My grandmother and I pulled into the nearly-deserted depot parking lot where only one man with a suitcase was standing on the platform. It was quite warm for the middle of the night--67 degrees--and a slight breese from the south. With my new scanner antenna, I could hear trains and hotbox detectors from a much greater distance. To add to my signal receiving capabilities, I placed the radio on the top center of my grandmother's car so the roof would act as a ground plane. What a difference! Before leaving for the depot, I got up at 1:30 am and called 1-800-USA-RAIL and Train Arrival said #11 was running about 40 minutes late. I heard #11 about 20 miles away indicating a red signal that they had to stop at and flag. A northbound (eastbound) freight roared through the Redding depot at track speed (50 mph). What a nice wind it kicked up! At 2:59 AM, #11 pulled into the station and departed at 3:02 AM. The conductor spotted my sleeping car first! What service that was and I felt important. A slew of followers approached the open door and the conductor held them back for the train to be re-spotted for Coach passengers. Aboard the train, my room was in good order with my bed already turned down with mints on the pillow. I sat up for about 30 minutes watching the lights before settling into bed.
03:02 AM Dp. Redding; 52 minutes late
I awoke to realize we were stopped again. The first time we had to stop was at the Roseville Yard to let a freight train out of the way. It seemed only like a few minutes had passed but I must have dozed off again for now we were in the Sacramento depot! I drew my curtain back to see if we were on a siding and I saw a man standing outside my window almost leaning against the train with a cigarette in his mouth! Eek, I shut my curtain quickly for I didn't like that image being the first thing I saw in the morning. This was the first time that I had a bedroom on the lower level so the man appeared to be almost in my room! It was very nice being on the lower level for bathrooms were only about 20 feet away and the water dispenser about 10 feet away. There was much less car swaying being down on the lower level too and I could hear the wheel clickity-clack more which I found soothing. The dining car was open and serving but I was having trouble dragging myself out of bed. A newspaper slid under my door, the San Francisco Chronicle so I read that for a few minutes before we pulled out of Sacramento.
Breakfast in the dining car aboard the Coast Starlight was as exceptional as ever! I sat with very nice people and the conversation was mainly about train travel. An eldery man sitting next to me, John, was on his way to Omaha from Seattle to attend his 60th high school reunion! He was enjoying his trip in Coach just fine, but realized he should have taken the Empire Builder to St. Paul instead. He did look forward to the Donner Pass and the Rockies. Our other breakfast companions, Judy and (another) John were going to Emeryville from Portland. They weren't traveling together but they looked like they could have been a couple. I had the steak and eggs with orange juice, coffee and white toast all served on real china and silverware. Delicious! The dining car staff was very friendly and efficient.
Here I was glad to have my cell phone for there were lines of people at the pay phones (mainly consisted of Amtrak employees from #11), so I made a couple of quick calls. I also went up to the head end and walked the length of the train, jotting down the consist on paper because I forgot my microcassette recorder on this trip! It's much handier to just speak into a recorder rather than fumble with pen and paper while walking.
Lunchtime in the dining car consisted of the 14/11 burger with french fries, diet soda and an apple tart a la mode for desert. The fries obviously had been frozen for they were barely warm and tasted like freezer burn. Eeeww! With some salt, they were...slightly better. Everything else was good though. I sat with a couple on their way to Los Angeles and then they were continuing on the Sunset Limited the next day heading for their home in North Carolina. Wow, they had a long trip ahead of them. I'm jealous!
I love San Luis Obispo for we usually meet the other Coast Starlight here. #14 was finishing up its platform work when we arrived and we were told to enter the depot very slowly. Nice power consist on #14 too! On the point was CTDX 2006, Amtk 117 and Amtk 115.
My car attendant, Susanna, was very helpful and friendly so I tipped her $5 as I desembaked. This was the most on-time Coast Starlight I've ever been on! Since we didn't have any work in the Oakland Coach Yard, we made up a lot of time between Emeryville and Okland. I thoroughly enjoyed this trip and it's my last train venture for quite some time. I am getting married May 29, 1999 and embarking on a 7-day cruise to Mexico. A travelogue will be posted along with cruise photos.
Engineer: Mr. De la Rosa (Oakland to Santa Barbara)