Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

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Return Ticket

The Westercon 66 meeting drew so many people that we overflowed the smaller function room assigned to us, and the hotel helpfully moved us to the much larger (but well-hidden because it's behind the hotel restaurant) Folsom Room. The meeting broke up in the 2 o'clock hour with an informal tour of the Hilton's function space (possible because the large group that had been meeting here over the weekend had left). I've taken lots of photos that I hope to get uploaded sometime this week.

The Hilton's shuttle bus won't take people all the way to the Amtrak station, but the driver did take me back to the Royal Oaks light rail station from which he (it was the same driver) had collected me yesterday. Unfortunately (and due to no fault of the driver), we got there just as a downtown-bound light rail train was leaving, so I had the maximum wait of 30 minutes. Consequently, I wasn't going to make it to the train station in time for the earlier train, but my plans were for the 5:40 train anyway.

I hate to say bad things about a transit method I'm trying to encourage people to use, but I'm a bit dismayed by the number of panhandlers (such as the people trying to sell me transit passes) at the stations here. If you're uneasy by homeless people, you may not be all that happy using this public transit option. Also, while I think squirrels are cute, I'm less thrilled with rats skittering between the bushes at the station.

As I mentioned in my earlier report, there's no direct light rail train from this area to the Sacramento Valley Amtrak station. You have to transfer at one of the downtown stations. Having checked the schedules, it looked like 8th & O was the last station where that was practical, and that's not a big deal (the station's platforms are on diagonally opposite corners of the corner of 8th and O Streets), but it appears that Archives Plaza, one more stop down the line, does in fact work as the transfer point, assuming the trains are running on time.

I had between 90 minutes and two hours before my train, so I walked over to Old Sacramento to have a meal. I hadn't had lunch, although I had eaten a large buffet breakfast knowing that a timely lunch wasn't in the cards. I found myself at the Café New Orleans, where I've eaten before, but where I'll never eat again. That's not because of the food, which was fine, but because today turns out to be the restaurant's last day of operation; the staff were just told today that the place was closing at the end of today. Pity; while it was not spectacular, it was a good enough place that I've eaten there several times on previous trips.

I was back at the station in plenty of time for my train, and there was plenty of room, helped by my having gone up to the head of the train. (Most people seemed to board at the first car closest to the station; if you walk up to the other end of the train, you're more likely to find space to spread out.)

The on-board wi-fi worked most of the time during the trip back to the Bay Area. However, I didn't try uploading any photos, not wanting to stress out the system too much.

Now that the Capitol has a stop at Santa Clara Caltrain (in addition to the Santa Clara Great America stop), and after checking schedules to make sure it would work, I got off there instead of riding down to San Jose Diridon and taking light rail back up to my apartment near the Gish light rail stop. At Santa Clara, I admired the huge construction that has built a third platform and a massive pedestrian underpass connecting platforms 2/3 to the main station. I caught the free VTA #10 "Airport Flyer" bus that connects the Caltrain station to the Metro/Airport light rail station via San Jose Airport. Riding through to Metro/Airport and walking back to the apartment, I saved the $2 light rail fare and got home sooner anyway.

As usual, the three hour train ride between Sacramento and San Jose seemed much shorter than a three-our drive. This is a much nicer way to travel when I can do it.
Tags: amtrak, trains, transit, westercon

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