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Belated trip report: SJC-RNO-SJC via WN & California Zephyr

Belated trip report: SJC-RNO-SJC via WN & California Zephyr

Old Dec 31, 99, 5:49 am
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Join Date: Oct 1999
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Belated trip report: SJC-RNO-SJC via WN & California Zephyr

Christmas this year took Deb and I to the dread "Biggest Little City in the World." It was a pleasant trip on the whole, despite some headaches on the return:

We headed over to Reno for our one day trip on 12/25, departing from SJC for RNO on Moowest.
WN #1726 737-300 N639 D 10:50 A 11:45
It was really a short flight, but not half bad. Our surprisingly full flight pushed back three minutes late (turn-around took almost 30 minutes). There was no wait for takeoff, and the 37 minute flight was smooth. Honey-coated peanuts and beverages were offered, as well as HAZELNUT CHOCOLATES right before landing (was I really flying a no-frills airline?). Flight was a 9...only minor gripes were that the cabin was a bit worn, and the F/As had some galley problem, and couldn't complete the beverage service, despite taking our orders. But, the F/As were fun as always. Baggage was carry-on, of course.

At Reno, we hailed a "cab" (a Lincoln Town Car) and headed to the Silver Legacy. After getting California and Southwest Airlines mentalities fully squeezed out of my mind, I decided that the place did look attractive, especially fully decked out for Christmas.
I have certainly seen gaudier casino hotels. Our room was on the 31st floor, and had a decent view. The room was a bit above standard, except for the ersatz Victorian fixtures. The "resort" has all that one would expect (business center, fitness center, pool, giftshops). The hotel is connected to Circus Circus and the Eldorado (of which the SL is a joint venture) via a "mall." As you might expect, the mall is more a giant collection of gaming machines, arcades, and restaurants, as well as a disturbing number of minimally clad "cigarette vendettes" weaving through the crowds. The center-peice is the "silver-mining" simulation, which didn't impress me especially. However, the laser light show was impressive. We had lunch at "Sterling's" which was the most expensive restaurant, but it was certainly better than standing in the customary "Disneyland-like" lines. Good food. I'll give the Legacy an 8...Reno isn't Las Vegas, but like the late Reno Air used to proclaim about its cargo...this modern mammoth is a "sure bet" for a comfortable stay (yeah I know...)

Some friends of ours invited us to Christmas dinner, and a little side trip to Virgina City. We also visited the National Autmobile Museum. In case your wondering, their house is too small for us to stay overnight---but hey---they paid for the hotel! I'll post more about attractions in part two (skip if so desired).
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Old Dec 31, 99, 6:19 am
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Part Two:
A trip to Virgina City on Christmas?? The abridged edition of William F. Harrah's auto collection and a wanna-be musician:

Stop laughing. Of course everything was closed in that sleepy ghost town...(except for the gambling machines, of course). But, still it was fun. The drive over was beautiful, amid the crisp air and cobalt blue skies. The high temps were in the low 50s, (lows in the teens). The former silver mining town of 35,000 now only has 1,500 residents. The church (especially the bell) was impressive (and open) and store front windows could still yield a good idea of the inside of these buildings. Signs kept telling us to visit the famous "suicide table" They must have left that out in my history courses...anyway...the streets were devoid of people, and the ride was half the fun. And even in Virginia City, a man can still get a microbrew when he need's one.

Back at the hotel, with Christmas dinner not riding well in our stomachs, we cozied down for the night, obviously well before the majority of guests did. The guy in the room next to us had the bright idea that 2AM was a wonderful time to practice his electric guitar. And Carlos Santana he was not. Called management...didn't pound on door...noise went away and sleep finally came.

"Its a Beautiful Morning" glided out of the hotel radio alarm around 7AM. The song didn't lie... We checked out of our room and Deb and I walked to the National Automobile Museum thoroughly enjoying the sunny winter day. The museum (built in 1989, I recall) is impressive. It is a few blocks out of downtown, located along the Trukee river. More than 200 cars are there, as well as a theatre and gift shop. The collection is better presented, in this much more manageable size. Standouts include a Bronze 1920 Rolls-Royce, and a 1936 silver Mercedes-Benz SLK.
Next: Off to the train station:

[This message has been edited by West Coast Flyer (edited 12-31-1999).]
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Old Dec 31, 99, 6:58 am
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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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Old Dec 31, 99, 11:12 am
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Thanks!
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Old Dec 31, 99, 5:53 pm
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Join Date: Oct 1999
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Does anyone know if you can get Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan miles for staying at the Silver Legacy? I would assume so, but I I forgot to ask. I know you can earn miles on AS for gambling in the Silver Legacy casino.

[This message has been edited by West Coast Flyer (edited 12-31-1999).]
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