A Great Rail Journey EB CS CZ

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Irelandvegas65

Train Attendant
Joined
Feb 23, 2021
Messages
37
Location
Rockford
My first Amtrak rail journey was a wonderful trip. While there were a few downsides, it was a trip of a lifetime for me and my sister, a check mark on the bucket list.

Empire Chicago to Seattle: The grand beauty that is Union Station is a remarkable and perfect place to start any trip on Amtrak. We arrived by coach bus around 930. We headed directly to the Metropolitan Lounge as we were booked in individual bedrooms. Luggage storage is in a room with racking, just put it and let it be, there is a worker at the desk checking that you are bedroom or roomette passenger. security isn't an issue, but I could see where some have concerns. We were so early, getting rid of luggage and finding breakfast was the priority. We headed north, towards Yolk, a well know breakfast place at the Olgilvey transportation center. I hadn't been there since childhood when it was home to The Chicago and Northwestern and was a worn down but cool former grand station. Well , its modern and basically a 1980's mall. Yuck.
After a nice clear cool fall walk we headed back to the Metropolitan Lounge, the second floor was quite and enjoyable. We headed down and gathered our luggage and was allowed to go down the boarding hallway before the official call to line up. We were second in the "follow me" line, behind a cleaver coach passenger who had somehow got in the line. the next check point was a ticket check with a short wait and then off we went, towards the front of the train, to car 730. Our rooms were A and B, pretty sure it was a super liner 1, with carpeted hall walls and squared off bathrooms in our bedrooms. honestly, it was tired, old, not well cleaned and the windows hadn't been cleaned. I wondered had this car been pressed into service due to the derailment less than a week before on the Empire Builder? Our attendant Marty was outgoing , friendly and a delight. we pulled out exactly on time, 2:15. the announcements about wearing your mask were clear and frequent. I actually liked the tone and words used to convey, "dont make me tell you twice" message. Time flew by that first night and dinner was a great, spot on and just the right amount. Pro tip, using only one bed, I learned that you can jam a towel into the upper bunk latch OR just pull it down slightly , so it "floats" and makes less noise. There was a lot more jostling, jolting and bang noises during the night than I had imagined, but thats life on Amtrak, but I have nothing to compare it with. Breakfast, Lunch and the ride across the great northern plains was uneventful and we settled into life on Amtrak. There were a few Non Maskers who I wanted to slap on the back of the head in the SSL car, but I didn't. HIghtlights of the day were hiking up the hill at the Minot stop to take photos, and passing the site of the EB derailment. We did go a bit slower, but nothing was said or announced, everything was cleaned up , it was stark and remarkable to think about. our attendant would have been on that train, but he had a funeral to attend. There was no muzzle placed on employees , the would answer anything you asked them. Montana is ridiculously big, let me tell you. Fall colors were beginning to appear as we rolled into Glacier National park, but the darkness denied our cameras the full view we wished for. The ride into Seattle was nice, but grey, muted by the large number of homeless living near the tracks. I hadn't realized how the train goes into a huge tunnel before arriving at King Station, that was a cool surprise . I will post the other segments of our trip as replies to this post.
 

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zephyr17

Engineer
Joined
Jul 22, 2009
Messages
5,364
Location
Washington State
Grey carpeted halls and squared off bathrooms ironically indicate the newer Superliner IIs.

The older Superliner Is got a refurbishment that replaced the wall carpets with faux wood paneling and better laid out restrooms.

The Superliner IIs are pretty much "as delivered" and look much more worn than the older Superliner Is.

Both Is and IIs are in interchangeable in regular operation in a national pool. It wasn't an old car pressed into service. It was doubtless just part of regular equipment rotation. There effectively are no operable cars not in regular service.
 
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Cal

Foamer
Joined
Jan 23, 2021
Messages
3,182
Location
Socal
That last photo of the engine is amazing, love it and the report so far.
 

Irelandvegas65

Train Attendant
Joined
Feb 23, 2021
Messages
37
Location
Rockford
I wouldn't have guessed that I was in a "newer" car, SL2 based on how it visually appeared. Now I see why SO much interest in new equipment exists.

Seattle and the second segment, Coast Starlight to Emeryville/San Francisco.

A little more on the meals, they were good, and the staff was good too, there is a certain pace to each staff and how they take care of you. French Toast was very good, and overall no complaints. I can now see why there is so much talk about the meals, it could be really repetitive on a long journey with the "flex Meal" situation.

Seattle was cool, damp and grey for the most part. No surprise there, but overall it was nice. First time there, so we hit the ground running. Check in at the Embassy Suites was delayed until standard check in time, so we stored the luggage and got going. When I say the hotel couldn't be closer to the station, I mean just that. its a great choice and made things easy. Its nice, has a good restaurant, the 13 coins ( well recommended here) and its location is as good as you could wish for. 48 hours on the clock, so we did a walk and explored around the stadiums next door a bit and got a feel for Seattle. Uber to the Air museum near the Boeing factory since we had time. Thats a great museum.we had lunch in the small cafeteria, I subscribe to , "eat when you can" while traveling since you might regret it later. They food was good but museum priced. overall, its well done and the docents working were just great! so many displays and so much to take in, highlights being a concord walk thru, a B29 ( huge then, not so big now but still impressive) and of course an SR-71 Blackbird. I thought I knew a good amount about the Blackbird, but quickly saw this one had a DRONE on top of it, one of two every built. Just thinking of a drone, back then, thats crazy amazing. Google You Tube "LA speed story" if you'd like a cool pilots point of view on how bad ass this thing was. Chinatown is just across the tracks past the old Union Station, so that was a nice short walk for dinner. Dough Zone was well reviewed and proved to be very good. Small plates, hip atmosphere and great food. After dinner we looked for an interesting desert, and ended up getting a to go from 13 coins, it was excellent! The mini tent cities and homeless was a surprise to this midwesterner, but no issues. We had talked about going to the Mariners game that night or the next day, but then realized they were fighting for a play off spot and it tickets were gone or unattainable. Just a few days before they were plentiful and affordable, oh well.
The following day, Sunday, we walked down the the pier area, explored and photographed, then went to the Pike Place. big, busy and crowded, but fun and interesting. Lunch was on the upper floor of the "corner market" building just across from the fish throwing market, and I can't find the name on G Maps. It was a bit on the fancy side and was great! our table ended up being next to one of the cooks who works there , taking his mom out since she was in town, great conversation and insight. We then walked to the Space Needle but with fog and clouds, decided not to go up in it. Uber back to the hotel for a break and reset before dinner. Sunday Night was a busy night in the area with a well attended Sounders game, so we found a hole in the wall asian place and took it back to the room. So much to see and do in Seattle, I will return! Monday morning I woke early, packed and did a photo shoot walk of King Street Station, it really is pretty. Packed and off to the train! Coast Starlight to San Francisco next.
 

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Irelandvegas65

Train Attendant
Joined
Feb 23, 2021
Messages
37
Location
Rockford
Coast Starlight to EMY second leg of the trip was short, one day vs the two on the Empire. Knowing a lot more what to expect, it was now "routine" the sleeper was "newer" with rounded bathroom and no carpet on the walls of the halls. I will say our sleeping car attendant was just not good. basically, we forgot his name and referred to him as Droopy Dog. Nearly argumentative when I mentioned that I knew how to pull down the upper bunk to access baskets etc..... Enough of that guy. Boarding was easy, and we sat near the exit to the roped off area that is for bedroom passengers. I can't tell you how nice it was to just walk across the street to King Street Station! The main stop in Portland was also a classic station and a good place to get out walk, stretch and see a bit. The security guards for the station were vigilant, I saw one walking back into the garden bushes out front to check for homeless and vagrants. Clearly this is an issue and I suspect would be out of hand if they were not on top of the situation. kudos to being proactive. Looking back, the time on this leg seemed to go very fast, 24 hours isn't much on Amtrak. The scenery was nice and we again had no delays of any substance. Grey Skies and fog greeted us as we got closer to San Francisco so our bit of coastline wasn't as photogenic as i'd have hoped, but thats common in this region. Meals were good and we learned each diner has some differences based on staff, things like music and the general vibe. Each chef presents things a little differently but the core is the same, very good. Crab Cakes on a plate or in a bowl? Maybe due to supplies available to each train. The bus to San Francisco was nice and well organized. On time and clean, can't ask for more than that. Being dropped off on a sidewalk curbside was kind of a let down, but Uber found us promptly and efficiently. Id hate to arrive or depart in a serious downpour, Amtrak should adress the issue, we got lucky both ways.
 

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