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Amtrak San Joaquins Travelogue of
Steven V. Brown

Amtrak San Joaquins Travelogue of Steven V. Brown, December 18 through December 26, 1996.

From:	S. Brown
Date:	1/20/97  2:50:39PM
To:	Stephen Grande
Subject:	travelogue 2

Hi Steve,

December 18, 1996 - San Joquin from Martinez, CA to Bakersfield,CA.
December 26, 1996 - San Joquin from Bakersfield, CA to Martinez,CA.
	
For those of you who have taken this trip across the San Joquin Valley, I
am sure you realize that there is not all that much to look at

	When I got off the Coast Starlight in Martinez, I waited at the
station for a while in order to watch the California Zephyr go by.  After
a few pictures of the east bound train, I noticed a Teriyaki place across
the street from the station.  It looked good, so I got an order of Teryaki
to go for lunch on the train.  It was a clear morning and I felt well
rested from the night before.  Directly across the tracks from the station
is a nice park that is on the waterfront of the Sacramento River.  I had
about an hour to use up, so I walked over there and looked around.  I saw
the bridge that we passed over on the train before arriving in Martinez.
I could also see the mothballed battle ships off in the distance that we
passed on the train.  Martinez is a nice stop to have a layover in because
of its pleasant atmosphere.  At about 11:30, I boarded the unreserved
coach to Bakersfield.  Fortunately, the train was practically empty so I
had a whole section of one car to myself.  I finally managed to pull a
book out that I had been meaning to read.  I found it interesting that I
had brought several different things to do with me on the Coast Starlight,
yet, I never got to one of them.  It is amazing how time flies on the
train.  It goes by so fast, especially when you have some interesting
scenery.  As I was reading, once again I was distracted by interesting
scenery. Just out of Martinez, the train passes over the Sacramento Delta
area for many miles.  This is an interesting area because you can see how
some people that farm for a living really live.  It was interesting that
some of them had floating homes as well as boats that were probably used
to get around their acreage in.  After the train passes through this area,
the land is flat all the way to Bakersfield.  The scenery is a
concentration of agricultural type orchards throughout the "bread basket
of America."  15 minutes after the Modesto station stop, the train came to
a halt.  There was no announcement either as to why this occurred.  As I
was looking out my window, I noticed that the assistant conductor was
standing out on the road waving his arms.  (That is strange I though???)
Then he lit a flare and started waving it around in the air for a while.
Shortly after this, a truck came to a screeching halt by the assistant
conductor.  Then in the distance you could hear sirens.  It turned out
just as I had suspected - A medical emergency.  They ended up taking a guy
off the train because he was beginning to have a heart attack.  The staff
handled it well because between stopping the train and leaving, only about
10 minutes had passed.  A very organized effort was demonstrated by
Amtrak.  Shortly after this incident occurred, I was finally enjoying a
good book until the obnoxious lady on the Coast Starlight walked into the
car!  She recognized me and then proceeded to sit down next to me!
Thoughts were flashing through my head..How could she possibly be on this
train, the same one as me?!  Once again, she smelled of alcohol.
Fortunately, she was getting off in Fresno, the next stop.  At least I
would have my peace from there until Bakersfield.  I made sure that I
asked her what day she was returning to Seattle on the Coast Starlight -
fortunately, my return trip was 4 days later than hers.  
	Bakersfield to Martinez was all in the dark practically.  This
time I rode in the custom class car.  There is not much difference between
coach and custom class.  I did notice that some portions of the rail
between Bakersfield and Martinez are a bit lurchy at times.  It seemed to
me that the Custom class car was a bit more stable and smooth than coach
was though.  Amtrak mentions that when you ride in the custom class car,
you get complimentary drinks and a snack.  All I found was some hot
coffee.  In fact, they didnt even seem to have cups for soda, or even any
ice for that matter.  Nor were there any newspapers to be found either.
Custom class is nice in that it is a quieter car, however, it is highly
overrated.  Next time, I would be just as content riding coach between
these two points.

Steven V. Brown

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