Music Across America

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Seaboard92

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Day 8: Southwest by Chief

I awoke in the bottom bunk of our roomette to see the formations of a beautiful sunrise so I quietly got dressed and went to the railfan window at the rear of the last coach to photograph the sunrise. Right around the official sunrise at 7 AM MT Malcolm woke up and we went to the diner. This morning we were sat with a trucker and his wife headed to Albuquerque to pick up a new rig.

We had interesting conversations with them mostly about where to find the best food across America and I have some places noted down after that. I had the pancakes and for the first time of the trip they were remarkable the chef made them the perfect consistency. During our stretch stop in La Junta I made a point to tell the chef that those were the best.

Of course on the stretch stop I visited the locomotives but also a mural advertising the Chief. These small towns love their trains and they make it known as well. There was also a bank made out of a former ATSF caboose I found cool. Malcolm and I talked to a music journalist from New York traveling to the Grammies in the lounge all the way to Raton. It was really interesting getting to hear his point of view on issues effecting America today.

Especially because his opinion differed from what I had expected so it was really rather eye opening actually. And all I can say is my party has a lot to work on if we want to truly be the party for the people. I also took the time to plug one of my friends who is an upstart in the music career. Raton Pass was a fairly quick part of the trip honestly. We had a fresh air stop in Raton and upon departure from there I rode in the Railfan Window because I wanted to photograph Semaphores.

I have to say the American southwest is a beautiful region with its plateaus, and many colors on display. We basically spent the whole time from Raton till our 12:00 PM lunch reservation back there shooting semaphores. Of course they are common in parts of Europe but so rare over here.

We were sat with two people who originated in New York off the Lake Shore and one bound for California, and one bound for the Grand Canyon by way of Flagstaff. We had a nice conversation about rail travel and music with the one bound for California but after he left in my opinion was the better conversation. Me and the one bound for the Canyon started talking about the “Yesterday” movie and we had a long twenty minute scholarly discussion about it while we ate dessert.

After lunch we went to the railfan window to photograph our meet at Glorieta with our eastbound counterpart. After that we settled in the lounge and I talked to a young African American woman wrestler who had one hell of a story. Malcolm went somewhere to do something but I talked the miles away with her. I learned she was in an abusive relationship with an ex military guy and she took her and her children to NY to get away from El Paso where he was.

Somehow she was charged with kidnapping her own kids, and the custody battle has apparently gotten out of control. Apparently her judge she has, also has a stated bias against many woman in the same situation. I wish her well and it definitely was a story that opened my eyes to how the American justice system fails some of our most vulnerable. If what she says is true it’s downright horrifying and I hope she can get a solution that keeps her, and her children safe.

She talked about being singled out by the police on a regular basis, and harassment from the leaders of the city so if that’s true it’s pretty disgraceful. I talked to her all the way into Albuquerque where I helped her get her bus ticket back to El Paso on the Amtrak connection bus.

During the fresh air stop Malcolm and I walked around downtown in the hour and twenty minute stop. Not much to see or do but fun nevertheless. After getting back on the train thinking we would be on time into LAX we called Alaska Airlines and made my reservations for BUR-PDX-SEA-ATL. However we were disconnected once so there were two reservations which caused me trouble when checking in. However we got my ticket paid for $180 for three flights isn’t bad.

Then we relaxed and watched the sunset as we sped along the Transcon. We had dinner again with our friend going to the Grand Canyon and a young person I fear is at risk of becoming or already is a white supremest. Malcolm and the other guy didn’t know how to deescalate the situation however I’ve dated enough psychology majors to have learned a thing or two. And I was able to calm him down and get him to bring his volume down considerably.

He only had a salad and luckily he didn’t last long. I left the table for the stretch stop in Gallup for a few moments and he was gone when I returned which was good enough for me. Both of them were impressed with how I deescalated the situation but you just have to know how to steer conversations and how to keep someone like that rom reacting poorly to something.

Both of them thought with my skills I should run for elected office which is something I am thinking greatly about. Already before meeting the earlier woman, and this guy. But even more so after, that and my friends in Georgia think I should. So what do you think could I run for office?

After that guy left it was a much nicer dinner. Afterwards we had a nice relaxing ride across the desert. Malcolm and I each had our headphones on and were sharing music between each other to listen. His music isn’t really my cup of tea but a lot of mine he actually likes though. We both went to bed fairly late as I was reflecting upon Woody Guthrie on the train racing across Arizona.
 

Seaboard92

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Sunrise from the Southwest Chief

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The Southwest Chief at La Junta

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A mural in La Junta

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A bank in a caboose

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One of Santa Fe’s signs

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Raton Pass

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Southwest Chief at Raton

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Semaphores

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A Harvey House in Las Vegas

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A meet at Glorieta
 

Seaboard92

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Joined
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Santa Fe Southern

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Southwest America

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Downtown Albuquerque.

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The Southwest Chief at Albuquerque

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Silver Iris

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New Mexico Rail Runner

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Sunset in the Southwest.

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The Southwest Chief in Gallup.
 

Seaboard92

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Day 9: Leaving on a Jet Plane round 1

We knew we had to be up for the only call for breakfast at five am pacific so we made a point to be up. This morning we were sat with an Amish Couple from Pennsylvania traveling to Tijuana, MX. we had an interesting conversation with them about why they think the young folks need to work on the farm to learn proper work ethics unlike the ones who don’t in their community. This is my first time really talking to them which was rather interesting.

I tried to be respectful and not ask a hundred questions they get all the time, instead focusing on other things that interested me about their dogma. We raced down Cajon Pass into the LA Metro area while enjoying our breakfast with them.

After breakfast I talked to their grand kids in the lounge car before they closed it upon departure from Fullerton. Then Malcolm and I packed our room up and prepared to detrain. We arrived into Los Angeles at 7:23 AM almost forty minutes ahead of schedule. I was happy about that because it meant I could get the 7:55 Surfliner to Burbank.

My next train No. 1761 arrived on the same platform so I just boarded the train to head to the airport. The entire way I talked to my favorite married friend Connor to ask how do I respond to Julia’s situation the answer was with understanding and support. It was a short 22 minute ride out to the airport. I crossed the street checked my bag and checked in for my flight.

I spent some time in the waiting room talking with a friend and then went to get my seat assignment. In that process I managed to be the last to board as there was a problem with my ticket. I have a feeling they checked me in on the non paid for PNR from when the call dropped. Either way I was allowed to board the A320 from the tarmac as there are no jet bridges in Burbank which I love. It was an easy quick flight up the Pacific Coast but knowing what I know now I wish I had taken the Starlight.

I texted Julia when I landed to see what her plan was which was to go running at 1:30 with a friend and I’m like great let’s go to get a late lunch after your run meet at Powell’s City of Books. So by the time I got my bags, took two Max trains, and checked into my hotel the Porter it was pushing 2:00 PM. So I went ahead and walked to Powell’s figuring this was only going to be a short wait and a city of books is incredible entertainment. Well her running partner came an hour or so behind schedule and they ran for three hours.

Here I am in a book store waiting to see my best friend, starving seeing I had breakfast at five, and it was now well past four. I was actually quite upset because had any of my friends come to SC to visit me I would have set time out to see them especially if I wasn’t working. So I was feeling like my time wasn’t worth anything to her. And I eventually got tired of spending three hours in a book store mostly because my wallet wouldn’t like it because I bought four books.

So eventually I decided I was going to walk to Pioneer Square where I would decide what I was doing next. I finally reached her and she was like just come here and we will hang out so I started the 13 block walk in my nice blue suit because I believe when I’m flying I should put the class back in it. So I eventually made it to her place and made a mental note of the mid century car advertisement nearby to find her place in the future.

So then we just sat in her living room talking and actually getting to be there to actually support one another. I had just learned I didn’t get the job at American so couple that with being tired and hungry I did cry on her shoulder a bit. But she’s my best friend so I had no issue being truly open with her on my feelings. We then took a combination of two buses to meet up with her friend Ann for dinner at a Thai place.

The place she wanted to go had an hour and a half wait so I referenced the Mexican Restaurant from Seinfeld that went over her head. And I thought that was a funny episode. Eventually we found a place to eat the Box Social which was really nice. It was great to see her smile again honestly as she reminisced about her time at summer camp with Ann. I had Mac and Cheese which was good but not the best I’ve ever had in my life.

Afterwards we walked to New Seasons Market where I picked up ingredients for Santa Fe Railroad French Toast. When I first made it at home for myself and she saw the photo she wanted it. So I naturally was happy to make it for her. She bought a coupon book that was 25 dollars with coupons for everywhere in town. Afterwards we ubered back to her place and I started prepping breakfast.

I know prepping breakfast the night before sounds insane but the recipe calls for you to do that. You make the egg/cinnamon/vanilla solution the night before and soak the bread in it overnight. After that we said our long goodbyes. Which to me is usual because in the south we literally stand in the parking lot for thirty minutes still talking after saying the first goodbye.

So then I walked back across town feeling a lot better than I did when I walked out. I actually did manage to catch a Max part of the route which was strange because usually when I want a max it isn’t running. And it had a connection waiting at Pioneer Courthouse was even stranger. I had a nice short conversation with someone commenting on how well timed that was. Then I settled in my bed for the night with my alarm set to go make breakfast.
 

Seaboard92

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The Southwest Chief at Los Angeles

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The Pacific Surfliner at Los Angeles.

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Going away at Burbank

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Boarding an A320 at Burbank

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Trimet

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Downtown Portland.

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Pioneer Courthouse Square
 

Seaboard92

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Day 10: Entertaining myself

So I woke up early and crossed town so I could finish making breakfast. And while she set her table for her, me, and her friend Melissa I made the French Toast. And then I made a warm cinnamon pineapple for dessert. If anyone wants recipes I’m happy to post them. She really set her table up in a beautiful way to the point I would hire her to come set up tables on our dinner train in February if she could come.

She liked my French toast, and this time I did a far better job preparing it in my opinion. And the pineapple was amazing. Melissa arrived like always thirty minutes late so I had to reheat everything for her. But we had a lovely breakfast. Julia wanted to go for a run and I was just happy she was wanting to and able to with her being off and on sick for months, and dealing with emotional stress.

So I left when Melissa left for work to go to the Oregon Zoo. I offered for Julia to come but she said it would cost her too much to go, and I’m like I’m happy to pay for it I don’t mind. But she preferred running so I went over to the Zoo. I really like how their zoo is designed. All of the animals were active and visible, especially the big cats where I got some amazing photos using my 300 mm lens.

And of course they have a narrow gauge railroad so what’s not to like about this place. Eventually needing somewhere else to go to kill time I went over to the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation’s museum. Honestly I went to visit my first love the Daylight everything else could wait. After hiking across the Tilikum Crossing bridge I grabbed a streetcar to try it out. Normally the streetcar doesn’t go where I want to go so I’ve never been on it. I rode it up to a stop near the Amtrak station so I could buy a train ticket.

I love the streetcars route across PSU as it’s unique. Before buying my ticket on the Crescent from Atlanta to Greenville I watched the Baby Builder depart. After leaving the station I started walking back to her place and I had to stop on the way and give cpr to a homeless man and didn’t think of it much. The first responders came rapidly and then I was able to start heading back to her place.

She had work the next day so we were just planning a short evening so she could get sleep. We were initially planning on having dinner at the Elephant Delicatessen which is a cross between a deli and a grocery store but they were closed being a Sunday. So we went to the Blue Moon Tavern & Grill which is a McMenamins property and we had a lovely dinner.

She told me more about her previous break up and helped clear things up in my mind which definitely was a good thing. I was finally feeling more like she was my friend at this point. Telling me her problems, and just discussing the world.

After dinner I walked her back to her place and then I hiked back across town to the Porter because I had time I went to the lovely pool in the basement.
 

Seaboard92

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Dec 31, 2014
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Downtown Portland

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TriMet at Providence Park

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A Bald Eagle

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An elephant

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They act like my cat at home.

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Six lions at the Oregon zoo.

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As close as I ever want to get.

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African dogs

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A giraffe

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Tigers cuddling.
 

Seaboard92

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The Zooliner

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The Washington Park and Oregon Zoo

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TriMet in the deepest N/A station.

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Spokane Portland and Seattle’s contribution to the Empire Builder.

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Nickel Plate Road a long way from home.

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This could be a coach yard from the 50s in Portland.

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The Daylight

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NKP PA 190

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Tilikum Crossing.

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The Baby Builder departing.
 

Seaboard92

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Day 11: The Columbia River Gorge

Today I woke up again fairly early to spend a day with Tom in the Columbia River Gorge. Every time I come to Oregon I must visit the Gorge because it’s absolutely amazing. We got lucky and managed to catch up to an Union Pacific Eastbound right as we were entering the gorge. So we managed to shoot it entering the first tunnel going into the gorge.

And for the first time in all my gorge trips with Tom I finally managed to get him to stop at Multnonah Falls and it is so beautiful. And of course I managed to photograph the eastbound in front of it as well. After the train passed I still took a moment to admire the grandeur of the falls. The road back to the interstate went by several falls which was quite nice.

We managed to pass the eastbound again because he had to stop for track work, but I managed to photograph some trains across the gorge on the BNSF side with my 300 mm lens. We paused in Hood River to see if the Mount Hood Scenic was doing anything which they weren’t and switched to the BNSF Washington state side of the gorge. As we were crossing the bridge we saw an eastbound trash train so we knew we had a train to chase which made it nice.

I had us stop at a few points where we could shoot the train and make it the smallest part of the picture. While the rest of the Gorge and it’s majestic beauty we’re the real subject. I like photos like that because everyone knows how big and powerful a train is, and I like to show that nature is far larger and far more powerful. We managed to shoot that train about three more times which was perfect. Eventually we ducked over to the Dalles for lunch at Big Jim’s burgers.

Tom doesn’t understand my feelings as much but I love to support locally owned and operated businesses everywhere I go and not chains like McDonalds. It was a decent burger but it wasn’t anything to write home about. We then crossed back over to Dallesport and photographed the third of three trains moving westbound in a fleet. We decided to give chase as I wanted to be back in Portland after Julia got off work so we started heading that way. Turns out we caught up with the second train in that pack and kept up with it all the way into Camas.

Normally Washington Route No. 14 has a beautiful overlook into the Gorge but because of the rainy weather and low clouds you couldn’t see anything down there. We managed to photograph the Empire Builder reflecting in a puddle at Camas before we went to a Costco to refuel near the airport. Then I called Julia to figure out where I should go my hotel, or her place so we could get dinner. No answer so I decided to go to Powell’s seeing it’s halfway between the two points.

As soon as I had arrived there she said to come over so I walked over to her place and we made our evening plans. Our plan was to get dinner at Elephants Delicatessen and then go swimming in my hotels pool. So we went out in the rain and down the street to get dinner. We opted to eat in the small store where we hoped we wouldn’t run into her ex seeing he lives in the same neighborhood. After eating she wanted to go to her favorite store Goodwill next door so we went shopping there for a bit.

She couldn’t finish a puzzle similar to ones she had as a child that annoyed her. But then we went back to her apartment to get her bathing suit. And in that short visit we also tuned her violin because I wanted to see it. I’m a violin player and as I learned this trip my violin is what attracted her to me in the first place way back when.

We then walked to the further of two max stops because the closer one is in front of her old apartment and her ex’s current apartment. And again trimet actually was efficient and there was a waiting train at Pioneer Courthouse. Julia was beyond impressed at the Porter Hotel because of how luxurious it’s lobby is. Her response was similar to my first visit to the Marriott in Savannah, GA when I was 9.

We went up to my room where she continued to be impressed by the place, and I was relieved I had picked up my exploded bag while waiting for Tom this morning. We both changed into our bathing suits and went down to the pool in the basement and we swam around the pool for a bit.

I mentioned in passing about the CPR incident the day prior and she was miffed I didn’t tell her right after it has happened. And I’m thinking it’s not really that important I just did my job nothing special. After swimming a bit we continued talking in the hot tub for a bit till she decided she wanted to try the steam room. Good god I could barely breathe or see in there. It felt more humid than a SC summer which I thought was impossible.

When it was time to leave the steam room I took her hand to help guide her out. Then we went back up to my room and changed out of our bathing suits, and proceeded to look at the Portland map book the hotel had. And we were joking around like a couple because one of the things referenced was an in-law cottage close to the house and I was like “you haven’t met my mother you want to place that room as far away as possible preferably in Washington state”.

After joking around and it was time for her to go back home for her next day. So we walked all the way back to her place. We passed a formalwear place and decided that we should go to a gala so we could just dress up for fun. Again we walked the long way around her former apartment. And then we said goodnight at her apartments foyer and I walked back to the Porter.

This time trimet was more like I expected and it wasn’t running when I needed. Portland was so unique though at eleven pm though on a week night. You could hear the rumbling of distant streetcars and max trains but never see them. No cars on the streets, and little human movement as I walked alone. It was so very surreal but also so very peaceful. I eventually reached the Porter again where I went to sleep for three hours.
 

Seaboard92

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Entering the gorge.

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Multnonah Falls

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Across the Gorge

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Look at the low fog bank.

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Former Iowa Pacific Sky View

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Washington Route No. 14

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Looking at a trash train back lit.

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I love the Gorge for views like this.

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A reflective gorge is a rare gorge.

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That’s mount hood back there
 

Seaboard92

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BNSF in the gorge.

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No shortage of amazing shots in the gorge.

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At Mary Hill Wa

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Reflecting from the Oregon side.

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BNSF in the fog

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The gorge is beautiful.

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Crossing a brand new bridge.

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Looks like a horror movie somewhat.

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The Empire Builder in a puddle.
 

Seaboard92

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Day 12: Leaving on a Jet Plane Round II

I had initially thought TriMet wasn’t running when I needed to go to the airport for my six AM flight thinking they started at five is much too close to my flight to mess with them. But before bed I noticed there was a single train at 3:59 AM bound for the airport so I made a point to take it.

Waiting for the train I was the only person out and about minus some kids (10-12 years old) who told me to move back to California. I didn’t buy my ticket till I could see the train approaching because I don’t truly trust TriMet to run when they say they will. I’ve been burned several times. But the train showed up right on time and dropped me off at the airport a few minutes late. I checked in and checked my bag and proceeded to go thru security.

No issues on that front and I waited for my flight on an Alaska Airlines Ex Virgin America A321-200 to Seattle. I wasn’t worried about getting a seat because there were plenty available. I boarded the aircraft without an issue which I was happy about. But then the gate agent came looking for my Paper value ticket which I thought I had but didn’t. I showed her the email and she said I had an e ticket and they could find that later and then she left.

I was a bit worried I would be pulled off the flight before take off seeing it was the only departing flight that would make my connection to Atlanta. But we took off none the less for the short twenty or so minute flight to Seattle. I took a really cool photo of the engine on the plane as we were in a fog bank with the landing lights showing the rain. It just looks so cool.

I had a tight connection but never the less I made it to my Atlanta flight and had no issues getting on just with my seat. As someone decided to take the empty window seat thinking it was empty. Eventually I was able to sit and away we went to Atlanta. The people around me were all from the area around my railroad and I naturally was able to talk to them about local business in crisp county.

I watched Bill and Teds Excellent Adventure and Walk the Line which literally took up the entire four hour flight to Atlanta. My original plan was to take the Crescent to Greenville and get picked up by Ryan. But he’s currently stuck on Train No. 16 that goes on duty at five forty five am. So I didn’t want to take any of his rest period to pick me up. My dad reminded me there is a shuttle from Atlanta to Augusta which would get me home way before the Crescent.

So I modified my ticket on the Crescent to a later date so I could re use the value at some point later on. Then I got a shuttle ticket. Honestly I don’t really remember much of the shuttle because I was just exhausted after so long on the road and only having three hours of sleep the night before. I know I put on an Arlo Guthrie mix on my phones headphones and it was still playing an hour and a half after I started it when I woke up to a text from a friend of mine. That man has some seriously long songs.

I told Chris who was texting me I really wanted to find a job out in Portland because it just felt so welcoming and so home like. And he said he would help me. Eventually the shuttle arrived in Augusta and my dad came to pick me up. We went to his favorite place in Augusta the Metro Diner which was good but man was that expensive.

The whole way home I basically talked about how wonderful the Portland portion was. And how I was inspired to do more than just be a PV Attendant and Vet Tech. That I wanted to actually be able to provide for someone and not just myself. Which to be honest surprised a lot of my friends with those lines. As I’m often times seen as the dreamer who doesn’t get things done. Eventually we arrived home.
 

Seaboard92

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An Alaska Airlines A321-200 I took to SEA.

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Pioneer Square at night.

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I love Portland at night.

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My favorite aviation photo of all time.

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Downtown Seattle

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Looking out my window over Wyoming.

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MARTA at Hartsfield
 

Seaboard92

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Thoughts after the trip.

I really enjoyed the trip. I have to say I enjoyed the Sunset Limited the most of the long distance trains. And the single level Pacific Surfliner the most of the short haul trains. The best meal was definitely in a laundromat which is just weird on so many levels.

If I could do anything different I would have spent less time in Portland because Julia and I spent the entire time giving each other mixed signals. So for the moment her and I are giving each other space and not communicating. And I have to say that really stinks, and I’m trying to not overreact to that. If anyone wants more details about what’s wrong feel free to ask me in private.

My most interesting meal definitely was with the singer songwriter going into El Paso on the Sunset Limited. And the most interesting person who might have convinced me I should run for office is the woman from El Paso on the Southwest Chief. All in all I think it was a great trip I just wish Julia and I could have communicated better between each other so we wouldn’t be in the current predicament.

I hope you guys enjoyed my tour of America by Amtrak
 

railiner

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Your reports are always fascinating...both for the detailed coverage and photo's of the trip, plus all of the surprisingly personal thoughts...
 
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jiml

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Feb 27, 2019
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Day 2: The San Diegan/Pacific Surfliner to get In and Out

We woke up really early so we could get the 6:05 AM Surfliner to San Diego in my quest to try what is known as the best fast food in America. We left the hotel around four thirty in a Lyft and it didn’t take too long to get to Union Station. We then walked thru the head house to the Metropolitan Lounge to store our bags for the day. We had trouble explaining to the person there we were on Train No. 422 the thru cars on the Sunset Limited but we’re also ticketed on Train No. 562 to San Diego.

Once our bags were stored we went down to the track and waited to board our Horizon train of which is more representative of the San Diegan trains than the Surfliners. After a short wait for them to open the train we took our seat in the last coach possible figuring it would be a bit quieter which it was. We departed on time and had a relaxing ride. The line from Fullerton to Oceanside would be new milage to me. And not only would it be new it would complete the west coast North South Amtrak route for me.

Malcolm and I got caught up on a bit of everything on the ride south and enjoyed the lovely view from the Santa Fe Surf Line. We arrived into San Diego about forty minutes late due to signal issues and I took several pictures of the trainset under the Palm Trees. We bought regional day passes for the Trolley and Sprinter than took a trolley to Petco Park. My first trip to the west coast was to San Diego so I kinda wanted to re see things I saw when I was 12.

We walked across the new bridge over the rail yard and then down fifth avenue towards the trolley station. I commented a lot on the blending of architecture that only makes sense in San Diego. You have a lot of older style buildings right next to modern 1990/2000s style high rises and it just fits. After a short walk we reached the trolley stop and got on the next Blue Line Train south for lunch. On the way we passed the Pacific Fleet which was actually quite cool.

I’ll be honest I wasn’t super impressed with In and Out. The burger is definitely good but I’m not sure it’s worth all of the hype it receives and the fries definitely aren’t. Either way I’m glad I tried it out because I’ve heard so much about them since watching Jay Leno during high school. So it at least wasn’t a waste of time. After leaving In-and-Out Burger we took the light rail to Old Town San Diego for a quick stroll around before our train.

Old Town was actually more lovely than I remembered it from my childhood and very quaint feeling. I’m glad I had the chance to go back and relive it. After a quick stroll we bought our Coaster tickets and waited for the northbound coaster coming in ten minutes. We had an easy short ride on the commuter train north to Oceanside, CA. Figuring it was a cross platform connection to a waiting Sprinter I moved towards the head end prior to arrival into Oceanside to get a picture of the F40PH pulling the train.

Turns out I didn’t have to do that at all as you have to walk the entire length of both the Coaster and Sprinter platforms to reach the Sprinter. We then caught the Sprinter out just to try it out. For those who aren’t knowledgeable about it the train is basically a Siemans Desiro (looming that up delayed me forty five minutes reading about German DMUs). The conductor came around after every two or so stops to lift tickets which is only of note because the return trip the conductor never came by.

The train filled up heading east and on the way west was fairly empty. Had to explain to someone why I take pictures of scenery which the guy still found weird. But what can I say we don’t have scenery like Southern California in central South Carolina. We arrived at the end point and flipped right back around back to Oceanside.

We arrived back in Oceanside and I photographed a Metrolink train while Malcolm went to the restroom and then we went for a walk on the beach with roughly an hour and a half before our Northbound Surfliner No. 785 left for Los Angeles. A nice short walk of the beach, I photographed the metrolink from one of the streets without a grade crossing. We had a nice uneventful evening on the beach before heading back to the station.

We had trouble finding seats on the Surfliner but eventually we found some at a table on the east side of the train. I left for five minutes when the sun was setting on the other side to find a window I could shoot the sunset from. It was a fairly uneventful trip we discussed Amtrak’s issues with the 25,000 dollar wheelchair and the NAACP issue that happened on the same day. Closer to Los Angeles we started looking for food options and I wanted Mac and cheese so I was looking it up and stumbled on a nice deli the Little Jewel of New Orleans.

Malcolm loved the music playing there was New Orleans Jazz and I just loved the quality of the food. It was fantastic large portions, cheap, and the fries were out of this world. And it’s walking distance from Union Station however the neighborhood in my opinion was a bit sketchy. After sitting there for a bit to research the Ballard Terminal Railroad for a friend we meandered back to the station.

We then went back to the lounge and waited for our train. I made a phone call to my friend Nigel in Flint, MI to discuss a project of his. Literally that took up most of my waiting time because I hung up right as they were calling our train. Instead of taking the golf cart which only takes a few at a time I chose to walk. As usual I always beat the cart out to the platform and the train wasn’t on the platform yet.

However it was a short late before the train backed onto the platform at 9:30 PM. I put my suitcase in the rack and then proceeded to walk up to the locomotive to take a photo of it before going back and reboarding the last car. As we were on the Thru Car with the Texas Eagle we had the last car. Both Malcolm and I waited for departure and proceeded to enjoy the first fifteen or so minutes after our 10:00 PM departure before both going to take showers and bed down.
Next time at In 'N' Out order your burger "animal style" and you'll see what the fuss is about.;) You're right about the fries though - even though they're fresh and cut on-premises, something about the cooking method often leaves them bland and dry.
 

Seaboard92

Conductor
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
3,423
Thank you for the kind comments. For me the annual trip as I call it is a trip of reflection and self discovery. And that somewhat guides my writing style in a way. I’m hoping to return to the Sunset Limited when I finally finish my screen play in hopes of selling it and making it into a film.
 

jiml

OBS Chief
Joined
Feb 27, 2019
Messages
898
Thank you for the kind comments. For me the annual trip as I call it is a trip of reflection and self discovery. And that somewhat guides my writing style in a way. I’m hoping to return to the Sunset Limited when I finally finish my screen play in hopes of selling it and making it into a film.
Finally finished the entire report! (Inserted the In 'N' Out comment earlier.) Usual great text and pics.
 

SarahZ

Conductor
Joined
May 8, 2011
Messages
8,046
I’m sorry to hear about Julia’s health issues. That’s sad.
 

NS VIA Fan

Conductor
Joined
Sep 24, 2011
Messages
1,457
What a great Trip Report! Thanks.....and also for your effort in it all together!
 

Palmland

OBS Chief
Joined
May 25, 2006
Messages
789
Enjoyed the report and always, as always, Seaboard. Care to summarize your thoughts on Amtrak western trains for food, OBS staff service, equipment, host rr performmance as compared to earlier trips? Any appreciable difference under the Anderson regime?

If you enjoy the northwest, how about a job with Rocky Mountaineer, although would probably require a work visa. You'd be well qualified! Or this company might be fun too:

https://www.americancruiselines.com/?gclid=Cj0KCQiAm4TyBRDgARIsAOU75sqJsJ4GYQSznClcKIYmgYE5PHns9Hjcw5yeP6uaVLojibHf1JpjiGkaArobEALw_wcB
 

Seaboard92

Conductor
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
3,423
Enjoyed the report and always, as always, Seaboard. Care to summarize your thoughts on Amtrak western trains for food, OBS staff service, equipment, host rr performmance as compared to earlier trips? Any appreciable difference under the Anderson regime?

If you enjoy the northwest, how about a job with Rocky Mountaineer, although would probably require a work visa. You'd be well qualified! Or this company might be fun too:

https://www.americancruiselines.com/?gclid=Cj0KCQiAm4TyBRDgARIsAOU75sqJsJ4GYQSznClcKIYmgYE5PHns9Hjcw5yeP6uaVLojibHf1JpjiGkaArobEALw_wcB
I’ve actually been told I should go work for a Rocky Mountaineer a lot. I actually know one of the engineers on CN who runs their train. So I probably could pull an interview.

I can definitely summarize my thoughts but I’m not sure how well the basis will be only having dealt with the LAX base for the majority of the trip, and a bit of Chicago.

The OBS I found tended to be a bit better than the average I’m used to. The sunset’s LSA in the cafe definitely took pride in his job because one could see the handmade signs he made, and his often times funny announcements.

I also think the dining car attendants were much more pleasant as well. Especially on the Chief. They told me multiple times that whenever I travel again I need to make sure I’m with crew seven which was them. The first Eagle attendant I had I thought was the better of the two, but the other one was perfectly fine once we got to talking. Bad first impression but a great person.

The LSA on the Heartland Flyer takes a lot of pride in her little domain. She’s a bit gruff but I think that’s just her personality and I got along great with her.

As far as food it was average as to be expected except on the Chief. The chef on that train made the otherwise bland dishes really pop somehow.

Equipment as to be expected was similar to my other trips. I have to say I do prefer the superliner bedrooms and will get them in the future if there isn’t a large price difference. Some of the cars feel a bit dated and worn but no more than usual.

The host railroads did a remarkable job in keeping us fairly close to the schedule in my opinion. BNSF especially, the UP a bit less so. In the past my larger delays have been on BNSF but mostly for things outside of their control like weather.

I can tell the crews are very stressed under the Anderson regime. And that there is an uneasiness in the air. But these crews instead of just mailing it in and not trying as I say were trying to prove him wrong. And still taking a lot of pride in their jobs which was good.
 

Dakota 400

Conductor
Joined
Mar 5, 2014
Messages
1,696
I thoroughly enjoyed reading your report! Thank you for taking the time and making the effort of posting it.
 
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