Amtrak Travelogue Part 4 of 4
Sunday, August 18, 2002
In case you didn't read the last segment of this travelogue, I'm going to start by repeating the description of the hotel where we stayed last night.
We stayed at the Woodfin Suites which is just over the Emeryville Station pedestrian bridge and a short walk across the parking lot to the rear entrance of the hotel. Our room was number 219, on the second floor. If you visit this place, ask for an odd numbered room but make sure it is on the third floor or higher. This hotel would definitely qualify for www.RAILhotels.com, one of our new websites under development that will feature hotels near rail station and hotels with a view of the tracks. If you stay in any odd numbered room on the third floor or above at this hotel, you should have windows and a patio overlooking the tracks and the Emeryville Amtrak Station! I even had a decent view from my room on the second floor, but a roof to shelter guests entering from the rear of the hotel blocked part of my view of the station. This roof should not be in the way of anyone on the third floor or above. All odd numbered rooms have a view of the tracks, but the lowered numbered rooms on any floor will be closer to the actual station platform.
I would recommend this place to anyone that would like to spend some time in this area or that needs to spend a night when changing trains. The hotel has a full kitchen, including refrigerator, stove, microwave, coffeemaker, toaster, and even comes with all the dishes, glasses, pots and pans. So, it is a great place to stay if you want to save a bit of money and not eat every meal in a restaurant. Don't worry about breakfast as there is a free complimentary hot buffet breakfast every morning.
Directly next to the Emeryville Amtrak Station and across the tracks from the Woodfin Suites Hotel is a new residence building going up. This would be the ideal place for any railfan to live! If you lived here, you would have a view of many Amtrak Capitols, many Amtrak San Joaquins, two Amtrak Coast Stalights, two Amtrak California Zephyrs and countless freight trains right from you balcony or windows! This place would be the ideal candidate for another future TrainWeb website, www.RAILestate.com! For more information about these particular living units, see: www.EmeryStation.com.
I made one last call to 800-USA-RAIL to get the train status before I went to bed at about midnight. The southbound Amtrak Coast Starlight was only running about 12 minutes late. By 6 A.M. in the morning when we awoke, the train had fallen behind a few more minutes. The train did get into Sacramento at 6:49 A.M., just 14 minutes late, but didn't depart until 7:15 A.M., 40 minutes late. When 800-USA-RAIL told me that the train wasn't expected into Emeryville until 8:48 A.M., we realized we would have time to go to the free hot breakfast buffet in the hotel. The food is not "cook to order" like at the Embassy Suites, but it was pretty good. We both had some scrambled eggs, potatoes, mellon, and a couple of other bread type items along with orange juice.
We then explored the shopping within a short walk of the hotel. There is a nice little plaza right across the parking lot with many small interesting restaurants. It was sort of what you would find in a food court at a mall, but the vendors were more unique. There were no chain fast food establishments. There is also a sports bar type of restaurants and a game room. My favorite place there would probably be the Barnes & Nobles. A little further, but still within walking distance is a movie theatre.
I think I will be making future stays at this Woodfin Suites Hotel in Emeryville. I like the view of the station and tracks from my room as well as the convenient book store, movie theatre and eating places by the hotel. Plus, it is a short distance from Jack London Square and San Francisco.
At 7:50 A.M., we felt it was getting a bit late and started our walk back to the hotel. We managed to get back to our hotel room, check out, cross the pedestrian bridge, and get to the train station long before 8:30 A.M. However, the status board in the station showed that the expected arrival time had been changed to 9:00 A.M., and shortly thereafter, was updated again to 9:25 A.M.
Upon boarding the train, we went right to our room which was Deluxe Room B in the 1132 Sleeping Car, the one closest to the front of the train. Our Sleeping Car Attendant seems very thorough as he came right to our room and gave us a complete explanation of the train. However, I did stop him about half way through his talk as it seemed like it was going to be awfully detailed and was unnecessary in our case. He had coffee, soft drinks, bottle water and ice set up in the refreshment area at the center of the car at the top of the stairs. The Diet Pepsi had run out and he didn't have any more. I took a couple of bottles of water and cups of ice to our room for us, but then went down to the Pacific Parlour Car to see if I could find some Diet Pepsi.
I was happy to see it was Larry Chaleff working the Pacific Parlour Car. We have run into each other on many of my previous trips on the Amtrak Coast Starlight. We talked a bit about trains and updated each other on some people that we knew in common. He told me about the private cars that were about to be added to our train. I explained that I knew about the cars, but that I was surprised that we did not stop in the Amtrak Oakland Yard to add them on. Larry said that this train never stops in the Oakland Yard for anything anymore and that they will be adding the private cars onto the Coast Starlight right here in the Amtrak Station. I purchased a Bloody Mary from Larry and also took a complimentary bottle of Diet Pepsi. I decided to head right back to my room while the train was still in the station. It would be easier for me to carry my Bloody Mary back to the room without spilling it while the train wasn't moving.
Since the train was still not going anywhere, I got off and got the numbers of all the cars from my room down to the back of the train. That was the hard direction since our car was pretty close to the front of the train. When I got to the end of the train, I ran into the same people from the private cars that I had met back in Denver and a couple of other people from the private cars introduced themselves to me. They were waiting on the platform for the private cars to be added to the train so they could reboard. So far, the private cars were nowhere in sight.
Eventually we saw what looked like a locomotive pulling the private cars to the station. I think they may be attaching a locomotive along with the private cars to our train. However, I didn't get a chance to find out if those were the private cars as the "All Aboard!" was called. I didn't want to have to try to run all the way back up to the front of the train, so I boarded into the very last coach car. The Coach Car Attendant questioned me as I entered the car. I let him know that I was in the sleeping cars and didn't want to risk trying to run down the platform to reach my car before it closed up. So, I walked all through the train from the last coach car up to the first sleeping car.
The Amtrak mechanical crew must have had serious problems getting the private cars hooked up as we continued to remain at the station long after the boarding call. The power went off and on a number of times. Eventually, I did turn on my railroad radio scanner to find out what was going on. But, by the time I got the scanner turned on, they had just finished resolving whatever problems they had and were taking down the blue flag getting ready to go. The train departed Oakland at 11:13 A.M., about 90 minutes after arrival and 2 hours and 28 minutes behind schedule. The train made up 10 minutes on its way from Oakland to San Jose and we departed San Jose at 12:23 P.M.
The train lost ten more minutes just after departing the San Luis Obispo Station. Just as the train started to depart and had practically cleared the station, one of the staff asked over the P.A. System for the Conductor to stop the train. Evidently, someone forgot to get dinner checks from the agent at the station. A staff member had to run all the way back to the station to pick up the item before we could get on our way. Also, three more passengers boarded the end of the train while we were waiting for that staff member to return. After the ten minute delay, we were on our way again.
The train departed Santa Barbara at 8:30 P.M., one hour and 13 minutes behind schedule. I'm still guessing at an arrival time into Los Angeles of about 11:00 P.M., though it is possible for us to get in a little before that due to the padding at the end of the schedule. The Conductor already announced that buses have been arranged for passengers that are heading to destinations south of Los Angeles as the connecting Pacific Surfliner will not be held. Also, all passengers going east on the Sunset Limited were taken off in San Luis Obispo to be taken by bus to Ontario where they will arrive ahead of the Sunset Limited.
That is about all for this travelogue! If you have not read all four parts of it, you should click on the links at the top of this page to read through the other photographs and view the other photos. Also, don't forget to view some of the 360x360 immersion photo virtual tours of trains and stations related to this travelogue!
(After Oakland, California)
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