Meetings Over. Now It’s California Here We Come!

SALT LAKE CITY — The annual Fall meeting of the National Association of Railroad Passengers has ended and Jim Mathews, our new president and CEO, has met the membership and has impressed one and all. As indeed he should. He’s personable, experienced, smart as a whip, and brimming with ideas. 

In his first six weeks, Jim has been getting to know the staff, meeting with government officials and Amtrak executives, familiarizing himself with office systems and procedures, and preparing for these past several days here in Salt Lake City.

 Our meetings have been held at the DoubleTree hotel near the center of town and it has been an excellent experience. The rooms are comfortable, the restaurant very good, and the staff exceptional. I needed some pages printed out for a report I had to present to the meeting and called the front desk to ask about access to their business center.  “Oh, no need to do that, Mr. Loomis,” said the young man at reception, “just email it to me and I’ll be glad to print it out for you.”

I just checked the TRAIN STATUS link on the NARP web site and was pleased to find that the westbound Zephyr is essentially running on time. That’s good news, because it’s due here at 11:05 p.m. with departure a half hour later. The concern, of course, is that the train could be hours late. Waiting to board on the open platform at 11:00 p.m. is one thing; waiting to board at 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. is quite another.

The Zephyr’s run tomorrow, and the scenery it provides, is pretty much equal to what we saw after leaving Denver and passing through all those canyons. We’ll cross a long stretch of Nevada desert, then, as we leave Truckee, California, the train begins the climb up and over the Sierra Nevada mountains by way of Donner Pass. (That’s the Zephyr passing above Donner Lake in the photo above.) The descent into the Sacramento area is quite lovely and, by 3:00 or 3:15 tomorrow afternoon — assuming once again that the train will still be running more or less on time — I should be in my hotel room in Davis, California.

Bright and early the following morning, the Coast Starlight arrives in Davis headed for Los Angeles and that’s when I get to enjoy my very favorite train experience: traveling down the California coast in the Coast Starlight’s parlor car, comfortably installed in an overstuffed swiveling arm chair and sipping a Bloody Mary. Let’s see the airlines try to duplicate that!