Chemult Oregon to Tucson and return

Feb 15th, 2014, 12:58 PM
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Posts: 10,261
Chemult Oregon to Tucson and return

My DW dropped me off at the Amtrak station a little after 8PM in CMO on 2/5. The snowstorm was just starting and the temperature was 9F with a stiff north wind which made the wind chill below zero. We arrived at Sacramento 35 minutes early. I called my buddy from Sacramento and we went to breakfast. He got me and my luggage back to the SAC station at 7AM. The next trip was the 7:40 bus to Stockton. 2/6 was the last day for the bus bridge from Stockton to Modesto. BNSF was replacing ties between STK and MOD.
After the bus bridge we sat in MOD station until a train came from Bakersfield. The passengers from that train got on the buses we got off enroute to Stockton.
We boarded that train and backed all the way to Bakersfield. In Bakersfield I boarded a bus to New Hall/Santa Clarita. My DIL picked me up at the transit station after the taxi didn't show up after an hour. I got to spend some time with my 3 grandchildren before DIL took me to Burbank Bob Hope Airport Amtrak station for a Surfliner train to Los Angeles Union Station. The Surfliner I got on was the one before I was scheduled to be on. It was running over 2 hours late because someone dropped a large tree across the tracks that needed to be cleaned up. Please don't blame Amtrak for this late train.
I got into LAUS a little after 7PM in time to wait in a long line to get a seat assignment for my coach seat on the Sunset Limited which left at 8PM instead of the usual 10PM.
BNSF was working all night replacing ties between LA and Maricopa AZ.
We spent 1:40 waiting in Maricopa and left "on time". We arrived in Tucson 30 minutes early( 8AM).
I had an expensive taxi ride from the Amtrak station to my rental car at the Park Place mall (7 miles). I drove back Broadway and got on I-10 west to I-8 to Yuma where my weekend event was happening. I didn't want to get off the train at 1:47AM to get a rental car or hotel room in Yuma.
The "warm up" on Saturday evening and the "Mega Event" on Sunday went very well.
When I left Yuma at 2PM Sunday it was 85F. I drove back to Eloy AZ and spent the night there. On Monday I drove to Las Cruces NM and found a geocache. I drove into TX and found a cache north of El Paso. From there I drove as far as Van Horn TX.
I spent the night at the Super 8. In the morning the temperature was 27F but I didn't have to scrape. I found 2 caches in Van Horn before I headed back to Tucson.
I made a stop in Deming for a cache, lunch and cheap gas $3.029/gal.
I stopped at the Amtrak station in Tucson and left my luggage on hold while I took the rental car back. After leaving the car I crossed Broadway and got the #8 bus back to the Ronstadt transit center which is across the street from the Amtrak station.
The Sunset Limited was a few minutes early to TUS. For the return trip I had a roomette which meant I had a meal coming to me. I had just finished my salad when the train started to move right on time. I did order my steak "medium rare" but it came brown all the way through. I think my meal was the last served from the kitchen that night.
I was about halfway through the steak when they asked us to evacuate the dining car.
Someone asked if the train was on fire and the best answer was "maybe".
They did provide a cover for my plate so I got to finish my meal in the roomette.
I pushed the call button for the attendant to pick up my plate when I was done. I also asked for and got a nice brownie since I left the dinner before dessert was served.
We got into LAUS over 30 minutes early. I found the Metropolitan Lounge upstairs and left my luggage next to a comfortable chair and had my laptop charging while I went out to breakfast at Phillipes on Alameda about 0.3 from the station.
About 10AM I got a ride on the golf cart to the Coast Starlight. We left right on time at 10:10AM. We had a beautiful view of the ocean south of Santa Barbara.
By the time I got back to Chemult Oregon the temp was in the mid 40's and the 12" of snow we had while I was gone was melted and the spot the car was parked when I left had 4 inches of water. Glad to answer any questions you may have about Amtrak.
tomfuller is online now  
Feb 15th, 2014, 07:46 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,064

If I'm not mistaken, was this your long-awaited first time in a roomette that you got on points? Did you like the roomette experience?

By the way, I'm glad to hear you reporting on on-time and even early trains on some of the west coast routes. Amtrak gets such a bad rap with lateness and while indeed the trains can be late on the order of hours, but in my scores of experiences on the east coast, they've been really remarkably timely on so many occasions.

Best wishes, Daniel
Daniel_Williams is offline  
Feb 16th, 2014, 06:26 AM
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The roomette experience is much much better than trying to sleep in coach. Even though they overcooked my steak I never would have paid the $25+ for the steak when traveling in coach.
There is coffee, juice oranges and apples available at the attendants stand at the top of the stairs from about 6AM until at least 8PM.
The hard milled thin soaps on the Sunset Limited weren't what I expected. I dropped it and it broke in 3 pieces.
Thew amenity bag with the Amtrak logo with Gilchrist & Soames products was a nice touch on the Coast Starlight.
Much of the bad rap that Amtrak gets for late trains is the result of weather and orders from freight railroad dispatchers.
On our trip last December, several times the conductor and others had to get out and chip ice off switches so that we could pull off onto a siding to allow a freight to pass.
We arrived about 3 hours late at Burlington IA mostly because of weather related problems.
In April DW will fly to Burbank on Alaska and visit the grandkids. When she leaves, she will take the Coast Starlight in a roomette from Burbank to Chemult.
A heads up: Right now AGR members can buy points with a 50% bonus.
The number of points you can buy per year is 10000. I just bought my 10000 and got 5000 bonus so I can take another one zone roomette sometime in the next 3 years.
tomfuller is online now  
Feb 16th, 2014, 12:11 PM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 5,875
Sounds like an interesting way to make the trip. I understand wanting the "train"experience, but did you ever compare the cost to what it would be to fly to Tucson?
emalloy is offline  
Feb 16th, 2014, 03:21 PM
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Just checked - Alaska Airline Minimum price from Portland to Tucson is $139. I would have to drive to Portland and would have to drive home which is at least $25 in gas. My bag was too big for carry on so that would be another $25.
My trip to Tucson was $136 and I got to ride 3 trains and 3 buses and got to see my grandkids - priceless.
tomfuller is online now  
Feb 17th, 2014, 03:44 AM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 5,875
Thanks for the accounting. I guess it would depend on the amount of time you could spare for travel.
emalloy is offline  
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