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Winter Trip East to Chicago via Seattle Part 1

by Chris Guenzler

I decided this year to go someplace I had never been so I chose Memphis, Tennessee for my 50th Birthday. To make the trip more interesting at least for me, I would take the Coast Starlight, Empire Builder and City of New Orleans both ways to see some countryside that have not seen since 2004. I had a good Christmas at home but was up early the next morning ready to start this trip.

Surfliner 763 12/26/2007

My mother drove me down to the Santa Ana Train Station and I stopped at the K Lee Gift Shop to pick up some items. I took the elevators up and over to Track 2 to wait for my Surfliner to Los Angeles Union Station which was running late this morning.

Surfliner 564 on its way to San Diego came into Santa Ana right on time.

While Surfliner 564 was doing its station work, the late running Surfliner 763 came into the Santa Ana Train Station. I boarded the lower level of the Cab Car for this trip to LAUPT. This Surfliner had Cab Car 6903, Coaches 6413 and 6406, Coach/Cafe 6303, Pacific Business Class 6807 and engine 459. The train did a lengthy stop at Anaheim due to excess baggage and a normal stop at Fullerton before our final sprint to LAUPT arriving there 14 minutes late which was fine with me. I sat down on a bench and a few minutes later an early Sunset Limited arrived into LAUPT at 9:16 AM. It had a consist of Engines 135 and 87, Transition 39030, Sleeper 32091 Minnesota, Diner 38004, Lounge 33028, Coaches 31020, 34049 and 34038 with Sleeper 32078 Florida. Surfliner 768 then arrived into LAUPT as well as Metrolink Trains making LAUPT a very busy station in the mid morning.

Coast Starlight 14 12/26/2007

At 9:22 AM the Coast Starlight backed into Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal with Engines 135 and 87, Baggage 1708, Transition 39018, Sleepers 32065, 32113 Vermont and 32098 New Jersey, Lounge 32019 {Sub Parlour}, Diner 38021, Lounge 32020 and Coaches 34064, 34512, 34045 and 34504. I stored my luggage in Room 2 of the 32065 with Sleeping Car Attendant Matelen working this car. I went outside and visited with Conductor Bob Riskie stopping by to see me. I then visited the Sub Parlour for some cinnamon rolls and Orange Juice before I put on Kissology I Disc 1 on a portable DVD Player I am using on this trip as I did not want to bring the computer on this trip prior to leaving LAUPT on time. During the Winterland 1975 Show during Strutter we stopped in Van Nuys. After stopping for three trains {Two Metrolinks and One Surfliner 774} we finally arrived into Simi Valley as "Let Me Go, Rock n' Roll" was finishing from that same show. During the Cobo Hall 1976 Show as Gene Simmons set his hair on fire at the end of "Firehouse" we left Oxnard.

After Ventura, the train crossed the Ventura River.

Offshore islands as we reached the shore of the Pacific Ocean.

Rough surf along the coast this early afternoon.

I was using an Axiom 7 LCD Monitor and DVD Player. At Santa Barbara I took a fresh air break then visited the Sub Parlour. Back in my room we left Santa Barbara 22 minutes late and I switched to CD putting on Elton John "Caribou" as we headed west. The train made a brief stop at Goleta to drop off a passenger who had gotten on our train by mistake.

West of Refugio State Beach.

West of Gaviota State Beach looking east.

Later looking north at Jalama Beach.

The Lighthouse at Point Sol turning north along the coast as we crossed Vandenberg Air Force Base.

I love the rocky points before Surf.

After I rode the Sub Parlour Car across the base we dropped into Casmalia. I put on the second DVD of Kissology I.

Later we came down the hill into Grover Beach. I jumped to songs that I have not seen yet today as we were nearing San Luis Obispo. Our train met the southbound Coast Starlight with Pacific Parlour Car 39972 on it at East San Luis Obispo. Our train backed onto the mainline to San Luis Obispo, our next fresh air stop and crew change.

The Coast Starlight was at San Luis Obispo. The train left SLO at 4:05 PM {3:43 PM} as I put on the Kiss Show from Houston but again will skip to previously unheard songs.

Our train at the top of the Goldtree Horseshoe Curve as we climbed Cuesta Grade. I finished Kissology Volume I as the train neared Paso Robles. I was called into the Dining Car for dinner and was seated with Rob and Gene going to Sacramento to visit their grandkids and Bobby going to Dunsmuir. My table mates got served in ten minutes and I told them to go ahead without me. My Flat Iron Steak finally came and that was followed with Chocolate Ice Cream.

After dinner back in my room, I put on Jackie Chan "Fantasy Mission Force". Later I took a fresh air stop at Salinas.

Caltrains were laying over at Gilroy. Being very tired, I made up my room and was in bed by San Jose.

12/27/2007 I was out of bed after Black Butte.

I went to the Sub Parlour Car for some Danish and Orange Juice. Later at Kegg we held the mainline for a non clearing UP 5384 South. The Coast Starlight then passed through two tunnels into Oregon with our next stop in Klamath Falls.

Our train passed the old lift bridge south of town before we arrived into Klamath Falls. I detrained for some cold fresh air and pictures.

The Coast Starlight was changing crews in Klamath Falls.

During our station stop at Klamath Falls the snows continued to fall. We left K Falls an hour and ten minutes down as I read The Oregonian before I put on the DVD of Jackie Chan "Master with Cracked Fingers".

The train ran by Upper Klamath Lake which was frozen.

The train ran by Frozen Root Beer Falls.

The train arrived into Chemult, our next station stop. The Coast Starlight then climbed the grade to a very snowy Cascade Summit.

Our train exited the Cascade Summit Tunnel then started down the grade.

Our train was passing through Abernethy.

These snow covered trees are beautiful!

The train was on the trestle between Tunnels 4 and 5.

Later our train crossed the Salt Creek Bridge right before Heather. After doing some great photography, I put on the DVD from Kissology III starting it off with the Revenge Tour from Auburn Hills, Michigan 1993 as the snows continue to fall.

A UP Flanger waiting for its next chance to get out and work at Oakridge.

The train ran by the snow Covered Bridge.

By the time we reached Lookout Point Reservoir, the snow had turned to rain. I got through the "Behind the Scene of Kiss Unplugged" before we arrived into Eugene, a fresh air stop.

Views of our Eugene Station Stop before I returned to my room for "Kiss Unplugged". We left Eugene at 2:42 PM {12:44 PM}. Before Albany at Hallawell we held the mainline for the UP 5395 South as the rain continued to fall.

There was a Union Pacific freight at Albany.

Willamette Pacific power was in their yard north of Albany. At Marion we took the siding for the southbound Coast Starlight before we arrived into Salem. Sudoku puzzles took me the rest of the way to Portland. Matelen did an excellent job not only with our sleeper but also with the ten car {Transition Car}. The Coast Starlight arrived into Portland at 5:35 PM {3:40 PM} ending a relaxing trip to the Rose City.

Portland 12/27/2007

I walked through Portland Union Station to a waiting taxi cab that took me to the Mark Spencer Hotel. After I checked in and stashed my luggage in my room, I walked four blocks to a MAX Station at SW 10TH Street. The ticket machine would not accept change or give any. One lady's ticket cost her twenty dollars. An Airport Trolley picked me up and took me out to 82nd Street and a dinner at Elmers's where I had Prime rib. I returned to the Mark Spencer and got on line there cleaning out my e-mail. I returned to Room 603 and called it a night.

12/28/2007 After I had a Continental Breakfast, I watched an hour of ESPN Sport Center before I checked out of the Mark Spencer Hotel. I taxied back to Portland Union Station then relaxed in the Portland Metropolitan Lounge. The westbound Empire Builder arrived into Portland Union Station at 10:58 AM with Engine 157, Lounge 33030, Coaches 34116 and 31042 and Sleeper 32050. This train should be the rear of my Empire Builder when it gets to Spokane tonight.

Cascade Talgo 506 12/28/2007

When I had arrived at the station this morning I got my boarding pass for my Talgo trip to Seattle. At 11:58 AM they opened the gate and all of the Cascade Business Class passengers followed me out to a waiting Talgo. This is the same set that had just come down from Seattle so all of the passengers from the Eugene Talgo had to do an across the platform transfer to this train.

Cascade Talgo 506 ready to leave Portland Union Station for Seattle's King Street Station. I settled in single Seat 5C with a large window. We left Portland a few minutes late.

Our train crossed the Columbia River into Washington and our first stop at Vancouver.

Me enjoying Cascade Business Class on the Talgo. The movie was the "Bourne Ultimatum".

The train was running along the Columbia River to our next stop at Kelso-Longview with Oregon across the river. It took forty minutes in a line to use my Business Class Coupon for three dollars off purchase.

The train ran through the Washington countryside south of Winlock as the sun came out for the first time today.

There was a break in this storm as we passed through Chehalis before we arrived into Centralia.

The north end of the Centralia Station.

The train ran by the Mystery Mounds just before Olympia-Lacy.

We were running along a rainy Puget Sound.

One of the many islands in the Puget Sound.

The new Tacoma Narrows Bridge with the old Tacoma Narrows Bridge next to it. We ran next to Tacoma.

Tacoma with BNSF units laying over. We ran to Tukwila as the GPS Map in the Talgo gave up the ghost. The train stopped at Tukwila then started its final sprint to Seattle.

We passed Boeing Field as we closed in on downtown Seattle.

The Cascade Talgo into Seattle late at 4:07 PM {3:45 PM}. I went inside King Street Station to wait to board my next train, the Empire Builder.

Click here for the trip to Chicago on the Empire Builder.