Monday, November 18, 2013


So, ... did this trip live up to my expectations? I wrote about scenery and people already. Let's take a look at the Amtrak side.


The food on the train definitely exceeded my expectations. Everything I had tasted good and was prepared nicely. The green side-salad at lunch could have been a bit fresher, but that's really a minor issue. It stood out because it didn't live up to the level of the other food.

Breakfast was omelette with veggies and cheese, roast potatoes, croissant, coffee, and some fruit.
Lunch was Kung Pao stir fry over rice with a side salad, and a roll. Splashed down with Sierra Mist.
Dinner was a lamb chank with rice and string beans, also with a side salad and a roll. Accompanied by Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.


I had booked a private Roomette Sleeper compartment. The two seats convert to the lower bunk at night. A second bunk folds down from the ceiling if needed. The length of the lower bunk was perfectly adequate for my 6 ft 5 in.  As mentioned in a previous post, it takes some getting used to to sleep in a moving train.

On-time performance

The train was more or less on-time pretty much for the whole distance from San Jose to Eugene, but got into Portland 35 minutes late due to track work, and then we got stuck for another 30 minutes waiting for an opposing Cascades train on a single track segment just north of Vancouver, WA. Arguably, the track work gummed things up for us. According to we're estimated to arrive in Seattle 15 minutes late.


Amtrak personnel on the train was super-nice throughout the trip. The sleeper car attendant, the waiters in the dining car, and in the Pacific Parlor car were very friendly and helpful. The staff kept passengers well-informed with announcements. For the trip over Cascade Summit from Klamath Falls to Eugene, a docent was riding in the observation car and talked about history, geology, railroading, and other tidbits related to the area.


There is WiFi Internet connectivity in the parlor car, but the access point was quite inconsistent, and I didn't bother much, relying instead on tethering to my mobile phone data plan. Data service was pretty good while I was awake with exception of the 3 hour section through the Cascade Range.


I spent --- somewhat to my surprise --- most of my time in a swivel cushioned chair in the parlor car. While the observation car was newer and had clearer windows, the seat setup was not as convenient and comfortable. The privacy of my Roomette has something for it, but I really enjoyed the atmosphere and all-around views from the parlor car.


So, overall I had a lot of fun, got work done, had good food and drink, and very much enjoyed this alternate way of travel. However, I will take the plane for the return trip. 24 hours on a train twice in one week is a little bit much. Even for me.

Maybe the State of California will get its act together and indeed build a true high-speed rail connection between San Francisco and Los Angeles, depsite all the nay sayers in the Central Valley and the Peninsula. SF to LA in under 3 hours ... I'd certainly use it if such a thing existed.

Part 3 -->


ark said...

For the food, was it a menu you could choose from, or was the food you list your only choice, eat that or nothing?

ark said...

ah, just found this:

Bernhard Beck said...

Multiple items to choose from for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the regular dining car.

Plus, a different, but smaller, selection in the Pacific Parlor car, which is reserved for Sleeper passengers.