Facebook Page
Seattle, WA To Los Angeles, CA On Amtrak's Coast Starlight
 Thursday, October 21st, 2010:
 I woke up around 6:45am and backed up photos I took the previous day and continued writing this travelogue. I had no time to eat breakfast this morning so I packed up the rest of my gear and checked out of the hotel. After a quick taxi back to King Street Station, I headed inside and started to chat with a few passengers who were on the Empire Builder with me the day before and would be riding out today on the Starlight! The boarding call was made for Sleeping Car passengers and we were the first to board. I quickly found my car and room, and put away my luggage. We still had a few minutes before we would depart so I took a walk down the platform and took down car numbers as well as got a few pictures. Just before departure, our attendant in my sleeper made a general welcome aboard announcement. I don't name names of Amtrak employees in these travelogues though anyone reading this who has rode the Starlight in recent years may know who this person was. He closed his speech by stating today's secret word was "Ooga Booga" which means anything you want it to! The consist for today's train is shown below:
Heritage Baggage
Baggage Car
Superliner II Transition Sleeper
Crew/Sleeping Car (1140)
Superliner II Sleeping Car
Sleeping Car (1132)
Superliner II Sleeping Car
Sleeping Car (1131)
Superliner I Sleeping Car
Point Reyes* 
Sleeping Car (1130) (My Car)
Heritage "Pacific Parlour Car"
Santa Lucia Highlands
First Class Lounge Car
Superliner II Dining Car
Dining Car
Superliner II Sightseer Lounge
Cafe/Lounge Car
Superliner I Coach
Superliner I "Kiddy" Coach
Family Coach
Superliner I Coach
  I would have room #2 in the "1130" car, which was Superliner I Sleeper #32055. This car had been refurbished a few years back but not as recently as the one I rode in on the Empire Builder as I was able to get my surge protector over the AC outlet in this car as the system hadn't been replaced yet. Oh well, the 6 Outlet Surge Protector I bought at Walgreens won't go to waste as I would end up using it anyways so I could charge more than one gadget at a time. We departed Seattle, WA on time at 9:45am. As I got settled in my room, my sleeper attendant told me I couldn't keep my one suitcase that I keep in the room, on the floor due to some safety rule I was not aware of. I told him that nobody told me this on the Empire Builder, though he told me it was a rule, oh well. I decided since I hadn't had breakfast this morning to go to the cafĂ© car and get something there. I picked up a Sausage, Egg & Cheese breakfast sandwich with a hot Cinnamon Roll and a Diet Pepsi. This would work until lunch! I had an interesting conversation with the cafe attendant who worked on the Southern Pacific at one time. He showed me photos he had of a dining car he worked in while with the SP, it was very interesting. We got stopped for one freight train while I was in the lounge car, this was before the stop in Tacoma. I then went back to my sleeper and had an apple and watched the countryside go by. We made our next station stop at Tacoma, WA and left there at 10:38am, running 7 minutes late, no big deal. We made our next stop at Olympia-Lacey, WA and left there at 11:24am, now 3 minutes late. I never heard or saw anyone taking reservations for lunch so being that I didn't have a reservation and we had this amazing Pacific Parlour Car on the train, I decided to go have lunch there instead. We made our stop at Centralia, WA while I was eating lunch, having departed there 3 minutes late at 11:48am. Lunch today was a Roast Beef Sandwich with a Vegetable Primavera Pasta Salad and a Diet Pepsi with Chocolate Haagen-Daas iIce cream for dessert! The food was all delicious!!! This would be the first meal I've ever had in the PPC! We made our next stop at Vancouver, WA and departed there 3 minutes late at 1:11pm. We then crossed over the mighty Columbia river into the state of Oregon with our next stop at Portland Union Station coming up. Just outside Portland station, we had one red signal to contend with then we were on our way. We arrived in Portland at 1:34pm, 16 minutes early!
  Portland is a service stop/crew change point for the train. The locomotives are refueled here as well. We were allowed to get off the train and smoke, so I figured, time for some pictures! I got a very nice photo of this train, and a bonus, well, 2 bonuses! Cascades Train #516 was also at the station along with Train #28, the eastbound Portland section of the Empire Builder!!! I was definitely a kid in a candy store!!! We departed Portland on time at 2:25pm. At about Oregon City, OR, we stopped to let our northbound counterpart, Train #14 pass us! We then had to stop at Hardcastle Avenue in Woodburn, OR to protect a crossing, no big deal there! Our next stop was Salem, OR having lost a little time, we departed there at 3:45pm, running 8 minutes late. Next up was Wine Tasting!!! On the Coast Starlight, there is a $5.00 charge for wine tasting (it was free on the Empire Builder). Wine tasting was done in the Pacific Parlour Car and was for sleeping car passengers only. We sampled 4 wines and 3 Cheeses. They were all wines from the Pacific Northwest, The wines and cheeses we tasted are listed below per info in the brochure left in my room:
Hogue Cellars Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, WA
Snoqualmie Whistle Stop Red, Columbia Valley, WA
Columbia Crest Shiraz Grand Estates, Columbia Valley, WA
Columbia Valley Riesling, Yakima Valley, WA
Taz Pino Gris, Santa Barbara County, CA
Estancia Pino Noir, Pinnacles Ranches Monterey County, CA
Greg Norman Petite Sirah, Paso Robles, CA
Jekel Riesling, Monterey County, CA
Just Jack - Washington State
Tillamook Cheddar - Oregon
Tome - California
  The wines were good and good times were had by all! We made our station stop at Albany, OR during the wine tasting and left there at 4:17pm, 7 minutes late. Albany, a familiar town for me, but the Albany I'm thinking of is back here in New York! Oh well! Our next stop was at Eugene, OR and a smoking break was permitted. I darted up to the head end and got a quick photo before it was time to go. We departed Eugene at 5:17pm, 7 minutes late. We would pass Lookout Point Lake on the Willamette River after leaving Eugene as we were now entering the Cascade Mountains. One thing I noticed right away is that the speed limit dropped to around 30-35mph once we got out of Eugene but this is to be expected since we were going through some very big mountains! I decided to have dinner in the dining car tonight. Amtrak uses the National Dining Car Menu (Same one used on the Southwest Chief, Capitol Limited, and a few other routes) but now serves most everything on china plates and uses real glassware for drinks like what you see on the Empire Builder. There was a time when all Amtrak trains used china plates on all routes though that changed years ago during a cost-cutting move which led to plastic plates and cups being used on all routes except the Auto Train and Empire Builder. Dinner for me tonight was pork tenderloins in a brown apricot sauce with a rice medley and mashed potatoes with a Diet Pepsi and that delicious chocolate peanut butter pie!!! All of the food was very good! I was seated with a mother and daughter from Michigan who were traveling by train just for the fun of it! We had some nice conversations and since they lived in Michigan, they were quite familiar with Cedar Point!
  We made our next station stop at Chemult, OR and left there at 8:15pm, 7 minutes late. As you can see thus far, we haven't lost any more time which is a good thing! It was dark out now so I just relaxed in my sleeper and waited for the next stop at Klamath Falls, OR. Due to some generous schedule padding, we would arrive there at 9:30pm, a 1/2 hour EARLY! A smoking break was permitted for passengers but for me, time for a night photo! I got the camera and tripod set up before the train arrived and took 3 photos, one of the train in general, one of our baggage car (which used to be used on the old Twilight Shoreliner train), and one of the Pacific Parlour Car! We departed Klamath Falls with a new crew, on time at 10:00pm. I decided to head to the Lounge car to set up the computer and take care of transferring pictures and continue updating this travelogue. I ended up having a rather lengthy conversation with the conductor who was a 40 year railroader who started on the Western Pacific. We had talked about a variety of topics including Amtrak, was very good conversation. I then headed to the lounge car to back up the pictures I took today and start writing this travelogue, however it was now apparent that I was beyond deliriously tired and ended up writing two sentences and called it quits! I took a shower and went to bed, and so ends an interesting day!
 Friday, October 22nd, 2010:
  I woke up around Davis, CA and set up the bed for day use then went to the dining car for breakfast. Breakfast this morning was railroad french toast with pork sausage patties and a Diet Pepsi. I was seated with a passenger from the Netherlands who was visiting the U.S. along with a passenger who was a World War II Veteran. We passed buy the Suisun Bay area where the mothball fleet of old Navy ships are parked! Breakfast was good though conversation was rather light, it's fairly early in the morning!!! We made our stop at Martinez, CA while eating breakfast. It was at Martinez that I saw my first palm tree of this trip! I decided to get up so early so as to be ready to take pictures at the next 3 stops since we would conceivably have the time to do so. We arrived in Emeryville at 8:10am, only to find it was raining! I grabbed a very quick picture and ran back to my sleeper only to find the door closed with 5 minutes before we depart! I found out later that my attendant had to get a meal for a disabled passenger though I can't figure out why that couldn't have waited 5 minutes until after we got out of Emeryville (especially considering that I may not have been the only passenger in that car who stepped outside to get some air either!). Oh well, I was let back on the train in the coaches and walked back to the sleeper! We left Emeryville on time at 8:20am. We would pass Amtrak's Oakland maintenance facilities where a couple other trains were parked before arriving at our next stop of Oakland - Jack London Square. We arrived early at 8:29am and this time, I came prepared with an umbrella, which I had yet to use until now! I got a few pictures in the rain here then ran back to my sleeper. We left Oakland on time at 8:50am. We arrived in San Jose at around 9:53am and a smoking break was permitted, so time for more pictures! I'm so glad I don't smoke!
  We departed San Jose at 10:08am, 1 minute late. I made my lunch reservation for 12:30pm and headed back to my sleeper, got out the computer and continued writing this travelogue while riding through what seems to be one of the Salad Bowl capitals of the world! I took several pictures as the train meandered its way south. Our next stop coming up would be Salinas. Once we arrived there, a smoking break was permitted. I stepped off the train to get more photos of the train and the steam engine that is on display at the station. We left Salinas at 11:49am, running 1 minute late. One of the great things about having a GPS on the train is that you can figure out where you were when you took a specific photo. The Garmin GPS that I have has a handy "Where Am I" feature that gives your latitude and longitude coordinates along with your elevation and the nearest address you're located near, very cool! We made our next stop at Paso Robles, having left there at 1:49pm, running 11 minutes late. An announcement was made for wine tasting, something I once again wanted to partake in, however we were also coming up to one of the most scenic portions of the entire ride, the Cuesta Grade near San Luis Obispo!
  I totally missed this on my last trip on this route in 2006 as I was participating in wine tasting but left the camera in my sleeper. I knew there was no way in hell I was gonna miss this again! After having my first sample of wine, I stepped away from the wine tasting to get into position to take a zillion pictures of the grade we were covering! I was in the PPC during all of this and the wine tasting went on without me, no big deal, I've already done the wine tasting twice on this trip! Another passenger gave us interesting bits of information about the area as we made it over the grade and around the famous Southern Pacific horseshoe curve, having passed by the California Men's Colony East Facility Prison in the area and eventually making our next station stop in the college town of San Luis Obispo! We arrived there early at 2:55pm so another smoking break was permitted. I took a walk down to the far end of the platform and got another picture of the train before heading back. I also had a nice chat with a few other passengers as well as our sleeper attendant. Another woman walked up to us and wanted to know if she could buy her ticket on the train (because the line was very long in the station), to which our attendant told her she's better off buying the ticket inside as it will be more expensive on the train. The likely reason for this is because San Luis Obispo is a staffed station so you can buy a ticket there from the ticket agent. If you choose to buy on the train from the conductor, you'll end up paying the highest fare bucket price because you could have bought the ticket from the agent in the station but didn't. I would end up seeing this woman later in the trip and she ended up paying top dollar from the conductor for her ticket or else she wouldn't have made the train! We were out of San Luis Obispo at on time at 3:20pm.
  Just outside of SLO, we would pass our northbound counterpart, Train #14 as it was coming into SLO. When I visited that station in October 2008, I was able to get a photo of both trains at the station area at the same time! These trains, even now still, have close arrival times there. After Train #14 passed us, we had to wait for a red signal until Union Pacific, our host railroad would allow us to go further. The stop was brief and we were on our way. We were now entering the Vandenburg Air Force Base grounds and would go past stops that are part of the Pacific Surfliner route such as Grover Beach and Lompoc Surf station (those stations are not served by the Starlight). There was a large contingent of TV camera crews at Lompoc station as there was a shark attack there on a surfer who ended up dying from his injuries! There is a public beach in the Lompoc area and it may have happened there. We continued along the route though it was very cloudy and foggy and thus not very good weather for photography. It didn't help my cause that the windows are all tinted on the train anyway which makes bad light even worse! I would have a 5:00pm dinner reservation as they had only a limited seating for dinner since the train was set to arrive early into Los Angeles and the diner crew had to have things torn down and put away in the dining car as early as possible. I was seated with 3 other people for dinner. 2 were from Tennessee and had flown to Oakland to visit family and were riding the train to San Diego. Can't remember where the 3rd passenger was from, all conversation was nice! I had the pork tenderloins in the brown apricot sauce with the rice medley and mashed potatoes with a Diet Pepsi and cheesecake for dessert, all were very good! This was the same dinner I had as the night before but it was very good so I figured I'd have it again! We arrived at our next station stop of Santa Barbara at 5:49pm which permitted yet another smoking break. It was getting close to sunset and was already cloudy to begin with so I figured I'll get one last photo of the train but will use the tripod since I wanted to use a low ISO to get the sharpest possible image. I also had a nice chat with the conductor who was part of the crew that got onboard back at San Luis Obispo. We departed Santa Barbara on time at 6:17pm.
  The last remaining stops would be drop-off only so there would be no local passengers and we could leave the stations early if possible. We made our next stop at Oxnard and left there at 7:02pm, 3 minutes early. I just relaxed in my sleeper and slowly started to pack things away. I also had someone take my picture in the PPC so I had some proof I was there! We had a stop signal just outside of the Simi Valley Station as we had to wait for a Metrolink commuter train to pass us. We then made our stop at Simi Valley having left there at 7:47pm, running 9 minutes late. Our next stop was brief at Van Nuys, CA. I walked back to the PPC and congratulated the attendant there on a job well done! Our sleeper attendant made a thank you announcement on behalf of Crew #1 on the Coast Starlight! We started coming into Los Angeles and for the first time in my life, I saw something in the Los Angeles River that I've never seen before...WATER! The Los Angeles area has had some rain recently so it filled up the river some more than I've seen in past trips! At 8:38pm, on Track #12 at Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal, Train #11, arrived, 22 minutes early (per!
  I took my bags and headed into the station. I took a walk around the main waiting area and saw the old ticket counters which are not in service. They are only used when a movie is being shot at the station. That's too bad as they are beautiful hard wood counters! Because of the early arrival, I needed to wait a bit for my connecting train to Fullerton. A family who had been on the Coast Starlight was trying to set up a picture of themselves in the station. One member of the family was positioning his camera on a chair to take a time exposure since it's so dark in the station, so I offered to lend him my cable release from my camera and ended up taking the photo for him for which he was grateful! I continued to wait for my train, sent a few text messages to people and went on the internet on my Blackberry to catch up on the latest news. I then walked over to a waiting area where a few more Coast Starlight passengers were waiting for Southbound Pacific Surfliner Train #796 to arrive. This would be my last Amtrak train for this trip. Before I get to that, I know you wanna see the pictures! Click the link below to see pix from the trip along with a photo tour of Amtrak's beautiful Pacific Parlour Car!!!