I'm back from my week in Corvallis, OR. I managed to get the Bilenky cargo bike to OR and back without too much hassle (more on this in a second). Right before I left, I waxed a little misty-eyed about the train and it is indeed a civilized way to travel. I have to confess though, that our ride back to Los Angeles was a good test of patience.
The train was late. 6 hours late. It made a long train ride REALLY long and that's rather frustrating when you're not expecting the delay. We were scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles at about 10pm. We got in at 2:30am. There was no public transportation back to Long Beach at that time. Our choice was either to sleep at the station or somehow magically get a ride back to Long Beach.
To their credit, Amtrak paid for a taxi back to Long Beach. We had to request a van because we had bikes. They had to lower the two rear row of seats to get the bikes in. Laura sat in the front passenger seat and I squished myself between the lowered seats and the door (praying that it wouldn't pop open somehow).
We finally got home around 4am.
Some things I learned on the train:
-It will ALWAYS be late on the west coast. Amtrak in the west coast leases rail time from freight trains and the freight trains get priority. We were 2 hours late going North and 6 going South.
-I can read about 700 pages in 40 hours (managed to finish "The Raw Shark Texts" and "Bad Monkeys") in the train.
-It's a good idea to bring a small blanket and pillow with you. If you're in Coach, you don't get a blanket and trains (esp. in the winter) get cold (esp. when they're stopped for a few hours).
-For a +24h ride, look into getting a sleeper car. All your meals are covered and it works out to be a better (and more comfortable) deal.
So far, I've only ridden the Surf Liner and Coast Starlight, both of which basically go North and South along the west coast. How are the other lines? Are they any more reliable?
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