Railroad Redux

That was fun, let’s do it again!

We had such a great time on our last overnight Amtrak trip that we couldn’t wait to do it again.  Again, we were taking one of Amtrak’s most scenic routes – the Coast Starlight from Los Angeles to Seattle.

Since we came directly from our return flight from Hawaii, we arrived at Union Station with several hours to go before our train.  We were just settling in for the wait when I decided to check at the Amtrak window to get our boarding passes printed out… just in case we needed them.  The Amtrak lady saw that we had sleeper accommodations booked, and said “Oh honey, you don’t need to be down here.  You’re first class.  There’s a lounge you can wait in.” Wow! First class. As a budget traveler, I must admit I liked how that sounded – mostly because lounges come with free Wi-Fi (for Stephanie) and food (for me).  We headed up to the lounge and relaxed with free Wi-Fi and food until it was time to board our train.

Our roomette was just as we remembered it, so we left our things there and went to check out the Parlour car.  Amtrak’s Coast Starlight is the only train in their system that features the Pacific Parlour Car.  It’s like the Sightseer Lounge Car, but for sleeper (read: First Class) passengers only. The Parlour features the same panoramic windows, but has more luxurious seating, unique food options, and Wi-Fi.  The car itself is a genuine railroad relic from the 50s, refurbished and styled in luxury. It wasn’t all wood-paneling-and-velvet, Victorian luxury, but there was enough brass and heavy drapery to let me pretend.  There’s even a small cinema on the lower level.

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A holdover from the golden age of Railroad travel

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The Pacific Parlour Car

We opted for lunch in the Parlour Car (Asian salad), and spent the morning enjoying the real reason we booked this journey – California’s gorgeous coastline.  The Coast Starlight hugs the Pacific coast from Santa Barbara to San Luis Obispo, and is one of their most sought-after routes.

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The Asian Salad was giant and delicious!

 

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Say goodbye to Hollywood – see the sign?

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Looking the other way

After San Luis Obispo, we turned inland, and the views grew more mountainous while I turned my attention to more serious pursuits.

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A farm in the desert with mountains behind

That evening we watched a beautiful sunset before Stephanie surprised me by saying we should go watch a movie in the on-board cinema.  (The movie was The Martian, and it was made more enjoyable by the fact that we were watching it on a speeding train.)

That night, our roomette was already turned down for us and set up for bed.  Again we squeezed into a lower-bunk meant for one person, and let the soothing swaying of the train put us to sleep.  We woke up to a chilly morning in Klamath Falls, Oregon, just in time to stretch our legs.

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Even the train is smiling

As the train made its way north, we passed duck ponds, glacial lakes, and some rural Pacific-Northwest living before arriving in Seattle that evening.

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Which one should I drive?

We’ve pretty much used up our Amtrak points, so it doesn’t look like we’ll be doing this again in the near future, but I keep nagging Stephanie to start racking them up again.  Yes, train travel is slower and can even be more expensive than air travel, but there is something relaxing and romantic about it, and we’d love to do it again someday.

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