Amtrak Oregon to Pennsylvania

Apr 17th, 2019, 03:57 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 10,145
Amtrak Oregon to Pennsylvania

My trip started on April 1 with a short drive to Chemult Oregon to catch the northbound Coast Starlight to Portland. The train arrived a few minutes late because of a freight train that was waiting on the siding of the station waiting for a northbound freight. We gained a few minutes on the trip but ended up transferring across the platform to the Empire Builder. There were a few delays for various reasons including flooding in people's front yards from the Mississippi River. At one point, the water was about 18" below the rails. We arrived in Chicago about 3 hours late but I had no worries since my next train was scheduled to leave Chicago at 9:30PM.
I decided to upgrade my ticket on the Lake Shore Limited so that I could sleep in a single seat in Business Class (more comfortable seat and a wide aisle). The LSL arrived in Erie PA about 20 minutes late but before 8AM Eastern time. I called Enterprise and they came and picked me up at the Erie station.
Out of Erie I drove east on I-90 and then east on the Southern Tier Expressway (I-86) to Hornell NY. I drove southward through Jasper to the town of Woodhull NY. I spent a few minutes shopping at the Golden Age cheese factory which I highly recommend. I looked for a couple of geocaches in the area and found one. From Woodhull I continued south into PA and the small town of Osceola where my parents lived before they retired. I continued south in Tioga County PA to Wellsboro. I checked on my grandmothers and great uncles graves before heading down to my high school friends home.
On Friday morning (4/5) I peeked out the window at my rental car to see it snowing. I had breakfast with Bob and took off for Williamsport. The drive east on US 6 was scarier than the drive on the Interstate standard US 15 south from Mansfield. I spent an hour doing a geocache puzzle called "Bases Loaded" which starts at the corner of 3rd St & Market St. in Williamsport. The NW corner is home plate.
I then visited the Lycoming County Visitors Bureau where I bought a WACC mug and got a recommendation to pick up lunch before my trip over the mountain past Little League headquarters.
On the other side of North White Deer Ridge off US 15 is the Schnebelli Earth Science campus of Pennsylvania College of Technology. I met and had my lunch with Dr. Bartholomay who is the chief professor in the Forest Technology program. At 1PM I gave a 40 minute lecture to 19 Forest Technology students and Prof. B. It was a Forest Recreation class so among other topics I covered geocaching and other uses for GPS. I also covered the Township, Range and Section Public Land Surveys that are common in the western US. During my 36 years with the PA Bureau of Forestry and the 14 years I have spent in Oregon, I have learned a great deal of "stuff" since I graduated with a degree in Forest Technology from WACC in June 1969.
On Sunday I went to visit my old church in Mifflinburg and took care of my laundry. From there I drove down to one of my old Bureau of Forestry friends in Sunbury. On Monday I visited my friends out at the D-7 office near Laurelton. I went out and found a few geocaches. I spent Monday night at a cabin owned by the Bureau of Forestry. On Tuesday I headed over the mountains toward Loganton. I went a couple miles up Stony Run road when I encountered a flock of over 10 turkeys. I arrived at my hotel in Dubois about 3PM. I went and found a few geocaches along a rail trail. On Wednesday I found a few more north of Dubois.
I drove north on US 219 all the way back to I-86 where I topped off the gas tank @ 2.499/gallon. "Welcome to the Reservation". I turned in the car in Erie at 10PM and hiked with my luggage all the way to the McDonalds near the Erie station since the station does not open until after midnight. My train back to Chicago arrived about 2:20AM.
I spent $25 for access to the Metro Lounge in Union Station where I could get a shower and change of clothes. I was very glad that I decided to take the Southwest Chief to Los Angeles. At the time I was on the SWC, there was an April blizzard along the route of the Empire Builder.
I waited a couple of hours at Los Angeles Union Station before getting on the Coast Starlight back to Chemult. I arrived back home exactly 14 days after I left
tomfuller is offline  
Apr 17th, 2019, 07:27 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,763
Nice report! I've always wanted to take Amtrak cross country like that. Should have done it about 20 years ago when there were more train options. It's a shame there are so few trains now. It would be nice to have day trains only so you could stop in various towns overnight for a night or two then continue the journey in the daytime. I'd hate to take the train through some beautiful scenery at night - but there seem to be few options to do otherwise for parts of the route.

I did take it from Portland to Vancouver, BC and back last fall. It was comfortable and on-time. Biggest pet peeve is that there's very little in the way of food options near the King Street Station in Seattle if you want to hop of the train (which I did on the way back for a few minutes), and the food on the Cascades in the bistro cars is very limited. I'm guessing the Starlight Express is a little better.
Andrew is offline  
Apr 18th, 2019, 06:08 AM
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 10,145
The Talgo cars that run on the Amtrak Cascades trains are among the newest and nicest cars that Amtrak has. They run only between Eugene Oregon and Vancouver BC. By all means have a good meal in the city or at home before you show up at the train station. The sightseer Lounge with the cafe downstairs on the Coast Starlight that I rode dated back to 1971. (Confirmed by the cafe attendant).
I will never call the Coast Starlight an Express train. We were late enough on Sunday morning that a guy sitting next to me in the Sightseer Lounge got some great pictures of Mt Shasta and Shastina that the train normally passes in the dark.
On the long distance trains, the dining car has a limited menu but the food is quite good but somewhat expensive. If you have a sleeper car the food in the dining room is included in your fare. I took my trip only in coach except for the upgrade to Business Class from Chicago to Erie. They did give me an Amtrak Blanket with a sleep mask inflatable neck pillow and ear plugs. This was in a nice velvet bag with the Amtrak logo.
tomfuller is offline  
Apr 18th, 2019, 08:52 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 826
I live in Erie, but have never taken the train from here. Maybe someday from here to NYC or to Chicago. Sounds like you had a very nice trip!
SeaF is offline  
Apr 18th, 2019, 11:03 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 5,729
Sounds like another nice train trip. I hope the students gave you a standing ovation!!
emalloy is offline  
Apr 18th, 2019, 08:53 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 10,145
Originally Posted by SeaF View Post
I live in Erie, but have never taken the train from here. Maybe someday from here to NYC or to Chicago. Sounds like you had a very nice trip!
The eastbound LSL to either New York Penn or Boston South station is in Erie sometime after 7AM Eastern time. The westbound train to Cleveland and Chicago is in Erie sometime after 2AM. It arrives in Chicago after 9:30AM Central time.
tomfuller is offline  
Apr 21st, 2019, 10:12 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 826
Thanks, Tom. Good to know. I always thought that the train came in the wee hours for both directions!
SeaF is offline  
Apr 21st, 2019, 06:14 PM
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 10,145
Originally Posted by emalloy View Post
Sounds like another nice train trip. I hope the students gave you a standing ovation!!
No such luck. At least they didn't boo. It was raining on Friday so Professor Bartholomay let them go home early.
Next months train trip starts in Wishram WA and also goes as far east as Erie PA. I am going to a geocaching event (ASP Geobash) in Alegany State Park New York.
I drop the car late that evening back in Erie and take the LSL back to Chicago. From Chicago I take the "City of New Orleans" to Memphis. I get 24 hours in Memphis to tour SUN Studios and a bus out to Graceland. I have to be back to the Amtrak station by 6:30AM for the trip to New Orleans. I only have about 17 hours in New Orleans before taking the Sunset Limited to Houston.
tomfuller is offline  
Apr 24th, 2019, 07:37 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 24,748
I, too, got photos of Mt. Shasta on the Coast Starlight. Do I gather you weren't using the sleeper cars? I find Amtrak's seats plenty comfortable for day trains, but I need to lie flat to sleep. I thought the food on the long distance trains was good, although i wouldn't board the others without my own food and drink.
thursdaysd is offline  
Apr 24th, 2019, 08:10 AM
  #10  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 10,145
I'm working on a tight budget for my train trips this spring. The roomette for a single person is about 3 times what a coach seat is. I do try to get a lower level coach seat to improve my odds of not having a seatmate. I will probably spring for a Business Class seat on the Lake Shore Limited so I have a single seat.
I will be traveling on an eight segment (15 day) USA Railpass next month. I picked it up in Los Angeles while I was there between trains.
tomfuller is offline  
Apr 25th, 2019, 11:37 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 3,607
Nice report.

It would be nice to see the country from another route. Such a different perspective.
​​​​​​
I've meant to ask you for a while: How did you get hooked on train travel?

5alive is offline  
Apr 26th, 2019, 07:11 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 8,712
Originally Posted by tomfuller View Post
. . . I will probably spring for a Business Class seat on the Lake Shore Limited so I have a single seat.
I will be traveling on an eight segment (15 day) USA Railpass next month. I picked it up in Los Angeles while I was there between trains.

Does that mean the rail pass is standard class & you can then upgrade individual segments?
MmePerdu is offline  
Apr 26th, 2019, 09:27 AM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 10,145
Yes if there are available sleepers or Business Class seats available on the day of travel you can pay the additional fare. I also paid $25 to get into the Lounge in Chicago to get a shower and some food before I left on the SW Chief for Los Angeles.
I had booked a North America Rail Pass for my first train adventure for 30 days in US and Canada with the first day of travel about the 20th of October 2001. Unless I have to get somewhere quickly, I don't usually fly since 9/11/01. In the past 5 years I have flown to Alaska and Hawaii (Maui). Hawaii was my 50th state in the past 14 years since I retired.
I'm hoping that the terrible weather stops in Texas, Tennessee and Louisiana. I'll be in that area the second half of May. By using a 15 day USA Rail Pass, I will be able to visit 4 cities for what the airfare would be to one of them.
tomfuller is offline  
Apr 26th, 2019, 04:03 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 8,712
Originally Posted by tomfuller View Post
Yes if there are available sleepers or Business Class seats available on the day of travel you can pay the additional fare. . . .

Thanks Tom. How do you find out if there are available sleepers or business seats, and how do you reserve them & pay?
MmePerdu is offline  
Apr 26th, 2019, 06:57 PM
  #15  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 10,145
At any staffed Amtrak station that has the ticket office open. In some limited cases, you can pay the Conductor directly and get upgraded at the next stop if you are already on the train. On the westbound California Zephyr, my wife and I went from coach seats to a Roomette at 11PM Central time in Omaha Nebraska. We got a much better nights sleep and got good showers the next morning. We stayed in the Roomette so that we could get breakfast, lunch and dinner and then went back to coach at Grand Junction Colorado for the rest of our trip.
tomfuller is offline  
Apr 26th, 2019, 09:15 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Posts: 8,712
I've had compartments to myself in Europe, when the volcano erupted so I used it as an excuse to indulge myself. And Denver to Emeryville when someone else was paying. I love sleeping on a train if I have a bed. I'm intrigued now & will be giving it some thought.

Am I correct in thinking seasons other than summer are best for finding upgrades?
MmePerdu is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
ScaredOHeights
United States
9
Feb 8th, 2016 10:09 PM
yentravel
United States
19
Apr 14th, 2015 07:46 AM
Manisha
United States
16
Aug 24th, 2014 06:50 AM
dillysnana
United States
6
Apr 24th, 2014 01:39 PM
tomfuller
United States
8
Dec 24th, 2013 07:36 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 06:50 PM.