August 16th, 2009

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Morning 19: Heading North

Our train for Oregon leaves at 10:15 this morning, and first class passengers are invited to a pre-departure reception at the Traxx Lounge -- there's no Metropolitan Lounge at LAUPT -- starting at 8:45 AM. I got up at 6 to check mail again, and we are now pretty much packed with an hour before we need to leave. Although we could walk back to the Red Line station, our luggage is sufficiently heavy that we'll probably be lazy and take a taxi to Union Station instead.

I somehow got it into my head yesterday that we'd be passing near BASFA's meeting location during the meeting, but I realized this morning that I'd dropped a day from my calculations. We'll be passing through the Bay Area -- and within about 500 meters of my apartment at one point -- tonight, not Monday. We get back to Salem sometime Monday afternoon, and Tuesday morning I have to be back to work (from Lisa's father's house).

So for one last time, I need to shift into "train" configuration with my baggage, trying to put anything I won't need on the trip into my big bag to keep my in-compartment load down to just my small overnight bag and my computer backpack. I could check my large luggage to Salem, but Lisa doesn't want to have to wait around for an extra half-hour at Salem while they sort out baggage claim, and since we're boarding at the train's origin, we should be able to fit the bag into the luggage rack. Besides, the big bag is 2-3 kg overweight when fully loaded, but nobody is likely to say anything about it if I'm the only one who handles it.

I don't remember how the Coast Starlight trainsets are oriented, but Lisa hopes that the bedrooms face left as the train goes north, so we'll get the nice views along the coast. I rather expect we'll spend a lot of time today in either the Pacific Parlor Car if it's on the train or in the Sightseer Lounge.

Aside from the odd Tweet, I don't expect to be online again until sometime late Monday, or possibly not until Tuesday morning. And boy do I have a lot of things piled up to do.
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Day 19: And It Was Going So Well

The day got off to a very nice start and was looking very good, but turned sour in the afternoon.

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San Luis Obispo is a "smoko" rest stop because of the scheduled crew change ther. I ran inside the station to see if they had any Coca-Cola, but their machines were Pepsi products, although I scored a Mug Root Beer for Lisa and trotted back to the train.

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Night 19: Our Travel Luck Returns

When we went to the dining car for our 6:45 reservation, shortly after our train left San Luis Obispo, our mood, particularly Lisa's, was extremely gloomy. In an attempt to try and make it less bad for the people in the coaches, Amtrak staff announced that meals for coach passengers would be complimentary (beverages and desserts were extra).

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We ate our crab cakes and watched passengers board at the train's Salinas stop, feeling sympathy for them having to wait so long to have to ride but one stop before the Dreaded Buses. Because of the comp meals, there was a higher-than-usual demand for food, and the crew had asked us not to tarry. We helped by asking for a couple of ice creams to go. Just as we were getting up to trudge back to our compartment, the conductor made an announcement that changed everything: The latest word from the site of the burned area was that the trestle appeared sufficiently sound to allow our train to pass after all, albeit at reduced speed, and that we would not be forced off the train, into buses, and dumped into Sacramento station for an all-night vigil there waiting for #11.

The passengers in the dining car burst into applause. An echo of cheers came drifting in from the parlor and observation cars ahead of and behind us. Lisa led the cheers, and skipped down the center aisle, singing, "We ain't gonna ride no buses! We ain't gonna ride no buses!" I'm not sure her feet actually touched the ground as we went back to our compartment.

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Lisa was vastly more cheerful knowing that she didn't have to get off the train and get on icky old buses. She happily started up her computer and went back to work building amusement parks in Roller Coaster Tycoon 2.

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We were running hours late, but we're happy. Lisa convinced our car attendant to leave us be, and told me not to wake her up tomorrow morning, so if I want to go to breakfast, I have to get up and about quietly. To be honest, the idea of sleeping late appeals to me, too. I turned the alarm clock off and fell asleep shortly after our train cleared Newark Junction, heading for Oakland and points north.