Quick Rail Trip to Sacramento
Travelogue and Photos by Steve Grande
Wednesday & Thursday, June 11 & 12, 1997
I took an unexpected rail trip from my home in Anaheim to Sacramento,
California to meet with Dave Mangold, Vice-President of the Amtrak Historical
Society on a brief pass that he was making through the area on his western
On Saturday, June 7, 1997, I received a letter from David Mangold mentioning
that he would be laying over in Sacramento for a few hours between the
westbound California Zephyr Train #5 (scheduled in at 3:05pm) and the
northbound Coast Starlight Train #14 (scheduled out at 11:42pm). This was
sent to me by U.S.Mail since most originators of the Amtrak Historical
Society are not yet online. Dave asked if I would try to reach Amtrak
Historical Society members or potential members in that area that might
be interested in helping to plan next years conference to be held in
Jack London Square in Oakland, California May 1, 2 and 3, 1998.
I had Amtrak tickets in my possession that could take me from Santa Ana to
Oakland, California that were about to expire on July 2, 1997. I had
purchased these tickets in January 1997 when it cost just a couple dollars
more to go round-trip than one-way. The new pricing for Amtrak West has
reduced the price of one-way travel to exactly half the price of round-trip
so it no longer makes sense to buy a round-trip ticket if you only plan to
go one-way. The tickets were good for 3 people to go from Santa Ana to
Oakland, but they wouldn't be of any value if I didn't use them before
July 2nd. Since I had already used half the tickets in going from Oakland to
Santa Ana, they no longer had any redemption value. I had just been looking
for an excuse to use these tickets to travel back up to the San Francisco
Bay Area and this was a great reason to use the tickets!
I tried to call Dave Mangold at home to let him know that I would be
meeting him in Sacramento. Part of his letter indicated that he was
thinking of going all the way to Oakland, but wasn't sure if that would
be possible because of the short layover time in Oakland between the
westbound California Zephyr and northbound Coast Starlight. I didn't want
to be standing on the platform in Sacramento as Dave rolled through the
station on his way to Oakland, so it was fairly important that I contact
him before his arrival. I tried to call Dave on Sunay, June 8th, but he
had already left on his journey and wasn't going to be reached easily
for another week ... except to just try and catch him at the platform in
It was a bit of short notice, but I got the word out about Dave's stop
in Sacramento to all the rail lists and people that I knew were living
in that area. I wasn't too hopeful about getting many, actually about
getting anyone, to show up on short notice. However, I did get positive
feedback from Kirk Shneider of
California Transit and John Raina of "East Bay Railroad Sightings."
Kirk would come down from Davis on an earlier southbound Capitol and meet me
when my train arrived in Martinez. John would come up from Oakland on the
same California Zephyr Train #6 that Kirk and I would take up to Sacramento
and we just planned to meet onboard. One more person, Bob, contacted me
and said he would meet us in Sacramento. Bob knew both Kirk and John, I
think, but Bob and I had never met and Kirk and John had never met each
other before this meeting! I'll have to get Bob's last name as I didn't
jot it down from this meeting. I didn't get confirmation from anyone
else coming to meet Dave Mangold in Sacramento, but I had posted enough
information so that anyone that wanted to join us would be able to find
So, I started my journey. I drove to Santa Ana and parked my van at that
station. 72 hour parking is allowed without having to notify anyone. I
expected to be back within 48 hours, so that was fine. Usually, I drive
all the way to Bakersfield to avoid the bus ride. It only takes about
two and one-half hours to drive from my house to Bakersfield where the
bus takes four hours. This time, however, I was planning to return on the
Coast Starlight. Having my van parked in Bakersfield wouldn't do me any
good upon my return!
I was parked in Santa Ana at about midnight. I waited in my van until
the bus arrived. The bus was arrived at about 12:45am, about 15 minutes
late. That didn't matter as there is plenty of slack in the schedule.
There were two other people waiting for the bus, but after a brief
discussion with the bus driver, it was determined that they would be able
to get much closer to their destination using Greyhound, which shares the
same terminal in Santa Ana. They would just wait in the same place for a
few more hours for the Greyhound bus to arrive.
There were only about 16 people on the bus. With a seating capacity of
about 44, that meant that everyone could stretch out over 2 chairs. I've
been on this bus when it has been filled to capacity on a Friday night,
but weekday nights seem to be quite a bit more empty. My tickets had
been issued to take a train from Fullerton to Los Angeles and then a bus
from Los Angeles to Bakersfield. These are unreserved tickets good on
almost any Amtrak bus or train between Fullerton and Bakersfield.
Since this bus doesn't stop at Fullerton, the ticket is also good from
Santa Ana, the nearest thruway Amtrak bus stop to Fullerton. The bus
driver took both my ticket from Fullerton to Los Angeles and my ticket
from Los Angeles to Bakersfield.
Our next stop was Los Angeles. We arrived about on time at 1:30 a.m.
I must have dozed off several times during the ride to Los Angeles as
I only remember a few landmarks along the way. Most of my entire bus
ride was that way. I remember every major stop, but I can't remember
much else. Time passes pretty quickly for me when I am dozzing off.
That is fortunate as I find the ride between Los Angeles and Bakersfield
pretty boring, especially in the dark.
We lost a couple and gained a couple of people in Los Angeles. If I
hadn't already had a ticket for this bus in Santa Ana, I would have
been able to board it anyway. In that case, I would have to get off in
Los Angeles and purchase a ticket at the Los Angeles Amtrak Ticket
window. I've had to do this before and have seen many others also do
All the previous times I had taken this bus were on Friday evenings
where the bus was full by the time it left Los Angeles. Thus, on those
other trips, the bus would head straight for Bakersfield non-stop.
Since this bus was still pretty empty, it would make a couple more
stops on the way to Bakersfield. These were in Glendale and Santa Clarita.
As mentioned before, this bus will often go direct from Los Angeles to
Bakersfield on Friday evening. There are other Amtrak thruway buses
coming from other cities that stop at Los Angeles on their way to
Bakersfield. Whichever one still has room is sent to stop at Glendale
and Santa Clarita to pick up any passengers there on the way to
Glendale is only a few miles from Los Angeles. We stopped there for
about 5 minutes and picked up 2 more passengers. Immediately after
leaving the Glendale Amtrak Station, we stopped at a 24 hour AM/PM
market for 20 minutes. Many people got off the bus to get something
to eat or drink. I purchased a cold drink in a bottle and brought it
back on the bus with me. I bought a bottle rather than a can so I
could re-seal the drink and put it into the seat back. We proceeded
on to Santa Clarita. We stopped there for less than 5 minutes and
didn't pick anyone up. I slept most of the way both before and after
Santa Clarita. We finally arrived into Bakersfield at about 4:30 a.m.
The train backed into the platform at 4:45am and left the station
like clockwork at 5:00am. I grabbed my favorite seat, one of the "single
seats" on the Amtrak California Cars. I always take one of the two that
is the farthest away from the Cafe Car, but not in the Cab Control Car.
The Cab Control Car only has 2 of the "single seats" instead of 4 as the
other California Coach Cars do. Also, the Cab Car often remains locked
until there are so many passengers on the train that the additional car
is needed. By sitting so far from the Cafe Car, I avoid the constant
traffic of people going back and forth to the Cafe Car and the annoying
noise of the open door between cars.
I put on my scanner earphone and tuned to the road channel used for the
first segment of this journey. I must have fallen asleep pretty quick
as the next thing I remember was the Conductor waking me and asking for
my ticket. I gave him my ticket for Oakland, but told him to mark me down
for Martinez on my seat check. I don't think he noticed that my ticket
was actually good for 3 people and I was traveling alone! Martinez is
the first stop on the San Joaquin line where I can change to a train
heading for Sacramento. It would have been faster, but there is no way
I was going to get off in Stockton and take the connecting Amtrak thruway
bus to Sacramento. If there is a way to go by train, then that is the way
I go, even if it is a bit longer.
I awoke sometime before 8am. I purchased a danish and a bloody-mary from
the cafe car. A bloody-mary with breakfast is something I can seldom
enjoy except when I travel by train. There is no need to worry about
impaired driving when I'm going to use a train for all my travels! The
train was about 30 minutes late into Martinez and arrived around 10:20am.
Kirk Shneider had already arrived and was waiting for me. We hung around
the station to watch the southbound Coast Starlight come through, also
running late. It was being pulled by a freight engine which immediately
explained its late arrival. One of the Coast Starlight locomotives must
have failed along the way.
Kirk and I then went to a local diner around the corner. I just had
coffee since I had already had a danish a short while before. Kirk
ordered a breakfast as he hadn't eaten yet. As the day wore on, I
regretted not having a more substantial breakfast myself. We didn't
stop to eat again until quite late in the evening. We left when it
was starting to get close to the time for our northbound California
Zephyr Train #6 to arrive into Martinez at 11:53am.
The California Zephyr Train #6 arrived near its scheduled time. We
boarded the train and immediately met John Raina who had come down
to the vestibule to find us. On our way up to Sacramento, we used
my cellular phone to check on the status of Train #5 and found that
it was running 2 hours late. That would mean that Dave Mangold
wouldn't be into Sacramento until after 5pm. This presented a bit
of a problem. The last return train from Sacramento left at 5:45pm
which would leave Kirk and John stranded if our meeting with Dave
lasted any more than about 30 minutes. We had all come quite a way
for just a 30 minute meeting!
Kirk came up with an idea that helped out. We got off in Davis where
Kirk and his wife live and walked about a mile to get his car. We
then drove up to the Sacramento Amtrak station which is only about 15
miles from Davis. John stayed on the train up to Sacramento to meet
with Bob and anybody else that might show up to greet our arrival
unexpectedly. We all managed to find each other in the Sacramento
Amtrak station at about 3pm, including Bob who had driven there.
Having still a couple of hours to kill, we took a local transit bus
over to the offices of the Modern Transit Society (MTS), publishers
of "Moving People". We were immediately drafted in helping to stuff
letters into their latest issue that was about to be mailed. So, we
had a bit of a conversation about next years Amtrak Historical Society
conference and other issues while we helped stuff newspapers. I noticed
that this issue advertised their new web site at
www.trainweb.com/mts and I was pleased to see that.
We still had a bit of a wait after that, so we boarded one of the
Sacramento Light Rail Vehicles (LRVs) and got a bit of a tour of that
system. We arrived back at the Sacramento Amtrak Station in plenty of
time before the California Zephyr Train #5 arrived.
The train arrived soon after we got into the station. We waited at the
base of the tunnel under the tracks. Coach passengers would come down
one ramp, sleeping car passengers down the other, but all would have to
pass by us to get to the station. After almost everyone had come down
the ramps and still no Dave, I was getting a bit concerned. I found it
hard to believe that Dave would even attempt to go on to Oakland with
the train being 2 hours late. That would give him less than an hour between
his train and the northbound Coast Starlight.
I left the others to continue to guard the junction in the tunnel while
I went up to the platform to investigate. Bob had already gone ahead of
me, but he didn't know what Dave looked like. The platform was almost
empty except for 3 people chatting way down at the front end of the train.
This could be Dave, but I thought he was traveling alone. I continued to
walk down the platform but wasn't able to confirm that it was Dave until
I was practically on top of him. I guess I was expecting to find him
wearing the "Amtrak Historical Society" baseball cap and T-shirt that he
had at the convention.
Dave was surprised to find me at the platform to greet him as I had
expected that he would be. He was traveling with two other railfans.
I don't have a good memory for names or faces, but if I'm not mistaken,
they were both named "Jason". The rest of our crew soon came up the
platform and joined us and introductions were made all around. Dave and
his travel companions are all railfans, so they were busy taking photos,
examining the consist and writing down numbers. Hence, the reason why
they hadn't come down the ramp even after everyone else had left the
Kirk and John were much more familiar with the local terrain that I,
so they discussed some ideas of where to photograph trains before the
remaining light of the day was lost. Being in California, the conversation
quickly turned to the Amtrak California Cars that usually aren't anywhere
but in California. Dave asked if there would be a place where he could
take a photograph of them. The timing of that question could not have
been more perfect. I said: "Yes, there is one set in the station right
now just on the other side of the California Zephyr that you just came
off." Just then, the California Zephyr pulled out of the station and left
us standing about 20 feet directly in front of the Amtrak Capitols California
Car trainset! That was a pretty impressive entrance right after that
After taking some pictures of the California Cars, we headed over to
Old Sacramento. The railroad museum was closed, but we got some ideas for
the outings to accompany the next Amtrak Historical Society conference.
There are quite a few railcars and other historical things outdoors to see
in Old Sacramento even when the museum is closed. Thus, we examined and
photographed a number of the railcars in the outdoor railyard. We also
took a "self-guided" tour of the "Delta King", sister ship of the "Delta
Queen" including some parts normally closed to the public. Can a "King" be
a "sister"? I guess that works for ships.
While at the rear of the Delta King, another boat was waiting for
the railroad bridge to open. The bridge was a turnstyle type of bridge
and was the one used by all the Amtrak trains that stop in Sacramento.
We waited to watch the bridge open, the boat to go through, and then
the bridge to close. Many times this bridge has gotten stuck in the open
position delaying all of the passenger and freight trains serving
Sacramento for minutes or hours. It isn't common for the bridge to get
stuck, but it does happen from time to time.
Using both Kirk's and Bob's cars, we drove to a number of places to
take photos of trains. Very oddly, both Kirk and Bob were driving the
exact same model cars that were also the exact same color! There was a
one year difference in the cars, but any differences were not obvious.
Thus, it seemed like we were in a convoy!
We stopped at a number of places to get photos of the Sacramento LRVs
and some places where some good shots of the Amtrak California Cars of
the Capitols were obtained. In this effort, we followed the tracks
down to Davis and then took a number of photos of the Davis station.
Dusk had finally set in and the opportunity of taking more photos had
ended. We decided to got to a retaurant near the Davis station for
some food and beer and to talk about ideas for the next conference of
the Amtrak Historical Society.
The restaurant was right next to the railroad tracks, but all the
freight trains were being held waiting for the Coast Starlight to get
through. We called to check on the status of the Starlight so we
would know how long we could spend in the restaurant. It turned out
the Starlight was running over two and one-half hours late because
of track work around San Luis Obispo. Thus, we had a lot of time
available. The sun had just set and Dave's train wouldn't arrive into
Sacramento until almost 2:30 am.
With the help of Kirk, John and Bob, we came up with a list of ideas
for the 1998 Amtrak Historical Society conference. I'll
be following up on helping to get things rolling over the next few
months and the ideas and contacts of the others will go a long way
to helping to make this one of the best conferences.
We then started talking about whether we needed to go back to
Sacramento to catch the northbound Coast Starlight or could just
catch it right in Davis. Most of Dave's luggage was in Kirk's car,
but two pieces had got checked at the Sacramento station. If we
could contact the Sacramento station and make sure that luggage
was put on the train, then we wouldn't have to drive back to Sacramento.
We went to the Davis Amtrak Station where Kirk was known to the
Amtrak Ticket Agent. He did everything he could to help out. Unfortunately,
they could not find one of the bags in the checked luggage in Sacramento.
Thus, Bob gave Dave and his traveling companions a ride back to Sacramento
so they could find their luggage before boarding the Coast Starlight.
My travel plans at this point were a bit interesting if not a little
bizzare. I had planned to return on the next southbound Coast Starlight,
but that wasn't scheduled into Sacramento until about 6am in the morning.
Even if both the northbound and southbound Coast Starlights were running
on time, I knew that I would have 5 hours from the time Dave left until
I'd have to head to the station. I really didn't want to pay for a whole
day in a hotel for so few hours, but the Sacramento station is locked
up at night.
Before I started on this whole journey, I had checked the schedules and
found that the northbound and southbound Coast Starlights cross a bit
north of Chico. I could take an inexpensive coach trip up to Chico and
get to my bedroom on the Sleeping Car at 3:33am. I had already double
checked and found no difference in the cost of the bedroom regardless of
whether I boarded in Sacramento or Chico. The railfare from Chico was
just a few dollars more than from Sacrameno. Thus, if I went up to Chico
and changed trains there to head south, I could be in bed by 3:33am and
sleep as much through the day as I wanted undisturbed .. and would save
paying for a hotel room.
Unfortunately, the timing was exactly wrong. The northbound train was
running 2 and 1/2 hours late while the southbound train was running only
20 minutes late. That would put me into Chico 10 minutes after the
southbound train had already left! Thus, I decided to just take the
northbound Coast Starlight up to Sacramento and spend about 3 hours in
the hotel. That seemed a bit of a rip-off, but I didn't know anywhere
that I could comfortably and safely spend 3 hours near the station.
The Davis ticket agent was very helpful and got me a refund on my $22
ticket from Sacramento to Chico. Actually, don't ask me why, it is a long
story, but I had accidentally purchased 2 tickets from Sacramento to
Chico. Thus, I got a refund of $44. That helped to pay for some of the
hotel stay, but not nearly all of it. John and I used a 50% off coupon
that he had from the Jack London Square visitor directory to buy tickets
for the short ride on the Coast Starlight from Davis to Sacramento. That
came to all of $7.50 all toghether for the two of us. I think the
calculation on that was $5 minimum Amtrak fare less the 50% discount on
one of the passenger fares.
As we left the Coast Starlight in Sacramento we met up with Dave Mangold
once again as he boarded the train. They had found the checked baggage
and were all set to head out on the remainder of their journey. After
the train left, we headed for the station. Going through the Sacramento
is much shorter for getting across the street than attempting to go all
the way around the building. The agent had just locked up and seemed to
be upset that he had to open up to let us pass throught the station.
I checked into the Vagabond Motel that is right across from the station.
This is where the crew from the northbound Coast Starlight, Conductors and
Engineers, stay for the night. They get up in the morning to relieve the
crew on the southbound Coast Starlight. There used to be a shortcut from
the station to the hotel through a cut in the chain link fence around the
station. After going through that cut, you then have to run across a wide
street that merges into the interstate entrance ramp. This could be very
dangerous during the day, but there isn't much traffic both late at night
and early in the morning during the time the Coast Starlight stops in
Sacramento. They seemed to have repaired the fence and thus made it a long
walk to and from the far corner just to cross the street. I asked the
desk clerk what time the Amtrak crew requested their wake up calls and I
made mine for about the same time.
When I got up at about 5:45am, the first thing I did was call 1-800-USA-RAIL
and check on the status of the southbound Coast Starlight. It was now
running 2 hours late! I should have made one last check in Davis before
cashing in my Sacramento to Chico tickets. If the train was already that
late by then, I could have stuck with my original plans, saved staying
the 3 hours in the hotel, and avoided aggravating my Sleeping Car Attendant
who got up in the middle of the night to let me board in Chico, only to
find that I didn't show up!
I could sleep for a couple more hours, but I didn't dare. I hadn't
gotten a normal nights sleep the previous night because of my bus and
train travel and I had only gotten 3 hours sleep this night. With that
kind of sleep deficit, it would be possible for me to go back to sleep
and not hear any alarms or wake-up calls 2 hours later. Normally, I can
wake up without any alarm by just telling myself what time I need to
get up ... but if I'm way behind on sleep, I can sleep through anything!
Thus, I got up and headed down to the station 2 hours early. The
desk clerk was surprised to see me so soon after she had just checked
me in a few hours before. I paid the bill and headed for the station.
I managed to kill a couple of hours walking around the station and then
wandering out to the platform.
They announced the Coast Starlight would be arriving soon and a lot of
people came to the platform. In a few minutes, they announced something
else that I couldn't here. I thought it was just a "final call" for the
Coast Starlight, but a lot of people came to the platform, including a
lot of people that went to the Sleeping Car boarding area. I thought that
was strange as very few people take a Sleeping Car on a trip that has
no further overnights. A Conductor was waiting on the platform also.
Usually he would re-direct people to go to the correct end of the platform,
thus I thought it was even stranger that so many would be at the Sleeping
Car end. Then, a ticket agent drove out with the baggage carts to the
platform. That only confirmed that it was the Coast Starlight that would
be arriving as it is the only train at that hour that would have checked
baggage. She also didn't attempt to tell anyone they were waiting at
the wrong end of the platform. It seemed so strange! All indications from
the announcments to the baggage carts indicated the Coast Starlight would
be arriving next, yet there were loads of people waiting to board,
including on the Sleeping Car end of the platform on a train without any
further overnight travel!
Just then I heard the train horn, which was not a train horn from the
Coast Starlight, and the second southbound Capitol train of the day
pulled up to the platform! That explained all the people at the Sleeping
Car end of the platform. They were boarding the Coach-only Capitol
train! It seemed strange they would bring this train into the same
platform on which the Coast Starlight had just been announced and
which had been set up to load baggage and other passengers. The
Capitol didn't stay long and was out of there pretty quickly.
A few minutes later, I heard a freight engine horn. Then, I saw the
southbound Coast Starlight pull into the station with a freight engine
in the lead! Evidently, a problem with the lead Genisis engine was the
cause of the delay. Placing a slower accelerating freight engine to pull
the train didn't help it make up any time either. I am starting to be
concerned about these new Genisis locomotives. This was the second time
in two days that I saw a Coast Starlight being pulled by a freight
engine! Every time I see that happen, it reminds me of the book
Zephyr - Tracking a Dream
Across America by Henry Kisor. I'm sure whoever authorized the cover
photo was a railfan, but I'm not sure how much of an Amtrak fan they are.
It is a nice photo, but it doesn't say much of Amtrak to see their nice
silver train with the red, white and blue stripes to be dragged around
by a freight engine.
The Car Attendant took my ticket which was good. Usually you have to
wait for the Conductor to come to your room to take your ticket. If the
Diner has made last call for a meal, or it is the middle of the night,
the Car Attendant will often take your ticket and give it to the Conductor.
That way, you won't miss the meal, or have to wait up at night for the
Conductor to get to you.
I did go to breakfast and had the "Coast Starlight Special" which was
an omlete with peppers and onions along with toast, coffee and juice.
The other two that joined me at my table were from coach. The lady across
from me didn't seem unfriendly, but she brought a paperback and read
through the meal. Thus, I couldn't really call her sociable either.
The guy that sat next to me didn't say much either. I tried a few attempts
at conversation, but they just lead to one word or short sentence replies
at best. Thus, I just enjoyed the view and most of breakfast went by
On my way back to my room, I grabbed one of the many bottles of Spring
Water that our car attendant had put out for his passengers. I could
see I was going to like this Car Attendant as he kept coffee going
all day long. I noticed the ice drawer was sealed with tape. I wondered
what the problem was with that drawer but never got a chance to ask.
He had my room set up with everything: schedule, route guide, safety guide,
complimentary stationery, and the complimentery vanity basket of soaps,
shampoo, etc. Even the evening mints that are usually placed on the
pillow at night were there! He had told me that he had my bed all set up
for me in Chico, but closed it up when I didn't show up.
I hung up my jacket and turned my scanner on low volume on the road
channel used by that segment of track. I closed and locked the glass
sliding door and the curtain. I made one seat in the room flat and
reduced the angle of the other to almost flat. Thus, I had the chairs
almost into the bed position, but left one propped up slightly. I
didn't bother to bring down the matress, but I did bring down both
pillows. I could have asked the Car Attendent to do all this for me,
but I figured I put him through enough bother for one morning before
I even boarded the train!
I fell asleep for a while. The next thing I remember was that we
had already crossed the bridge just before Martinez and had just
left the Martinez station. I don't remember anything again until we
stopped in the Oakland yard. From the scanner, I heard they were going
to change crews right there rather than wait until the train got all
the way into the station. Once we arrived into Jack London Square I
saw that"Cirque del Sol" had a big tent set up in the parking lot right
across from the station. I got out and walked to the front of the train.
The freight engine had been replaced by an engine from the Amtrak California
Car sets. I'd never seen the Coast Starlight lead by one of those before.
It would mean that we'd be able to accelerate faster and would probably
make up some time. I took a picture of the front of the train and ran
back to my Sleeping Car. I wasn't sure how much longer we'd stay here as
I knew they'd want to cut it as short as possible to make up some time.
The platform was already getting pretty empty.
I got out again in San Jose. A friend was suppose to meet me there and
return a WebTV unit I had loaned him to investigate. The late arrival
threw off his schedule and he didn't show up. Looks like I'll have to
wait until I return again on the Fourth of July holiday to this area
to get back the unit. My Dad keeps asking me why he keeps seeing this
word "internet" everywhere and asks me to explain it. I try my best, but
he doesn't seem to understand it. Have you ever tried to explain the
word "television" to someone that doesn't know what it is? He asks me to
use it in a sentence, but that doesn't help much at all! I figure the best
way for me to get him to understand it is to show it to him. Since he
doesn't have a PC, the next best thing would be to connect the WebTV
unit to his television. That is why I'm so anxious to get this unit back.
Then, I can show him TrainWeb and maybe he will then understand a little
more about what I do.
Finally, I had no more plans for the rest of the way along this trip.
Thus, I decided to catch up on some of that sleep I had missed over the
last couple of days, but my pattern of dozing and waking pretty much
continued for the rest of the journey. For those of you that are
interested, I posted when I heard each detector at the bottom of this
travelogue. Where you find gaps is where I either dozed off or went
Since I had a late breakfast, I didn't bother with lunch. I did go to the
champagne happy hour around 3 in the afternoon and had almost 3 glasses of
champagne plus some cheese, crackers and fruit. The Pacific Parlor Car
was almost full of people as the party had been announced in all of the
sleeping cars over the P.A. system.
I made reservations for an early dinner at 5pm. The people I sat with
seemed to have a quite a bit more knowledge of rail travel than those
that I had breakfast with. A couple sat across from me. They had come off
the California Zephyr and stayed in Sacramento for the night. We had
a good conversation, but for the life of me, I can't recall much of it!
I do remember that the man told his wife that the view of the ocean
doesn't come up until Santa Barbara. I corrected him on that and let him
know that we'll be by the ocean not too long after we leave San Luis
Obispo and that we'll be right along side the ocean and cliffs for about
2 hours. But I did mention that he was correct that there are some
addional views of the ocean also south of Santa Barbara. The dinner was
excellent. I declined the desert and headed back to my room to enjoy
(or sleep) the remainder of the trip.
After we left Glendale, the Car Attendant came by and gave me an Amtrak
pen as a gift. This wasn't quite up to par with some of the nicer gifts
that are often given out on the Coast Starlight, but I guess he can only
give out what is supplied to him. I gave him a $5 tip which is what I
usually tip per person per day for decent service. If you want to read
a lengthy discource about my experiences and opinions of tipping on
Amtrak, take a look at
I then gathered up my things and waited for our arrival into Los Angeles.
Once the train had stopped, I walked through the train to the Coach Cars.
The Sleeping Cars are serviced in Los Angeles and don't travel any
further south than this. Only the Coach Cars travel the remainder of the
Coast Starlight trip from Los Angeles to San Diego. An announcement had
been made for Sleeping Passengers to walk through the train to the last
three Coach Cars that were continuing south. You can also get off the
train, walk down the platform, and re-board the Coach Cars. I don't
recommend that if you can avoid it. I've done that before. Sometimes you
have to wait as much as 30 minutes before they will even board the
Coach Cars and you then have to settle for whatever seats are remaining.
We once did this on a cold dark evening in November where I think the
Los Angeles temperatures were a record low. We were traveling with both
our children and plenty of luggage. We waited out on the platform for
over 30 minutes while all the checked baggage was loaded into the
Coach/Baggage Car first. When we boarded, we got four of the last remaining
seats. It was the first time I had ever seen a Superliner Coach Car
traveling full of "standing room only" passengers! The bottom line is,
its better to walk through the train to the Coach Cars then to get off
the train and reboard.
The rest of the trip down to Santa Ana was uneventful. We left Los Angeles
only about an hour late. There is actually a lot of padding built into the
schedule, especially between Glendale and Los Angeles. When the Coast
Starlight runs on time, it usually gets into Los Angeles very early. Then,
there is a long wait in Los Angeles since the thru-coaches can't leave
Once we arrived into Santa Ana, I headed for my van which was right where
I had left it less than 48 hours ago! It was almost midnight and the
next Amtrak thru-way bus to Bakersfield would be arriving in less than
an hour. From the station it took me about 20 minutes to drive home.
Detectors & Mileposts:
- 01:22 PM - MP 069.7 - (between San Jose & Salinas)
- 01:39 PM - MP 086.8 - (between San Jose & Salinas)
- 02:03 PM - MP 102.4 - (between San Jose & Salinas)
- 02:16 PM - MP 115.2 - (between San Jose & Salinas)
- 02:30 PM - Salinas Station
- 02:36 PM - MP 127.1 - (between Salinas & Paso Robles)
- 02:50 PM - MP 139.6 - (between Salinas & Paso Robles)
- 04:06 PM - MP 214.0 - (between Salinas & Paso Robles)
- 04:12 PM - Paso Robles Station
- 06:19 PM - MP 290.1 - (between San Luis Obispo & Santa Barbara)
- 06:44 PM - MP 312.5 - (between San Luis Obispo & Santa Barbara)
- 07:16 PM - MP 330.9 - (between San Luis Obispo & Santa Barbara)
- 08:39 PM - MP 386.4 - (between Santa Barbara & Ventura)
- 09:00 PM - MP 406.0 - (between Ventura & Oxnard)
- 09:32 PM - MP 434.3 - (between Moorpark & Simi Valley)
- 09:54 PM - MP 444.7 - (between Chatsworth & Van Nuys)
- 10:00 PM - MP 451.3 - (between Chatsworth & Van Nuys)
To Read More Rail Travelogues
And View More Photos Of Rail Travel!
Are you interested in rail travel along some or all of this journey yourself?
There are very few travel agents that have the necessary knowledge and experience of rail travel to answer your questions
and to book a journey that you will remember for a lifetime. TrainWeb has sought out those travel agencies and rail
tourism companies that not only have the knowledge to book your travel, but have gained the required experience through
extensive rail travel themselves!
Click here for a list of these rail travel providers!
Visit related pages from this and other web sites:
|Click below for pages in the directory of TrainWeb sites:|