Old Dec 31, 99, 6:58 am
West Coast Flyer
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Silicon Valley
Posts: 197
We had called "Amclunk" in Reno earlier in the morning, and a taped message explained to us that "the Zephyr is running 100 minutes late, and will arrive at 12:15." If you use Amtrak regularly, this does not overly shock you...
Anyway, we arrive at the rather decrepit Reno train depot, and await train #5 from Chicago. Fortunately, the delay does not lengthen and the three, massive GE Genesis engines soon lumber in. Once on-board, the coach seats are as nice as ever...they certainly put domestic First Class on airlines to shame. The seat pitch is 40 something, and there is a towel over the seat back, a legrest, AND a foot rest. But, no video screens like on the Coast Starlight. The ride is smooth on the Superliner II equipment, and we slowly but surely move in to California and through the Sierras. The conductors meander through the train noting our seats (Amtrak ensures you a seat, but doesn't pre-assign you one). A man from the California Railway Museum gives commentary on the passing sights, but the crew interrupts him frequently. Meanwhile the dining car is filling up, so Deb gets a number.

An hour or so later, we get to the dining car. My experiences with Amtrak food on the Coast Starlight (SEA-LAX) have been quite good. Meal service here is a bit disappointing, however. Table clothes are vinyl and napkins paper. Service is "Philladelphia Diner Style," according to Debra. Basically in your face, but amusingly so. Anyway...the soup is good, but it tastes suspiciously like Progresso. The pasta I have is fine...although it was obviously packaged, and Deb said her sandwhich tasted microwaved. But, the ice cream cake for dessert is better.

We head to the "Sightseer Lounge Car." I film quite a bit of scenery, which is indeed impressive as we pass through Trukee and Colfax. There are a few magazines and newspapers to thumb through, and a cafe below. After that, we settle back and relax until "Sacra tomato." We have plans for making a connection in Emeryville to go to San Jose...but that train originates in Sacramento, so if it leaves before our train does, we're toast. Alas, we leave the comfort of the Zeph for the commuter train and sure enough the Zeph leaves before we do. But, the "Capitol" is still a nice train, with attractive "California Cars" and a very attractive Cafe Car, with surprisingly good food. The seats have legrests, and head towels, but don't recline. Anyway...we make good time, and arrive in San Jose 40 minutes late at 9:40 PM, despite a long delay due to diesel fuel dumped on the tracks. The Zephyr ranks a 7, and the Capitol, a 9.

San Jose Diridon station is very attractive, and is a hub of train activity. However, we arrive to late, and no cabs are in sight. We finally chase a cab two blocks down a street, and whisper the word "airport" too him...immediately the doors open. We get our car and head home.

Anyway...it was a fun, if hectic 36 hours. I certainly found enough to write about it LOL

[This message has been edited by West Coast Flyer (edited 03-10-2000).]
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