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Amtrak Travelogue
by Rebecca Davey

Subject: A wonderful train excursion with a few hiccups
Date: Mon, 16 Nov 1998 21:27:34 -0600
From: Rebecca Davey

For almost 3 weeks my husband and I traveled the train network coast to coast for approximately 16,000 miles. We saw some of the best of the train system and a little of the worst of the system. We were on several trains from heaven and one from hell. I would still do it all over again except to leave out the Empire Builder experience. We started out in Dallas, TX on the Sunset Limited destined for Los Angeles. We were just at the beginning of the severe rain that flooded South Texas. Our connection was good in San Antonio thus allowing us to make a good connection with the Coast Starlight in Los Angeles. The Coast Starlight is indeed a premiere experience that is unsurpassed in scenery and service. Fortunately, we planned well and stayed over a night in Seattle allowing us to take the Mount Baker train the next morning into Vancouver Canada. This was a wonderful surprise. We wound along the coast at times appearing to be right over the water of Puget Sound. This was the most beautiful scenic experience. This train also has a full service dining car that serves a great breakfast. They return in the evening allowing a day in Vancouver returning with a nice dinner service that evening. I REALLY do recommend this experience. We went on the VIA Canadien train that crosses Canada into Toronto. Beware of the Toronto station for those who carry a lot of luggage like we did. It is almost impossible to handle down the stairs by yourself and red caps are a rare sight.... We missed a connection because of this to the Maple Leaf.. We found our own bus connection to another stop of the Lake Shore Lmtd. Amtrak did work with us to change the departure location and the train was notified to pick us up. But .... the sleeping car attendants would not open up the car to let us board. We had to get the engineer to finally get us loaded. (That was not a good experience.) This was at Buffalo... We hated the Chicago Metro Lounge. No seats,,, very hot,,, and I cannot tell you how rude the hostesses were to the guests. I even got knocked down while waiting in line for the red cap as they had asked us to do. The attendant just laughed... it was not funny. We then boarded the Train from Hell-- Empire Builder. Immediately all passengers were treated to the feud between dining car and lounge car. It would have been funny if the dining car was not so awful. You were lucky to ever get a drink of any kind before your meal was finished and food was poorly prepared, undercooked(baked potatoes hard as rocks) Salmon was not even edible. RUDE.... All were rude except sleeping car attendant... But we met some great fellow passengers. The best of the scenery is not visible ... since you go through the mountains at night-- except for the Cascades. We departed at Portland. The PORTLAND LOUNGE IS SO NICE. We felt so welcome and left with such a positive feeling. Luckily we were able to experience the Coast Starlight again and just as great.... The next train was the nicest surprise---- California Zephyr. We really enjoyed the trip from Sacramento to Reno. The trip is enhanced by a great commentary. We followed the first snow of the season into Donner Lake.... what a gorgeous sight. This trip was such an unexpected delight-- all services were equally great.. Unfortunately-- we had to experience Chicago again-- and still just as nasty of an experience. The Texas Eagle was good-- but rather ho-hum after great experiences of California Zephyr and Coast Starlight.... Yes we will plan more extensive train trips in the future-- but will definitely book the Deluxe Bedroom instead of the Standard. I hope this information will not turn anyone away-- your experience may more than likely be even better than ours.

Rebecca Davey Controller Mapsco, Inc and Pierson Graphics Corp.

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