Some Things Are Worth a Little More Time and a Little More Money
On several occasions, when traveling from Chicago to Los Angeles where I catch a flight back home to Maui, I’ve passed up a direct CHI-LAX routing on the Southwest Chief and opted to take the California Zephyr. I hop off at Davis, California, in the late afternoon and head for a nice hotel with a very good restaurant that’s right across the street from the station. I spend the evening there and catch the southbound Coast Starlight when it reaches Davis just before 7:00 the next morning.
Ahhh … I board the train, drop my bag in the roomette, and head straight for the Parlour Car, where I order a Bloody Mary, and sink into one of the overstuffed easy chairs. For the next half hour or so, I watch California roll by and contemplate the breakfast I’ll be having in the dining car about the time we roll into Emeryville.
A couple of months ago, I was describing the Coast Starlight experience to a friend here on Maui. “How long is the ride from Davis down to L.A.”, he asked. I told him the train gets to Los Angeles at 9:00 p.m. “But that’s 14 hours,” he said. “And you can fly it in less than 90 minutes!”
Poor guy. He just doesn’t get it.
There’s a Superliner lounge in the consist anyway, but what a bummer to find no parlor car! That happened to me once, too. I complained and Amtrak sent me a $100 voucher. (NOW he tells me!)
I rarely have a chance to ride the Coast Starlight. A couple of years ago, though, I finally rode it from Portland to LA. Wouldn’t you know it, but for some reason they had to substitute a “standard” superliner observation lounge for the Pacific Parlor car! It was a major disappointment! I guess it gives me an excuse to ride it again, though.