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Amtrak Coast Starlight Travelogue of
Steven V. Brown

Amtrak Coast Starlight Travelogue of Steven V. Brown, December 26 through December 27, 1996.

From:	S. Brown
Date:	1/20/97  2:52:32PM
To:	Stephen Grande
Subject:	travelogue 3

December 26, 1996 -  Coast Starlight from Martinez, CA to Seattle, WA -
economy bedroom.

	I arrived on the San Joquin in Martinez with about 15 minutes to
spare before the Coast Starlight came through.  It was pouring down rain
in Martinez, so I elected to stay inside the station until I heard the
announcement for boarding over the PA.  I boarded the Coast starlight at
10:00pm.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that my car attendant, Paul,
had already put the bed down for the night.  I gave the conductor my
ticket and then, once again, shut the door and the curtains to take in the
views until I drifted to sleep.  I have found that I sleep in spurts on
the train, maybe an hour or two at a time.  I am glad that I do sleep in
spurts because I am afraid that I will miss something good out the window.
Again, this trip was just as great as the first one I took on December 17.
I awoke just passed Klamath Falls.  I looked out the window and noticed
that we were in snow flurries.  I thought that this would be a great time
to go eat breakfast and enjoy the panoramic views provided by the dining
car.  I was seated with a couple that was on a work trip with Amtrak.  The
gentleman works with Amtrak as a computer designer and programmer.  He was
on this trip with his wife to work out some of the bugs that the Coast
Starlight had been having with its on board computer systems.  As one of
his perks, Amtrak gives him unlimited travel throughout the system.  In
addition, his wife can take up to 11 free Amtrak trips per year!  That is
almost 1 per month.  As I concluded with breakfast, we were climbing
higher towards the station stop in Chemult, OR.  I realized that the snow
pack looked more dense than it did before.  When I returned to my room, I
asked Paul (car attendant) if we would make it over Willamette pass.  Paul
said that this type of snow was nothing for the train.  Apparently, the
conditions that trains have trouble with are rain and incidentally, mud
slides.  The crossing of Willamette pass during the day was spectacular.
I shot about 2 rolls of film (72 pictures).  I was in room # 6 in 1432, so
I had the view side during the portion of the pass I thought had the best
views.  After passing through the various snowsheds, and switchback
tunnels (22 in all)  we started to slowly approach Eugene, OR. (If anyone
knows the distance of the Cascade Tunnel please let me know.the train
passed through it without me knowing.)  Between Eugene and Portland, I
enjoyed lunch and the comfort of my economy bedroom.  Unfortunately, after
departing Salem, OR, the announcement was made that train #14 was going to
be terminated in Portland due to severe mudslides across the tracks.
After this announcement, the conductor passed through the sleeping cars
and issued refund vouchers.  He also said that Amtrak was trying to figure
out how to bus everyone up from Portland to Seattle, including the
intermediate stops.  I figured this was no problem as I would have time to
check out the metropolitan lounge in Portland.  Just before I got off the
train, the new announcement was made that all sleeping passengers bound
for Seattle were to immediately board a bus after detraining.  Portland
was a absolute mess, telephone polls everywhere, trees in the street.No
doubt about the train not being able to go any further.  The bus ride was
interesting..a whole different story.  We had a driver that had never
drove up to Seattle before.  Thats right, never!  As we approached Tacoma,
there was compact snow and ice on the freeway along with semi trucks and
cars overturned in the ditches.  At this point, I could only think how Id
rather be in my warm room on the train.  Somehow, we did eventually get
back to the Amtrak station - the bus driver didnt know where it was
located..  After I claimed my bags, Amtrak redcap wanted the bus to move
closer to the baggage area.  Well, the bus didnt move, it got stuck in the
parking lot.  As for myself, I was stranded.  There was no cab to be seen
and Seattle was a ghost town (They dont know how to handle snow.)
Fortunately, a conductor had called a cab company so I could get back to
the ferry without having to walk.  Finally, I arrived home pretty close to
on time, only to find my car completely buried in snow..-at one point I
couldnt find it at all!

Steven V. Brown

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