the Amtrak Rep, I walked back to my sleeping car to have a Diet Pepsi then I headed into the Pacific Parlour Car to take in the foggy view of the ocean. I now had a swivel chair to sit in for a bit and had a nice conversation with a passenger from Ireland who with his wife were visiting the U.S.! One thing that Amtrak has truly gotten right in this car in addition to the wireless internet would have to be the smooth jazz music playing in the car (I am a DJ remember?), this adds very nicely to the relaxed atmosphere of this car. There were several passengers on this train that were part of the "America By Rail" tour group that I rode with on the Southwest Chief! They were all riding to Portland, OR to catch the Empire Builder back to Chicago! As we continued passing by lots more mountains and lots of farmland, I just took it all in! Part of one of those big green fields of produce will no doubt end up in my salad someday! An announcement was made by the conductor that we had to go into a siding to let southbound Amtrak Pacific Surfliner Train #1790 pass us. What I found out later is that the conductor has to get off the train and hand-throw the switch to facilitate this! When all was said and done, we go onto the siding, the train passed us and the conductor had to throw the switch back then do the same thing on the other end of the siding! This would explain why once we got onto the siding, we moved then stopped again. Things were uneventful the rest of the way to San Luis Obispo which was the next stop and my stop on this train. At 3:40pm, we arrived at San Luis Obispo which was also a smoking break as well as a crew change point for the train. An announcement was made that the engineer and conductors who brought this train to SLO from LA would be getting off and new Conductors would take the train to Sacramento and a new engineer would take the train to San Jose. The sleeper attendant in my car offered to watch by bags while I ran up to the head end to get more pictures, my thanks to him! Once the train departed, I got a few more photos then headed inside the station, grabbed a Diet Pepsi out of the vending machine and called a local taxi to bring me to my hotel, the Holiday Inn Express in San Luis Obispo! The cab arrived and brought me to the hotel which is located on Monterrey Street in SLO. The hotel overall was clean and the service was excellent but it had a bit of a "dated" look in terms of decor but overall, not bad and I would stay there again. I then walked to a nearby Taco Bell for dinner, walked back and eventually called it a day as I was very tired! Now of course, I just took a ride along the ocean, so yep, there's lots of photos, check out the link below!!!