Old Town Sacramento, California.
Sacramento to Los Angles/Fullerton, California.
Sacramento, CA. We had a good night’s sleep and checked with
Julie (1-800-USA-RAIL), automated voice of Amtrak, periodically for the
progress of Train 11 and knew the southbound Coast Starlight was
running a couple of hours late, so rather than preparing for a 6:15 am
departure, we got a few extra winks. The Vagabond provides a
continental breakfast starting at 7 am, which we could attend, and
their van to the RR station starts at 8, and we could use that as well,
because of the delay. We got to the station about 8 for an 8:20
arrival according to Julie, but the bottom line is that we departed at
9:40 am…3 hrs and 25 minutes late. However, as my buddies Chris
Guenzler, Steve Grande and Ray Burns at TrainWeb.com say, “Every rail
journey on Amtrak is an Adventure!”
Vagabond Inn, Sacramento (Old Town), 909 Third St., Sacramento,
CA 95814, 800.522.1555 or www.vagabondinn.com.
Advantages: Close to the SAC station, or a $6 taxi ride,
Continental breakfast at 7, Shuttle available at 8 a.m., in-room
hard-wire Internet (cable available free at desk), walking distance
from downtown mall, Old Town and the Calif. RR Museum.
Parlour Car on the Coast Starlight as you first walk in from the
center, you see the lounge area, six tables, and the bar. Through
the far door is the diner.
Clabourne Slough between Sacramento and Davis
Car attemdamt, Nanette during wine tasting.
Private rail cars in Ski Train train at Martinez, CA.
Massive bridges near Emeryville, CA
San Jose, CA.
Don grabs a newspaper in the station before we depart.
We continued to be later and later as we progressed
southward, mainly from heavy Union Pacific freight traffic and work on
the right-of-way. In fact, as we speak, at 2 pm, we are
still 26 miles north of San Jose, traveling at 30 mph, and the schedule
says San Jose 9:55 a.m.! On the brighter side, the ride is very
smooth at 30 mph, the diner still serves meals at the proper clock
time, coffee and pasteries are available in the morning, and wine and
cheese about 3:30 pm, then there is dinner, so what’s wrong with
that. The California sun is still shining through the many large
Parlor car windows, and there are electrical plugs at each of the
eight, comfortable, living-room swivel styled chairs in the Pacific
Parlor car allowing me to write this report.
Since we rented a roomette for this 16-hour, or longer, trip, we could
even return there for some shut-eye if we feel the urge!
Tip for wine California lovers: Before lunch, I inquired with the
Pacific Parlour Car Attendant, Nanette, about what type of wine she had
available by the bottle for purchase. She asked, “Red or White,”
then handed over the 6-wine list of what she would be serving later
during wine tasting time, or the wine she had served for tasting
yesterday. I purchased a bottle and she said I could take the
glassful to the diner since I purchased it from Amtrak. This is
worth remembering for those of you who pack your own wine for enjoyment
in your room. I purchased a bottle of “Symphony Obsession” by
Ironstone Vineyards, Murphys, CA.
If you are a winery or vineyard owner, you might be interested to know
that the wine list for tasting on the Amtrak Coast Starlight states, in
part: “…we keep looking for special wines from all over to pour
at our tastings. If you would like to suggest a wine for this
event, please drop me a line: Matt Cahoon, Manager, On Board
Services, The Coast Starlight, 810 N. Alameda St. 1st Floor, Los
Angeles, CA 90012.”
At 3:15 in the Parlour Car, Nanette announced that all Sleeper Car
passengers were invited to attend complementary wine tasting, with
cheese and crackers.
She served: Chardonnay from Buchli Station, Napa Valler,
CA. Pinot Noir from Parker Station , Santa Barbara, CA.
Symphony Obsession, Ironstone Vineyards, Murphys, CA. Each would
be available for purchase by the bottle after the tasting at $14 or $16
(as opposed to $8 per half bottle of lesser quality wine at meals in
The dining car steward passed through the sleepers offering dinner
reservations, and after a short discussion, and realizing we had
another 10 or so hours on the train, we decided to take the
latest seating, 6:45.
At wine tasting, as usual, friendships were made with fellow
Between the Chardonnay and the Pinot Noir, Carol Abitabilo Ast, MFA,
Ph.D. Artist and Teacher, mentioned that she was making pastel sketches
of their train trip from Syracuse, NY – Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles,
Albuquerque, Chicago and Syracuse. After the Salinas stop, she
invited me to her ‘studio’ in the New Hampshire car where I saw her
excellent sketches. Take a look at her brand new website:
contact me for e-mail and telephone number.
Paso Robles, CA.
San Luis Obispo, CA (Morro Bay)
Santa Barbara, CA
Simi Valley, CA
Van Nuys, CA
Los Angeles, CA
We arrived too late to connect to our Surfliner, so an Amtrak Bus took
passengers to Fullerton and points south. The driver announced
that he would be getting the San Diego passengers to their destination
Don's family had executed a great plan...leaving a car at the Fullerton
Station so that when we arrived about 2 a.m. no one had to come pick us
up. We were home and in bed about 3 a.m., about 4 hours later
The trip was marvelous with great winter scenery including bald eagles
along the Colorado River. Great Rail Journey!
Links for Rails to Rodeos: