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Checked Baggage (Cleveland to Portland and return: Capitol Ltd, Empire Builder, Coast Starlight, CZ, CL)?

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tgstubbs1

Service Attendant
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Mar 3, 2020
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Lots of people on the forum will be curious to find out how the food compares with Applebee's. Usually there's a thread going on with comments (complaints).
 

cnpeters

Train Attendant
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Oct 15, 2020
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Akron, Ohio
Well, I passed on it as I know exactly what these taste like, but breakfast options were a Jimmy Dean sausage muffin and a Jimmy Dean breakfast bowl. The boxes were there to pick from, so it wasn’t “like” a jimmy dean microwave breakfast, they were exactly that.

I don’t hate those things, but I certainly don’t want too many of them. I’ll have many chances to eat them again in the next eight days, so I was content to grab a coffee and orange juice.
 

tgstubbs1

Service Attendant
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Mar 3, 2020
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Well, I passed on it as I know exactly what these taste like, but breakfast options were a Jimmy Dean sausage muffin and a Jimmy Dean breakfast bowl. The boxes were there to pick from, so it wasn’t “like” a jimmy dean microwave breakfast, they were exactly that.

I don’t hate those things, but I certainly don’t want too many of them. I’ll have many chances to eat them again in the next eight days, so I was content to grab a coffee and orange juice.
When I traveled Amtrak I was always on the lookout for decent food/snacks. I would hop off at every stop. Sometimes I could get a newspaper.

I recall there was a natural foods grocery not far from the Davis Amtrak, for example. Many stops are too brief so you have to check the schedule and maybe the Conductor, too.
 

bratkinson

OBS Chief
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QB 101
Back in the late '70s and early '80s when I regularly flew a couple of times per month I learned the hard way...if I can't carry it onboard, it goes UPS or Fedex the day before!

I ultimately found an extra large garment bag with wheels, no less, that I could put a weeks worth of business clothing in...2 suits, 5 shirts, 3-4 ties, underwear, bathroom ditty bag, and when needed, overflow from what was in my briefcase. That was all I traveled with.

In the last 15 years or so of riding Amtrak thousands of miles per year, I've narrowed it down to a rolling airline-size carry on bag designed for carrying a laptop and a large 'gym bag' with everything else. I routinely 'make it' for 10-12 days of travel during warmer months (no heavyweight clothing). The key to that is having an overnight in a hotel with a self-serve laundromat about 1/2 way through the trip.
 

Qapla

Conductor
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Gator Country Florida
I found using some sort of rolling bag/case that fits Amtrak size restrictions for carry on and a duffle I can strap to the rolling case handle works for me.
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
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Location
Austin Texas
When I traveled Amtrak I was always on the lookout for decent food/snacks. I would hop off at every stop. Sometimes I could get a newspaper.

I recall there was a natural foods grocery not far from the Davis Amtrak, for example. Many stops are too brief so you have to check the schedule and maybe the Conductor, too.
Theres a really good Bakery across the street from the Davis Station( Beautiful Ex-SP Depot Design), if it's still open???
 

Willbridge

OBS Chief
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Denver
Theres a really good Bakery across the street from the Davis Station( Beautiful Ex-SP Depot Design), if it's still open???
It was in 2018. Most of their business while I was spilling frosted crumbs on my overcoat was take-out so maybe they've hung on. It takes some convincing with the web site but transfers Train 5 > 14 or 11 > 6 are more enjoyable in Davis than in Sacramento. Lots to do within walking distance.
 

Bob Dylan

Conductor
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It was in 2018. Most of their business while I was spilling frosted crumbs on my overcoat was take-out so maybe they've hung on. It takes some convincing with the web site but transfers Train 5 > 14 or 11 > 6 are more enjoyable in Davis than in Sacramento. Lots to do within walking distance.
Yep, Davis is one of my favorite small Cities!
 

cnpeters

Train Attendant
Joined
Oct 15, 2020
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20
Location
Akron, Ohio
So, we leave our day in Portland to return via the Coast Starlight to Sacramento, then the California Zephyr to Chicago, then the Lake Shore Limited to Cleveland.

Some observations from a first time Amtrak-traveler.

1) the rooms are small. I mean, I KNEW they were small going in, and I underpacked accordingly but I still overpacked. You need clean underwear for every day. Everything else, and I mean EVERYTHING, can be reused and worn 2-3-4 times.

2) I was not prepared for how little room there was between the bottom bunk and the sink. 3 inches tops. If you’re a middle of the night bathroomer, buy some flushable wipes and use those to clean your hands at 2 AM because the sink is a non starter.

3) somehow while the bathroom is tight for bathrooming, it’s actually reasonably roomy for showering. I described the shower to my wife as delightfully, surprisingly adequate. And I meant it as a compliment. For what it is, the water pressure is good, the water is hot and the shower is nice. Better than hotel showers I’ve had.

4) the food. It’s microwaved. And over microwaved. Here’s my ranking through 3 meals.
3) Alfredo chicken. Blah. Tastes like they used milk instead of Alfredo sauce. Chicken is bland, overcooked and awful. One out of ten.
2) pasta and meatballs - generic but not awful. Needs a little more flavor. Four out of ten.
1) beef tips with polenta. Easily the best. Salty. Really salty. But when cut with the polenta, it works well. Solid 6 out of ten.

so the food is fine. It’s not good, but for a few days it’s fine.

All that being said... this is the only way to travel. I mean, if you’re not in a hurry - this is wonderful. The scenery is breathtaking, the people you meet are interesting and varied, and the hours you spend are the most relaxing you’ll find.

I said to my wife “This is the only vacation I’ve ever taken where I enjoyed it this much, and the days went slowly.” It’s SO amazing. Usually when you’re vacationing, the hours seem short and you find it’s over before you know it. But on the train, the pace is slow enough that you get to really relax and find peace. It’s a wonderful time and the days are long and relaxing.

Living in a world where everything is happening so fast and frantically, this is the change of pace I’ve needed for years.

A quick final note - without fail - every Amtrak employee I met either loves their job or fakes it better than anyone I’ve ever met. To a customer this difference doesn’t matter. These people are the nicest, most informative, pleasant people I’ve met in 20 years of traveling. They are just amazing. From the ticket lady in Cleveland to Jay the cabin attendant on the Empire Builder to the wonderful people working on the 7 and 27 to the guy who ran the lounge in Portland - these people are exceptional.
 

tgstubbs1

Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 3, 2020
Messages
193
Great report. I hope you had a decent meal in Portland.
Do you have enough layover in Sacramento get something there?
I wonder if you will encounter snow between Eugene and Klamath Falls.
 

cnpeters

Train Attendant
Joined
Oct 15, 2020
Messages
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Location
Akron, Ohio
Great report. I hope you had a decent meal in Portland.
Do you have enough layover in Sacramento get something there?
I wonder if you will encounter snow between Eugene and Klamath Falls.
We’ve got about five hours in Sacramento, of course with the caveat that delays can eat up into that. It’s 6 to 11 am roughly, so I’m not sure what options will be there.

That, along with the shutdowns make things difficult. The shutdown in Oregon, compared to what I’m used to in Ohio, is extreme. We had s as long stop in Illinois, and there were outdoor restaurants and food courts well spaced out. Nothing like that in Oregon. Everything is closed here. Oregon has take out and delivery, which is tough when you’re here for one day without a car. We walked a ton, and we ordered Uber Eats a lot. I assume California will be similar based on what I’m reading, but with no place to stay except the train station, it could be slim pickings
 

tgstubbs1

Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 3, 2020
Messages
193
We’ve got about five hours in Sacramento, of course with the caveat that delays can eat up into that. It’s 6 to 11 am roughly, so I’m not sure what options will be there.

That, along with the shutdowns make things difficult. The shutdown in Oregon, compared to what I’m used to in Ohio, is extreme. We had s as long stop in Illinois, and there were outdoor restaurants and food courts well spaced out. Nothing like that in Oregon. Everything is closed here. Oregon has take out and delivery, which is tough when you’re here for one day without a car. We walked a ton, and we ordered Uber Eats a lot. I assume California will be similar based on what I’m reading, but with no place to stay except the train station, it could be slim pickings
When I took the Coast Starlight I changed my transfer to Davis. I don't remember much about the Sacramento stop.
I thought since Davis is a little smaller plus a shorter layover.
I was using a pass, though.
 

niemi24s

Conductor
Joined
Feb 11, 2015
Messages
2,382
If I ever get the chance to transfer between the CS and the CZ again I'd like to do it in Martinez instead of Sacramento. If timed right, spending the night in MTZ between trains would allow a visit to the nearby site of the Port Chicago disaster of 1944. Prolly seems strange to most, but a career in munitions can often lead to strange interests.

Besides that, the town and station look to be worth a visit.
 

tgstubbs1

Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 3, 2020
Messages
193
If I ever get the chance to transfer between the CS and the CZ again I'd like to do it in Martinez instead of Sacramento. If timed right, spending the night in MTZ between trains would allow a visit to the nearby site of the Port Chicago disaster of 1944. Prolly seems strange to most, but a career in munitions can often lead to strange interests.

Besides that, the town and station look to be worth a visit.
I've heard it's pretty nice, and I think it's a crew change base.

I was looking at my 2015 CZ schedule and see Denver is a dinnertime stop.
Many of the other bigger stops are on the night shift.
 

Alice

OBS Chief
Joined
Mar 6, 2007
Messages
991
Location
California
The Martinez station is close enough to downtown to be easily walkable. It includes numerous pretty good restaurants including a micro brewery, a shoreline park (containing SP #1258 switch engine in deplorable condition), and a small museum. The motels are not nearby, they are all up by the highway.

Sacramento restaurants are open for outside dining and take-out. The city is cooperating with some creative solutions like issuing permits to restaurants to occupy public space such as parking spots and alleys.
 

Willbridge

OBS Chief
Joined
Mar 30, 2019
Messages
568
Location
Denver
Great report. I hope you had a decent meal in Portland.
Do you have enough layover in Sacramento get something there?
I wonder if you will encounter snow between Eugene and Klamath Falls.
It's hard to see much snow southbound at this time of year other than where there are streetlights.

Here's a picture northbound.

2011 West Coast Thanksgiving 100.jpg

Crescent Lake, Oregon below.

Winter2004-05 138 (2).jpg
 
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