Monday, October 04, 2010

Trained Obsevations

I love trains and hate planes. When the opportunity to go to LA with April came about it was an obvious choice for me, the Amtrak Coast Starlight. The train originates in Seattle and we boarded in Emeryville exactly on time. It is about a twelve hour journey but the coach seats are comfy and easy to sleep in. We watched movies on April's computer when the view outside was boring. The train runs through Salinas Valley Farms where just outside workers toiled slumped over in the hot sun. I wondered to myself about the politics of food. If we close our borders, as some suggest, who will do this work? Enough politics for me. If I never have to watch another TV ad for a politician it would make me happy.
There is food service on board. A dining room that serves sit down meals and a snack bar that has microwave foods, snacks and drinks. We never tried the sit down place but the menus look good and fellow passengers seemed to enjoy. We brought some food and drinks with us but did indulge in microwave burger and half bottle of white wine, both were really good.
homemade cheese snack

After San Luis Obispo the train heads towards the Pacific. An invitation on public address lured me to the parlor car for a wine and cheese tasting. For $5 you get a small sampling of cheese and four central coast wines. A great view and wine, you know what I like!
After Santa Barbara the train runs along the beachfront. We witnessed a sunset wedding on the beach where a group dolphins magically surfaced in the background. Photography is difficult on a moving train but I did manage to get a shot of seabirds when the trained stopped briefly.
I was a little worried about our late arrival at LA's Union Station fearing a dangerous empty place. As it turns out the station is a dramatic old building that was busy, clean and well secured even at ten p.m.
Union Station Los Angeles shot in early morning
We cabbed to our hotel where I just had to photograph a piece of temporary art. There folded on the end of the toilet paper roll was a paper rose. We must be in LA.

The round trip for two was just a touch over two hundred dollars with AAA discount. On our return trip we observed that a private car had been added to our train. A little research located the website for California Zephyr Railcar Charters. It seems they attach these restored old cars to Amtrak trains for luxury travel. They have an upcoming cross country tour. I wonder if they need any help? I got skills!
Silver Solarium


Zoomie said...

Your homemade snacks look delicious but then the whole trip seems delicious! You two have such a fun time together!

Greg said...

Thanks Zoomie.

cookiecrumb said...

What a great experience! My brother takes this train south to Escondido, but he's never had this much fun. I'm just sorry they don't allow dogs on board. I know. It would be a zoo.

Greg said...

I do love the train. I bet a dog would love it too.