Bits and Pieces and Random Thoughts.
Los Angeles Union Station is a magnificent building and I had a good opportunity to wander around and soak up the atmosphere on my recent trip. After flying into Los Angeles from Maui, I had to check out of the LAX Hilton by noon. That left me with quite a lot of time to kill since the Sunset Limited was not scheduled to depart until 10:00 p.m.
The best choice for the ride into Los Angeles Union Station is the FlyAway bus which goes non-stop. it took us 20 minutes just to get out of LAX and onto the freeway, but once we reached downtown L.A. and with my bags stashed in the Metropolitan Lounge, there was time to relax and see the station.
Two very large message boards, one for arrivals, the other for departures, have been installed in the main waiting room. Security has been stepped up over the last year or so. The seating area is roped off and anyone looking for one of those big comfortable chairs must first pass a security guard.
The next day, in the Sunset Limited’s dining car, I discovered that ice cream is no longer being served in Amtrak diners … and that’s system wide. The LSA shakes her head wearily and says, “It’s my most popular dessert.”
Entering New Orleans from the west, the train crosses the Huey Long Bridge and it’s really something. It was opened in 1935 to accommodate both cars and trains. There are two highway lanes in each direction and the part of the span that was double-tracked for trains is more than 4.3 miles long and some 150 feet high at the highest point.
For years, the bridge had been rated “unacceptable” and until it was rebuilt, trains literally crept across. The bridge is still double-tracked, but that day earlier this month when I was aboard the Sunset, we waited for almost 30 minutes for a long freight to clear the bridge before we started over.
And speaking of swirling waters (I’ve been meaning to ask this question for some time), why do you suppose there always seems to be a couple of people who don’t flush the toilets in the sleeping car lavatories?
And the dining car staff will tell you that there is almost always someone on every trip who doesn’t want to share a table with anyone. Hearing that three strangers will be seated at the same table with him or her, that person ends up having all meals brought to the sleeper by the car attendant. And that’s really a damn shame.