There must be some substantial schedule padding around Redding, because we made up at least 30 minutes of the time we fell behind yesterday after the heat-related delays. I slept okay, although I wish I'd had another pillow, and I tended to wake up when we made station stops. The only one I missed was Redding.
Around 5 AM or so I woke up as we were finishing what turned out to be our Chico stop. I wish I'd woke up just before the stop so I could have kept an eye out for my old apartment, which was adjacent to the tracks just north of the station. As we neared Yuba City, Lisa also awoke, and sent me down to take my shower so we'd be ready and queued up when the diner opened for breakfast at 6:30 AM.
The shower compartment downstairs isn't very big to start with and was full of bags of used towels, but I managed well enough, and I was glad to not be obviously holding up anyone else. The Japanese sleeper on which we traveled in 2007 has a better shower, I think, although you have to pay extra for it. You get 6 minutes of water -- hot or cold as you set it -- but the timer only runs while you hold the switch open on the shower nozzle. In the Amtrak shower, you have no limit other than a placard saying "please conserve water," but there's no way to shut the water off other than turning the valve off, meaning you have to keep finding the right temperature every time you turn it back on.
Anyway, we got to the diner when it opened and had breakfast, starting during the train's servicing stop at Sacramento. That means they hook water hoses to the train and refill the tanks. (Maybe I should have just left the water running in my shower.) Unfortunately, while they're doing that, the dining car can't draw water so they couldn't brew any coffee or tea until the station staff finished watering the car.
The next segment of the trip I know well -- Sacramento to Emeryville, over which I've rode many times on the Capitols. The parlor car was much more pleasant than it was in Oregon, as the weather was considerably cooler. Lisa and I sat there until the train passed Richmond, after which we returned to our compartment and packed the last of our stuff.
Getting off at Emeryville, we walked around the side of the station to the Avis Rent-a-Car station. Lisa joked about the distance, saying, "It's too far! Where's the shuttle bus," as she observed that I probably have to walk further from the terminal to the gates at most airports -- and she's right.
The agent gave me a free upgrade to a Mercury Grand Marquis, which is quite comfortable, but also feels like I'm driving a boat because I haven't driven a full-size sedan in ages. Lisa and I drove over to the Hilton Garden Inn. It's easy walking distance, but I rented the car to get to my office.
That early in the morning, we couldn't actually get into our room, but I gave them the free-night coupon and the necessary credit card for incidentals, and they said they'd let Lisa into the room later in the day. They also gave her a key to the business center where she could plug in her computer and busy herself playing games while she waited.
I headed off to my office, and was glad I'd brought the headset for my mobile phone, as I got a work-related call while heading across the San Mateo Bridge. I had an urgent-but-not-impossible set of questions that needed answering today, and so I busied myself with them, and in between waiting for my modeling computer to catch up with me, I checked the pile of e-mail that had accumulated in the previous 24 hours.
Late in the afternoon I called the hotel and asked for my room; they put me through and Lisa answered -- obviously, they'd finally been able to clear a room for us. I explained to her that I'd be late and that she'd have to make due for herself.
I didn't get away from the office until around 8:45, and I had to stop and get birthday cards for the my grandfather, sister, and nephew, all of whom have birthdays in the next ten days. I almost had forgotten! Fortunately, I called and talked with my mother for a while, making sure she knew my travel plans, and that triggered my memory about the birthdays.
Including a side trip to the SFO Post Office to drop my grandfather's card in the mail in the hope that it might get to Sutter by Saturday, I didn't get back to the hotel until nearly 10 PM. I also had to stop and get gas for the rental car, which we'll return tomorrow morning before boarding our 9:10 departure from Emeryville, the origin of the California Zephyr.
Getting back to the room, I saw a note on the door from Lisa, telling me that she'd had to turn in already and asking me not to wake her up. I went downstairs and got another key. When I gave my name, the front desk clerk said, "Oh, yeah, I saw your name and for a moment thought we had Stan Lee here!" I laughed, and explained that we were heading for the Worldcon, about which neither of the two clerks had heard -- but they both had heard of the Hugo Award, and were impressed by my planned travel and where I was going. I'm happy when I see relatively casual SF/F enthusiasts who know of the Hugo like that.
I still needed to get dinner, so I thought I'd walk over to Denny's, but seeing a mini-market next to it, decided to look there as well. To my surprise, I saw a sign that said "Fresh Sushi Daily" in the window. Sure enough, they had a little sushi counter, and they said fresh selections were delivered daily. I ended up getting two Spam musabi -- one would have been enough -- and a plate of fried rice and a quart of milk. Less expensive than dinner at Denny's would have been, and I could get back to the room and relax sooner.
Okay, that's me caught up to date. I need to get some sleep because we need to be up early enough to get breakfast tomorrow and be over ready to catch our train. But it's nice not having to be there two-plus hours early for Security Theatre.