Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Training to Reno

With my van still the in the shop and chain controls over Donner Summit Sunday morning, there were multiple reasons why taking the train to Reno to spend Thanksgiving week at home was a good idea. The only really dicey part was the connection between the Capitol from San Jose to the California Zephyr at Emeryville. It was what Amtrak defines as a non-permitted connection; their system won't book a connection of less than 60 minutes, which shows you what they think of their own timeliness. But this was pretty tight: six minutes to change trains at Emeryville. Now there are only two platforms there, but the challenge is that if the Capitol is the slightest bit late, the Zephyr will be sent out on time at 9:10 ahead of it and I'll miss the connection. Fortunately, the Capitol was on time, and despite having to go down nearly the entire length of both sides of the Zephyr because of where the doors were, I was on board with three minutes to spare.

After making the connection, everything else was routine. I had two seats to myself all the way to Reno, I was able to relax and watch the world go by, and I even dozed for an hour or two in Amtrak's large reclining coach seats. (I think British trains would squeeze at least four seats (maybe six) into the same space as a pair of Superliner coach seats.)

Snow was falling as we approached Donner, heavy at times, but was light on the east side of the pass. I was amused by the children riding to Reno from the Bay Area who had never seen snow in their lives. It was very pretty, but it made me happy to be not driving in it, even though looking across the valley of Donner Lake I could see that chain controls must have been lifted and road was clear but wet.

We lost a lot of time crawling up to the summit because a slow freight train got out ahead of us. This climaxed just before the long Summit Tunnel (Tunnel 41), where we were held for a while to let that freight clear (and presumably to also let diesel fumes clear from the tunnel. The dispatcher finally took pity on us and we passed the freight at Truckee.

Lisa was waiting (not too awful long; I'd let her know we were running late so she didn't leave Fernley too soon) for me at Reno. We went and had dinner at the Peppermill's buffet, and so fortified (sufficiently full that we were less likely to impulse buy) set out for grocery shopping for Thanksgiving and the rest of this week before heading home to Fernley. I'm hoping to avoid going back to Reno for a while, and in particular we don't want to be out shopping on Black Friday or any other part of the weekend.
Tags: amtrak, lisa, reno, trains, travel

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