Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee
kevin_standlee

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Train Travel

Lisa is currently on board the southbound Coast Starlight, train number 11, somewhere between Chico and Sacramento, according to Amtrak's train status site, with the train running over five hours late. This evening, the two of us have a sleeper booked on the northbound Starlight, train 14, out of San Jose. It is unfortunate, but practical, that I had to give Lisa instructions that said, "If your train runs more than ten hours late, get off at Oakland and wait for me; if more than eleven hours, Emeryville; more than twelve, Martinez; more than thirteen, Sacramento; after that, never mind, because they'll probably annul the train and put everyone on buses." I don't think she'll fall more than ten hours behind today, although the train continues to lose time as it struggles south.

This isn't really that bad from either Lisa's POV or mine; because she's in a sleeper, she'll get an extra meal (lunch) out of this, and she won't have to sit around the San Jose train station all day waiting for me. (I'm still working today, although they'll probably let us go between noon and 2 PM, as they usually do on the day before the Christmas holiday.)

Another question today is how late will number 14 be northbound. My travel plans for today actually assume it will run at least 30 minutes late and that number 547, the westbound Capitol will be on time. That's because I plan to park at Fremont, then take 547 to San Jose and catch 14 there. Why? Because there's no long-term parking at San Jose Diridon station, whereas you can park as long as you want at Fremont-Centerville.

If by some off-chance 14 is running on time -- it happens about once a month or so, I think -- I'll be in a fix and will have to improvise some other way of getting to the station, probably involving a couple of bus trips. It would be slightly less nerve-racking if I could take the connecting Amtrak bus that stops at Fremont an hour earlier; however, that bus is marked as "stops to discharge passengers only," and won't even go to Fremont if there are no passengers for it -- and I don't know if the driver would be willing to bend the rules and take me and Lisa down to San Jose anyway.

To save myself a little baggage-lugging, I plan to take my large piece of luggage down to San Jose when I collect Lisa later today and check it then (assuming they'll let me). That means that I'll only be carrying the carry-on luggage when we take to the rails later this evening.

There is wireless internet connectivity at Fremont-Centerville (thanks to the adjacent Depot Cafe), but not in San Jose Diridon station. This means I may be able to check train status online while waiting at Fremont, but not at San Jose. But I can get train status updates through Amtrak's automated telephone system ("Julie") -- the station agents are quite poor at updating people waiting at the stations, and there are no real-time displays at San Jose. Besides, even if they did make announcements, you'd probably not be able to hear them, as the acoustics inside the cavernous dome of San Jose Diridon are terrible.

In any event, there's a pretty good chance that once I board the train today, I won't be online again until next Tuesday, which will make the longest stretch of offline time for me since, well, probably last Christmas. It will also be the first break in daily LJ entries since I started writing in it. (You can all hold your applause, thank you.)

It's rather difficult to concentrate on the database project I'm trying to do here at work. I want to get traveling.
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