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2 pfennigs worth
Old 07-26-2008, 09:11 AM   #21
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2 pfennigs worth

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Originally Posted by Enuf View Post

Just wondering if anyone has ever hit a nasty train related bad trip?
While planning to go once on the Moscow-Vladivostok route (Trans Siberian express), DW and I decided to dry-run it by going through the Trans Canada route from Jasper to Toronto run, figuring we would be seeing the same type of scenic views. Our 2 day run turned into a 5 day slow trip due to forest fires which blocked the express passenger lines. We had to be re-routed to the slower transport rail system network. Interesting trip, though.
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Old 07-26-2008, 12:40 PM   #22
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Thanks, that is interesting. Never considered the impact of a forest fire but wow, that would be a train stopper.

At least the train can't have a flat tire.


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While planning to go once on the Moscow-Vladivostok route (Trans Siberian express), DW and I decided to dry-run it by going through the Trans Canada route from Jasper to Toronto run, figuring we would be seeing the same type of scenic views. Our 2 day run turned into a 5 day slow trip due to forest fires which blocked the express passenger lines. We had to be re-routed to the slower transport rail system network. Interesting trip, though.
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Old 07-26-2008, 01:57 PM   #23
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re: rural PA

My mental map of PA (based on may long drives across the state) is Pittsburg on one end, Philly on the other, and rural Alabama in between.
Thats about right, socially as well as politically.
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Old 07-26-2008, 02:32 PM   #24
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I'm carrying a Sprint Mobile Broadband card so I can connect to internet most places and it makes making the next reservations really easy. Did it from the train.
Just a word of caution or warning or heads-up or whatever you want to call it....once your excursion ventures out into the vast expanses of the Dakotas, Montana, and Idaho, there may be quite a few areas where you will not be able to connect using your mobile card (or have a cellphone signal either). Looking at Sprint's Data/Broadband map shows quite a bit of "No Coverage" areas out thatta way. I know when we were up in Glacier N.P. for a few days a couple years ago, we had NO cellphone signal at all...none....nada...zilch.

So when you get around Minneapolis, you might want to do a little extra planning ahead for those points farther down the line. Fortunately, ALL of the hotels we stayed at, even in the most remote areas of the high plains, Big Sky, and mountains, had high speed internet available........EXCEPT for Many Glacier Lodge inside Glacier N.P. The Lodge has no internet, no TV's, no A/C, no elevators (5 stories....stairs only & high elevations....we had a good, free workout each day! Bellboys carry everyone's luggage up the stairs to the rooms......Gives fresh meaning to the term "luggage". ) Of course with all the beautiful scenery, wildlife, and good food to enjoy, we didn't miss any of those (so-called) amenities at all!!!

Continued Happy Rails, Enuf!
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Old 07-26-2008, 05:31 PM   #25
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Just a word of caution or warning or heads-up or whatever you want to call it....once your excursion ventures out into the vast expanses of the Dakotas, Montana, and Idaho, there may be quite a few areas where you will not be able to connect using your mobile card (or have a cellphone signal either). Looking at Sprint's Data/Broadband map shows quite a bit of "No Coverage" areas out thatta way. I know when we were up in Glacier N.P. for a few days a couple years ago, we had NO cellphone signal at all...none....nada...zilch.

So when you get around Minneapolis, you might want to do a little extra planning ahead for those points farther down the line. Fortunately, ALL of the hotels we stayed at, even in the most remote areas of the high plains, Big Sky, and mountains, had high speed internet available........EXCEPT for Many Glacier Lodge inside Glacier N.P. The Lodge has no internet, no TV's, no A/C, no elevators (5 stories....stairs only & high elevations....we had a good, free workout each day! Bellboys carry everyone's luggage up the stairs to the rooms......Gives fresh meaning to the term "luggage". ) Of course with all the beautiful scenery, wildlife, and good food to enjoy, we didn't miss any of those (so-called) amenities at all!!!

Continued Happy Rails, Enuf!
Goonie -Did you spend any nights on the train, or did you do hotels? I'm curious how easy it is to sleep on a train.
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Old 07-26-2008, 06:14 PM   #26
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<1. The trains have been surprisingly comfortable, clean and on-time.>

Ah, but just wait until you are on the Coast Starlight. It leaves on time from Seattle but after that.....

Are you planning Chi-Sea or the Chi-Pdx route?
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Old 07-26-2008, 06:25 PM   #27
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Any reason for the C S and it's tardy behaviour?

The best thing is I have "no" idea of where I'm going or when or if. I get up on the rest day and sometime during that day, Carnac tells me where to go.

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<1. The trains have been surprisingly comfortable, clean and on-time.>

Ah, but just wait until you are on the Coast Starlight. It leaves on time from Seattle but after that.....

Are you planning Chi-Sea or the Chi-Pdx route?
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Old 07-26-2008, 06:44 PM   #28
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The trains that have always been late for me is as Brat says, the Coast Starlight. Freight traffic takes precedence, which is a big problem. The last time I went that route was after a lot of flooding, the trains had to move slow. It took 8 extra hours to get to LAX from Portland.
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Old 07-26-2008, 06:54 PM   #29
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Haven't ridden much since '93 but on the Zephyr I believe thay pad a few extra hours between Sact'o and Oakland but still can run many hours late. I've heard that VIA Rail pads about 12 hours for the trans-Canada schedules. Anyone checked lately?

Also, they have catch up places. Remember getting a couple of hours extra off the train in places like Lake Louise, nice!
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Old 07-26-2008, 07:31 PM   #30
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I skied at Big Mountain (Montana) once, and there were quite a few people who had to make an extended stay (and I'm sure others where got there days late) because of avalanches covering the tracks.

I think if I took a train anywhere that I need to be there at a certain time, or had connections, I'd check out the one time record for a few days before committing to a train.

It's been over 20 years since I've ridden Amtrak. Hope the service is better these days. I really enjoyed VIA rail in Canada though.
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Old 07-26-2008, 11:49 PM   #31
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Goonie -Did you spend any nights on the train, or did you do hotels? I'm curious how easy it is to sleep on a train.
I always spent the nights (2 each way) onboard the Southwest Chief (Chi-LA & LA-Chi). Most trips I just stayed in Coach.....the seats were quite comfortable and reclined and had leg/foot rests......the seats were very similar to Lazy-boys. I slept very well every time, although you might want to take a blanket to cover up with, as sometimes the A/C is set pretty low. I like it cool or even cold when I sleep, but one trip even completely wrapped in a wool blanket, I about froze.....in the summer!

Several trips I had a sleeper roomette.......with 2 seats that face each other like a restaurant booth. The roomette is just slightly bigger than those 2 seats....enough extra room for about 2 airliner-allowed size carry-on bags. The roomettes are located on the upper level of the bi-level cars. At night, the car attendant comes in and turns the 2 seats into a lower berth, and unlatches and lowers the upper berth. Since I always traveled alone, I asked him to make up the upper berth for me, and leave the seats in normal position because I like to stay up late and read and watch the lights pass by outside. The restrooms are located on the lower level of the bi-level cars.......they're tiny....except for the women's restroom/dressing room which is a nice size, and although the handicap restroom is small, it's twice as big as the regular crappers!

One trip they were out of roomettes, and gave me a handicap room instead. I told them that I wasn't handicapped, but they said ALL sleeper accommodations were sold "1st come 1st served" irregardless of handicap or lack thereof. Anyway the handicap cabin is at one end of the bi-level cars on the lower level, and is the full width of the train car (roughly 10' wide) and about 8' long. It has the same seat/berth layout on one side of the room as the roomette does, and on the other side of the room is the private restroom with sink and toilet with a privacy curtain and a window curtain that can be pulled closed if your traveling with another person.

You paid the same standard fare whether you were traveling Coach or Sleeper, then you paid an additional fee for the Sleeper. I don't know how things are now, but back then (80's & 90's) the Sleeper fare included 3 meals per day in the diner.....anything on the menu. You could either eat in the diner, or the car attendant would bring it to your room......no extra charge. Also included were morning wake-up calls (if desired), and the daily newspaper and coffee and/or juice delivered to your room each morning. When the attendant prepared your bed at night, they also left a chocolate or mint on the pillow.

I always left in evening, so I'd go to the diner and have a nice steak dinner with all of the trimmings, then it was off to the lounge/snack car for the nightly movie, then to the snack bar for a late evening snack, then back to my seat or room for a good night's sleep. In the morning it was to the diner for a nice breakfast, then to the lounge/snack car to listen to a step-on-guide if they had one come onboard, otherwise I'd just watch America pass by my window. At lunch time I went to the diner (especially if I was traveling in the Sleeper) for a nice lunch, or, if I was traveling Coach, I might just grab a couple of hot dogs and chips in the snack car. Then it was nap, read, watch scenery, etc. until dinner time.

I found it very easy to sleep on the train, whether in Coach or Sleeper. YMMV.
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Old 07-27-2008, 05:55 AM   #32
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Thanks Goonie! - I'll check into this, It looks like train trips have two of my favorite pastimes covered - napping and eating.
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Old 07-27-2008, 07:31 AM   #33
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Ron, when I travel I take a sleeper. I first started with the roomette but now pay the extra for a deluxe sleeper, which has a chair, a couch that turns into a good size bed, and an upper bunk as well. It also has a private bath/shower in the room:

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Old 07-27-2008, 11:13 AM   #34
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There are a lot of different kinds of sleeper accommodations. Sometimes if they don't have the kind you request, they will upgrade you at no additional cost. One compact kind was AKA the iron lung which were still running on the overnight line from Chi to DC in '93. Anyone ever use the kind with curtains like in "Some Like it Hot"?
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Old 07-27-2008, 11:21 AM   #35
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There are a lot of different kinds of sleeper accommodations. Sometimes if they don't have the kind you request, they will upgrade you at no additional cost. One compact kind was AKA the iron lung which were still running on the overnight line from Chi to DC in '93. Anyone ever use the kind with curtains like in "Some Like it Hot"?
When I was a kid (back in the 50's and 60's), you could either get sleepers very similar to what Martha showed, or you could get bunk in a pullman which had upper and lower curtained bunk beds on each side of the aisle, end on end for the whole length of the car. No matter which type of accomodation, I slept like a ROCK. Nothing is more soothing than the swaying and clackity-clack sounds of the train. Haven't been on a train since 1964, though.
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Old 07-27-2008, 04:46 PM   #36
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We're planning to ride the Coast Starlight during the winter holidays to visit the in-laws - must confess (in the anonymity of the internet) that an additional 8 hours on the train sounds perfectly wonderful!
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Old 07-27-2008, 05:42 PM   #37
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I'm wishing you the best of all delays.

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We're planning to ride the Coast Starlight during the winter holidays to visit the in-laws - must confess (in the anonymity of the internet) that an additional 8 hours on the train sounds perfectly wonderful!
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Old 07-28-2008, 10:00 AM   #38
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Are you finding the train stations in bad neighborhoods? They reason I'm asking is after leaving the train can you walk to most places that you want to see?
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Old 07-28-2008, 03:52 PM   #39
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I'm still learning the train system so it's gonna be interesting for me.

The NYC, Philly and Pitt stations have all been in very safe areas and close to city center.

Pitt is right on the East edge of the tall buildings and across the street is the convention center and a beautiful new Westin.

Philly was near U of Penn, so lots of students, and it was about a 6-7 block walk to the city.

So far all clean, safe and well policed.
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Old 08-19-2008, 03:56 PM   #40
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Well, it's pretty much over, I hit Vancouver, BC on the 14th and am now back to Seattle. It has been interesting, challenging, exasperating, fun, not-so-fun, and enjoyable. I would NOT do it again but am glad I did it once.

NYC-Philly-Pittsburg-Chicago-Milwaukee-St.Louis-KC-Denver-Portland-Seattle-Vancouver.

Trains, planes and buses.
Train stations in all the cities I listed are in fairly safe areas of the city. Not by much, but generally felt safe. Trains were clean, seats not plush but comfortable, lots of leg room and the passengers not overly deranged. The trains generally managed to be 1-2 hours late even on a 2 hour scheduled run. Sometimes with no apparent reasons. No stops or slow downs.

Sight seeing from the train was less enjoyable than I had anticipated. Lots of time in areas with high embankments or tree lined . Lots of nice views of lakes and rivers but also lots of views of old warehouses and trailer parks with junker cars everywhere.

Most enjoyable travel part of the trip was the bus rides to and from Vancouver. One was an Amtrak Shuttle bus and the other a QuickCoach bus. Both were nicer seats but less leg room and a much quieter and on-time ride.

Highlight of trip was Vancouver. Great city.
Biggest disappointment was missing out on getting a Town Topic burger in KC.
Oddest thing. InToTheMystic (ER's traveling gourmand) was in some of the same cities just a day ahead of me. So I ate from his suggestions lists on his blog. Sam #3 in Denver was suggested to me by Athena and a better breakfast is gonna be hard to find. (Eggs, country biscuits, all covered by sausage and gravy.)
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