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Coast Starlight - LAX - SEA day two

Coast Starlight from Los Angeles to Seattle, WA and back.

A long distance overnight train trip staying several nights in a nice hotel in a leading city's downtown.

Late, Later, More Later and a red eye to end it.

Thursday November 14, 2019

Breakfast where?

Text and Photos by Robin Bowers

The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent

Comments are appreciated

    The night passed into sunrise and a new day began in an unknown location until a look out the window showed that we haven't traveled a great distance. We were only at our next stop after Salinas, San Jose, but almost 12 hours late. Schedule time was 8:11 pm and we arrived at 8:20 am next morning. Schedule travel time between Salinas and San Jose is two hours. That would make for a ten hour delay due to the wreck.

    Breakfast start time is 6:30 am on day 2 on the Starlight. As is was close to 8:30 am, Russell and I decided to go to breakfast. There is no reservation needed, just drop in any time till nine. After we were seated, we had the same server from dinner last night, as Renee welcomed us to breakfast.  As she was taking our orders, she was telling us about her sleepless last night. Her room in the dorm car is behind the baggage car and the two locomotive. All night long she heard the hammering, pounding and other sounds and noise of the workers removing the pumper truck from the point locomotive.  As I was told it looked like a soda can was smashed on the sidewalk. Not nice. We couldn't go around as it was single track so we waited till all parts and debris were collected and removed from the locomotive. I think that on this site there were personnel from Amtrak mechanics, Union Pacific, first responders, hazmat clean up crew and the corner. It was lucky that there was a highway adjacent and parallel to the tracks. During breakfast it was announced that after our stop at the Oakland station we would proceed to the Amtrak yard and replace the damaged locomotive with another.

    When the Starlight arrived in Oakland, CA, we were still having breakfast in the dinning car while listening to fellow passengers talk, gripe, bitch and fret about being so late in their journeys. Spending all night at the Oakland station does make one unhappy and certainly doesn't make for good customer relations. After doing its station work the train proceeded to the Amtrak yard about a mile away where we stopped and the locomotive was changed out. The change happen fairly quickly and we were on our way after about twenty minutes.

Day for Night

On a normal scheduled Starlight train we would be traversing this landscape in the deep darkness of night but now we we getting to experiences an unique and rare passage. Among our first sights was the waterfront of Pablo Bay.



    We rolled into Sacramento at 1:00 pm, nearly 13 hours late. Thank-goodness I didn't have to wait in the Sacramento station since before midnight to catch this train. This was a fresh air stop as they also refueled and added water so I decided to take a picture of our new engine while here.


  Refueling in Sacramento.


Water for the sleepers.


Our new lead locomotive to replace #160.

    While in the station Russell called our hotel to see about cancelling our room for tonight. There were several thoughts abuzz on the train now. A-the train was 12 hours late for now till end of run. Period. Two options: Take the train all the way to SEA but arrive 12 hours late but would be unable to leave on time the next morning for its return trip. Second- terminate somewhere along the way and finish the journey with a bus bridge. Russell was perfect to make the call to the Warwick with his many years in the hotel business. He explained our situation and our objectives to which the operator said he would change our reservation from four nights to three nights. He said this is ordinary not done but was an unusually circumstance about our lateness. Although he did say the story did have a certain smell about it.  

    After that we settled in for the ride. For no matter what time we arrived in Seattle, it was OK. I was pleased to see Chico in the daylight, a nice looking town much better than in the dark. Also enjoyed seeing Redding. Then it was just to wait for dinner and enjoy the view.















Near Dunsmuir, CA


    Dinner on the train can be, and usually is, a pleasant affair. Our table mates start out as strangers and after good conversation during the meal you have had a enjoyable time. Eating on Amtrak is not enjoyable these days especially for frequent travelers. The menu has been the same for at least a couple of years and same eastbound, westbound, north or south so it gets boring very quickly. Last year on the Southwest Chief I had the same items then as today. But what can you expect from a railroad being run by a bunch of ex-fly boys? Remember when airlines served food on their flights. A meal served warm, heated up in ovens on the planes. Well, that is what Amtrak meals are like now on their trains today. No cooks in the train's galley now days, just help to reheat our pre-made dinner. And are there meals on airlines today? Well that is the future look coming to Amtrak. No meals on trains, the next thing the mental giant fly boys have planned for their customers. Earlier in the evening, the dining room staff fed the coach passengers beef stew and rolls in the lower level of the lounge car to help the passengers with the lateness in their journeys which was a nice gesture and appreciated. A full belly makes for a more contented traveler so everyone on the train was fed.

Make up the room for night use.

    After dinner as we were relaxing in our room, Roger informed us that as of now the plans were to annul the train in Portland and bus us to Seattle. With arrival time for Portland at 4am, about six hours from now it was decided to get some shut eye. Russell and I plus an old lady were the only inhabitants on this the lower level of sleeping car 1430. Russell relocated to the roomette across the aisle and made up that bed and I made the bed in our room for the night till Portland. The older lady was ensconced on the big bed in the family room. With each of us in our separate rooms we began our second night on the railroad and tomorrow would start too soon.

Thanks for reading.

Tomorrow: Bright early day in Seattle.

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Text and Photos by Author

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