From Gathering PHL to SAC and a little around town

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Mar 6, 2007
I took a power chair to the gathering this year so had better range than with my usual manual chair. I stayed in Chinatown, a half-mile from the Jefferson station and around a mile from 30th Street station. I'm lousy at transit (I think it is a learned skill) so just took surface streets each morning and evening. Philadelphia is a great place to visit without a car and I wish I'd planned another few days.

The art deco 30th Street Station is on the list of historic places. One of numerous art pieces is the "Angel of Resurrection" installed by PRR to honor their employees who died in WWII. The angel holds a fallen solder in his arms. The names of the employees are engraved on the base.

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The city also has tall ships,

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museums (Rodin Museum was just across he river from the train station),

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city hall with public restrooms that stayed open late and plazas both outside and in the middle,

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a Day of the Dead figure remembering a man (photo on her pocket),

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great seating (this is outside the train station),

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statues all over the place (George Washington and Ben Franklin were both Masons),

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and a carousel in the park featuring Philadelphia Style carved animals.

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Mar 6, 2007
From Philadelphia, I took the NEC to New York. We were late so the nearly 1 hour expected layover turned into three of us running to catch the Lakeshore Limited. Lots of others have talked about these two trains so I'll mostly stick to the Viewliner H-room and meals on the Lakeshore.

The H-room bathroom holds a wheelchair okay but my very compact model wouldn't fit in far enough to close the door. It wasn't wide enough to turn around anyway to reach the door handle. So I wouldn't take a shower except in an emergency. It does not have an electric socket, no wonder in a wet room.

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The left door with the mirror is the entry door and the right door goes to the bathroom. Both open into the room so the wheelchair has to be moved back and forth. Notice nice lever handle on left but difficult small round handle on right. Electric socket is loose (traditional for Amtrak?) despite refurbished room. I'm not sure where people without wheelchairs run their electric cords.

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There is a real thermostat and fan control and both work! This is a treat for me because Superliner space conditioning is often random no matter what you do with the controls.

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The couch slides out like a futon but that doesn't leave enough space for the wheelchair to maneuver, so I asked for blankets and slept with the bed in daytime configuration. In the past when I've been on a Viewliner with someone else, I had my manual chair which is smaller. I do not know what people with regular sized wheelchairs do.

Well actually I do. In Chicago I talked with another chair user whose chair wouldn't fit in the room so they put her chair in the luggage car. Obviously I didn't haul out a tape and measure her chair, but it looked like it met Amtrak's standards (27.5 by 48 inches) but perhaps wasn't maneuverable enough.

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I really liked dinner and breakfast in the diner. Flex meals here come with the cellophane off. The ride along the Hudson River was peaceful although I wonder about several abandoned shore-front mansions ... unfortunately they went by too fast for photos. I know there were other people on the train but they didn't show up in the diner when I was there, I saw maybe three other passengers. There were plenty of empty tables.

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Chicago has two women's showers, both have handheld units like this but only #2 has the bench. It is cleaned between each use.2023-10-31 11.59.22.jpg


Mar 6, 2007
Now we get to the California Zephyr. I kept notes on times somewhere but am not sure where so some of this will be vague.

We were all called down for the kindergarten walk, both lounge and waiting room. On arrival, the sour looking conductor told everyone to go back. The red hat told me they "had forgotten" to fuel the engine. It takes an hour-and-a-half to take the train back to the yard, fuel it, and return to the station to start boarding. Once we got going, the conductor apologized for the delay and said the operating crew didn't discover the problem until their final check. He repeated the word "forgotten." We made up the time, lost it again, made it up again, etc.

Dinner was my first meal, flatiron steak. Now I thought I've had good SCA's, but that was before Tony. I'm grounded in the H-room by the downstairs toilets so he will be bringing me all my meals. They come on a cloth napkin over a tray. Notice the metal knife. The steak is tender enough for a plastic knife like on the eastbound train, but the metal is sure easier. Tony brought me ice without me asking at all meals and sometimes in between. He said the tray is because he likes to make the meals special like the diner for people who are eating in their rooms.

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Zephyr views are special because they are so varied. We had sunsets,

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a good view and entertaining scanner traffic while we waited for a disabled freight to clear the tracks (defect detector ... we went in a siding, freight conductor hiked to rear of train, dispatch lined switches and cleared the detector so freight could back to another longer siding, we proceeded),

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and sunny California.

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I'd been skipping meals because it was just too much food but ordered off the child's menu for lunch. We were less than an hour late to Sacramento.

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I gave Tony all of the tip money I'd budgeted for the trip that others didn't earn. He is just in a different category, a real pro who takes pride in his career and enjoys making sure all of his passengers have as good a trip as he can get them.

BTW, as far as I can tell, he was in those toilets and the shower pretty much every time he came downstairs, inspecting and cleaning with some foul smelling antiseptic.

I don't ride Amtrak much anymore because I'm stuck in a not so nice place, but if I had Tony every time, I'd be happy.