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Circum-Coastal Amtrak Border Ride?
Old 07-25-2008, 12:46 PM   #1
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Circum-Coastal Amtrak Border Ride?

Anyone ever do an Amtrak from Portland, ME to Seattle, to San Diego, to Miami and back to Portland. I'm on that adventure right now and riding the train is way, way better than flying so far.

Just wondering if anyone has ever hit a nasty train related bad trip?
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Old 07-25-2008, 12:55 PM   #2
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Only ever had issues with delays in my Amtrak travels. So long as you don't need to be at your destination on time, it should be fine.
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Old 07-25-2008, 12:55 PM   #3
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sounds wonderful. post pics please.
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Old 07-25-2008, 12:59 PM   #4
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Just delays. Call the station beforehand to find out how many hours late the train is. If you're in no hurry, waiting a few hours at the station might lead to some interesting serendipitous fun.

Otherwise should be a tame way to pass the time and see the country at ground elevation and at speeds less than 450 mph.
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Old 07-25-2008, 01:05 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Enuf View Post
Anyone ever do an Amtrak from Portland, ME to Seattle, to San Diego, to Miami and back to Portland. I'm on that adventure right now and riding the train is way, way better than flying so far.

Just wondering if anyone has ever hit a nasty train related bad trip?
No, I've had no bad trips on the train. I love train riding so much I wouldn't know a bad trip if I, um, tripped over it. I remember meeting a couple on a trip from Oakland to Denver and back; they labeled me a hard-core train rider because i rode the train both ways instead of flying one way. I always assume to train will run behind schedule, often maybe by 12 hours and consider the extra time aboard a bonus.

Tell us all about it, Enuf.
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Old 07-25-2008, 01:27 PM   #6
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I'm ready to listen about your trip. I love taking trains in Europe but have never rode Amtrak. Do you have a bedroom or only coach?
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Old 07-25-2008, 02:09 PM   #7
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Thanks for the headsup on the possible delays. I will do the call ahead, good idea. Like most have mentioned, I got no time constraint so let the wheels take me for a ride.

I have it being blogged but I realize some on the board frown on people listing their blog. So I will PM it for anyone interested. I'm doing 1/2 day rides and 1-2 day stays. So far Philly in 50 pictures.

Loving it so far. Comfy seats, mostly very quiet. I'm just went over the Susquehanna River and the conductor said it supplies 50% of Chesapeake Bay fresh water.

Much more enjoyable for me than flying these days. But, it's early.
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Old 07-25-2008, 02:17 PM   #8
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If others haven't tried the train, it can be a nice change of pace over flying (if you aren't in a hurry). Coach seats are at least twice as large with twice as much leg room (maybe a bit of hyperbole, but close!). And for distances of only a few hundred miles, the terminal to terminal travel time may be similar given airline delays and airport security lines.
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Old 07-25-2008, 04:46 PM   #9
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I have done St. Paul, to Portland, to Los Angeles, to Chicago, and back to St. Paul. Nice ride.

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Old 07-25-2008, 04:56 PM   #10
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Just wondering if anyone has ever hit a nasty train related bad trip?
When I was 13 (1969) I was on a 3 day train trip full of Boy Scouts heading from Richmond VA to Idaho for a national jamboree. Very nasty, bad trip. The train was fine, but the Scouts were outta control!
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Old 07-25-2008, 05:12 PM   #11
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I have done St. Paul, to Portland, to Los Angeles, to Chicago, and back to St. Paul. Nice ride.

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That was a great read . Greg missed you like crazy ! How cute !
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Old 07-25-2008, 09:16 PM   #12
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Just an update on today. At Lewisburg, PA, clickety-clack, and suddenly a couple of Homeland Security guys got on and escorted off a well dressed man with a heavy Persian accent as opposed to an Arabic accent. He seemed totally resigned to being caught.

Also went thru Horseshoe Curve and wow that was pretty neat. Like entering Yankee Stadium from left-center field and exiting right-center.

Five college kids talked non-stop for 6 hours. Any surprise They were actually pretty respectful and seemed like typical young person with lots of promise. Hope they learn that the lungs can only vacuum 1 billion cubic feet of air before clogging. They did half that today.

The station in Pittsburgh looks like it cost the city nothing. Looks like an old public toilet.
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Old 07-25-2008, 09:22 PM   #13
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Enuf, I generally found that a small bottle of your favorite potent beverage discreetly consumed did marvels when your fellow train aficionados haven't figured out that they should save some oxygen for the rest of us.
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Old 07-25-2008, 09:25 PM   #14
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Pittsburgh is actually a nice, walkable city. Lots of stuff to do. Very sports-centric. Ride on of the two inclines to the top for a great view of the city. Subway rides in the downtown area are free.
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Old 07-25-2008, 09:46 PM   #15
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I had always considered doing a "round the country" Amtrak trip, but just never got around to it.....yet. However, I enjoyed all of the round-trip train rides I've taken on the Southwest Chief (Chicago-Los Angeles)...twice a year for many years.

I met an a guy on one of my Amtrak trips that purchased an unlimited rail pass each year, and had traveled EVERY Amtrak route numerous times, and had taken EVERY Amtrak tour that they had. He was in his mid-80's and said he absolutely loved traveling by train, and enjoyed meeting new folks. He knew almost every 'on-board' Amtrak employee by name, and knew about their families and hobbies and such....and most of the employees knew him as well. They were all like family to each other. He was a very pleasant, easy-going, jovial, good natured old timer.....kind of reminded me of a cross between Cap't Kangaroo's Bob Keeshan, and Wilford Brimley. I got to enjoy a few meals with him on that trip, and we were just a few doors apart in the sleeper car.

He had been a widower for many years, and started Amtraking shortly after his wife passed away, as a way to fill his days and to keep from getting lonely. He said it just grew on him after a while, and became almost an addiction. He said he'd go home about every 6-8 weeks to take care of his banking and whatever, then he'd hop a train a go again.

It's a great way to travel, tour, and sight-see our wonderful country......as well as a great way to meet interesting people and make new friends.

Happy trails rails! Enjoy your trip, Enuf!
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Old 07-25-2008, 09:52 PM   #16
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He had been a widower for many years, and started Amtraking shortly after his wife passed away, as a way to fill his days and to keep from getting lonely. He said it just grew on him after a while, and became almost an addiction. He said he'd go home about every 6-8 weeks to take care of his banking and whatever, then he'd hop a train a go again.
Or you could do it the way some of my German friends did when they were in college. Buy a Schoenes Wochenende ticket for peanuts that allows up to 4 people to travel unlimited for the weekend as long as you stay on the two slowest classes of train. Get on board with a case of beer, ride until you are out of beer. Get off at the next stop, buy more beer and maybe some food, and repeat until the weekend is over.


"Where the hell are we?"

"I don't know, but we are out of beer so get off the train."
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Old 07-25-2008, 10:27 PM   #17
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Thanks for the PM. We will be following your progress on your blog. Just a few questions. How tight is your planning. Are you booking hotels the day before you get to a destination? Purchasing tickets along the way? Or are you using a rail pass. How long do you expect your trip to take.
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Old 07-26-2008, 08:14 AM   #18
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Just wondering if anyone has ever hit a nasty train related bad trip?
I had my luggage fail to make a connection Chicago. So I was on the train for a several day trip to San Diego with nothing but the clothes on my back. Did a five-minute supermarket sweep in La Junta, CO to get toothpaste, etc. But it was a good trip anyway.
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Old 07-26-2008, 08:45 AM   #19
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Brewer, (in the voice of Wm Shattner) "consuming strong beverages? BRILLIANT!!", I did long for a double or two. The young kids were from Yale and Princeton and headed to a Summer Camp for a reunion. None were former friends, just had some summer camp type bond. Kinda funny cause they were good examples of nerds having fun.

Goonie, I may have seen that guy, or a close facsimile, a man and women in their mid late 70's were familiar with most every Amtrak segment. Seemed like they enjoyed the rides.

Cattusbabe, I get up on the day I plan to leave with the idea that if I get a ticket, FINE, if I don't I'll book another day. I have no timeline, nor an itenerary. I'm just going where the sun keeps shining. I may even consider a Greyhound on some days to get to a city not on Amtrak. Maybe a movie, "Buses and Trains, No Planes, No Automobiles".

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.

Here are some observations on day 5.
1. The trains have been surprisingly comfortable, clean and on-time.
2. People watching is much easier and more intimate.
3. Seeing rural Pennsylvania was an eye opener for me. Like the real America.
4. If you have not connections, or drivers waiting, etc, it really has a nice pace.
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Old 07-26-2008, 09:08 AM   #20
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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.
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