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Coast Starlight Los Angeles to Seatt le 1,403 miles July 5 - 6, 2016

America by Amtrak, Coast-to-Coast and Border-to-Border

Coast Starlight Los Angeles to Seatt
le 1,403 miles

July 5 - 6, 2016

Photography and text by Carl Morrison

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When you purchase sleeping accommodations on an Amtrak long distance train out of Los Angeles, included will be a Surfliner Business Class ticket from any station from San Diego to Los Angeles where the Coast Starlight begins its trip to Seattle.  Matt and I boarded in Fullerton, only a 35 min. train ride to LA, but wife Sue took us the 17-minute ride to the station, we walked a few steps to the platform and were ready to no airport-type security.

Took a selfie and waited for Amtrak Surfliner 763 to arrive at 8:22 a.m.  While waiting, the late Southwest Chief stopped at the Fullerton station to let some passengers off and Dave Arthur, Southwest Chief Conductor stepped off.  He's a long time acquaintnace and he mentioned he's going to retire in a few months.  He's a good guy and I always enjoyed chatting with him about Amtrak matters.


Sue, Matt, and Yours Truly (L. to R.) at Fullerton Station.


Metrolink at Fullerton now provides a Passenger Information Telephone.
Amtrak passengers need only walk into the ticket office to ask a question.

IMG_5104.JPG  IMG_5103.JPG

Fullerton, California, Amtrak Station.

Amtrak Surfliner 763 soon arrived and we boarded the Business Class car.  It was nearly full and we found two separate seats.  I had given Matt one copy of the ticket and I had the other so when the Conductor took the second ticket, she knew about that passenger.  My seat, as the 3rd person at a table, was near the Pre-paid coffee and muffin, so I partook of the amenity. 

I also picked up a USA Today and noticed an interview with retiring PBS Radio Show host, Garrison Keillor.  He was asked, "What's next after this final show in Los Angeles?" He said, "I planned this party, taking off on a train out of this gorgeous Union Station  (in L.A.)  and going up the coast to Seattle, then taking the Empire Builder across the country.  To me, this is just an ideal, dreamlike way to end."  That's exactly what Matt and I are doing today!

We caught a Red Cap cart to the overcrowded Metro Lounge.  According to the Lounge Attendant the overcrowding made a problem with not enough room for all the luggage blocking the aisles and exits and running out of provided drinks and pastries.  He felt that opening the Lounge to Business Class passengers caused the overcrowding.  The Red Cap said it was also a problem for the limited number of carts as they are all called to the First Class Lounge to take passengers out to the Coast Starlight and those waiting in the large waiting room do not have access to a Red Cap for help.  We each got a can of soft drink before they were gone. 



Crowded Metropolitan Lounge, which cleared when "Walkers" were invited to start to the train.

Ice is no longer out for self-serve in sleeping cars, so I asked Marshall, our car attendant for some ice.  He asked if we wanted a bucket of ice, and I replied that two cups would be fine which he brought.  He also got us two bottles of water since there were none in our room when we left LA.  We were in the Parlour Car when he returned, so just gave us the cups of ice there.


Marshall, Coast Starlight Car 30 Attendant, photographed at San Luis Obispo.

Luggage in the Sleepers can best be left on the lower level in the baggage area.  Only take to your room an overnight bag, or get your necessities out of your larger bag in the baggage area.  However, on this trip 2/3 of the bottom level was taken up with car supplies and dirty laundry, and only one suitcase could fit there.



Pacific Parlour Car, only on the Coast Starlight


Lower level theater


Look for Parlour 1 and use this password.


Exterior of the Pacific Parlour Car (in Klamath Falls)

Conductor, Bobbie, along the way made an announcement over the PA that Daisey, Car 31 attendant, should be prepared for 2 passengers boarding ahead and would go to room 7.  Not sure anyone but Daisey needed to know that information. Another Conductor near Klamath Falls, asked Daisy, over the PA, to report to Car 40.  Daisy responded with a long disertation, over the PA, about how she was the only one making up beds on the lower level of her car and she would report there when she was finished.  The Conductor said, "Could you repeat that?" and the whole Parlour Car broke into laughter.

Meals in the diner are included with Sleeping Car Accommodations.  Jamie from the Dining Car came through the train taking lunch reservations.  After lunch she took dinner reservations.  We selected 12:15 for lunch which took place through Santa Barbara. 


Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner Menus


Desserts, Beverages, etc.

Matt and I both had the Chef's Marketplace special for lunch - Bone-in pork shanks with smoky mesquite barbecue sauce and buttery mashed potatoes with side salad.  Joy was our waiter.  He and I recognized each other from my former trips on the Coast Starlight.  He was my car attendant a couple of times.  He was a good car attendant as well as a good waiter - positive, informative, freindly and accommodating.

Our lunch seatmates were from Las Vegas traveling on free mileage from Credit Card Churning.  Signing up for new credit cards, gettng miles, charging the minimum required, and cancelling after 2 years.  The say there are Blogs on the Internet on how to do this. He thinks Marriott credit cards are the best for free rooms at their hotels.

For dinner we selected "The Amtrak Signature Steak" with baked potato and salad.  The salad was much better looking than on previous trips.  The steak and potato were both very good.  They had a no-sugar-added Vanilla pudding that was good as well.  Our seatmates were a couple from Vacaville, returning home after celebrating their 3rd wedding anniversary in Santa Barbara.  They had stayed at the Del Mar hotel and liked it, being only one block from the beach and the original Sambo's.  I did not partake of the wine tasting in the Parlour Car daily about 3:30 for $7.50 for tastes of two reds and one white.  Instead I asked later if I could purchase a bottle in the Parlour Car and take it to dinner in the diner.  The attendant said I could or in the future I could bring my own and take it into the diner.  Half bottles are $16 in the Parlour Car or Diner.


Premium Wine price for 1/2 bottle of Pinot Grigio.

Our roomette was quite small for us two over-six-footers.  With the chance to step off at several stations and stretch, and the availability of the Pacific Parlor Car and Diner, we could change locations.  We have not gone to the Sightseer/Lounge car yet.


Matt's half of the day setup of our Roomette No. 4, plus the fold-down bunk.


My half of the Roomette with the one electrical plug (bring a power bar)


1bathroom across from Room 1 and 3 on the lower level.




I prefer "Pre-paid" to "Complimentary".  Note, coffee service ends at 11 a.m. unlike in the past when coffee was always available.


Scenery along "The Longest Ocean-View Train Ride in America" (West of Vandenberg AFB)




Modern-Day Circle the Wagons


I've been watching this beached boat for years.  There used to be two here.



Jalama Beach Campground



Home of the famous Jalama Beach Burger.


Surf, Amtrak Pacific Surfliner Stop, west of Lompoc, California.  Interesting fresh water pond, sand dunes, sea and sky.


Space shuttle sized landing strip at Vandenberg.


Sand Dunes near Grover Beach


Amtrak Surfliner No.790 heading south near Guadalupe, California


Matt spotted an accident on the adjacent highway ahead.


They rolled it!  Straight road, good weather, good visibility, who knows why.


Love the afternoon horizontal light in the "Nation's Salad Bowl.


Levi's Stadium in San Jose


Salt Processing

Stepping off in Oakland during a crew change, I found it was 56 degrees cool.  Had a good night's rest and realized why, on previous trips, I always seem to wake up when we are stationary in stations.  I think it is because of the bump at the very last of the engineer's slowing down and stopping in a station wakes me up and I look out and see that we are not moving.  Starting up seems always to be so gentle that you do not realize at first that you are moving.  During the night, I saw a beautifully lighted high bridge over us and the adjacent water, and the C&H Sugar lighted sign.





I was up at 6:40 a.m. about 8 hours after Marshall had made up our bunks.  I rolled up my matress and put up the seats so I and Matt would have room to get dressed.  Breakfast, by the time I got there, was a waiting list situation.  Jamie, the Lead, said they would try to get to everyone on the waiting list.  As I waited from 7:30 to 8:30 for our call, I wondered why the waiting list was not cut off rather than taking names and not getting to them.  They did get all folks fed and no one missed breakfast.  I had the Special of eggs, bacon, and French Toast with orange juice and coffee.  We were seated with a nice couple from San Francisco and  it turned out we were seated with them at lunch.  At both meals, we enjoyed each's conversation that Jamie asked if we could give up out seats for the next customers, which is fair.

Because the Parlour Car was completely full, after putting in our name for breakfast, I went on through the diner to what I thought would be the Sightseer Car.  However, there was a coach car between the Pacific Parlour Car and the Sightseer and I wondered why.  Later I realized that it was the new Business Class on the Coast Starlight. 


The poster in the San Luis Obispo Station explained the new Business Class service.


Mt. Shasta was in clear view from our morning train

There was a lengthy stop "for a freight" for 26 minutes south of Klamath Falls while I waited to be called for breakfast.  Moving through the stopped cars was without jolts during this time.  The freight that passed us southbound and a mixture of petroleum, box, and lumber cars.  Quite different from what I see in Fullerton which is mostly ocean-going containers.  In the lounge, I wondered why the Conductor lets people sleep thus taking up 3 seats.  We were called for breakfast at 8:30, an hour after putting in our name.  Guess I need to go to breakfast earlier.

Because breakfast was late, we had Jamie put down 1:30 for lunch as she came through the train.  At lunch I had the Angus burger, chips, salad, and "no sugar added" pudding.

At Klamath Falls, we were told of a long delay until 10:17 a.m. when we would continue north.  The delay being for UP to install 33,000 railroad ties on the main line which would take many days.  They have to move the equipment off the main line each day for us to pass.  Even though we stayed the appropriate time at Klamath Falls, north of Chemult we had another delay from noon to 1:26.



Our prolonged stop in Klamath Falls allowed for some ground-level photos around the station.






Maybe something photographers and  birders should return for.


I'd substitute "photograph and write" for "write."


North of Klamath Falls you can see many dormant valcanos.





Several delays along the way for UP to get their equipment off the main line from being in the process of laying 33,000 cross ties.


I always take a photo of this covered bridge


North of Portland


Vancouver, Washington


Unique sunset that I first thought might be a fire.


Next Page - Seattle


We used Uber in all 5 cities. Here's a free Uber ride (worth up to $20) on the Uber app
 To accept, use code 'carlm3106ue' to sign up. Enjoy!
Details: (The code will already be entered)

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