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Roundtrip Rotterdam-Los Angeles-Chicago

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PeeweeTM

Train Attendant
Joined
May 9, 2011
Messages
94
Hi there!
I liked the concept of the trip report from iliketrains. I'll try to update this one every time I've got WiFi.
I just departed from Holland. I'll leave with the South West Chief from Los Angeles. And back from Chicago with the Texas Eagle.
Oh, and I type this on a smartphone.

Below a few pictures from the transport by RET metro to Rotterdam Centraal. This line is built on a former narrow gauge interurban, the RTM. In the inner city the line goes underground.
Rotterdam has a bike parking lot for about 5,200 bikes.
Now I'm travelling with 300 km/h towards Antwerpen; uploading is not going well...20191202_070633.jpeg
 

PeeweeTM

Train Attendant
Joined
May 9, 2011
Messages
94
Updates!
Flight from Brussels to London went well, no delays.
I found myself a quiet place to relax with some music (Rammstein, NineInchNails, Madrugada, Underworld).
The 'puddle jumper' from London to Los Angeles however was about an hour delayed at departure and arrived with about 45 minutes at the gate.

After that, it almost took three border officers two hours to clear the row of visitors before me. Luckily at some point some other officers came to the rescue, and the waiting took only one and a half hours.
The maze you have to complete to reach the officers is funny, too. I did feel a bit Shrek-like at some point. Shortest way is a straight line...

The van driver to the La Quinta drove pretty efficient; we got there and didn't die in the process. Could have been a Hollywood stunt driver in one of his former lives, though.

Down below pictures of A319 to London, two sights of London, the plane to Los Angeles.20191202_104655.jpeg20191202_124140.jpeg20191202_124330.jpeg20191202_153805.jpeg
 

PeeweeTM

Train Attendant
Joined
May 9, 2011
Messages
94
After seven hours of interrupted sleeping (which I consider to be acceptable for nine hours time difference / night shift) I had breakfast in the hotel.
The hotel shuttle van dropped me of at terminal 1.
The FlyAway busses run every half an hour, may depart a bit early, and skip terminals if the bus is full. After terminal 4 our driver skipped the last stop at the airport, leaving some 'having not a nice day'-passengers behind.
In the bus I had a nice chat with a younger man from Australia. He hadn't slept during his flight. And he was a bit wondering about the tipping system here in the US.

At Union Station I went to the Amtrak Metropolitan Lounge. A friendly lady led me drop my bag in the storage room.
At the desk stood a sign with the WiFi network name. Which doesn't exist.
Perhaps that is one of the things with Amtrak. You know, the resources are available, but some processes are quite poorly executed. I mean, how difficult is it the have matching names? And if I'm correct, the US started with ISO certification!

After this I took the free shuttle 600 to an Outlet Mall. There I noted the process- executing-thing may be just the way the US works (not). The sign leads to a dead end with the mentioned restrooms full in sight. Come on!

Back at the station I bought some groceries at a CVS nearby and some fruit and vegetables in Chinatown.
I ate lunch at La Luz Del Dia, after walking through Olvera Street, where you cannot appreciate some of the older buildings of Los Angeles, because of all the tourist-trap-shops in front of them.

And now I'm back at the lounge. Two other friendly ladies welcomed me in the lounge again. Very nice!

Next updates in a few days, when I can find some WiFi again!20191203_150720.jpegScreenshot_20191203-150836_Settings.jpeg20191203_113316~2.jpeg20191203_143000.jpeg20191203_150745.jpeg
 

PeeweeTM

Train Attendant
Joined
May 9, 2011
Messages
94
Well, then, South West Chief it is!

All loungers were offered Red Cap Service, but I declined and walked to the train. It was shoved into the station.
The locomotives were numbers 50 and 127, followed by baggage, transdorm, two sleepers with the bedroom sides pointing to each other, diner, lounge, bag/coach and two normal coaches at the end.
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The departure was delayed for about twenty minutes because of a door problem. On the platform I noticed the engineer came prepared with a lot of duct tape...
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Slept not too well on a thin-ish mattress.
I took a shower in the morning and went to the diner. Ordered a three-egg omelette with the unions and bell peppers.
It came without the unions and peppers. I left without a tip later on. It appeared the stuff was not loaded on the train. I had bought some bell peppers in Chinatown yesterday, so mine where likely the last ones in the greater Los Angeles area...
During breakfast I was sat with a British couple. They were making quite the trip: Queen Mary from Britain to New York, roundtrip by train via New Orleans, Los Angeles and Chicago back to New York and by QM back home again.
They had hoped to see more landscape (as in pastures) and hadn't seen any wildlife.
And of course we chatted about Brexit.

Back in my room I changed it back in day-position.

We arrived in Albuquerque 25 minutes early, after a lot of slaloming around a larger lot of freight trains. Very well dispatched for Amtrak, by BNSF!
In Albuquerque I wandered a bit around and took some pictures.

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I like the murals.

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Departure was on time.
 

PeeweeTM

Train Attendant
Joined
May 9, 2011
Messages
94
Isn't this the parking lot where Jimmy meets Mike, you know Braking Bad/Better call Saul?

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Anyway, a while after Albuquerque the stretch of bolted rails and semaphore signals starts. I had the impression, that in curves the rails are welded and on straight stretches you still get the 'trainy' sound and feel.

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Lunch was just lunch. I had the baked chilaquiles. I thought it had some more sauces last time.

The conductor kept us informed about the short stops we made. And one time to meet train 3, one time to eventually pass a ballast train.

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In Raton we arrived some forty minutes late, but still had a few minutes to stretch the legs. Here a few random images ftom that day:

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What a cuty.

Dinner time came, I ate Salmon.
A semi-retired couple (she still working, he retired) from Kansas heading back from visiting their son and family in California sat across from me. Their son is working for the US National Park Services near Canada, near Mexico, now in California. That really is a big advantage for the US in comparison to the EU: you have one language and broadly one culture, which makes seeking your fortune somewhere else a lot easier!
 

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PeeweeTM

Train Attendant
Joined
May 9, 2011
Messages
94
This time I slept in the coffin. It slept better than downstairs, no urge to peek out of the window at every stop!
I had to make an AmFix to the air duct, though!
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Arrival in Kansas City was half an hour early.
I walked a bit around the platform. Spotted a River Runner train, with a lot of cars, including mail and dinner. I guess they are there to increase the calculated certainty of shunting some bad track circuits properly.

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A Kansas City Southern train raced by.

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After I got in my car again, the attendant closed the door.
At breakfast I found out, that someone in the other sleeper car had his bags stolen from the downstairs bagage racks. First time I've heard that! And he said the bags were clearly marked and no lookalike bags were there. Big sad!

Again some random photo's:

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Amtrak has thrown Pepsi out.

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PeeweeTM

Train Attendant
Joined
May 9, 2011
Messages
94
At lunch I talked a bit about politics; interesting and funny. But I'll better steer away from that. :rolleyes:

Here again some pictures:

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Speeding at 89 mph we arrived in Chicago at about 3 PM, not bad at all.

I went straight to my hotel to drop my bags and app a bit with my family at home.
It appears my son tried to bounce a basketballball with his middle finger, the latter not being built for. Well, he now has a temporally 'extra joint'.

Stralled a bit through town.

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And finished this part of this trip report.

Thanjs for reading and more next week, after travelling with the Texas Eagle back to Los Angeles!
 

PeeweeTM

Train Attendant
Joined
May 9, 2011
Messages
94
I tried to update this report before leaving, but an echo-ing boarding announcement was made. Firstly I could hear the loung attendants real voice, followed by a relatively faint echo on the speakers!

I woke up at 4 a.m. and app'ed a bit with my family. Tried to sleep a bit more, but the jetlag was awake. Checked out of the CQ/Central Loop hotel and checked in into the loung at Union Station, so I could leave one of my bags behind. It was a bit of a struggle to get down the stairs, but only a few people got really smashed between my bag and the walls. I even found and used the reverse escalator!
Ate breakfast at Yolk and did a short walk around the the Loop. It was nice to stretch my legs a bit, before doing the three-nighter on train 421 Texas Eagle.

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I saw some cars on which Mr. Seaboard might have worked.
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Walked to the pond and again swimming was not allowed.
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Small-ish high-rise.
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Back at the lounge I toke advantage of the free carrots.
 

PeeweeTM

Train Attendant
Joined
May 9, 2011
Messages
94
Well, I had a roomette in a Superliner II. The car seems a bit quieter, roomier restrooms, european-style bogies, working air-vent-closing-handle.
The attendant made an announcement, including that food was, but gratuity wasn't included in the fare, but was apprecieded by dinner car and sleeping car personel.
However, he also mentioned that free waterbottles were available, in case the supply in the rooms were depleded. I noticed that on the SWC, too. I thought there was a time, the two bottles per room was the rule. I'm amusing myself with a gallon of water in my luggage...
Anyway, departure from Chicago was on time and after a ten minute drive we were stuck, because a freight train was blocking an interlocking. There was no announcement, but I overheared a conductor radio message.
Thirty minute delay, yay.
Leaving Chicago you see some of this:
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Got myself a cup of hot-ish water to make some tea. It was free, I normally tip around 15%, but now i just left a dollar, 'syntax error' %?
Ate dinner with to men. One was a truck driver/farmer. Because of the rain at the start of the season, nothing could be planted, so he had a bit of a lost year.
The other guy was retired, but traveling around as a country song singer, album "Second gear road" by Joe Hartman on Spotify. Well, not my kind of music, but it was nice talking with both of them.
I also noted, the servers were a bit more open and the food seemed better. Same items, but the green beens had some carrot with them, two slices of orange, too. For the hot thea I could chose from different flavours. I know, no live changing events, but I apprecieded it nevertheless.

End of day one on the Texas Eagle.
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PeeweeTM

Train Attendant
Joined
May 9, 2011
Messages
94
Slept okay-ish in the coffin. Drank a coffee at six and went to the diner at 6:30. Was sat with a man traveling back from Forida to Las Vegas, after visiting family during Thanksgiving. Had a really nice conversation.

Some random pictures.
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Approaching Dallas we were met with some freight train congestion. First come, first served lunch was announced at 12.
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We left Dallas with a delay of around 45 minutes, just after the above TRE train left.
Below the area where president Kennedy was shot, as pointed out by Simon, my car attendant.
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Nice looking motor car.
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And one of the many water towers.
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This didn't really shorten the trip to Fort Worth. Below the trainset which almost connects to the South West Chief.
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But due to padding in the schedule, we departed Fort Worth almost on time.

Our train consist: one brave locomotive, transdorm, sleeper, diner, lounge, bagcoach, coach, coach. The transdorm was also open for paying passengers. But fully booked this train was not. At some point about fifty people in the all of the coaches.
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At the first dinner time seating (5 p.m.) the vegetarian pasta was not available, so I ate Salmon, again. I spoke with a woman about rail travelling. She was planning to do some rail traveling in Europe next year, so I advised her to check seat61.com.

On both trains I noted, that some announcements came trough spotty at best. Staff members stated, it was a known problem. Period.
 

PeeweeTM

Train Attendant
Joined
May 9, 2011
Messages
94
Well, I slept well upstairs. Perhaps also because of the long stop in San Antonio. Had breakfast by myself. Only at the end was I joined by a man going to LA to do some business he didn't want to do, so he didn't want to socialize. I finished my breakfast and was in my roomette just in time to see the crossing of the Pecos River.
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I noted, that coach was about half empty, so everybody who wanted had a double seat.
Enjoyed the views of the dessert, part one.
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Former track bed?
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Occasionally I saw wildlive, rarely could I grap my phone, activate the camera and get a bad picture of it.
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Nice to see how a commercial entity uses and values your flag...
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After a while, while approaching Sanderson, we were nearing civilization again, but not quite there yet.
Due to a defect on the locomotive we left Sanderson 80 minutes late. It seems like the engineers did about ten resets. Are those locomotives running on old Microsoft Windows, you know, with the blue 'screen of death'?

I was happy to meet a few Trump voters on the train. Had some healthy discussions with them. So there's still hope for Amtrak under a Republican gouvernement!
 

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PeeweeTM

Train Attendant
Joined
May 9, 2011
Messages
94
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Alpine, Texas:
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Our home has some elevation, too. (... 3 ft. ...)
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I lunched with a man traveling from Birmingham, via Los Angeles to Seattle, after visiting family.
I saw a lot of somewhat elder people (with more time at hand) using Amtrak as an alternative for flying. Scenery, talking to people, being able to move around, no TSA, wider seats, all the known arguments.
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We had some rain drops in and after El Paso.
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Train consist: two engines, bagage, transdorm, sleper, diner, lounch, coach, bagcoach, TE coach, TE sleeper.
Both South West Chief and Texas Eagle attendants had water standing the counter, the Sunset Limited had only juice standing.
On the Sunset Limited quite a few coach passengers got lost in the Texas Eagle sleeper, using the occasion to relieve themselves in the restroom, to get some coffee or to get directions from the sleeper attendant.
 

PeeweeTM

Train Attendant
Joined
May 9, 2011
Messages
94
Woke up pretty early again. We skipped the stop in Pomona, but reversed back into the station. The conductor was already waiting in our car to supervise this move.
Eventually we arrived in Los Angeles about 40 minutes delayed.
I walked to the metropolitan lounge to wait for Hertz to open.

I did a short trip to Barstow, via Cajon Pass.
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A bit further east:
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Next day via Mohave to Oceana, this is Bealville.
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And one train in Caliente:
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Americans don't just walk on the beach, they also drive their cars on the beach. Sure, why not...
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And I spotted this diner, so now it's time for breakfast!
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And will go to the airport later today.
 

PeeweeTM

Train Attendant
Joined
May 9, 2011
Messages
94
I recognize the diner in Oceania along with the beach. Wondering, did you get off the train there.
Nope, I drove a car to Oceano. There aren't many trains stopping at the Grover Beach station.
But driving back to the airport I did see two Surfliners and the Coast Starlight.
 

anumberone

Conductor
AU Supporter
Joined
Aug 8, 2015
Messages
1,697
Location
Los Angeles
I was curios how you got there, I didn't see the Starlight listed in your Itinerary. Lot of interesting photos.
 
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