Mail Bag, 05/11/1996

May 11, 1996, Saturday

FF> Dear Steve,
FF> 
FF> I have been reading some of your articles on train travel on the net and
FF> it seems that you are very knowledgeable on the subject. I am
FF> considering taking a cross-country trip this summer from the Rochester,
FF> NY area to Portland, OR and back to visit a friend. I would appreciate
FF> any advice that you could give on choosing trains, accomodations,
FF> reservations, stopovers, etc. Also advice on anything I should avoid
FF> would be appreciated.....I will have about two weeks total time for the
FF> trip, and I would like to take two different routes out and back if that
FF> is possible to increase the number of sights I see. Thanks for any help
FF> you could give.
FF> 
FF> sincerely,
FF> FF

Dear FF,

Thanks for your e-mail! My suggestion on how to get from Rochester, NY to
your friend in Portland, OR is real easy.  Take the Lake Shore Limited
(Train #49) from Rochester, NY (leaves at 1:52 AM) to Chicago, IL (arrives
at 12:30 PM).  Then, take the Empire Builder (Train #7) from Chicago, IL
(leaves at 3:15 PM) to Portland, OR (arrives not the next morning, but the
morning after that at 10:15 AM).   That is not only the fastest way from
Rochester, NY to Portland, OR ... but it is also the best way to go in my
opinion.  You will get to experience the new ViewLiner Cars on the Lake
Shore Limited, and you will get to ride on one of the best Superliner
routes, the Empire Builder!  Do get the lowest cost Sleeping Accomodations
if you can afford to, but it is still worth going even by coach is what
fits your budget.  One note: You would have to start your trip on a
Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Saturday because the Empire Builder only
runs from Chicago, IL all the way to Portland, OR starting on those days.

The way back is a tougher choice.  The shortest way to take a different
route would be to take the Pioneer (Train #26) from Portland, OR (leaves
at 11:40 AM on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday) to Chicago, IL (arrives
at 4:15 PM after two nights on the train). Then, take the Lake Shore
Limited (Train #48) from Chicago, IL (leaves at 8:00 PM) to Rochester, NY
(arrives at 8:18 AM the next morning).  I'm afraid there isn't any other
good way to get between Chicago, IL and Rochester, NY than taking the
Lake Shore Limited unless you take a very complex route with many changes
and layovers through Canada.

If you have a little more money and time on your hands, I can suggest
another way to return home.  Take the Coast Starlight (Train #11) from
Portland, OR (leaves at 2:30 PM) to Oakland, CA (arrives at 9:20 AM).
If you take that train, you absolutely should get an Economy Sleeper so
that you can enjoy the afternoon wine & cheese in the Pacific Parlor Car
and the stellar first class service of the Coast Starlight!  You would
then have to stay overnight in Jack London Square (Oakland, CA).  You
either book a low cost but adequate room at the Best Western Thunderbird
Inn or go for an unusual experience at the Jack London Inn which is a
bit more expensive.  What is unusual is that you can get a room that
overlooks the train tracks and the trains go right down the middle of a
major street all day and night!  In the morning, take the California
Zephyr (Train #6) from Oakland, CA (leaves at 9:00 AM) to Chicago, IL
(arrives at 4:15 PM after two nights on the train).  To get from Chicago,
IL to Rochester, NY, just follow the instructions above for the Lake
Shore Limited.  The advantage of this route is that you get to experience
the #1 scenic route of Amtrak (California Zephyr), the #2 scenic route
(Coast Starlight), and the #1 train for superb first class service
(Coast Starlight)!

When you are ready to make your travel reservations, I'd recommend that
you call "Accent On Travel" at 1-800-347-0645.  Ted or Sylvia Blishak
have been booking Amtrak for many years and can work with you to get
everything just right.  As of this writing, I have never spoken with
Ted or Sylvia, but I've heard many good things about their ability and
knowledge of Amtrak.  I hope to contact them soon and see if I can help
get them on the web!  If you call, let them know where you heard of them!

Let me know which way you decide to go and how it turns out!

Steve Grande / steveg@sc.liberty.com / ../amtrak.html

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