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8000 Mile Amtrak Journey

From : (Richard Kaplan)
To :
Date : Sat, 23 Sep 2000 16:39:31 -0400 (EDT)
Subject : 8000 mile Amtrak journey

Like so many others on this board,I consider a train ride the vacation.not getting frompoint a to point B. I just returned from an almost two week rail journey that went as follows:

I left from Elizabethtowm,Pa(free parking..Harrisburg next door wanted $15 a day!) I left at 12:30am on train 44 coming ftom Chicago heading toPhilly. I connected to the Twilight shoreliner at 4am to Washington. After a four hour layover in DC,which isq uite pleasnt at Union Station I caught the Cardinal at 10:40 for Chicago. The ride through Western Virgina and west Virginia is breathtaking. In Chicago I took the Sunset Limited headed to Albuquerque. Im always amazed at the scenery through New Mexico. I ve taken this train many times and always marvel at the western landscape. We actually got into Albuquerque 45 minutes early. I rented a car and spent the next day exploring Santa Fe,Taosand the countryside of Northern New Mexico.

Back on the SW Chief two days later. This train was two hours late. Off to Needles,Ca where I made a shuttle connection toLas Vegas at 3:30AM literally in a shuttle van. We arrived at the McCarren airport about 6,then took the limo to the Plaza Hotel where the Desert Wind would call. I chose the Plaza because it is inexpensive and is next door to the Greyound Bus station where I would catch a Thruway bus to Bakersfield the next morning. The landscape between Las Vegas and Bakersfield is stunning.I couldn t get a direct connection toLos Amgeles,so I was off to Bakersfield. I wanted to avoid a nights accomodation in LA,so I opted for a Midnight bus to San Diego. The Bakersfield train station is recntly remodeled and is quite a showplace. I spent a few hours wallking the streets of Bakersfield(like the Buck Owens song) and spending a few hours at a library next door.

Arrived in San Diego,after a stop in LA at 5:30AM. Then I boarded the Trolley to the border,went into Tijuana,came back to the station and wantedto make sure I got on a Pacific Surfliner toLA. Back in LA,outside Union Station a huge festival clebratig Mexican Independence day was in progess,so that killed several hours until my 10:30 departure on The Texas Eagle back East. I ve ridden coach on the way out,but took an economy sleeper from Palm Springs. From LA its over $300,but two and a half hours down th line in Palm Springs the price drops to $200.I was listening to Jim Ladd on KLOS on my walkman,and the timing couldn't have been better.He was playing an hours worth of songs about trains extolling the virtues of train travel. Talk about an audio experience!

A delightful ride on the Sunset Limited/Texas Eagle through Arizona and New Mexico. The Sunset has a great new route guide. We were about four hours late getting into san antonio,but leaving North to Chicago that was cut down to an hour.There is always four hours of layover time in san Antonio when the train is on time. I haven t ridden the Texas Eagle in many years,andit was nice going through Texas with the ever changing scenery. Next morning leaving st Louis.a great view of the arch was afforded as we crossed the Mississippi.

Back in Chicago to catch the Lake Shore limited which left an hour and a half late to wait for passengers on a very late California Zephyr, Apparently a car hit a freight train and there was quite a delay.Same thing happened in Indiana on the L S Limited,which put us four hours late,but we got to see Cleveland,Erie and Buffalo in daylight. I was headed to Boston for a 6:30 arrival,and then would catch the 8PM Twilight Limited for Philadelphia and back to Elzabethtown. However with a four hour delay,that would not be possible. Amtrak tried to find a hotel room for me and then put me on the 6:15am Acela,which was fine. I haven t ridden an Acela train yet and I wanted to give it a try. However every room Amtrak tried was booked,so they gave me $100 and I spent the seven hours at South station overnight.Hey for $100 Ill be happy to become a vagrant fora few hours sleeping on the bench. Ill say one thing..the folks at Amtrak really try to take care of any problems that come up,like missed connections.

Back on the train to Philly at6:15am with only a few major stops. Did that train fly! On time arrival in Philly and back to E-town and back home where I slepf for fourteen hours.

I've been home two days and I m ready to do it again. I guess there are a few of us out there who take the train just for the sake of taking the train. I ve been doing this every year since 1990.I ve ridden every major route, with the exception of the Pioneer. I ve met so many fascinating people on my journeys.I usually travel alone and I prefer it. Maybe you ve seen me.I always take along a radio cassette recorder and record radio stations on my trip. I number my tapes and then listen to them back in that order. Kind of an audio equivalent of a camera.

Can't wait for next years trip!

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