Amtrak Coast Starlight
Travelogue and Photos by Steve Grande
Oakland, California to Los Angeles, California
November 3, 1996
This is the third leg of my three leg journey,
October 26 to November 3, 1996, going from
Fullerton, California to Chicago, Illinois on the Southwest Chief,
Chicago, Illinois to Oakland, California on the California Zephyr,
Oakland, California to Los Angeles, California on the Coast Starlight,
and then the short commute from Los Angeles to Fullerton, California on
the San Deigans.
Click here for photos & more info about the Coast Starlight.
Friday, 10:00 P.M. (Pacific Time), 11/01/96, Oakland, California
I arrived into Oakland, California on the California Zephyr just
about on time. That almost threw off my plans. Historically, Amtrak
seldom arrives on time, especially at the end of a three day journey!
This time, however, the train arrived just about on time. It would have
been 100% on time, but a drawbridge right at the end of the journey was
open to let an oil tanker through.
I did arrive into the Jack London Square Amtrak Station in Oakland earlier
than a friend that I was meeting was expecting. That gave me a chance to
just walk a few blocks down the street and check into my hotel, the Jack
I don't remember if I have talked much about the Jack London Inn
before, but let me mention it now. There are three hotels that serve
Jack London Square. If you have a LOT of money to spend, stay
at the Waterfront Hotel. It is the nicest place to stay in Jack
London Square and is the only place right in the square! For a little
extra money, you can get a room overlooking the water and even one with
a balcony overlooking the water! The next best place to stay is the
Thunderbird Hotel. That might sound like a skid row motel, but
it isn't. It is part of the Best Western chain and is actually
a pretty good place to stay. The Thunderbird Hotel is about two
blocks from Jack London Square and about five blocks from the Amtrak
station. I learned about it because it was where Amtrak placed me when
I booked a trip through their Great American Travel Plans. The place
that I usually stay is at the Jack London Inn. It costs only a
little more money than the Best Western Thunderbird Hotel and
is directly across from Jack London Square and two blocks from the Amtrak
train station. The reason I really like staying there is that all of
the Amtrak trains go right down the middle of the street right in front
of that hotel! However, before you book your stay there, you need to
know a little bit more about the Jack London Inn.
First, let me state that the Jack London Inn has improved quite a
bit since my last stay. However, it is still the lowest quality place
to stay of the three hotels that serve Jack London Square.
On the front of the hotel, the windows are sealed with double panes of
glass. Unfortunately, dirt has somehow gotten in between the double
panes of glass. Thus, the windows are dirty and the doulbe panes of
glass prevent them from being cleaned. Your room will have dirty windows
and they can't be cleaned. On many rooms on the third floor, the air
conditioning doesn't seem to work in some of the rooms. Also, you will
probably only get one small towel per person in your room unless you ask
for more towels. The hotel seems to have a reputation for having a
shortage of towels.
On the good side, if you get a room on the fourth floor (don't settle for
the third floor), you can see all the trains from your room! There are
something like 20 passenger trains each day that go by the hotel plus
many freight trains! This hotel is a train lovers heaven! If you want
a little closer view of the trains, just step outside the front door of
the hotel and stand there. Don't step into the street or you will be run
over by a train!
This hotel is seldom booked solid. However, this time, it was good that
I had a reservation since the hotel was booked pretty solid. An organization
was holding a convention at the hotel and had most of the rooms booked. You
might wonder what organization would hold their convention at this hotel
after seeing the conditions of the hotel that I just described to you. It
could have been a rainfan convention since I'm sure those people would put
up with the minor problems to be close to the trains. But, it wasn't.
I am not joking when I tell you that just about everyone at this convention
had either a long white cane, a seeing eye dog, or both! It was a
convention of blind people! This was one of the most unusual conventions
I had ever witnessed. The hotel even set up a dirt area in the undercover
parking lot for them to take their dogs. Jack London Square is pretty
urban and there aren't any real dirt areas to walk your dog.
Sunday, 10:00 A.M. (Pacific Time), 11/03/96, Oakland, California
I have not yet written up this leg of the trip. Below are a few notes that
I have made to myself so that I can remember some of the things that did
happen on the trip. I will be writing about this segment of my trip soon.
In the meantime, click here
to read about my previous trips on the
Coast Starlight or
click here to read about the start of this
- Problems with adding Ron to ticket
- Lunch with 2 gals - 1 becoming a nun & 1 first train trip
- Souveniers (tie tack & playing cards, pocket knife)
- Bathroom differences between Super I and II
- Day trippers only even in SLO, but coach full.
- Got wrong room, but good because ocean side.
Sunday, 3:45 P.M. (Pacific Time), 11/3/96, San Luis Obispo, California
For the very first time, I have successfully logged onto the Internet
while on the train! A friend of mine has a Ricochet wireless modem.
This modem works throughout most of the San Francisco Bay Area and the
San Luis Obispo area. I connected to my http://www.aho.com/amtrak.html
page and then sent an e-mail message to myself and to his pager.
for the first leg of the journey which was on the Southwest Chief!
for the second leg of the journey which was on the California Zephyr!
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