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The Coast Starlight and Winterail 2019

by Chris Guenzler

I neeed this trip in my life at this point of it. I decided to take the Coast Starlight to Winterail 2019 this year and I called Amtrak Guest Rewards and got sleeping cars going both ways and Robin Bowers would join me. We would take the Coast Starlight to Vancouver, Washington, meet Chris Parker who would fly Southwest Airlines from Los Angeles to Portand and then the 3:00 PM Cascade Talgo to Vancouver. Bob and Elizabeth Alkire would drive down after Elizabeth finishes work in West Seattle. We would stay that first night at Astoria then make our way to Corvallis on a route taking covered bridges this year.

3/13/2019 I finshed packing that morning before Robin picked me up and we drove to the parking structure. We checked in with station security with Robin giving him his car information. I bought my Metrolink ticket and then we went up the elevator and over to Track One to wait for our first train of the trip.

Metrolink 685 3/13/2019

Metrolink 685 coming into Santa Ana. We boarded the rear cab car and took seats placing our luggage in the bike area. This train stopped at Orange, Anaheim, Fullerton, Buena Park, Santa Fe Springs then Commerce before we ran into Los Angeles stopping on Track 11. We went down and over to Track 10 to wait for our next train which backed in a few minutes.

Coast Starlight 3/13/2019

The Coast Starlight 14 at Los Angeles. This train had Engines 20 and 45, Viewliner Baggage 61047, Dorm 39009, Sleeper 32021, Sleeper 32013, Diner 38058, Business Class 34510, Lounge 33047, Coaches 34049 and 34116. We had Room 5 inland side in the Sleeper 32021. The train left on time but was stopped shortly by Pacific Surfliner 768. We ran by Glendale through Burbank to our first stop at Bob Hope Airport. The next stop was Van Nuys as Robin noticed the hills are green. After that we ran through the three tunnels allowing us to exit the San Fernando Valley. We ran next to Simi Valley then onto Oxnard. At Strathren we met Pacific Surfliner 774 waiting for us in the siding. We ran to Oxnard then onto Ventura before reaching the shore of the Pacific Ocean. There is now No Wireless Internet on the Coast Starlight!

All of the Channel Islands can be seen from these views just west of Ventura. At Noon we got called into the Dining Car where we were seated with a couple from La Porte, Indiana who have been to Hesston and North Judson railroad museums. They are on a Amtrak circle trip to see their grandchildren. I enjoyed the Angus Beef Burger and Vanilla Pudding for a most filling lunch. I took a fresh air break at Santa Barbara before the train left and headed to San Luis Obispo. The train proceeded west to Point Conception then turned north to Vanderburg Air Force Base. I went to the lounge car and sat at the rear table and enjoyed the crossing of the base. I returned to the room just before Casmila. We listened to music as we neared San Luis Obispo then took a fresh air break at SLO this afternoon of over half an hour. We left SLO right on time learning that our southbound counterpart was over five hours late. Now we will climb Cuesta Grade.

Coast Starlight on the Goldtree Horseshoe Curve. Robin and I enjoyed the rest of the climb of Cuesta Grade. The train made the stop at Paso Robles then departed for Salinas. Robin decided to eat later so I got a 5:30 PM dinner reservation while he took a 6:30 PM reservation. I had a Signature Steak and chocolate cake for dessert. We arrived into Salinas just as the southbound Coast Starlight was leaving almost six hours late. What caused this first the train was held for three hours for power lines across the tracks then one of the sleepers had a fire so passengers had to be removed from it and it was placed on the rear of the train. Good luck to that train on the rest of its trip to Los Angeles.I took a cold breeze fresh air break at Salinas. Now we will make our way to Moss Landing.

Moss Landing Bay. From here we made our way to Watsonville Jct and Gilroy where darkness will take hold. We made our way into San Jose where we took another fresh air break. From here we made our way to Oakland Jack London Square Station for the last fresh air break of the day. After that we called it a night.

3/14/2019 I awoke at Bray and went straight to the Dining Car for breakfast of pancakes and pork sausage with my two usual dining mates. The conversations were good and then I sat at a table in the lounge car the rest of the way to Klamath Falls where I took a cold fresh air break.

The train at Klamath Falls. We left K. Falls on time and I went back to my table and sat with Barry Draper with us getting caught up on things. Root Bear Falls was blanked deep snow but it was a beautful trip to Chemult which we left on time. We now climbed to Cascade Summit.

Odell Lake before we plunged into the Cascade Summit Tunnel.

Snow on trees at Abernethy.

The views west of Abernethy.

The train heading to the next bridge.

The train on that bridge and entering Tunnel 8. I sat back and enjoyed the ride down the west slope of the Cascade Summit grade. I still had one more picture to take after we left Oakridge and went through the next tunnel.

The Oakridge Covered Bridge is really the Office Covered Bridge. We ran through the downed tree zone where many trees have cone down the slope. Lookout Point Reservoir is the lowest in years but waiting for the spring melt to fill it up. We made our way into Eugene, our next fresh air break of this trip. Next we will be running to Albany where we might be eating lunch with a 1:30 PM lunch reservation. I got tossed into a corridor post cutting my arm. My fantastic dining car staff brought me alcohol wipes and a bandage which did the trick. We ran to Hallawell where I ate my Beef Angus Burger and chocolate cake while we waited for the late running Cascades Talgo 511 and once he was by us, we backed out of the siding and ran on into Albany.

Future maybe rail excursion in the distance future.

Portland and Western Railroad train in Albany. The train next ran onto Salem slowing way down for grade crossing work on the way there. After Salem I had to go and fill out an Amtrak Accident Report then returned to my room with the train stopped at Hito for the southbound Coast Starlight train 11. Following that we ran north towards Portland. All the dalays today have been waiting on Amtrak trains. We ran to Johnson Creek and finally the UP 5462 South delayed us. From here we ran into Portland Union Station and a finally fresh air stop of this trip.

The Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation Shop area. From here we ran across the Willamette River into Portland Union Station where I detrained for pictures.

Empire Builder train 28 ready to leave with our passengers leaving Portland at 5:05 PM.

Coast Starlight our train getting ready to leave Portland

A Cascades Talgo train waits its next assignment.

Cascades Charger 1401 at Portland. We loaded our new passengers and we left Portland at 5:11 PM {4:00 PM} and now the 18 minute trip across the Willamette River and Columbia River to our detraining station of Vancouver. It had been an excellent Amtrak adventure and with Chris Parker in Vancouver waiting for us it is a case of "I love it when a plan comes together!

Vancouver 3/14/2019

Robin and I detrained at Vancouver and met Chris Parker who was waiting for us. We would take pictures until it got dark while waited for Bob and Elizabeth Alkire to pick us up after 9:00 PM.

FURX GP-38-2 5517 sat at Vancouver.

Cascades Talgo 505 came through town next.

It is always fun to watch the Columbia Drawbridge open and close in Vancouver, Washington.

BNSF 5307 East came from Portland.

Vancouver is a busy railroad junction for the BNSF railroad.

Canadian National 2249 South was our next train through here.


Union Pacific 8062 North was the next train.

That was followed by Union Pacific 8697 North with CP Rail power in the consist. I read some of the travel magazines and the Amtrak magazine while I waited in the nice warm station on a cool northwest night. After 9:00 PM we went outside and waited for Bob and Elizabeth to arrive. Once loaded up, we drove out to Astoria and stayed the night at the excellent Astoria Riverwalk Inn. We got our room but I had a few pictures to take of the view from this room.

The night time view from the balcony. I got a good night sleep. Tomorrow on to Corvallis.

Part 2 of the story!