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The Coast Starlight - Los Angeles to Seattle

This is, in my opinion, Amtrak's most scenic route from start to finish and this was the first time I was able to travel it end to end without those annoying vacation stops that interrupt my rail riding. I know this report will not do it justice. If you have the chance to ride all or just a portion of this run take it! Slow your pace down a bit, consider wine and dessert with lunch, forget the phone and work, relax and let Amtrak take care of the rest.

We arrived in Los Angeles from San Diego on Amtrak's train number 773. Our car attendant knew we where leaving on the Coast Starlight and told us to remain in our seats while the LA passengers detrained (that's Amtrak for "get off"), we obeyed. She then returned to us, took one suitcase and opened the door on the other side of the car and there was our train on the next track. She saved us a walk into the station and back as we were able to board in five minutes. We had already seen the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal, which is not to be missed when passing through.

While we waited our friends Chuck & Mary from the Texas Eagle came walking up the platform. We knew they would be on this train and this assured us it would be fun. Our car attendant was very nice but I don't recall his name, he allowed us to board a little early, we were in room E.

As the other passengers boarded there was quite a fuss in the next room. It turned out they had been assured by a travel agent they would have two rooms that could be combined by removing the center wall. Instead they had been ticketed for rooms A and D making that impossible (E & D can be combined, as can B & C). The fuss was incredible involving the passengers, conductor and chief. I couldn't take it any longer we offered to move to room A (thinking to myself "if you'll quiet down"). We did and it was quiet again. If traveling in a deluxe sleeper on a Superliner room A should be your last choice, it's smaller and at the end of the car. Our pals were in B, next door and we sat with them a lot of the trip anyway.

The train left on time and we went to the lounge car to see the sights as we left Los Angeles. The lounge cars, with huge windows allow a much better view. I got a distant look at Dodger Stadium and that Hollywood sign on the hillside (hey, we're from the Midwest. Hollywood is still somewhat fiction here). It wasn't long before we were in the Simi Valley area riding between the rocks and all I could think of was the Lone Ranger TV show, guess it was filmed there, sure looked like it to me. Just a beautiful area. Then came Santa Barbara and then the route followed the ocean. I just sat and took it all in, almost forgot lunch. There were beautiful landscapes on one side with ranches and the occasional "mega-home" and the ocean on the other with boats and the surf, I was getting a strained neck turning so quickly (G). I could go on and on but this route must be seen not read about. The train Chief was great in pointing out sights and telling the history of the areas we traveled through. I can't remember a day going by as fast as that one. The sunset ended the day in spectacular fashion, I wanted to get off and do it again.

We spent a lot of the day in the lounge car but gave up our seats to a family as the car was full. All of us went back to our car where we were given a hot/cold snack tray (big enough for all four) and a beverage of choice for helping them out of the room reservation problem. After that we had a great dinner. The Starlight does not use the plastic dinner ware and it added to the meal having a linen tablecloth and china. After diner it was dark and we turned in still talking about the days travels.

After dinner with our friends, we returned to their room, which was just next door to ours and a good thing as we were given some liquor from Norway (can say it, but won't attempt to spell it) that would make great engine cleaner. Now I know where Uff-Da came from! The conversation was nice and we discussed all the trips each had taken and how we'd almost never experienced extended bad weather on a vacation in years.

Day two. Fog, snow, 28 degrees and we were still traveling north. We made the best of it but on this ride the view was nil. Air conditioning the day before had turned to heat and when the snow finally quit the rain continued. For those interested in this portion of the route, in good weather it's beautiful! Trees, streams, rivers, snow sheds, tunnels, waterfalls, mountains and wildlife of many types. They were out there I'm sure but we couldn't see 50 feet. Oh well, that has got to happen to you once in a while, and we'd been lucky for years prior.

Chuck and Mary got off in Portland to take the Pioneer and Zephyr back to Chicago. Then return to WS. They had better weather once they turned south and enjoyed the Zephyr through the farmlands. We were sad to see them go, as our trip started together on the Eagle.

We continued on to Seattle (one of my favorite cities) but the weather never improved. During our short stay there the high 41 degrees and the rain never stopped. Rain in Seattle is nothing but it was cold for Oct. The World Series was under way and my Twins were behind 3 games to 2 to the Braves.


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