Coast Starlight : Nov 6 - Nov 7
2009 was turning out to be not such a good year for me in terms of riding trains. So far I had only taken one trip this year back in July, when Abril & I went out to Chicago. The only other thing I had planned in 2009 was a chase of the SP # 4449 steam engine from Spokane Wa to Portland Or. I saved for a month or so to make this trip happen. Unfortunately as the time neared I could not find any rail friends to accompany me so my plans had to change. One night I sprung the idea to Abril about possibly returning to Seattle on the Coast Starlight in November. We had an absolutely amazing time in 2008 when we ventured out to Seattle for my birthday. It didnít take too much convincing for Abril to love the idea. Seattle was a city that we both loved and a return there would be loads of fun for the both of us. I mentioned that we could take the time to do some things that we didnít get to do on our last trip to the emerald city. Things like taking the World Famous Underground Tour at Pioneer Square & also a visit to Seattle Center & the Space Needle.
The Coast Starlight @ LA Union Station
We were booked out of Los Angeles on train # 14 The Coast Starlight on Nov 6th. For this trip we decided to make the drive out to LA and leave our car parked over at Union Station. Unfortunately due to time and money constraints we would be flying back to LA from Seattle. We decided to drive out the night before and spend the night with my brother Albert in La Puente Ca. Bright and early Friday morning we would then make the drive over to Union Station. First of course we had to stop off at Philippe's for a couple of their famous beef dipped sandwiches. After that, since we still had some time to kill before heading over to the depot, I decided to take Abril over to the Phoenix bakery in China Town. I had been there one time before and they really do make some delicious pastries! Over at Union Station we would make the short walk over to track 10 to board our train. We would quickly find our sleeping car and meet George, our wonderful sleeping car attendant. I have had George before on the Southwest Chief and he really goes above and beyond to make sure you are well taken care of. Once we got situated in our roomette I made sure to grab a few pictures of our train before our 10:15am departure. Once 10:15 hit, we slowly started to pull out of LA Union Station to start the trip north towards Seattle. Our anticipation quickly grew as we both knew that it would be an exciting day aboard the Coast Starlight!
As we chugged along north we would pass the cities of Van Nuys & Simi Valley. Sometime before our station stop of Oxnard, the beautiful Pacific Ocean would come into view and since our roomette was on the proper side of the train facing the Ocean, we would enjoy these ocean views the remainder of the day. Our first fresh air stop would be Santa Barbara. Here Abril & I were off to enjoy the crisp Santa Barbara air. I also took the time to take some pictures. There was an old passenger car on display and I donít remember ever seeing it in the past so I made sure to get some shots of it.
Somewhere Near Oxnard Ca
Santa Barbara Ca
Back on the train and again on the move we decided to check out our trains Pacific Parlour Car, Willamette Valley. We quickly found a couple of swivel seats and made ourselves comfortable. I have to say that I was really disappointed in the condition of this particular Parlour Car. A couple of the swivel seats had some real nasty stains of them. There were also some curtains missing on one side of the car. It seems like these cars are not properly cleaned and maintained in Los Angeles & Seattle. They are really beautiful cars and I wish more tender loving care would go into keeping them that way. After spending about an hour in the Parlour Car Abril & I decided to head off to lunch.
Abril Relaxing In The Pacific Parlour Car
One Of The Last Views Of The Ocean Before Heading Inland
At lunch we were seated with a nice older couple heading off to San Luis Obispo for the day. For lunch Abril had decided on Amyís Organic Cheeseburger with me opting for the Angus Cheese Burger. For some reason when the waitress brought our food we were both served the Organic burger. I decided that it was no big deal and that eating an Organic burger would not hurt me one bit. It actually was quite good! After lunch it was back to our roomette for a bit. We enjoyed the views of the Pacific Ocean but soon we would make a northeasterly turn as we headed for our next station stop of San Luis Obispo. At San Luis Obispo we were able to get off for a few minutes. I took the time for more picture taking while Abril & George engaged in conversation outside our sleeper.
P-42 Power !
Abril & George
San Luis Obispo
Once out of San Luis Obispo we continued on north soon coming to the horse shoe curve at cuesta grade. The train would make some spectacular twists and turns thru this area.
We would go on to enjoy some really nice scenery for the next few hours. Soon we would pass thru the cities of Paso Robles & Salinas enjoying the agricultural scenery along the way. Once past Salinas the sun would soon set as we lounged around in our roomette. A little before our station stop of San Jose, Abril & I decided to head off to dinner. At dinner we were seated with Bernadette who was heading to Bremerton Wa. At dinner I chose the cheese ravioli while Abril decided on the seafood dish which ended up being salmon. After dinner it was back to our roomette were we relaxed as the train continued north thru the bay area. Soon we would pass Oakland then on to our next station stop of Emeryville. Here at Emeryville we encountered a bit of a delay. Since our train had a couple of extra cars tacked on bound for Emeryville, it took awhile for the Oakland Amtrak yard crew to come and remove these cars from our trains consist. No worry though. The time would quickly be made up. Speaking of made up, I would page George a little later and have him make up our beds for the evening. Our first day was quickly coming to and end and we were both pretty tired. We decided to turn in sometime before our train reached Sacramento.
The following morning we both awoke sometime before 8:00am. After a couple of quick showers we were soon arriving at our station stop of Klamath Falls Or. Since I was expecting the climate to turn much cooler, I would be breaking in a new heavy jacket I had recently purchased specifically for this trip. Once off the train at Klamath Falls it turned out to be cold but nowhere near what I expected. No matter Ė I was nice and toasty as I continued snapping pictures of our train and the surround areas around the depot.
The Coast Starlight @ Klamath Falls Or
Back aboard the train and again on the move Abril & I decided to head off to breakfast. We both decided on the French toast which is usually pretty good. After breakfast it was back to our roomette were we relaxed and got ready for the spectacular scenery that was ahead of us. The Cascade mountain range was soon to come and we wanted to be ready for it. Once we came to our station stop of Chemult, Abril was quick to point out a few blotches of snow on the ground. Luckily as we continued up the mountain range the snow on the ground would slowly start to accumulate. This was fantastic news as it made for an absolutely beautiful scene outside our roomette window! The next few hours we would be treated to some of the most beautiful scenery Oregon has to offer. This sole reason of course is why the Coast Starlight remains one of Amtrakís most popular trains.
Abril Looking Out At The Snow
Once down the mountain we would soon come to our station stops of Eugene, Albany & Salem. We also noticed that there was a storm on the horizon and we were traveling straight towards it. As we continued closer and closer to Portland it would soon begin to rain. Then a little before 4:00pm our train would make the sweeping left turn across the Willamette river into Portland Union Station. At Portland we were again able to exit the train and I wanted to check out the inside of the station. The station itself is really a beautiful structure. We wandered over to the gift shop area where I noticed a ton of railroad items on sale. Everything from shirts to magazines & even a bunch of mugs and pins could be bought. Pretty impressive I thought!
Portland Section Of The Empire Builder @ Portland Or
Cascades Train @ Portland Or
The Coast Starlight @ Portland Or
Once back over by our train the rain continued to fall but no matter Ė it didnít dampen our day one bit! Before jumping back on the train, I made sure to snap a few shots of the Cascades & Empire Builder train-sets that were sitting on the adjacent tracks. Once aboard we headed straight to our Parlour Car to spend some time there. I wanted to try their coffee drinks so I ordered up a couple of cappuccinos which ended up being pretty good and perfect for a cold wet day like today. While we sat enjoying our hot coffee drinks, the Coast Starlight would continue on north towards Seattle. Past Vancouver Wa Abril & I decided to have our final dinner in the Parlour Car. I had decided on the chicken dish while Abril chose the beef option. I really could not put my finger on it but for some reason the chicken dish was not very good. Abrilís dish on the other hand was excellent as I managed to steal a few bites from her!
Sunset Over The Puget Sound
After dinner it was back to our comfy roomette were we decided to get our things together for the arrival into Seattle. George had come by and stated that we were scheduled to arrive an hour early. That was fantastic news as it would allow us to check out the Seattle nightlife - something that we did not get to do on our last visit. Our final station stop before Seattle would be Tacoma and we quickly arrived and departed there. Soon we would see the magnificent Seattle skyline come into view and before we knew it, ahead of schedule, train # 14 the Coast Starlight would come to a halt at King St. Station. Once off the train I made sure to thank George for his wonderful service as our sleeping car attendant. We then quickly hailed a cab and had him drive us over to the Moore Hotel which would be our home for the next 2 nights.
The following day and a half would be spent visiting a few attractions that we didnít get to see the last time out. These included the Underground Tour, Seattle Monorail to Seattle Center, & the Space Needle. Of course we had to visit Pike Place Market a couple of times. The market remains my favorite Seattle attraction and who knows; maybe its Abrilís too. On our final night we had the pleasure of visiting the Seattle Symphony at Benaroyal Hall. This place is really spectacular and its one venue that I hope to return to in the future!
Monorail To Seattle Center
The Space Needle
Pike Place Market
Sadly on our final day it was now time to check out of the Moore Hotel and head over to Sea-Tac airport where we would be taking an afternoon Virgin America flight back to Los Angeles! On the bright side, we would have a chance to ride the Sound Transit Link Light Rail Line to the airport! Looking back, I had a really amazing time on this trip and just getting to do a few different things this time out made it all worth while! Hopefully we can visit the city on a yearly basis and one day soon we'd both love to call Seattle our HOME!
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