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60+ hours from Raleigh to San francisco via amtrak!
Old 01-26-2008, 09:42 PM   #1
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60+ hours from Raleigh to San francisco via amtrak!

Whoa, was thinking hey how about a train trip out to california to see the daughter. 60+ hours on a train!! Seriously this country is well nuts. You mean to tell me that we do not have any high speed rail service running thru the country?

Oh yea I forgot the land of the Interstate highways and motels. But I sure don't want to do a speed run again. 700 miles a day driving is no fun no matter how many drivers are in the vehicle with you.

Looks like we gonna fly.
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Old 01-26-2008, 09:52 PM   #2
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My friends' daughter tried this from Washington to Flagstaff. There was a derailment in Missouri when added another day and a half to her trip. Next time she came out she flew, heavily sedated.
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Old 01-26-2008, 10:49 PM   #3
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I take Amtrak quite a bit now that I am retired - at least a dozen Los Angeles -
Oregon / Washington legs, even more shorter trips. You definitely need a laid-back
frame of mind to enjoy it - expect them to be 2-6 hours late, celebrate when they are
not. A DVD player, an mp3 player, and a set of noise-cancelling headphones help
alot. So does packing your own food and drinks. I usually park myself in the
observation car or a quiet seat when I can, sleep alot, and enjoy it.
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Old 01-26-2008, 11:08 PM   #4
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Two of us took less time than that to cross the country in a car back in 1980.

We were younger then.
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Old 01-27-2008, 04:04 AM   #5
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I used to love driving years ago. We drove from Indiana to Alaska via the ALCAN highway before it was paved (some kind of heavy gravel) in 1970 (VW Bus with 3 small kids) and back down to Florida in 1974 (Ford Station Wagon with Ice Fishing Trailer, 3 big kids, two more Adults and a dog). Really loved it stopping along the way seeing all the things to see and spending nights in a tent, eating off of a portable stove (remember those) and taking over two weeks either way. Today we still will not fly unless it cannot be done by car, but now it is not like it was then (or maybe we are getting older); just not as enjoyable.
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Old 01-27-2008, 05:07 AM   #6
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I'll agree with you on road travel today,its madness out there ,seems every one is trying to go as fast as they can:confused:
I must be one of the rare individuals who had no problem with the 55mph speed limit.
As for limited railway options its because not enough people use trains to justify the cost of a fast trans continental train.
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Old 01-27-2008, 06:32 AM   #7
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There are those "well nuts" again!
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Old 01-27-2008, 10:50 AM   #8
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60+ hours on a train!!
But remember, it's so much cheaper to go by train. No, wait, it's not.
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Old 01-27-2008, 11:17 AM   #9
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I love train travel and yes, you have to expect some delay. The problem is that freight traffic gets priority and Amtrak does not.

I have done quite a few trips, most actually ended up on time. Chicago to Washington, on time both ways. Chicago to New Orleans, on time both ways. Several trips from St. Paul to Portland. All but one trip was on time. Portland to Los Angeles I also have done several times. NEVER on time. Plus, the tracks are really rough in California. Los Angeles to Chicago, couple of times, both on time.
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Old 01-27-2008, 11:27 AM   #10
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It's quite depressing. I fly in to Boston to visit relatives near Providence RI and Hartford CT. Both are, or should be, "well-served" in the NE corridor. Doing the math, it is ALWAYS cheaper.. ALWAYS.. to rent a car, including ga$.. to go city-center to city-center (BOS/BDL/PVD) for two people. Rail is slightly cheaper for one but requires investing many extra hours, which at the end of a full day's travel already one doesn't really need. It works out far cheaper, also, to rent the car for 1-2 weeks as opposed to somehow flying in directly to the local airports that serve either Hartford or Providence. It's insane. I drive the car BOS->BDL or BOS->PVD and park it in the driveway for the week.

Even starting out in Hartford and looking at a day trip to Manhattan.. WITH parking and gas and tolls and car rental.. cheaper than the train for two, to say nothing of much quicker (2 hours door to door).

I'm happy to have a choice, BUT I would like to see trains subsidized to the same extent that roads are.. then we could compare apples/apples. People think Amtrak = "government subsidies" = bad.. while roads somehow = "free" = good. We need to examine what's behind that framing.
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Old 01-27-2008, 01:47 PM   #11
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I used to do 2 round trips a year on Amtrak from Streator, IL to Pasadena, CA on the "Southwest Chief". I did that for several years to visit friends. The train normally left Chicago late, and therefore arrived in Streator late....15-30 minutes. Arrival in Pasadena was always on time or ahead of schedule, and the same was true for the return trip.....usually arrived in Streator anywhere from 15-45 minutes early!

A couple of time I got a sleeper, which includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner either in the diner or delivered to your cabin. It also includes daily newspaper and coffee & juice delivered to your cabin in the morning.

It was always a nice leisurely trip.....IIRC, about 36-38 hours. I met some really nice folks onboard also. If you're in a hurry to get to your destination, don't go by train. But if you're in no hurry, it's a great way to travel. I was planning on someday doing a big loop around the US.....Chicago to Seattle, Seattle to LA, LA to NOLA, NOLA to NYC, and then NYC back to Chicago. I'd do some side trips and sightseeing here and there along the way, and I'd plan on getting a sleeper for about every other night on board. Might still do that one of these days!
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Old 01-27-2008, 02:02 PM   #12
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Also, my sister used to do a round trip about every year or two, from NOLA to Chicago on Amtrak's "City of New Orleans", to come here and visit. The train was almost always on time or early! She'd walk to the station when she got off work in the afternoon, and we'd pick her up the next morning in Homewood (a SW 'burb' of Chicago). She liked it because it was easy and she slept most of the way here. When she returned home, she caught the train in the evening and arrived back home in the morning. So, again, she slept most of the trip.
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Old 01-28-2008, 12:54 PM   #13
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I have used AMTRAK when travelling in the eastern corridor
for business in NYC or DC. It's about the same price as flying
and takes about the same time as driving. The time is well
spent doing whatever prep is necessary for my business.

It's also very relaxing (I arrive refreshed), being in large
comfortable seats, not having to listen to FAA blathering
about how to fasten a seatbelt, and not having to deal with
the TSA goons and their ridiculous little security charade.
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Old 01-28-2008, 03:19 PM   #14
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I prefer the utter luxury of the Hound. Once I went from Dallas to San Francisco, via Denver, Cheyenne and Salt lake. I had never seen most of this country before, and really enjoyed the trip.

More recently I have gone from Pugetopolis to Reno. Also scenic but as someone said, its different when you are older.

About the only things that are pretty much guaranteed to wear well are eating, drinking, and loving.

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Old 01-28-2008, 03:32 PM   #15
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I'm happy to have a choice, BUT I would like to see trains subsidized to the same extent that roads are.. then we could compare apples/apples. People think Amtrak = "government subsidies" = bad.. while roads somehow = "free" = good. We need to examine what's behind that framing.
It's not surprising. I haven't been on a train since I was six. I drive highways almost every day. That's where I want to see my tax dollars go to.
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Old 01-28-2008, 03:43 PM   #16
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I prefer the utter luxury of the Hound. Once I went from Dallas to San Francisco, via Denver, Cheyenne and Salt lake. I had never seen most of this country before, and really enjoyed the trip.
I did a similar long distance trip - east coast US to Mexico border. Nice to see areas of the country I usually fly over - LA bayou, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Georgia, Alabama. Frequent stops in small cities - good to see the local culture. I also did an amtrak trip across upstate NY - great way to see the scenery at a slow pace w/o spending a long time in the area. If you aren't in any hurry and don't suffer from travel snobbery, greyhound and amtrak can be nice ways to see the country.
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Old 01-28-2008, 03:57 PM   #17
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I prefer the utter luxury of the Hound.
Oh lawd, just thinking of riding the Hound makes me shiver with fear! Many years ago, when I was a freshman in college, I took a Greyhound bus from Kalamazoo to Detroit. It seemed like we stopped every three miles (slight exaggeration), including a stop in Battle Creek which at the time had a well known mental care facility.

In BC, a very, very, very large woman got on the bus and made her way slowly down the aisle to the first available seat...next to me. She proceeded to sit, pushing me toward the window, where I was trapped for the next 100 or so miles as she muttered an obscenities-laced rant about disemboweling someone who apparently did her wrong at the mental hospital. I was scared to make a sound, much less try to get her to move, so there I sat, praying she wouldn't turn on me.

When she finally got off the bus and I regained feelilng in my arms, I noticed that my left arm was covered with red welts in the pattern of the quilted stainless steel wall of the bus. Over the next few hours, the welts turned to bruises that lasted for about a week. I never rode a Greyhound bus again!!
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Old 01-28-2008, 05:01 PM   #18
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I guess that this is morphing into the railroad thread...

I had not been on a train for over 30 years when I traveled by train several times last summer in Alaska. What a blast! They have a pretty efficient service there and it went where I was going, of course. I do not recall the cost at all, but I was on vacation so cost was not an issue.
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Old 01-30-2008, 10:14 AM   #19
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It's not surprising. I haven't been on a train since I was six. I drive highways almost every day. That's where I want to see my tax dollars go to.
sure Walt.. but it depends on where you live. For the congested Northeast, rail and other forms of public transportation could and should be a lot better than they are.

Studies show that when you build more highways you just attract more traffic and you find yourself back at the previous level of congestion..

I see it as a feedback loop: if you improve rail service you'll attract more customers, which will make it eventually more cost-effective. If a train from Hartford to NY or Boston only leaves every 3 hours it's not an attractive option, so you'll have fewer takers.

I lived in a big NE city where public transportation started to get pressure to cut back and even (shudder) privatize.. what that meant was that the main route that ran every 10 min. now went to every 20 min. It was packed to the gills, and not being able to get on turned a 10 min. wait into a 40 min. wait.. That year I bought a car and cut my commute in half.. i.e. BACK to where it was before the streamlining downsizing of service.. more expense for me AND one more car on the road and pressure for parking that the city didn't need... uhm. yay!?

Of course, the city then went on to cut routes MORE.. why? "Ridership is down". This is the "drown it in a bathtub" mentality: make it dysfunctional so you can point to how dysfunctional it is. Rinse and repeat.
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Old 01-30-2008, 12:53 PM   #20
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OK, Goonie said he enjoyed the cross-country train trip, Martha said she has done Chicago to LA - what did you think, Martha?

We have a wedding to attend near LA in June. Wife refuses to fly. You pay for a sleeper whether you occupy with one or two (second person just buys their travel ticket). So financially, it makes some sense for me to travel with her rather than fly.

I'm afraid I'd go stir crazy. I can read and listen to music for awhile, but I don't know. What are the odds of striking up a conversation about momentum investing, or home-brewing beer with some stranger? DW won't want to discuss those topics for long

-ERD50
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