Days 4 & 5

Posted by on July 6, 2007

We started out early, we left the hotel around 5:15 and caught a bus at Fisherman’s Wharf at 5:55.

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That took us to Emeryville across the Bay Bridge where we boarded Amtrak #6, the California Zephyr.

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We moved into our rooms and settled in for the trip.

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I have had some friendly conversations with the conductor, which is always cool. He keeps us up to date on what is going on.

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We past the moth ball fleet (bunch of old Navy ships in mothballs). The most notable ship there was the USS Iowa battleship. We could only see the front end (numbered 61), but I snapped a shot. It is the curved front end.
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About an hour after departure, they announced breakfast was being served so we went to the dining car and ate French toast.

This train is notoriously late. Our first delay is having to stop just west of the Sacramento station. There were two other Amtrak trains in the station and we had to wait for one to leave. We pulled in and got to step off the train for a few minutes.

Later on, we got stuck behind a freight train that went into some emergency stop. That delayed us 2.5 hours into our
next station (Truckee, CA).

For lunch I had a grilled chicken sandwich. Vicky had a salad, Stephen mac & cheese and Michael a hamburger. For
dinner I tried the lamb shank, not too good, Vicky had the roasted chicken (it was good), Stephen and Michael had
the same as lunch.

We all went to bed about 9:00 Pacific time. Everyone slept real well. This was the first time on a train I slept
real good. The past times I wanted to look out the window the whole time, but last night I was stinkin tired. I have
heard it said that sleeping on a train really stimulates dreaming. Well, that is totally true for me. I had very
vivid and interesting dreams. I don’t remember them, but I remember having them.

We got up this morning just as we were pulling into Salt Lake City at 6:37 Mountain time. We dressed and headed to
breakfast where we again all had French Toast. (if you cannot tell, train travel seems to be eating times with
short breaks between). This is the life! Seriously, we spend the time enjoying our country passing us by out the
window. This is the same places we flew over just two days ago and really did not appreciate it at all. Now, we get
to see it all up close and personal.

So after breakfast, we were told we were 2.5 hours behind schedule. That means a 10:30 arrival into Denver unless we
make up some time. They do pad the schedule in places so it is possible.
We entered Colorado around 12:45 (MT) while we were in the dining car eating lunch. Vick and I went with the burger
this time and the kids both did mac & cheese.

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As side note about the dining car. Meals used to be cooked to order on board. Because of federal cutbacks, an
attempt was made to save money by offering pre-cooked meals that are heated up on board in convection ovens.
Obviously, the food is not as good as it used to be, but is is okay.

When Amtrak was started back in 1971, it basically replaced all the private railroads who did not want to run
passenger service anymore. They were losing too much money. For some reason, the federal government thought that
Amtrak should be a profit making company without federal subsidies, which is impossible. There is not a public
transportation in the world that is profitable without subsidies. Airlines have airports, FAA and air traffic
controllers all subsidized. Buses and even personal car travel is subsidized by all the roads that have been built.
All this to say that Amtrak does not need less subsidies, they need MORE. In this day and age, rail service should
be increasing. But this will not happen if our federal government does give Amtrak the money they need.

Back to the trip. We got slow orders before Glenwood Springs, CO to 50 mph because of heat. Because of welded
rails, when they get too hot, they have no where to expand . This can cause heat kinks so they have to slow trains
down. Who would have thought Colorado would be so HOT. This is not looking good for an on time arrival into Denver.

We ate dinner at 5:00 and enjoyed our last meal on a train for a while. After, we retired to our room to enjoy the
Rocky Mountains before it got too dark. The train snakes along the Colorado river all the way to Winter Park, CO.
Great scenery!

Here we are off the train at a couple of stops…

Somewhere in California:
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Reno, NV:
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Glenwood Springs, CO:
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Here are a few pics from around the train…

In our adjoining rooms:
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The passageway out side our rooms:
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The passage between cars:
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Stairway to the lower level of our car:
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In the Sightseer Lounge car:
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In our room watching the GPS on our laptop:
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Around 8:00, we went through the Moffett tunnel. This is a very long 6 mile tunnel. Before it was built, the route
went OVER the mountains. It was 33 miles and took 5 hours. The tunnel takes 12 minutes!

Here is a picture of the inside of the Moffett Tunnel!
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They announced we would arrive in Denver two hours after the tunnel. We arrived into Denver at 10:00 pm, two hours late. We then jumped on a light rail train that took us back to the station where our van was parked. Then the to hotel.

That is all for now. More tonight.

5 Responses to Days 4 & 5

  1. the Wade family

    Sounds like Craig should be the Amtrak ambassador to Congress 🙂 Which route is better–the east or the west? Hope you guys are having a blast–looking forward to seeing you guys!!!

  2. Craig

    I have heard it said going West is better because daylight comes during some scenic times. However, not sure how it could get much better than what we saw.

  3. Ah Maw

    I don’t understand your dates!!!! Your posting says JULY 8th. I am leaving on the 7th and that is tomorrow here in AR. It looks like you are having a great trip and this will probably be the last time I get to read about it til we get back!!! This time thing is kinda scary concerning our getting back to Chicago on time to meet our plane on the 16th. Red will appreciate my having something else to worry about I’m sure!!! Thanks Craig. We will talk to you all later—

  4. Brian

    Just awesome.

    Hey what is a “ship in mothballs”???

    Cool perspective on the subsidies.

  5. Craig

    A ship in mothballs means most usable stuff has been stripped from it and stored. It is basically an empty ship. They keep them around in case they need to be reactivated.