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Bucket List trip May 2020: trains 421, 4 and 50

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Dakota 400

Conductor
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
2,060
The only place it is acceptable for a passenger to be drunk is in their own sleeping accommodations. If they bother other passengers or are drunk and obnoxious in public parts of the train, they will be removed. I've seen it happen.
I have seen that as well. It was also on the Southwest Chief and it happened not too long after we had left Los Angeles. The individual was "an issue" in the Dining Car and was escorted to the adjoining SSL. At our next station stop, the Conductor and Trainman tried to get him out of the car. He became combative and a rather burly fellow guest assisted them in getting him out of the car and off the train. Police was waiting for him on the platform. (I have wondered why the police did not board the train to help the crew remove this man.)
 

Albi

Train Attendant
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
26
Nice tea set! I did not see how you heat the water -- was that little glass pot an electric one? I bought a small kettle online before our trip last December. It only uses 600 watts, so a little slower to heat the water, but not too bad. It will not blow any fuses, so will not make my fellow passengers mad. No fancy china for me, though, just a stainless travel mug to keep my beverage warm. Made myself a mini-tote from recycled clothing to carry my beverage service (pot, teabags, jar of coffee, spoons and napkins).

View attachment 17546
I remember seeing your picture, it actually reminded me to not forget my water boiler at home!

I brought an extension cord with me so I have 3 outlets, and I brought my water boiler (electric kettle) with me. Since you can't get real tea anywhere I have to bring everything with me.

The cell connection is so bad, I have hardly time to write here and post it, as the connection windows are so short. Yesterday I got connection at the various train stations, but in between stations there was mostly nothing.

Have been offline since Colorado.

Woke up this morning in Kansas City and thought I would connect but no, still not! So weird!

Now in Missouri for some unknown reason I see 2 bars.

Have been posting to Albgardis Tausendschoen (@albgardis) • Instagram photos and videos as those posts are saved for later posting if offline. Not sure this works here so didn't take a chance.

Young Stefanie (SC attendant) is some Honey, too. Never bothered to put my bed up, even long after breakfast. Remember she brings me the food, there is no sitting down in the diner. Only staff sits there.

So after she hands me the bag with my various breakfast items she walks off. I don't want to sit on my bed so I move across the hall to the other roomette.

Those people had boarded somewhere after LA and had left in Flagstaff. Yes, Flagstaff, thus early Saturday morning. Their beds had been unmade until Kansas City, I kid you not! All day and all night it was as they left it.

So now she had made that other bed up, and I sat down across the hall from my own roomette and ate there. That was 2 hours ago.

She never came back, and I wondered if she would ever put the bed up again. I need to pack up before detraining in Chicago.

So now at 9.30am she comes back and sees me sitting in the other roomette and scolds me! "This has been sanitized already!"

Well, I had to sit somewhere, and you never came to put my bed up. Yes, I said that. Then she points out I should have called with the call button.

I said I thought that I was doing her a favor by not calling her, considering her busy.

For 1400 bucks this is not First Class service, I tell you that!
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
20,264
Location
Austin Texas
I remember seeing your picture, it actually reminded me to not forget my water boiler at home!

I brought an extension cord with me so I have 3 outlets, and I brought my water boiler (electric kettle) with me. Since you can't get real tea anywhere I have to bring everything with me.

The cell connection is so bad, I have hardly time to write here and post it, as the connection windows are so short. Yesterday I got connection at the various train stations, but in between stations there was mostly nothing.

Have been offline since Colorado.

Woke up this morning in Kansas City and thought I would connect but no, still not! So weird!

Now in Missouri for some unknown reason I see 2 bars.

Have been posting to Albgardis Tausendschoen (@albgardis) • Instagram photos and videos as those posts are saved for later posting if offline. Not sure this works here so didn't take a chance.

Young Stefanie (SC attendant) is some Honey, too. Never bothered to put my bed up, even long after breakfast. Remember she brings me the food, there is no sitting down in the diner. Only staff sits there.

So after she hands me the bag with my various breakfast items she walks off. I don't want to sit on my bed so I move across the hall to the other roomette.

Those people had boarded somewhere after LA and had left in Flagstaff. Yes, Flagstaff, thus early Saturday morning. Their beds had been unmade until Kansas City, I kid you not! All day and all night it was as they left it.

So now she had made that other bed up, and I sat down across the hall from my own roomette and ate there. That was 2 hours ago.

She never came back, and I wondered if she would ever put the bed up again. I need to pack up before detraining in Chicago.

So now at 9.30am she comes back and sees me sitting in the other roomette and scolds me! "This has been sanitized already!"

Well, I had to sit somewhere, and you never came to put my bed up. Yes, I said that. Then she points out I should have called with the call button.

I said I thought that I was doing her a favor by not calling her, considering her busy.

For 1400 bucks this is not First Class service, I tell you that!
You definitely need to call "Customer Relations" to report the Problems and Lousy Service on your Trip. You are due a nice Goodwill Voucher and the Easy Rider OBS are in need of Re-Training or De-Training!
 

oregon pioneer

Conductor
Joined
Feb 15, 2011
Messages
2,262
Location
near Seneca, Oregon
Most attendants make the announcement, during their run-through when we get on, to use the call button to let them know we need the bed put up or down. I "got over" being shy about doing that.
 

Sauve850

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 9, 2014
Messages
543
Location
West Palm Beach, Florida
Ive been traveling in bedrooms for a long time. When i board and my attendant stops by I let him/her know what time i want my bed put down for the night or two nights. I usually ask them to write it down if possible. I ask them if they want me to just hit the call button in the morning and the answer has almost always been yes. Ive had mostly good attendants and a few not so good. I too am not shy about pressing the call button. Its there for a reason.
 
Joined
May 19, 2019
Messages
5
The only place it is acceptable for a passenger to be drunk is in their own sleeping accommodations. If they bother other passengers or are drunk and obnoxious in public parts of the train, they will be removed. I've seen it happen.

Nice tea set! I did not see how you heat the water -- was that little glass pot an electric one? I bought a small kettle online before our trip last December. It only uses 600 watts, so a little slower to heat the water, but not too bad. It will not blow any fuses, so will not make my fellow passengers mad. No fancy china for me, though, just a stainless travel mug to keep my beverage warm. Made myself a mini-tote from recycled clothing to carry my beverage service (pot, teabags, jar of coffee, spoons and napkins).

View attachment 17546
Really enjoying your narrative as you experience it! We were lucky enough to take our two kids from Pendleton to Denver to Los Angeles, to Portland to Pendleon in coach way back in late 70's. Great trip. By the way, the closest Amtrak Station to Baker City is Pasco, not Chemult :) Or maybe you live far enough west of Baker City, that Chemult is the closest! Either way, you live in some great country.
 

Dakota 400

Conductor
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
2,060
Ive been traveling in bedrooms for a long time. When i board and my attendant stops by I let him/her know what time i want my bed put down for the night or two nights. I usually ask them to write it down if possible. I ask them if they want me to just hit the call button in the morning and the answer has almost always been yes. Ive had mostly good attendants and a few not so good. I too am not shy about pressing the call button. Its there for a reason.
That's my usual practice as well, other than never thinking to ask the SCA to write it down until your post and remembering that my excellent SCA on my January Auto Train did that when she made her initial rounds.

I have had too many experiences when I push the call button, wait, and wait, and wait. No one appears. Then, I go to the diner or lounge car and discover my SCA was not in his/her car, but in one of those two places.
 

Sauve850

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 9, 2014
Messages
543
Location
West Palm Beach, Florida
That's my usual practice as well, other than never thinking to ask the SCA to write it down until your post and remembering that my excellent SCA on my January Auto Train did that when she made her initial rounds.

I have had too many experiences when I push the call button, wait, and wait, and wait. No one appears. Then, I go to the diner or lounge car and discover my SCA was not in his/her car, but in one of those two places.
Yes those are the usual spots to find the SCA's when no response. I check my car first to make sure they arent busy with some folks then go looking :)
 

Albi

Train Attendant
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
26
Sorry for the long delay! I lost all connections after Trinidad in Colorado on Saturday.

But I kept taking pictures and have posted them on Albgardis Tausendschoen (@albgardis) • Instagram photos and videos during my hotel stay in Chicago, where I had free wifi.

I had a lot to catch up and had intended to keep on writing here, but posting the photos took some hours, and then I never made it back here.

But now!

Currently sitting in the Metropolitan Lounge in Chicago, waiting for the Cardinal to take me to Philadelphia tonight.

I will try to catch up with my previous posts and pick up where I left off on Saturday. [Edit: I totally forgot that I had already told you about Stephanie and the beds, so you read that already. I had forgotten that I posted from Missouri, it's been a few days already]

In the meantime, feel free to look at my pictures (via link above).

A word about the lounges: I thought the bare services of the LA Metropolitan Lounge was already bad, with no showers, no snacks, just coffe, water or soda available.

But the ML in Chicago is even worse! Here is nothing! I will try to upload pictures here of the empty display. I am so tired of this whole scam, so many corporations are cutting costs by not providing services, and then they have the nerve to tell us it is for our own good!

Same with my hotel in Chicago (La Quinta Downtown by Wyndham), there was no breakfast, no maid, no business center, no restaurant, no food whatsoever, not even water. Not even garbage collection. And it was all for my safety and my health that I didn't get what I paid for...

Same here with Amtrak. I wonder if I should write to my congress man about it.

This Lounge is a bare waiting hall, nothing else! OK, they have a restroom and wifi, but wouldn't I get that out in the general waiting hall with a coach ticket as well? Not even bottled water!

P.S. My picture file doesn't load up. I did it the other day from the same device (teaset) but now it doesn't work?
 
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Albi

Train Attendant
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
26
I wanted to write something about the food while on the chief, but then I never had a long enough time window to post it.

Somebody had suggested that the "flexible dining" food was not microwaved but instead being heated in specific ovens (forgot the term).

No, the TV dinners are microwaved, nothing else! Staff from both TE (SL) and SWC have said it was "microwaved", nobody ever mentioned any kind of ovens.

I am a good cook and I take pride in it, so I will not serve anything TV dinner style in my home. So I am not exactly familiar with products like that, but these served meals are like what I imagine under "TV dinners".

And it isn't much food! Portions are very small, you need to eat the lifeless iceberg salad and the prepackaged brownie to fill up!

Last August I was on the CS 11 and therefore I know what dinner was like. Real cheesecake, real chocolate cake, real food! Veggie burgers and chips, steak, seafood...

Compared to what they are serving now, that was another class. What they are serving now is atrocious. People who are not used to processed food products will get digestive issues.

I did catch some heat here on this board from some of you a while ago when I expressed my frustration about the changes in the food department. As said in a post above, too many corporations are taking this chance to cut costs by withholding amenities that they are collecting real money for.

I have paid the original prices, there was no covid discount! I know many of you think differently, but I am standing by my opinion that you shouldn't be allowed to collect money for services you know you won't provide.
 

Albi

Train Attendant
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
26
While I am still sitting in the Lounge I would like to add some general thoughts I had during my trip on the TE/SL and the SWC.

The advice given here is very accurate and spot on! Where to go, which direction, everything was so right!

I am so glad I found this forum last year! Somebody wrote that the best part of the TE is west of San Antonio, and I am glad I followed the advice to go south from Austin, not north.

The SWC was amazing, I mean from the views, from the locations we passed through. Not the service, obviously, and certainly not the food, but the ride was really great.

During the 2nd night on the chief I remembered someone writing how bumpy it is in Kansas. Haha, so true! It rumpled and pumpled for hours, but I had no problems sleeping. Maybe the rocking and swinging even helped?

Amazing how different everything looks after Kansas City. The landscape, the colours, the sky, the houses, everything looks different. Since I live in PA I didn't find it breathtaking anymore, it looked rainy and gloomy for a while, and the houses could have been in Ohio or Pennsylvania as well.

So today I will board the eastbound Cardinal, I am very curious about what I will see. I was in West Virginia last year for work, and my own home sits in a secluded field between two mountain ridges. So I wonder how familiar the views will be. But I will enjoy the ride, whatever the views will be.

I think I mentioned it before in one of my previous posts on this thread, the roomettes were laid out differently on the Chief than on the 421 TE/SL.

The shower had a glass door and a corner seat, loved it! While on the TE they had the pesky curtain in the shower cabin.

Also the upstairs toilet in the roomette hall way was laid out differently.

The roomette itself was different in that the closet was placed elsewhere, also the light fixtures (buttons) were different.

Now I wonder, which is the newer version? Both are Superliners, obviously, but they are not the same.

Now I am aware that my upcoming ride in the Cardinal will get me a third version of the roomette. I think those cars are called viewliners, there is no upstairs.

Will update here as I can! Thank you for reading and commenting, I really appreciate your feedback!
 

oregon pioneer

Conductor
Joined
Feb 15, 2011
Messages
2,262
Location
near Seneca, Oregon
In Superliners, there may be a plate on the wall (at eye level), down in the foyer at entry level. This plate, if present, will give you some info about the type of car you are in. As I remember, there were two generations but I can't remember the name of the manufacturers (it's been a while).

I took the Cardinal a few years back, and I was diligent about waking up as early in the morning as I could. I did not want to miss a moment of the New River Gorge. You picked the best direction for that! After we left the gorge there was a section of track that was the loudest I have ever been on. The car just rocked from side to side at a rapid rate! The conductor said it was because it was old jointed track. I'd be curious if that's still the case.
 

Albi

Train Attendant
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
26
After we left the gorge there was a section of track that was the loudest I have ever been on. The car just rocked from side to side at a rapid rate! The conductor said it was because it was old jointed track. I'd be curious if that's still the case.
I'll tell you tomorrow!
Thank you for the tip to get up early, will do that now that I know about it!
 

Siegmund

Service Attendant
Joined
Nov 19, 2018
Messages
174
Location
northwestern Montana
Now I wonder, which is the newer version? Both are Superliners, obviously, but they are not the same.
If you happen to have a photo of the outside of the consist, you may see the car number of your sleeper (the 5-digit permanent number, not the '0430' or whatever assigned to it for boarding.) The Superliner Is are 32000-32069, the IIs are 32070-32108.

I would not bet the farm on all of the Superliner Is receiving exactly the same remodeling over the years, either.
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
20,264
Location
Austin Texas
If you happen to have a photo of the outside of the consist, you may see the car number of your sleeper (the 5-digit permanent number, not the '0430' or whatever assigned to it for boarding.) The Superliner Is are 32000-32069, the IIs are 32070-32108.

I would not bet the farm on all of the Superliner Is receiving exactly the same remodeling over the years, either.
Yep, there are several versions of the Superliner Is and IIs.

The remodeled Is have the nice paneling, new lighting and the revised Showers and Bathrooms with nicer facilities in them.

The Is without a complete rehab still have the old style Shower and Bathrooms, and "have been rode hard and put up wet" as the saying goes!

The IIs( the Roomettes have No little Closet/ open space to hang Clothing) are getting really Ratty and Worn, and are mostly in need of a complete rehab.

I much prefer a Rehabed I. Its Luck of the Draw as to what you'll get on your consist.( except for the Auto Train which has captive equipment )
 

Michigan Mom

OBS Chief
Joined
Jan 28, 2012
Messages
656
Location
MI
Thanks for the real-time reporting from the field! As I think over what travel might be like this summer, if it will be possible that is.... this really makes me stop and evaluate my expectations, what it was like before, what is going to be the new normal. Until things change, it sounds so much like travel is going to be different in all phases of the journey.
It's depressing to think about but I also don't want to give up on the idea of travel and doing things.

The focus of life has shifted to "don't get infected with any virus because it might be COVID-19." I really don't want it, not sure I would do all that well if I got it. Also don't want to take part in community transmission. Previously, the possibility of catching a virus never stopped me from doing anything. Sick, so what, can't call off work, I'll be better in a few days. Now Covid rules daily existence.
Ultimately, I'm going to get on a train, or plane, and go places. I will definitely scale back my expectations though, concentrating on a safer journey, minimizing exposures, maximizing precautions. I will be so happy just to gaze out of a train window again.
 

Albi

Train Attendant
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
26
I took the Cardinal a few years back, and I was diligent about waking up as early in the morning as I could. I did not want to miss a moment of the New River Gorge. You picked the best direction for that! After we left the gorge there was a section of track that was the loudest I have ever been on. The car just rocked from side to side at a rapid rate! The conductor said it was because it was old jointed track. I'd be curious if that's still the case.
Actually, I didn't notice that there was a louder track noise on the Cardinal! Maybe I was distracted, or maybe they fixed / changed it, but I really didn't notice it. I was too busy taking photos and videos all morning...

About the photos, I tried to upload several files here and they stopped loading at around 80% each time. Does that mean the files are too big, maybe?

You can find my posts (pictures and videos) under Login • Instagram until I figure out how to post files here. I have posted a few pics into this thread previously so I don't really understand why all of a sudden I can't do that anymore.

Something else I realized while riding through the beautiful river landscape in West Virginia that Wednesday morning (May 27th). It may sound stupid or weird, but I realized how privileged I actually am. The mountain ridges along the Kanawha River and the New River gorge look a lot like those where I live.

So the ride on the Cardinal wasn't spectacular to my eyes, because I see views like that when I go out of my house in rural Pennsylvania. When I was reading about this route I learnt how beautiful this eastbound route is, and when I rode that train I was humbled to realize that I actually live in a place like that.

The views west of San Antonio or in Arizona and New Mexico were breathtaking to me because they are so very different from what I know. I am sure people who live there are not thrilled when they look outside their windows, because it is what they live with every day. They might hold their breath when they see a sunset from my porch instead.

So this trip made me see my own position in life in a new light again. I was so frustrated that I was out of work (well, still am, and still frustrated over that), but I realized that I am nevertheless blessed, I just had forgotten to value that.
 

Albi

Train Attendant
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
26
So on the Cardinal I had a viewliner roomette, and that is yet again different from the Superliner roomettes. Of course you all know this already, most of you have taken so many trips on these trains, so I am not telling you anything new.

Personally, I prefer the Superliner version! Yes, the one where I have to step out to walk a few meters down the hall to get to the toilet! You might wonder, isn't it more convenient to have your very own toilet right in your roomette?

Uhm, no! Especially when the bed is made for laying down, there is hardly any space left to move! And even during the day, with the bed is made up into 2 opposite facing chairs that leave a little bit more space in the middle between them, even then it is a hassle.

Think of it, due to the small place I have stuff laying / standing on all surfaces. Water boiler, teapot, tea cup, caraffe, electric extension cable... so the toilet lid is serving as a surface for stuff, and each time I need to go, well, these things have to be moved away first. Oh, and don't forget, you also want to close the door first and then the curtains!

All this takes much longer than just walking out to the separate toilet 2 doors down the hallway... I am a female over 50, so you can imagine how often I have to pee day and night. Moving stuff around and locking door and curtains each time was inconvenient and time consuming.

But my porter was great on that train! He really took great care of me, anticipating my needs, checking on me, I was really in good hands with him! Of course the food was still the same and it is just microwaved TV dinners in very small portions, but that's not his fault. He was warm and kind and really helpful with my luggage, I thought this is how it's supposed to be.

We came to Philly on time and my husband picked me up from the station. We live 3 hours northwest of Philadelphia so I basically dropped to sleep upon arriving home after midnight.

The next days I was so exhausted that I actually wondered if I was getting sick. The slightest activity, like making a single sandwich, had me so exhausted that I had to lay down afterwards and get some rest. This is not normal for me so I started wondering if I might have caught a bug, or even THE bug of the season...

But in reality I am no longer 17 when you can do weeklong trips without physical consequences. I didn't get sick, I was only very tired. That lasted for anout 4-5 days, then things got back to normal again.
 

Albi

Train Attendant
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
26
After the mentioned 4 or 5 days after arriving home I have called Amtrak's customer relations (not customer service, thanks again for pointing this out for me). Told them all about my experiences on the 3 trains.

Now I could tell you the outcome, but first I'd like you to take a guess about it. Because I am just curious about what you think. I had read through other threads in the past few days and some posts there were assumptions about the outcome of complaints made to Amtrak. That made me think I should let you guess first.
 

Gary Behling

Train Attendant
Joined
Mar 28, 2019
Messages
47
Thank you, Michigan Mom and all the others for your comments! I am embarrassed that I haven't updated this thread in a more timely manner. There is SO MUCH that I have yet to tell you!

But first, Michigan Mom, I honestly think now that the whole Covid stuff was a hoax. Yes, there was a virus going around, and just like with other viruses it killed people who had underlying conditions, but I really think now that there is no reason to be scared like they want you to be scared. I believe the whole lockdown thing was political.

Considering how it is actually encouraged now to go out and "protest" en masse out in city streets, because that is now totally fine and safe. Only when it comes to church gatherings, funerals or weddings, or haircuts, the virus is dangerous. Oh no, my bad, funerals are also no longer dangerous, as there were several the other day with thousands of people...

This whole thing is a charade, so don't be afraid any longer!

The sad part is, though, that while the virus is no longer among us, the lockdown and restrictions still are. So riding a train will still require a mask although we know now that this is actually harmful.

Luckily I was in my roomette most of the time, so there you don't have to wear a mask. I had it around my neck as a token to signal that I was following the rules, but have only put it up when staff came by.

In my last leg, in the Cardinal, I had it off most of the time, and nobody said anything. My porter (who was great, btw, did a wonderful job) also was quite leisurely with it.



I can't believe it is already 3 weeks ago that I took my big trip!

Those who read through my whole thread might remember that I spent 2 nights in Chicago after arriving on Sunday with the SWC. Did I mention that the lounge in Chicago was an utter disgrace? I have to read up my own posts again to check what I have already posted and what is still waiting to be told...
Do you think that all those doctors and nurses who work in hospitals think Covid19 is a hoax?
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
Joined
May 31, 2009
Messages
20,264
Location
Austin Texas
Sorry I cant agree with you that the Pandemic is a Hoax when over 2,000,000( an Undercount) of our Fellow Citizens have become infected and 115,000+ have died in 4 Months.( I know 3 personally that are Sick from it and 2 poor Souls that have died from it)

And now the Numbers are escalating, as the chickens come home to roost, due to those who didnt/dont follow the CDC Guidelines!

Hopefully you'll stay safe and be lucky if you choose to not follow the minimum Safety percaurtons.

We are our Brothers and Sisters Keeper!
 

Dakota 400

Conductor
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
2,060
he next days I was so exhausted that I actually wondered if I was getting sick. The slightest activity, like making a single sandwich, had me so exhausted that I had to lay down afterwards and get some rest. This is not normal for me so I started wondering if I might have caught a bug, or even THE bug of the season...

But in reality I am no longer 17 when you can do weeklong trips without physical consequences. I didn't get sick, I was only very tired. That lasted for anout 4-5 days, then things got back to normal again.
Don't be so sure. Covid does not affect all people the same. I'd suggest that you get a test for the virus and/or the antibodies test.
 

oregon pioneer

Conductor
Joined
Feb 15, 2011
Messages
2,262
Location
near Seneca, Oregon
Dear Albi,
You are still welcome in this forum, as are all no matter what their political party. You may live in an alternate political universe from me, but I do not need to respond to those segments of your posts. After all neither your opinions, nor mine, will change the facts. You may feel as you please, and it does not affect what I see in the news, and how I act on it. Can we agree that reality may come back to bite any of us, if we act without regard to consequences? COVID cases are still going up here in Oregon (especially eastern Oregon, which largely escaped the early wave), and people are still dying.

I have seen that people have all kinds of symptoms from COVID, including (but not limited to) a simple case of severe fatigue.
"...it never progressed to more than fatigue and some minor body aches “like if you worked too much in the yard for a day,” along with a loss of their senses of taste and smell."

I am grateful for the Amtrak information.
 
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