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Coast Starlight to Portland, Oregon 1/4-5/2017

by Chris Guenzler

I really wanted to take a long distance train trip during my Winter Break. I called Elizabeth and Bob Alkire to see if I could come up and they said "Yes!" They had wanted me to ride to Lakewood on the Sounder plus the new First Hill Streetcar in Seattle. Seattle Link Light Rail had expanded by three more stations so we could do that too. The Skytrain up in Vancouver could also be done but I would have to renew my passport which I did. I got my Amtrak tickets from Santa Ana to Los Angeles in coach, sleeping car on the Coast Starlight to Portland with a night there, then Business Class on the Talgo to Seattle with three nights there. Coming home, a Sleeping car on the Coast Starlight then coach home to Santa Ana. It should be an interesting trip.

The Trip to Portland

My mother drove me to the northeast parking lot and dropped me off before I walked to Santa Ana Blvd, crossed the tracks, then walked down to Track 1 where I waited for Pacific Surfliner 763 to arrive.

The Santa Ana station on a lovely cool morning.

Pacific Surfliner 763 to Goleta arrived and I took a left handed window seat. The train departed and my first seat partner detrained at Anaheim. I enjoyed my two seats until Fullerton where another gentleman joined me. The train burnt up the rails to Los Angeles where we arrived early on Track 10 next to the Southwest Chief. I walked around the front of the train and walked towards where Sleeping Car 1432 would board.

Metrolink train on Track 8 with Metrolink leased F59PH 18522 originally GO Transit 522.

Pacific Surfliner 763 left LAUPT for Goleta. A few minutes later Pacific Surfliner 768 arrived this morning as well as all the Metrolink trains that come and go from the station.

Coast Starlight 14 1/4/2017

This Coast Starlight had a consist of engines 13 and 510, baggage 61066, Transition 39021, Sleepers 32091 "Minnesota", 32097 "New Hampshire", Parlor Car 39975 "Willamette Valley", Diner 38056, Business Class 34504, Lounge 33027 and Coaches 34099, 34031 and 31024. I boarded Room 8 in the "Minnesota" with Miella as my Sleeping Car attendant for this trip. The train left on time with me being on the east side of the train. We quickly headed north then west into the San Fernando Valley. At Doran Street we were delayed by a broken crossing gate before we headed to our first stop at Burbank Airport. It felt so great to be back aboard a sleeping car on the Coast Starlight listening to Emerson, Lake & Palmer's "California Jam" show from 1974. It does not get any better than this! I received a noon lunch reservation then listened to another later live recording of ELP "Works I and II" albums. West of Van Nuys the train was delayed by Metrolink 112 then at Chatsworth, we met Pacific Surfliner 774 heading south to San Diego and this is where the rain started. Next was the trip through the three tunnels and into Simi Valley before we rolled our way west to Oxnard. I had to pause ELP to go to lunch and sat with a family who loves trains and their son knew who I was. I enjoyed the Angus Beef Burger with bacon strips and a chocolate pudding. After lunch I showed the son the Business Class car on this train. For the first time I took a fresh air break at Santa Barbara, where I was rained on and we left 45 minutes late. I finished up ELP then put on a DVD of Yard Goat Images' "Wisconsin Steam Stories".

I got the Rainbow Blues!

The Santa Ynez River as we continued north. High water was seen as we made our way through Grover and it was really wet out as we made our way into San Luis Obispo but it was a good day to be on a train. I detrained for some luggage tags with success then returned to the dryness of the train and watched my DVD of Randy Rhoads "Six String God" as we departed at 4:28 PM {3:35 PM} and headed up Cuesta Grade.

The Coast Starlight took the Goldtree Horseshoe Curve on this very wet afternoon. At Chorro we took the siding for a later-unning southbound Coast Starlight train 11. As the train climbed the rest of the Cuesta Grade I headed to the dining car for my dinner where I had a great steak and was seated with a man going to a wedding in Portland, a lady who owns Scale Models and another man going home to Yuba City. There was also one of our rare mileage riders, Judy, returning home to Klamath Falls and a guy from Whitehorse, Yukon. I have made many new friends today. The train stopped in Paso Robles and about twenty minutes later, that DVD ended so next I put on "Miley Cyrus Live at the O2" that took me to Salinas and beyond. At Salinas I took a fresh air break and we departed after an extended stop for baggage at 7:51 PM {6:28 PM} and headed to San Jose. Next it was the "Best of Both Worlds Concert" that took me almost to San Jose, from which we departed at 9:46 PM {8:24 PM} and I made up my room on this very wet night.

1/5/2017 I got up at 6:00 AM and after changing into my clothes, went into the Pacific Parlour Car, which was an ice box this morning, to wait for breakfast. At 6:30 AM I was seated with a man going to Dunsmuir and my friend from Whitehorse. I had buttermilk pancakes along with sausage patties, tea and orange juice. During breakfast we made the stop in Dunsmuir then afterwards, and armed with a second cup of tea, I made my way back to my room as the train rounded the Cantara Loop. The climb out of the Sacramento River Canyon was beautiful as the ground was snow-covered. I called Chris Parker to check in with him then Mount Shasta came into view.

Mount Shasta in all her glory this morning.

The tracks of the old McCloud Railroad.

McCloud Railroad SD38 37 was waiting for the Union Pacific to pick it up at Mount Shasta City.

Black Butte was looking good as well on this great morning, The train ran to Black Butte then we waited for a Union Pacific freight train, Union Pacific 2623 West. We continued north with me watching my Los Angeles Kings Stanley Cup DVD from 2012.

The north face of Mount Shasta as we were heading to Klamath Falls. The bad news was that we would not be leaving there until 1:00 PM since we needed a rested crew. The Coast Starlight train 11 did not arrive there this morning until 2:41 AM, 4 hours and 51 minutes late. We had to wait for the switch to be cleaned out before we pulled into the station.

We moved up to the hand-thrown switch and after our conductor threw it, we pulled into the station just as BNSF 7878 South passed us.

BNSF ET44C4 3954 West was also in the yard. The train next stopped a train length from the station.

Icicles on a railroad building. We arrived in Klamath Falls at 11:03 AM where I detrained into the 7 degree air for some pictures.

My first view from where I detrained.

The Coast Starlight at Klamath Falls.

Amtrak B32-8WH 510.

The view looking toward the Klamath Falls station. I returned to my nice warm room and watched my DVD of the Ramones "Gabba Hey" while we were here during the delay. I had a noon lunch reservation and sitting a table over from me were Jeff and his wife; Jeff is a Coaster conductor whom I know from riding Amtrak. I sat with a nice couple going to Portland and enjoyed the Angus Beef Burger which was as good as yesterday. The new crew arrived, the Ramones DVD finished and I put on my DVD of Alice Cooper's "Cooperstown Reunion 1998". The train departed at 1:44 PM {9:17 AM} but stopped again because the switch at the north end of the station had not been cleared while we were sitting there. UP 8048 East went by us slowly and then stopped before we left here for good at 1:55 PM.

Upper Klamath Lake. That was followed by watching my DVD of Jethro Tull's "Nothing is Easy Live at the Isle of Wight 1970".

A piece of railroad I still need to ride is from Chemult to Bend. We stopped at Chemult and left at 3:23 PM {9:32 AM} and will now head over the Cascade Mountains then down to Eugene.

Snow-covered trees as we neared Cascade Summit.

Odell Lake.

The train climbing to the Summit Tunnel which we went through then descended the grade.

A few scenes from our descent from Cascade Summit. I put on "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" and obtained a 6:30 PM dinner reservation, learning that due to our lateness, all coach passengers would be fed by the dining car staff. Our ETA into Portland was now 8:51 PM as of 6:00 PM. I went to the dining car at 6:30 PM and was seated with Jeff and his wife. We stopped in Eugene and left there at 6:38 PM {12:36 PM}. I had the steak and lava cake for dessert. After dinner, we stopped in Albany and departed there at 7:24 PM {1:22 PM}, then it was onto Salem, where we left at 8:14 PM {1:56 PM}. Now we made the final sprint into Portland, arriving there at 9:22 PM {3:22 PM}. It had been a unique trip aboard the Coast Starlight.

Portland 1/5/2017

I walked from Portland Union Station to the Green Line MAX station and boarded the first trolley to 82nd Street, where I detrained and walked over to the Days Inn for the night.