Support this website by joining the Silver Rails TrainWeb Club for as little as $1 per month. Click here for info.

Sam Copelan's Trip on Amtrak's Coast Starlight & Pacific Surfliner

From Tom and Linda Fry

Way last March I wrote you about my little friend Sam Copelan's upcoming train journey. Finally, here is his travelogue. Except for Mom's notes, these are all his impressions of the trip in his own words. We only made a couple of grammatical changes. Sam is six and is just finishing Kindergarten. He really loves trains. His little sister in the pictures is Hannah. They had a great time on this trip and are still talking about it. Thanks for considering it. There are four photos accompanying.

Sam's Train Travel Journal
April 4-10, 2001

A note from Mom: My son Sam is a train man's man! It all started when he was 16 months old in the mall. My usually calm and happy baby threw the worst temper tantrum when I refused to buy him a little wind up train that he was holding in his fat, baby hands. I knew that this was odd and that the train was something that he must have really NEEDED. Thus began his love affair with trains. He has read nearly every book and seen nearly every video ever made. In his Kindergarten class, he is the resident expert on trains, their functions, and their history. Finally, we booked our first train trip from So. California to Washington state to visit family. Below is Sam's journal.

April 4, 2001
7:00 a.m. Oceanside
Amtrak Pacific Surfliner

I am cold and I was waiting for the train to hurry up and get me but it was taking too long. Then we stopped in San Juan Capistrano and I thought that we were at the station. I was happy because I cant wait to get on the train that were going to live on. But we have to ride a little bit more to get to Los Angeles. I'm wearing my train hat, the train guys will like it. I saw box cars and tank cars. I saw other cars that were flat, like flat cars or something.

9:00 a.m. Los Angeles
Amtrak Coast Starlight

We have moved to our sleeping car. This is the most perfect, perfect place! It is so comfy. This is more perfect than my house! I wish we could live here on the train. I wish it would take 12 days on the train. I used the bathroom. I liked it. I was scared when I put the toilet seat down, because the red light blinked and it all went "splshoowhee!" Someday, I am going to be a train doctor. I need to fix broken trains.

At lunchtime, we ate lunch in the dining car. I had chicken strips and french fries and milk and fruit cocktail. It was good. It was fun eating there because it gots more people there. It's like eating at a birthday party. And we saw islands out my window. I like choosing from a menu. The ride is so much fun because we get to go over 9 feet bridges and out my window I see cows! So far, we went through 7 tunnels. It gets very dark and you cannot see and you pretend to be scared. I know a little about trains but not very much. On train shows, I learned that they used to have a little red caboose at the end of the train but at the end of that year, they took off a little red caboose and put a blinking light on the last car. We had dinner again. It was heavenly good. They are treating us like kings. We had an ice cream sundae. We got to sit with someone that is from where there is a lot of snakes and where Survivor is. Mom said it is Australia.

I just saw tank cars! They can be white and black. But they can't be blue because it's hard to see what it says. Black tank cars are the best. And cars with lots of holes are called "pig cars" so animals can breathe. These sleeping cars are cool because I can do stuff with my family.

And by the way, first of all, trains don't eat and second of all, trains don't talk - well, except for Thomas and the other engines. Trains get train gas and diesels get diesel gas and bad diesels get devil gas. Like Diesel #10 who wants to destroy good engines! Right now out my window,

I can see James the Red Engine leading our train. And 3rd of all, trains don't play. They only take passengers, coal and other stuff to people who need them. And 4th of all, trains do not have babies. They only make them from old smashed trains that went to the junkyard! 5th of all, I see a switch track out there for trains on the same track and if they're going the wrong way, they can turn and go the right way. Later, I'll tell about the 7th of all when I hear something else about trains that are not Oh, I never thought this day would come! 7th of all, some trains do talk that we don't know. Only if they're blue, red or green. Like Thomas or the train on "Dora the Explorer" or "The Little Engine that Could." Only those can talk.

Tonight, my sister and I got to sleep on the top bunk. I slept on the outside and there was a net to catch me from falling. We even had a blue night light! I'm really cozy comfy here. Before bed, we had to take a shower while sitting on the potty but we weren't really going potty. Mom wanted the big lights out so that no one could see her underwear. I said, "I see London, I see France!"

April 5, 2001

Today we saw lots of snow. I think I'm on train rule #10 and that is - if you see snow, you're probably going higher. Soon you'll need to put on a snow plow.

Mom keeps thinking that the conductors walking around are engineers, but I say, "Mom, then who's driving the train?" She always says, "Oh yeah." Girls like Barbies, but boys like Trains! Before dinner, I was looking out the window. I saw a break-down train and it wasn't going anywhere- it was just staying. Then a train passed by us and I yelled, "Whoa!" because it was so short.

Then we stopped at a bridge. I see the tracks moving up so a boat could pass by! I don't believe it, this is so amazing! I'm so scared going over water because there may be a so strong storm that would break our bridge and we would all fall through the water. Singing songs does make me feel better like "A Million Little Bunnies" or telling funny jokes.

A note from Mom: We had a wonderful time visiting family. However, Sam would often ask me privately, "Mom, how many days left until we get back on the train?" Finally, his day to leave the fun loving cousins and return to his sleeping car and his beloved attendants, chief, and conductors arrived.

Return Home
April 9, 2001

I have decided that when I grow up, I will drive the "S"(ed: for Sam) track instead of the "M" track. (Amtrak) We got to talk to the Chief. I told him that I was going to be an engineer. He said that first I have to work on a train as a conductor. Then, I get to be the chief. Then, they will send me to train school to be an engineer. I think that would be fun.

Now, we are in a tiny little room. I think that it is very cute. At the train station, it was very crowded. I saw a freight train going by. We never get on the freight trains but they carry stuff that we want. They carry coal.

After dinner, I had a chocolate ice cream sundae. It was good. Then we went downstairs to take a bath. It would be nice if we had our own bathroom again but this is fine too. It sprays me like a water balloon fight. Then we went back upstairs to our beds. I slept on the up bunk and on the end so Hannah wouldn't fall out.

April 10, 2001

This morning, our engine broke down. His name was "Genesis." There are 3 engines on the front now. The engine pulling us now is called "Workhorse." It was certainly a long wait. It's a good thing there are two good engines in case this one breaks down. I am a train doctor but I couldn't get it because the door was locked.

We saw an old wooden trestle and we are making a loop inside a horseshoe! We are carrying a little red caboose but it is not ours. Somebody wants us to pull it but I don't know who.

We passed by a prison. It was big. It was full of bad people who steal and tell lies. Next to it, I saw some little ponies running. They were so cute!

Whenever I wear my engineer hat, the man in the parlor always asks, "Why aren't you driving the train?" I said, "I'm not driving the train because you're not sitting down!" He is such a teaser.

Because our train broke down, we had to take a bus because our L.A. train was on time but our train was not on time. There was a little car that took us really fast like a smooth roller coaster that doesn't go on rails. The man wore a red train hat and he took us to the bus. I like trains. We stayed at the train station at 2:30 in the morning waiting for dad to come. We were ok but we were a little scared. Next time, I want to go on a train again because it was so fun. And I want to eat in the dining car and play in the kiddie room. I also want to look out from our little bedroom.

Two days on the train is not too long. It is fun. I like planes too but trains are slower and I like slow. Trains are the best!

A farewell from Mom: Our time is done and we will now return to the pace of our ordinary lives. Although Sam is young, I doubt that he will ever forget this trip across the Pacific Northwest via Amtrak's Pacific Coast Starlight. Much thanks to the crew for their kindness to our little family. Trains are the only way to go and may they never lose their place in man's quest for travel.


Click below for pages in the directory of TrainWeb sties:
0-9 A B C D E

ad pos61 ad pos63
ad pos62 ad pos64

Support this website by joining the Silver Rails TrainWeb Club for as little as $1 per month. Click here for info.