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Which Way West?

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cpamtfan

OBS Chief
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Aug 7, 2008
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841
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Long Island, NY.
I'm nowhere near a newcomer to rail travel, intact I've been riding trains for my whole life.

But, I can't decide which way to travel to around San Jose/Salinas, California next summer. I only have about 2 weeks to travel around, about 4-5 days in Cali. So I've narrowed it down to three choices:

Empire Builder/Coast Starlight-Easily 2 of the highest class trains on the system. That extra night is a killer, though. Scenery might not be the best but still great. Also, VooDoo doughnuts in Portland makes me hungry lol.

California Zephyr-By far the best scenery of my 3 choices. Food was upped a year ago, so that's a plus. Arrival time in Cali isn't bad, could go straight to an Athletics or Giants game. This is what I'm looking at right now.

Southwest Chief/Coast Starlight-This one is tempting. Since I'll probably be coming in on the Cardinal, this leaves the most leeway if something were to happen. The scenery is probably 2nd best or close to the Empire Builder. Also seeing the Cali coast would be good to rub in my friends faces lol (I'll probably go there one of the days I'm there anyway). I do, however, want to go back to LAX to end my trip so I can say I've been on Hollywood Blvd. I'm inbeteeen on this one right now.

So, leave your feedback. It would be much appreciated!
 

Acela150

Conductor
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In a Sea of Foam
I think the CZ is a good choice! But the SWC and CS is also a good choice! Those are my two! But all three are great choices! I'd stay away from the EB right now with the current problems due to the flooding. :blink:
 

cpamtfan

OBS Chief
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Messages
841
Location
Long Island, NY.
I'd stay away from the EB right now with the current problems due to the flooding. :blink:
What's wrong being on a train 2-4 hours longer? I'd enjoy the extra time on it! :)
Connection in PDX. I know they would probably hold the Starlight, or at worst bus bridge us like the old days.

Of course anything can happen. Any line could have an issue, but the EB has known issues pretty much every year now.
 

the_traveler

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Nov 14, 2007
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Whatever siding I'm sitting on!
Which way west?
By train of course!


You are aware that the CZ ends it's run in EMY, not San Jose! But I'm sure there are other train there later in the day.


As much as I like going to PDX (and Voodoo Donuts
), I'd vote 1st choice as SWC/CS - or even if you can do it TE/SL/CS. 1 extra night on the train!
 

Anderson

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I would personally do the SWC/CS combo as my first choice and the CZ as my second choice. The Raton Pass scenery is nice (and on borrowed time), and the operation is among the "tightest" in the system, and you'd get the CA coast in to boot. The CZ is beautiful as well, but I think that route is more prone to trouble from UP.

By the way, why are you taking the Cardinal? I ask in no small part because of the lower-level food service I've heard about on it, among other issues.
 

abcnews

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Anderson

Conductor
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Nov 16, 2010
Messages
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Virginia
That's why I said "among other issues": It's also far more expensive, as a rule. I do want to take the Cardinal at some point, but I have a lot of trouble justifying the cost (if I can even find space!)...and I'm hard-pressed to spend a substantial sum more "just" for the scenery.
 

cpamtfan

OBS Chief
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Messages
841
Location
Long Island, NY.
I honestly don't care about the food quality just because it isn't 5 star quality doesn't mean its bad by any means. I've also taken the LSL 3 times and the CL once so I want to expand my Ammap.

Traveler, I did look into the TE-SL-CS option, but I want the extra day to go do an activity. I am aware that it does end in EMY, and am trying to figure out what I would do from there.

In 3-4 days in CA, I want to try to:

Go to the beach and brag to my friends

See either a Giants or Athletics game-Note my cousin might work for the Giants by then

Go to the NASCAR race in Sonoma-Note my uncle works for the company that owns the track

Go to a family meet somewhere in Napa Valley

Go to Los Angelas and finish the New York-Chicago-Los Angelas trifecta. I would want to atleast be on Hollywood BLVD so I can say I've been there. What about Phillepes? Isn't that near there too?

Possibly treck to Yosemite or San Diego-Note my cousin works in Yosemite

Remember, I only have roughly 2 weeks, so I have to plan hastily. I've looked into also stopping in Wisconsin again, but not sure about that.
 

the_traveler

Conductor
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Nov 14, 2007
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26,008
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Whatever siding I'm sitting on!
Phillipe's is <2 blocks from Union Station!
(An easy 5 minute walk.)

Another issue about choosing the Cardinal over the CL is the (maybe) bus bridge from PGH to WAS. That's why I am staying with the Cardinal in October!
 

junebug

Lead Service Attendant
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Jun 14, 2011
Messages
299
I just went from Chicago to San Jose a couple of weeks ago. I took the Southwest Chief from Chicago to the Grand Canyon. It arrived 6 hours late so any pretty part was probably at night. Then the Grand Canyon to L.A. was at night and on time.

Then I took the Coast Starlight up to San Jose. The breathtaking part was from after L.A. to San Louis Obsibo. They have a wine and cheese tasting parlor car but that is only if you get a sleeper car.

I have also taken the California Zephyr. Between Denver and Salt Lake City is amazingly beautiful.
 

Acela150

Conductor
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Jan 11, 2008
Messages
8,820
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In a Sea of Foam
I just went from Chicago to San Jose a couple of weeks ago.
Did you Sing? :rolleyes: :giggle:

Aloha
If you go from NYP to San Jose, via the LSL and other trains, not only do you sing - you also go "up the river" and pass directly thru Sing Sing (Prison)
(The tracks are between the 2 haves of Sing Sing!)
ROFL!! :lol: :lol: :lol: I vaguely remember that too from my last trip on the LSL.. :lol:
 
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