Steve's Rail Travel on the Amtrak Capitol Limited and Southwest Chief from
Washington,DC to Fullerton,CA with a stop and change of the train name in
This train is a coast-to-coast through train from Washington,D.C. to
Los Angeles, California. Although it will change its name, number and
even service crew in Chicago, the cars of this train will be going
all the way from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles, California.
I really like the Washington, DC Metropolitan Lounge. There are plenty
of outlets for your notebook computer everywhere! That is quite different
than the one in Chicago where you have to hunt for an empty seat near
one. Plus, you should bring a 3-way adapter in case you have to unplug
a lamp or a fan. That way you can plug the lamp or fan back in, which
others in the lounge might appreciate! There are also telephones that
have data ports in the Washington Metropolitan Lounge. I got it to work
with my notebook computer and uploaded all the photos from my trip
from Newport News to Washington. However, I was never able to get my
own discount long distance carrier to work on the phone. I could place
the call to my dial-up provider by picking up the receiver, but it would
fail every time I dialed from the computer. I finally did get it to work
by just using AT&T and my credit card. I'm sure that cost me a fortune
compared to my dial-up provider!
When I entered the Metropolitan Lounge in Washington,DC, they told me that
my train would be boarding about 3:45 PM and would leave at 4:05 PM.
Instead, they stared making announcements around 3:45 PM that the
Capitol Limited had not been released from the yard yet, and they
did not have an expected boarding time. They apologized and asked
everyone to continue to remain comfortable in the lounge. This
announcement was repeated many times about every 15 minutes for more
than an hour.
About 4:30 PM, a man came into the Metropolitan Lounge and sat at
a seat not far from me. He then told me that he had just arrived
on the eastbound Capitol Limited about 20 minutes ago, and 6 hours
and 30 minutes late! He said there had been mechanical problems and
delays on the train and that this delay was because they were working
on fixing the problem in the yard. I don't have any way of confirming
the story, but it sounded reasonable.
Finally, at about 5:00 PM, they boarded us onto the train. My car
was right outside the door, the last sleeper on the rear. As I
boarded, the Attendant asked my name. I said: "Grande, I believe in
Room 7." He looked at his list, confirmed the room number, and told
me to go upstairs and turn right.
I went straight to my room and immediately put everything the way
I like it. I opened up the seat under the electric outlet to the
flat position and mounted my tripod and camera. I then opened up the
table and got my notebook computer all set up. This time the Sleeping
Car is a Superliner I. My suitcase fits perfectly on the top step to
the upper bed. Since this room has a closed instead of the open space
of the Superliner I, there wasn't any spot to put my backpack there.
But, with the chair open, there is plenty of room for everything, even
for my feet when I'm all done and ready to relax!
I started the camera and figure I could fill one two hour tape. By
the time the tape finishes, it will be after 7 PM and dark outside.
The Conductor came by and collected my ticket. He obviously noticed
my elaborate set up, but didn't say anything. Strange thing is, I
haven't seen my Car Attendant at all since I boarded! He didn't come
by at all to even say hello or offer to explain anything. Maybe he
went by while I was setting up and figured I had everything under
The Dining Car Attendant came by very quickly giving out dinner
reservations. I picked the earliest time, 5:30 PM, before I realized
it was almost already 5:30 PM! I usually like to get in and out early
so that I am free to work on whatever I want for the rest of the
I went to the Dining Car immediately on the first call, but being the
furthest car from the diner, the first table already had 3 people
seated who were traveling as individuals. There is something
psychologically interesting in the order in which you are seated.
If you are seated first, then it is like others are coming to sit
at your table. If you are seated last, then it is like you are crashing
their party! This is especially true if the other party is 3 people who
are traveling together. The events are especially significant when you
are seated with people who are having their very first meal on the train
and were unaware of the community seating practice! It can be quite a
shock to the unprepared. In those cases, I prefer the look in their
face of "Why are they seating us at YOUR table?" rather than "What are
you doing siting at OUR table?"
Well, none of that was at issue this evening. The other two men at my
table were frequent rail travelers who knew about and had radio scanners.
The woman at my table just prefered rail to flying when she had the time,
but hadn't traveled a lot by rail. From a few comments that each of us
made, the lady picked us out immediately as being frequent rail
I don't know if this was an up or a down dinner conversation. I'm
used to being the center of the source of information when it comes
to rail travel, or when conversing with fellow rail travel enthusiasts,
sharing our experiences. I sensed an air of competitiveness at the table.
That really didn't interest me. I participated in the conversation, but
kept a low profile. As usual, I was wearing my TrainWeb.Com T-Shirt and
Hat, but not as usual, nobody asked me what it was. If it doesn't come
up in the conversation, then I don't push it.
The first tangle came up early in the conversation. There was a question
as to whether this train goes all the way to the west coast. I said that
it did. The guy next to me said it was not the same train. He said his
answer in such an argumentative tone that I wasn't sure if he really
knew it was the same train or just wanted to make a point that it changes
name and numbers in Chicago. However, I really believe if I wasn't there,
everyone would have left believing a change of trains would be required
to go on to Los Angeles.
Next came up the topic about why Amtrak doesn't make money and why they
don't add more trains and equipment. The argumentative person made some
points that I actually do agree with in why it costs Amtrak more money
to run trains than need be, but I don't plan to go into that here. I
don't necessarily think Amtrak itself would disagree with many of his
points. Then came the topic of how they make money in the east while
the long-hauls lose money. That tends to be Amtrak's party line, but
don't believe it. That is an item that is highly controversial, for very
good reason. There are others who have done extensive analysis of Amtrak's
operations that believe that most long-haul routes are profitable and
that Amtrak could take steps to make them even more so. Don't accept
the statement with blind faith if you see it in the press
that Amtrak's long-hauls lose money.
As far as the meal goes, I had the vegetarian lasagna with a side of
vegies and some red wine. They also asked whether I wanted rice or
what type of potato. I grew up in an Italian household. Where I come
from, you don't serve starch with starch, thus no potato or rice with
my lasagna, please!
I often like to eat light on the train. That is hard to do since most
meals are prepared in a gourmet fashion. Thus, I tend to eat a lot of
vegetable lasagna on the train! Once in a while I splurge on a steak or
something else. The vegetable lasagna is quite good, certainly a lot
better than anything you could heat up out of the freezer. Actually, it
is better than the lasagna in many, but not all, restaurants. Amtrak
used to have a lot more exotic vegetarian entrees, including such
things as vegetarian steaks (made from mushrooms)! I couldn't find
such great vegetarian meals anywhere but on the train! Maybe they have
fine vegetarian restaurants in your neck of the woods, but there aren't
too many in mine. Don't get me wrong. I'm not a vegetarian, but I like
to eat light and healthy when I can. If you met me, you'd tell me it
doesn't show, but I'm trying! The worst thing I could think of doing
would be to eat every free meal and snack they provide on the train.
That would be at least double the amount of food I normally eat each
day when not traveling!
I saw one person leave a tip of $2 and I left a tip of $2.50. I excused
myself from the table, so I'm not sure what the other two diners left
Now that was funny! A train passed us going the other way right as
we went over the detector. Both detectors transmitted at the same
time giving out a big garble of numbers! I wonder why it didn't just
make that high squeely noise that is usually generated when two radios
try to transmit at the same time? Maybe it is only one transmitter for
both tracks and two different information generators feed into the
same transmitter. That would make sense and would explain how it can
generate a whole jumble of mixed up info when two trains cross it in
opposite directions at the same time.
It is 9:30 PM Eastern Time. Even though that is pretty early by
Los Angeles time, about 6:30 PM, I'm going to turn in now. I want
to be up at dawn to start my videocam recording and to have breakfast.
Lunch will not be served on the train tomorrow during the 9:20 AM to
4:40 PM layover in Chicago, so I may not get to eat until evening if
I don't grab some breakfast in the morning. I plan to remain on the
train and just catch up on some of my backlog of work. People ask me
how I can take so much time off from work to take all these rail trips.
Are you starting to get the picture? What time off?
Your best bet at this point is to program your scanner to watch
both Channel 46 (160.800) and 64 (161.070). I don't know exactly
where the transition is between these nor if it goes back and
forth a couple of times. I do know for sure that it is Channel 64
(161.070) heading east out of Toledo, Ohio for about 5 minuts and
then switches to Channel 46 (160.800). You may here the Engineer
and Conductor say "Go to Channel One" as they switch from 161.070
I awoke at 6:30 AM ET. It was already getting pretty light out. I must
have gotten at least 8 hours sleep which is quite a bit for me. After
getting dressed, I put away the cellular and videocamera batteries I had
charging overnight and disassembled my gaggle of wires and equipment. Once
the upper bed was cleared off, I folded up the lower matress, put it above
and closed up the top bed. This is a job the Car attendant usually does,
but putting away the bed is the least difficult thing that I needed to
do to get my room set up the way that I like it. Also, I did not want
to wait for the Car Attendant to make up my room before getting the
video camera rolling, which was the very next thing that I did!
Then, I scurried off to breakfast to make sure that I got to the diner
before they made the first call over the P.A. system. There was no worry
about that! There were people at only a couple of tables in the diner.
As luck would have it, I was seated at the same table with that railbuff
that I found to be argumentative the previous evening. There were two
other people also already seated with him, making me the last to join
the table once again!
This time the conversation went much more smoothly. The person seated
next to me was an Economics Instruction, and also another railbuff! He
also had a radio scanner and had been listening all night. The guy
seated across from me looked enough like Ray Dunbar of the Texas ARP
to be his brother! He also had that same Texan accent!
A few factors came to light quickly at breakfast. First, I learned that
we were now about two hours late. Evidently there had been some problem
with the brakes during the night and we had remained for quite a while
at some station while the problem was repaired. The second major factor
was that a lot of express cars had been added during the night, probably
in Pittsburg. There were about 9 express cars. I see these express cars
on the Southwest Chief all the time heading in and out of Los Angeles.
I just naturally assumed their eastern terminus was Chicago. I wonder if
these cars are the same that will go west of Chicago or if we will drop
these off and pick up new ones in Chicago? I certainly can't see how they
can go into the station with these cars on the train, regardless of
whether the train goes nose end or tail end into the station!
Much of the breakfast discussion was about old railroad equipment, but
there was also some talk about the present status of Amtrak. Nothing
really confrontational this time. Wait! There was once small contested
issue. We were talking again about how the Capitol Limited and
Southwest Chief were the same equipment and also how the Empire Builder
and City of New Orleans were the same equipment. One person at our
table said he was anxious to book a through trip from New Orleans to
Seattle and have the same room all the way. Our confrontational friend
said: "I wouldn't do that." Asked why, he said that you probably
wouldn't have anything left when you returned to your room.
Well, first this implies that the Amtrak Car Cleaners are thieves that will
steal you blind. I don't know of any evidence of that and think it is
unfair to make such pre-judgements. However, it is always prudent to not
leave your valuables unattended. But, I think our argumentative friend
missed part of the conversation. The cars are not brought to the yard at
all. They stay in the station the entire time. A person is assigned to
guard the train while it is in the station and Amtrak does encourage you
to just leave everything (except valuables) right on the train if you
decide to go out and tour the town during the long layover. I was gone
for a few hours last time I had room in a through train in Chicago. I
may be gone for a couple of hours this time, but just plan to leave my
videocamera and notebook computer set up the way that it is while I'm
The gal that sat with us last night sat at the table across from us
this time. She joined in our conversation until someone else was
seated at her table.
They seemed to have a wide selection of items for breakfast. There
were at least a half dozen different main entrees to chose from, plus
sides of either sausage, bacon and hash-browns, and a choice of either
grits or potatos. I went for the western omlette with hash-browns
and potatos along with orange juice, coffee, and wheat toast.
Everything was very good, but I was too full after eating most of the
breakfast to touch much of the potatos or toast.
For those that are curious, all my meals on both the Southwest Chief
and the Capitol Limited have so far been served on real china along
with real silverware and linen napkins. I haven't seen any sign of
the plasticware as yet. I have seen what the new plastic looks like and
know that it is very heavy duty and fancy. You wouldn't know it was
actually plastic until you took a close look, examined the thickness, or
picked it up. But, this was not plastic. Everything was real china.
The selections have also been just as wide as they have always been
for me. Usually for dinner there is one red meat dish, one chicken type
dish, one fish dish, one vegetarian offering, and one kids meal. That
has been what has been on the menu for every sleeping car segment of
this rail journey. I have as yet to see any of the dining changes on
Amtrak. However, do keep in mind that the only Amtrak trains that I
have been on since the proposed changes have been the Coast Starlight,
the Southwest Chief, the Capitol Limited and the VIP Texas Eagle /
California Service Inaugural Train.
We seemed to have remained in the Toledo station for quite some time,
longer than the 30 minutes allocated. I think we arrived just after
I came to breakfast and just started to pull out when I finished
breakfast. As you can see from the listed time below, we are now
about 2 hours and 10 minutes behind schedule.
My Car Attendant finally showed up! He buzzed my room. I assume it
was to ask if I wanted my room made up, but no, it was just a reminder
that the diner would be closing soon for breakfast. I let him know
that I had already had breakfast. When I came back from breakfast I
noticed that the other Sleeping Car had morning newspapers under every
door. None has been delivered in our car yet. I keep seeing the Car
Attendant in the other Sleeping Car whenever I go through, but this is
the only time I have ever seen the one in ours except when I boarded.
I don't mean to criticize this one. It could be just a coincidence that
he is tending to something else during the few times I have come out
of my room, but I am a little concerned that no newspapers have been
delivered to our doors.
About 5 minutes east of Toledo you may hear the Engineer or Conductor
say on the radio: "Go to channel one" as they switch from 161.070 to
160.800 (AAR Channel 46).
Wow! What a mess! We just passed where the tracks are out of service
because of trackword. There is a place where the double tracks split
and become two sets of double tracks. The two sets of double tracks
diverge and start heading away from each other. Wish I had brought along
my national railroad map! I need to get an extra one of those and keep
it with the my travel documents.
There aren't any smashed freight cars here, but there seem to be
car wheels scattered about at all angles. I wonder if some freight
train had derailed at this switch and tore up a lot of track. If so,
they took the cars away but left some of the wheels behind. There
were tracks, holes, ditches, cranes, and workers everywhere, including
some white powder that covered the whole area.
We took the switch to the right which was clear of any rail work.
The set of tracks to the left was totally blocked by the rail work.
A freight train was sitting on the approach to the switch. From what
I could see, he would probably be sitting there for hours! The track
in front of him looked pretty torn up. I guess he'll just be sitting
there for quite some time!
This must be a really small station! We had to make 3 stops and we only
have 2 coaches and 2 sleepers! I assume the first was for baggage, the
second for the coaches and the third for the sleepers.
I do want to say a couple of good things about this Car Attendant.
There was a whole set of water bottles on top of the refreshment center.
Although I miss the days when an unlimited supply of soda would be there,
at least this Car Attendant did have the bottle water convenient. I took
one of those to my room as I always like to have something to drink
convenient by the bed. The coffee urn always had coffee available whenever
I went by, though I think this is a new Amtrak policy ever since they
took the free sodas away. But, the Car Attendant had made sure that there
was plenty of sweetner, creamer, cups, lids, stirers and napkins available!
Also, since this is a Superliner I rather than a II, there is no ice
drawer. The Car Attendant put out a styrofoam cooler with ice in it. There
was also a larger styrofoam cooler under that, but I didn't check to see
what was inside that. Maybe just more ice.
I went exploring my car a bit. I found the newspapers on the luggage
rack downstairs: "The Blade" from Toledo, Ohio. There was also another
railfan standing in the vestibule! Boy, this train is full of railfans!
He was holding a radio scanner and jotting things down. The Conductor
was occupying the handicap room in this Sleeper. He peeked out as I
wandered around. And, I did see my Car Attendant again! He ducked into
his Room 1 as I headed toward him down the corridor.
An announcement was just made that passengers heading to Toronto via
the International will be taken off in South Bend and bussed to a point
to board that train. When a train is going to arrive into Chicago too
late to make a connection, this is usually the way they handle it. If
you look at a map of the Chicago area and the rail lines radiating out
from it, you can see how it is easy to use a bus to take a shortcut from
one spoke to the other. Thus, they make up the time by not having to go
all the way into and out of Chicago. I heard some chatter amoung the
Conductor and Assistant Conductor that there is only one passenger that
they know of that is making this connection and that he has a bag in the
baggage car. Wow! I wonder if he'll get a whole bus to himself?
On the radio, the Conductor just said over to 2 at 441 and back
to 1 at 463, or visa versa. I'm assuming that means they are going to
Channel 2 at Mile Post 441 and then back to Channel 1 at Mile Post 463.
Those are not AAR Channels, but Channels on the radios that the Conductors
have in their hands. I might have gotten then channel or the mile posts
backwards, so I'm going to have to figure this out along the way. I am
assuming that Channel One is 160.800 and Channel Two is 161.070.
Correction! That was dumb of me! They are talking about track numbers,
not radio channel numbers! That makes a lot more sense. They usually don't
announce until the last moment the change in radio channels, but the
dispatcher usually assigns the track number well in advance of the
approach to the switch.
We have just been given an approximate arrival time into Chicago of
11:30 AM Central Time (CT) which would be about 2 hours and 10 minutes
behind the scheduled arrival time. The announcement attributed it to
mechanical difficulties in Washington, DC. However, we were only 1 hour
and 7 minutes behind schedule when we left Washington. There is an
unexplained additional 1 hour plus that was lost after I went to sleep
Here is an odd one! The dispatcher just gave a freight train the
choice of what to wait for. The dispatcher could either schedule the
freight train onto one track where he could wait some time for two Amtrak
trains to pass (one is probably ours), or he could send him onto a track
right now where he will be behind a slow coal train. The reply from the
freight train was: "Whatever you want!" And the final dispatcher reply
was: "No, you make the call." Nothing but dead silence over the radio for
a long time after that!
Now runing 2 hours and 40 minutes behind schedule! I wonder if they
still expect us into Chicago at 11:30 AM? The scheduled time from
this station to Chicago is 1 hour and 20 minutes. Except for the
buffer, that would put us into Chicago at about noon!
Here is an idea: If I videotape the entire daylight route of all my
rail travels from both sides of the train, then we just have to wait
until the internet bandwidth opens up. I belive the day will soon
come that it will. Internet speed into the home has already jumped
tremendously in many areas with delivery via your local cable company
and cable modems. I don't really believe it will be that many years
before we all have at least T1 speeds into our homes, and that makes
real-time video available without streaming. Then, using my videos,
I could give you the capability of selecting any segment of any route
at any time, and you could watch the scenery go by, with sound, almost
like you were really there on the train! Maybe I could point out
scenic highlights with a reminder to freeze the frame if you wished
to take a closer look. As the internet bandwidth expands, the
capabilities that can be offered expand right along with it. We'll just
have to wait for that time.
East side unloading for the Train Attendants today! I was hoping to get
one more cup of coffee to hang onto for a while in my room.
The coffee urn was still on, but all the accouterments have been taken
Right after that detector, they immediately switched over to
Channel 8 160.305.
Before entering the station, they pulled off the express cars while
over the bridge. Then, they backed the train into the station at
Vince McGraw, the webmaster of
AmtrakIntercity.com (a website now discontinued)
and an instructor in the
Chicago Car Shops was suppose to meet me here at 10:30 AM, but obviously
that wasn't possible since the train didn't arrive until after
11:20 AM! So, I'm not sure if he is going to be able to meet with me at
all. I told him my car and room number and said he could just drop by
anytime during the layover that was convenient. I don't know if he has
other things scheduled, but I'm not going anywhere anyway!
I'm going to see how the cellular reception here is. If it is good,
I'll try to upload this travelogue as far as I've gotten. Otherwise,
it will have to wait until another service stop or until Fullerton!
If you are reading this, then I was obviously successful in uploading
it. Also, do check back from time to time. I plan to add photographs
into this travelogue at night when I can't do any videotaping.
Amtrak Southwest Chief
Well, this was an interesting stay in the train in Chicago Union Station.
As I had feared, Vince had come down around the time of the scheduled
arrival to meet my train and waited for a while. However, he did have
other commitments for the rest of the day and wasn't able to return to
the station after my train arrived 2 hours late.
In any case, that left me a lot of time to get a lot done. I took one
picture from inside the train while some Genesis engines were right
outside my window and uploaded that to be the current main page photo
at TrainWeb. I was also able to add a few more photos to this travelogue
but couldn't get a clear connection again to get them uploaded. Those
will have to wait till later. In any case, I caught up on a lot of my
backlog of e-mail!
THU 04:40 PM (05:34 PM) CT 03/26/98 Chicago, IL CH 13 160.305
We are out in the yard now and they are trying to add one of those big
green box cars on the end of the train. They are having problems with
something electrical. Could be the FRED (Flashing Rear End Device).
They say they can't get it armed. "Communication test failed". This
is the device that allows the air to be dumped to apply the brakes
from either the front or back end of the train. If there is a clog
somewhere in the brakeline, it doesn't prevent the brakes from being
applied in the cars beyond the clog. A device in the locomotive radios
the device at the end of the train which then dumps the air from the
brake line from that end. This device also has that flashing red light
that you see at the end of the train, hense the name and acronym.
Finally a mechanic was called and came down to look at the device. It
took him less than a minute to get it working. When asked by the
dispatcher what the problem was, his reply seemed to indicate that there
wasn't any problem. He didn't give a clear response when asked if
someone just didn't know how to set it or test it correctly.
Hey, there go some "GO" cars on the Texas Eagle! I wonder if those are
the ones that were pulled from Metrolink in Los Angeles and are being sent
to Fort Worth, Texas? Those cars are to be run on the Trinity Railway
Express. Fort Worth outbid Metrolink in buying them from the Government
of Ontario (GO). Metrolink is still going to buy a lot more cars, but
will just have to wait longer for them.
CH 66 161.100
We moved over to Channel 66 161.100 even before we were out of the
Bob Stone, the Chief of Onboard Services, just went through giving
each person their meal vouchers and a complimentary drink voucher
(good for one alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage). He asked me
about Trainweb mentioning that he had visited it before. I mentioned
that he had been the Onboard Chief in a previous trip that I took on
June 24 of last year. Bob said that he
contributed material to get the Southwest Chief page at
www.amtrak.com updated. He wanted
to know how I new it was exactly on June 24, 1997 that he was the
Onboard Chief on the trip that I took. When I told him that I got it
from my computer, he sat down next to me to get a clear view of the
screen. Since I had just looked it up, it was right their on my
offline Netscape browser screen! I told Bob I'd check out his web
page when I get back online and Bob said he would come visit TrainWeb
Just to give you a status update, it is 5:34 PM CT and we just started
to move again. We are still not out of the yard yet! I just saw that
same Texas Eagle go by again with the "GO" cars, but this time it was
heading in the opposite direction. I think the problem might be that
we are now getting mixed in with the Metra commuter traffic since we
lost our departure slot. So, this will continue to delay us from getting
out of the metropolitan Chicago area.
THU 05:45 PM (6:05 PM) CT 03/26/98 Naperville, IL
I guess they had padding in the schedule to allow for the addition of
express cars in Chicago, but not enough time to account for the equipment
problem as we are still 20 minutes behind schedule.
CH 85 161.385 Naperville, IL
CH 85 161.385 Detector: Sandwich
CH 85 161.385 Detector: Mendota
THU 06:31 PM (07:51 PM) CT 03/26/98 Mendota, IL
THU 06:53 PM (07:18 PM) CT 03/26/98 Princeton, IL
Ch 51 160.875 - Switch 5 minutes before arriving into Galesburg.
THU 07:50 PM (08:13 PM) CT 03/26/98 Galesburg, IL CH 51 160.875
I just got back from dinner. I left my room for dinner just as we were
arriving into Naperville. Once again, even though I left my room as soon
as they made the announcement, the diner was just about full! Looks
like we haven't made up any more time than what we made up coming into
Naperville. We are still about 20 minutes behind schedule.
I had a very enjoyable dinner. There were many selections, but it was
the vegetarian lasagna for me again! This time it came with the rice
without me asking. Although I wouldn't have ordered rice with lasagna,
it went very well with the vegetables. That was accompanied by two glasses
of red wine to be followed by a decafe coffee. The food and the service
were both excellent.
Again, I sat at a table that was already occupied by three others.
Across from me sat a father and her daughter. Next to me sat an older
man. All were quite interested and involved with rail! The man next
to me was quite into model railroads and had also been an engineer and
a conductor on a smaller railroad. His son was also into model railroads
and was a full-time locomotive engineer! The man that sat across with me
had traveled a bit by rail when he was younger, and by coincidence, had
just visited TrainWeb a few days earlier! I apologize for not mentioning
his name here, but I have a bad memory for names and don't like to
mention the names of private individuals without their permission.
After dinner, Bob Stone came over to collect for our alcoholic beverages
and we chatted a little further about the web page. I suddenly noticed
that he was wearing the business card that I gave him on his tie clip!
Thanks Bob! TrainWeb certainly appreciates every bit of exposure it can
get, especially right on the train!
I then headed back to my room and here I am! It appears that a grandfather
and his grandson are traveling in the room across from me. They started
out in Washington, DC just like I did. They even had the exact same
Radio Shack PRO-51 model scanner that I have. I gave them a copy of the
rest of the frequencies that would be used on this trip from this
travelogue. I wish I could have given the detailed and fairly accurate
list that includes all the detectors at
but that would require a printer! I wasn't about to copy that all down
I'll probably spend the rest of this evening catching up on answering
my e-mail, and then if I have time, scan the videotapes for some photos
to add to this travelogue.
CH 51 160.875 MP 188.3 08:30 PM CT
CH 36 160.650 MP 16?.? 08:50 PM CT
CH 36 160.650 MP 226.9 09:01 PM CT
THU 08:48 PM (09:16 PM) CT 03/26/98 Fort Madison, IA
About 28 minutes behind schedule. At this point I decided to turn in
one of my free beverage tickets and try one of Patrick's Famous
Bloody Marys that I have heard about. Befor leaving, I closed up all
my equipment and pulled the "Pull To Call" Attendant button. I'd let
him make up my bed and then wouldn't have to worry about getting buzzed
later to be asked if I want my bed made. If you pull the button and
leave your room open (close the curtain, but leave the door wide open),
the Car Attendant will usually assume you want your bed put up or down
if you aren't in the room when he arrives. Thus, if you would like your
bed put down after dinner or made up while your away to breakfast, just
pull the button before you leave and leave your door open (but close the
The Bloody Mary was very good. I didn't tell him how much tobasco to
put in. If he was suppose to be the expert at this, I figured I should
let him make it in his usual manner. It was neither too spicy nor too
mild, but just the way I like them! Patrick is known for two sayings,
though I don't know if these are unique to him. I think I have heard
them from other Cafe Attendants. They are: (1) "We have many alcoholic
beverages here for $3.99 'plus a penny'." Since Amtrak charges for
everything in round numbers, i.e. $4.00, that works! (2) "If you look
out your right window at this time you will see absolutely nothing. If
you look out your left window at this time you will see absolutely
nothing. It is too dark out. If you look down in the bar you will see
your friendly bar tender, Patrick. So come on down!" He also ran a
two for one on the hot breakfast sandwiches in the late evening. I
imagine they might be restocking in Kansas City and he wanted to clear
out the breakfast sandwiches before they started getting old and the
next shipment arrived. The Cafe stayed open to about 11:30 PM and then
opens pretty early in the morning.
THU 09:53 PM (10:18 PM) CT 03/26/98 La Plata, MO
FRI 12:35 AM (01:00 AM) CT 03/27/98 Kansas City, MO
FRI 01:00 AM (01:25 AM) CT 03/27/98 Kansas City, MO
FRI 02:02 AM (02:27 AM) CT 03/27/98 Lawrence, KS
FRI 02:36 AM (03:01 AM) CT 03/27/98 Topeka, KS
FRI 04:53 AM (05:18 AM) CT 03/27/98 Newton, KS
CH 30 160.560 Detector: MP 192.1
FRI 05:27 AM (05:52 AM) CT 03/27/98 Hutchinson, KS
CH 30 160.560 Detector: MP 247.9
CH 30 160.560 Detector
CH 30 160.560 Detector: MP 341.0
I woke up around 6:30 AM CT and put my room together so that I could get
the video camera rolling again. Knowing they don't usually start using
the P.A. system till about 7:00 AM, I figured I had a little time before
they would make first call for breakfast. The dinning car seldom gets
crowded for breakfast until then. However, at about 6:45 AM CT I heard
them call for some name, party of 3, "Your table is ready!" Figuring I
had better at least put in my name, I hurried down to the dining car.
When I got there, there were still a lot of tables empty. But, how
fast they can seat you depends more on how many people are working the
diner at the moment rather than how many empty tables they had. I could
see the service people were really hussling to get the orders taken and
FRI 07:11 AM (07:26 AM) CT 03/27/98 Dodge City, KS
They sat me at an empty table. It took a while to get my order taken,
but I could see that nobody was slacking. They were really moving in
there! Eventually they poured my coffee and took my order. I ordered
the scrambled eggs with hash browns, a side of sausage and wheat toast
along with a glass of orange juice. Even though lunch is included, I
expect this breakfast to hold me until dinner time.
Two gals from coach heading home from Ohio to Santa Fe joined me for
breakfast. Even though they often travel by train, this was the first
time they had eaten in the dining car. When they were about to be
seated at my table, one of them said they had just come for coffee.
The dining car person then told them that they could get that downstairs
in the Cafe Car one car back. But, then the other gal said she did want
breakfast. So, they did end up sitting at my table! We did have a nice
conversation, though not a lot about trains this time.
Patrick in the Cafe Car announced that he would not be selling alcoholic
beverages until we reached the Colorado state line around 9 AM CT as he
was not allowed to sell them in the state of Kansas by local or state
FRI 07:56 AM (08:21 AM) CT 03/27/98 Garden City, KS
CH 30 160.560 Detector: MP 418.1
CH 30 160.560 Detector: MP 439.2
CH 30 160.560 Detector: MP 466.1 09:10 AM CT
Strange. A female voice said over the radio: "George, would you play that
hot box message for us again? Was that 'detector' or 'ejector'?"
We just got to a Red Block at 9:17 AM CT and had to stop. After getting
permission from the dispatcher to proceed, we are now continuing east,
but very very slowly. Our speed has to be about 20 MPH at best.
9:46 AM CT and we have stopped at another Red Block! An announcement was
just made over the P.A. system that we are encountering signal problems
and that we will be continuing at a reduced rate of speed until we get
a more favorable signal.
My guess is that the dispatcher knows that there are no trains ahead of
us for a safe number of blocks either coming toward us or heading in the
same direction ahead of us. But, since the signals are not properly
reporting this condition, we have to proceed slowly just to be on the
safe side. We won't be able to pick ups speed until we reach a signal
that says that we are allowed to proceed.
I think the passengers appreciate it when they are kept aware of the
situation. The last P.A. announcement did also explain that we will be
losing some time until we get a proper signal. Passengers would rather
be informed along the way that be sitting in a train that has stopped
or going real slow without any explanation. Passengers especially don't
like suddenly arriving into a station far behind schedule with absolutely
know explanation of how we lost the time. This crew has been excellent
in keeping the passengers informed of our status and the reason for any
Nice tilt! It is always fun to go around a curve at only 20 MPH that has
been banked for a high rate of speed! I wouldn't say it is unpleasant, but
it is odd to feel one side of the train higher than the other.
Got a clear signal at 9:57 AM CT at Mile Post 482.1! Here we go!
We are picking up speed quickly! By 9:02 AM CT we have to be up to at
least 79 MPH from the speed that it looks like we are passing by the
scenery. I don't know what the speed limit here is, but I would not be
surprised if they have the required new signaling to go faster and are
going well over 79 MPH!
CH 30 160.560 Detector: MP 499.0 09:11 AM MT
FRI 08:18 AM (09:16 AM) MT 03/27/98 Lamar, CO
Oops! We're behind by almost an hour now! I've got to do some real
calculating to get the rest of this trip to work right! The San Diegan
Club is having their meeting onboard Train #759 tomorrow as that train
goes from San Diego to Fullerton and then returns as Train #792. I am
suppose to board that train in Fullerton at 8:03 AM PT. If this train
stays an hour late, that will put me into Fullerton tomorrow morning
at about 8:13 AM PT. That won't work.
I've already have my backup plan ready. In addition to my Southwest
Chief ticket to Fullerton, I also have a ticket good on this train from
San Bernardino to Los Angeles and then another on the Coast Starlight
from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara. If this train does stay an hour
behind schedule, then arrangements will be made to get the people from
this train onto the Coast Starlight that have connections and I will
go along with those arrangements to get me to Santa Barbara as early
as possible. Usually that is a bus out of San Bernardino over to Santa
Barbara where it easily catches up with the Coast Starlight with a
shortcut down Interstate Route 10 bypassing the rail trip in and out
of Los Angeles.
Taking the Coast Starlight, or maybe an Amtrak bus from San Bernardino
to Santa Barbara, I should catch up with the San Diegan Club in
Santa Barbara about noon, the scheduled arrival time of the Coast
Starlight at that station. That will be 40 minutes after the arrival of
San Diegan Train #759. I know where they will be having
lunch, so I will just catch up with them there and come back on Train
#792 with them as far as Fullerton.
In very worst case, I can catch San Diegan Train #773 out of either
Fullerton at 10:11 AM or Los Angels at 10:50 AM to get to Santa Barbara
at 1:38 PM, just in time to join them for the return Train #792 that
leaves Santa Barbara at 1:54 PM!
CH 36 160.650
CH 32 160.590 La Junta, CO
FRI 09:35 AM (10:17 AM) MT 03/27/98 La Junta, CO
Hmmm. Not a good sign. The Car Attendant appeared to be quite friendly
and diligent, but I just walked by the coffee urn and there isn't any
coffee available. Not only that, but it is turned off, closed up, wire
wrapped around it, and not even any accouterments were out! I am almost
hoping it is broken rather than being a reflection on the service
provided by this Car Attendant.
As I had mentioned before, ever since Amtrak policy removed the
endless supply of soda bottles on top of the refreshment area, all
Superliner Sleeping Cars appear to have made coffee available around
the clock. I thought that was a great policy and this is the first time
since that change that I have not found it available. I wonder if
there has been another change in policy.
CH 32 160.590 Detector: MP 618.5 11:06 AM MT
FRI 10:52 AM (11:26 AM) MT 03/27/98 Trinidad, CO
Looks like we made some time and are now only 34 minutes behind schedule.
At that rate we'll make it into Fullerton at 7:47 AM or Los Angeles at
9:19 AM. This is where it gets really tricky! 7:47 AM into Fullerton
will be early enough for me to get off, run upstairs to the TrainWeb
office to drop off my luggage and heavy jacket and then run downstairs in
time to catch Train #759 at 8:03 AM. However, if the Southwest Chief
arrives into Fullerton just a few minutes after 8:03 AM, then I should
stay on it to Los Angeles. The Southwest Chief schedule allows 92 minutes
to get from Fullerton to Los Angeles. The actual running time, as more
accurately indicated on the San Diegans schedule is about 25 minutes!
Thus, even if the Southwest Chief is running 1 hour and 7 minutes behind
schedule, it could still arrive into Los Angeles on time at 8:45 AM!
That is 5 minutes before the scheduled departure time of Train #759
at 8:50 AM! If I miss that, I still have the Coast Starlight that I can
catch at 9:30 AM.
It has just been announced that we are on a 3.2% grade which means that
our altitude increases by 3.2 feet for every 100 feet. If these cars are
80 feet long, doesn't that mean the front of each car must be at least
2 feet higher than the back end as we climb the grade? So, if the train
had ten cars, then wouldn't the front of the train be at least 20 feet
higher than the back of the train? That seems impressive to me!
From my past experience and from all the description of the scenery over
the P.A. system, the most scenic side of this train route is the north
side of the train. I have avoided the temptation to take my videocamera
over to that side of the train. I'm going to make as complete a
recording as I can on this trip of the scenery on the south side and will
make a recording of the scenery on the north side on a future trip. With
any luck, maybe I will get Bob Stone again as the Chief of Onboard
Services so that his running commentary will end up on the video recording
just like it is going onto this recording.
CH 32 160.579 Detector: MP 649.8 12:00 PM MT
CH 32 160.590 Detector: MP 657.0
FRI 11:59 AM (12:23 PM) MT 03/27/98 Raton, NM
CH 32 160.590 Detector: MP 675.8 12:18 PM MT
CH 32 160.590 Detector: MP 702.1 01:01 PM MT
CH 32 160.590 Detector: MP 728.0 01:21 PM MT
CH 32 160.590 Detector: MP 753.6 01:51 PM MT
FRI 01:44 PM (02:05 PM) MT 03/27/98 Las Vegas, NM
CH 32 160.590 Detector: MP 774.9 02:14 PM MT
The above photo is of cows crossing a river just a bit outside Las Vegas,
New Mexico (not the Las Vegas in Nevada with all the glitter). Bob Stone
noticed these cows crossing the river as he happened to glance out the
window and announced it over the P.A. system. Fortunately, because Bob was
up in the Crew Coach near the front of the train and I was 6 cars back in
the last Sleeper, I had plenty of time to swing my already running
videocamera around to catch this scene. To me, it looked like a cattle
driving scene from one of those old western movies where the cattle are
being driven across the river. However, in this case, the cows were not
being driven by anyone and were just crossing the river for their own
reasons, probably to do some grazing on the other side!
CH 32 160.590 Detector: MP 809.2 03:03 PM MT
Bob Stone came by giving out the dinner reservations. I selected 8 PM
figuring that would be 7 PM Pacific Time, which I have to start to
readjust to. Also, I wanted to make sure I would be in my room while
we were in Albuquerque to see if I can upload this travelogue along
with uploading my stored e-mail replies and download my new e-mail.
And, a third reason, is that I want to be in my room to change the
videotape in a couple of hours. By 8 PM it will be dark out and I won't
have to worry about changing the tape!
After getting the dinner reservation next door, Bob popped back into
my room and asked for another one of my cards. I guess the person next
door also gets on the internet. On the back of my card he also wrote
the web addresses:
www.amtrakintercity.com (Discontinued), and
all of which are run by Amtrak themselves and all of which are hosted
on the TrainWeb Server except for
I forgot to tell him about
www.redblock.com which used to be but is no longer
run by Amtrak and hosted on the TrainWeb Server.
FRI 03:26 PM (3:48 PM) MT 03/27/98 Lamy, NM
CH 32 160.590 Detector: MP 843.4 03:58 PM MT Total Axles: 80
This really got me to laugh! Bob Stone just announced over the P.A. system
that we have a passenger onboard in the sleepers named Betty who has been
traveling Amtrak since 1983 and has traveled 11,000 miles by Amtrak. Bob
then asked "Is there anyone else onboard besides Steve that can top that?"
I got a big laugh out of that! I guess as Bob was asking the question, he
realized if that was to be a challenge, he'd have to exclude me. I never
told Bob how far I have traveled by Amtrak, but he probably just assumed
it must be a lot if part of what I do for a living is travel Amtrak and
write about it!
I haven't totaled my Amtrak milage in over a year or two, but I know that
it was over 60,000 miles at last count and is probably over 120,000 miles
now! If anyone wants to try to calculate that for me, just
click here for the list of my Amtrak travelsinside California and
click here for thelist of my Amtrak travels outside California and
go to it! I plan to
recalculate it myself sometime using the milage listed on the schedules in
the Amtrak National and Northeast Timetables. I haven't logged all of my
California rail travel, but that would just add a few thousand miles at
most (especially San Joaquin trips between Los Angeles and San Francisco
that I haven't logged).
I don't think I have taken any one individual rail journey that would
top Betty's 11,000 mile record, but you could probably add two of a
number of my rail journeys to top that! Coast to coast is always at
least 3,000 miles one way. Double that is 6,000 and several of my
journeys have been coast to coast and then some, including this one.
Hmmm. The curiosity about what might have been my longest rail journey
is overwhelming me. I'm going to have to calculate that now. That has
to be the one I started in New York, went up and down the coast on all
three Amtrak Silver Trains, and then went home on the Sunset Limited.
Click here to read the travelogue and see the
exact route that I took on that rail journey, including a number of photos
that I posted.
Here it is:
- 0141 miles: Maple Leaf from New York City to Albany-Rensselear,NY
- 0199 miles: Lake Shore Limited from Albany-Rensselear,NY to Boston,MA
- 0456 miles: Northeast Direct Twilight Shoreliner from Boston,MA to Washington,DC
- 1166 miles: Silver Plam from Washington,DC to Miami,FL
- 1391 miles: Silver Star from Miami,FL to New York City,NY
- 0978 miles: Silver Meteor from New York City,NY to Jacksonville,FL
- 2583 miles: Sunset Limited from Jacksonville,FL to Ontario,CA
- 6914 miles: Grand Total For A Singe Trip! Just under 7000 miles!
Maybe I'm wrong about that being my longest trip. Let's take a look
at this trip:
- 2204 miles: Southwest Chief from Fullerton,CA to Chicago,IL
- 0824 miles: Three Rivers from Chicago,IL to Philadelphia,PA
- 0321 miles: Twilight Shoreliner from Philadelphia,PA to Newport News,VA
- 0197 miles: Old Dominion from Newport News,VA to Washington,DC
- 0780 miles: Capitol Limited from Washington,DC to Chicago,IL
- 2204 miles: Southwest Chief from Chicago,IL to Fullerton,CA
- 0129 miles: San Diegans from Fullerton,CA to Santa Barbara,CA
- 0129 miles: San Diegans from Santa Barbara,CA to Fullerton,CA
- 6788 miles: Grand Total. Close, but not quite as much.
I've looked at a few of my other rail journeys and many are in the
6,000 to 7,000 mile range, but I don't think any have been over
7,000 miles. But, you can see that with the number of Amtrak trips
I have taken since 1995, those numbers can add up fast!
CH 32 160.590 Detector: MP 874.5
FRI 04:53 PM (04:48 PM) MT 03/27/98 Albuquerque, NM
FRI 05:18 PM (05:18 PM) MT 03/27/98 Albuquerque, NM
Hey! We're right back on schedule again! I got a good cellular connection
in Albuquerque, connected at 4800 baud, and was able to upload most of my
travelogue . So, if you already checked this travelogue anytime after
5:18 PM Mountain Time on Friday, March 27, 1998, then you've already read
the current status of this journey right up to about Lamy, New Mexico!
I was able to send all my pending e-mail, but was only able to download
12 of 96 messages waiting for me. Somebody sent me a huge message, which
was number 13. That message downloaded for about 10 minutes, but then I
lost my cellular connection as the train began to move and pick up
CH 36 160.650 Detector: MP 65.8 06:24 PM MT
Coffee is on again! I guess this must be one of those Car Attendants
that doesn't drink coffee or at least not much. I actually don't drink
that much myself, I think. Maybe 2 or 3 cups a day. However, even before
Amtrak's new policy of having the coffee ready around the clock, it
would be ready all the time if you had a Car Attendant that was a coffee
drinker! Actually, I don't even know if most Car Attendants get their
own coffee from there or if the get it in the diner or the crew car. But,
usually a Car Attendant that is a heavy coffee drinker will keep it going
all the time on the assumption that everyone else likes to have coffee
just like he or she does. The worst thing is to have a Car Attendant that
doesn't drink coffee at all because it will often slip their mind to make
fresh coffee when it runs out!
When I went into the upstairs washroom, I made sure the latch was closed
as I always do. This one closed with a big "clunk!" Looking at the latch,
it looked solid. So, I didn't bother to keep my eye on it. As I was
washing my hands, I heard a little kid run to the door, turn the handle,
and it started to open. Since I was right there at the washbasin, I just
said "Excuse me" and closed the door. I don't know how a latch that seemed
so solid could have come open. I am used to keeping my eyes on the ones
that seem rather loose and slide back and forth with just the vibration
of the train. The only thing I can think of is, because of the
configuration of the upstairs washroom, I could have bumped into the latch
and unlatched it while I was washing my hands. If you are concerned about
this at all, then use the downstairs washrooms. If you were sitting on
the upstairs toilet when the door opened, I don't think you could reach
the door without gettin up unless you have arms like an ape! In the
downstairs washrooms, you can check if the latch is wiggling out of
place and the latch is within easy reach to slide it closed again or
to even put up your hand to stop the door from being opened.
Another little odd item: There was one of those pre-filled coffee filter
packs sitting on the shelf where the paper towels are dispensed in the
washroom. That seemed a very odd place for it. It really isn't a shelf.
It is just an empty space to give you room to pull out the paper towels
from the dispenser one at a time. Thus, this filter pack was really in
the way of pulling out the paper towels. This seemed rather unsanitary.
People would be reaching up with wet hands to get a towel and drip onto
the coffee filter pack. Or worse, they might pull it off the shelf to
see what it was before they had washed their hands! I was tempted to just
take it and throw it in the trash. Not sure why I didn't. But, I did
move it out of the way and put it on top of a couple of unopened rolls
of toilet paper. When I went to use the room again later, I found it
back on top of that shelf again! I certainly hope the Car Attendant
doesn't intend to use this to make the next pot of coffee! It is one
thing to torture coffee drinkers by not having any coffee available,
but this is going to far! On the other hand, maybe this coffee filter
pack fell out of somewhere and some passenger found it and just stuck
it up there not knowing what to do with it. There was also a toothbush
in the washroom which I'm sure someone had just forgotten to take with
them when they left.
CH 36 160.650 Detector: MP 065.8 06:24 PM MT
CH 36 160.650 Detector: MP 090.5 06:45 PM MT
CH 36 160.650 Detector: MP 111.1 07:01 PM MT
CH 36 160.650 Detector: MP 131.3 07:16 PM MT
CH 36 160.650 Detector: MP 153.9 07:32 PM MT
Well, the mystery continues. Later, I found another one of those
pre-measured coffee filter bags in the downstairs washroom! This time,
it was on the counter around the sink and was soaking wet. I don't know
if this is the same one, or if the Car Attendant purposely placed one
in every washroom. Maybe he thought this would be a good substitute for
a bathroom deodorizor?
FRI 07:39 PM (07:39 PM) MT 03/27/98 Gallup, NM CH 72 161.190
There was suppose to be a family boarding here who had the handicapped
room booked. The Conductor didn't know if they would have a handicapped
person or if they took that room because that was all that was left.
That could have been tight since the handicapped room really has the
same sleeping accommodation as a Standard Bedroom (Economy Room)
except that it has extra space for a wheelchair lockdown and its own
toilet with a curtain around it. But as far as beds, it is the same
as the Standard Bedroom. It would be difficult to sleep more than 2
in the room unless people took turns sleeping!
The Conductor said he would find out if there was or wasn't a
handicapped person. If not, they'd have the family walk down to the
31 car so they didn't have to double spot. Otherwise, they'd double
spot the train. As it turned out, they didn't show up! Someone asked
over the radio if they could wait a few minutes. The Conductor
replied "No, we've got to go!" We are now running right on time and
I think this Conductor wants to make sure it stays that way.
I don't know if the family called ahead to say they would be
to the station in just a minute or two, or if someone just wanted
to give them a few more minutes to see if they would show up.
Either way, we headed out on time without them!
CH 72 161.190 Detector: MP 176.5 07:59 PM MT
CH 72 161.190 Detector: MP 202.4
CH 72 161.190 Detector: MP 225.2
CH 72 161.190 Detector: MP 247.4
CH 72 161.190 Detector: MP 270.4
FRI 09:18 PM (09:18 PM) MT 03/27/98 Winslow, AZ
CH 55 160.935 Detector: MP 294.2
CH 55 160.935 Detector: MP 315.5
CH 55 160.935 Detector: MP 336.8
FRI 10:19 PM (10:19 PM) MT 03/27/98 Flagstaff, AZ
CH 55 160.935 Detector: MP 358.3
CH 55 160.935 Detector: MP 377.?
CH 55 160.935 Detector: MP 377.?
CH 55 160.935 Detector: MP 426.9
CH 36 160.650 Detector: MP 452.1
CH 36 160.650 Detector: MP 473.9
CH 36 160.650 Detector: MP 493.3
CH 36 160.650 Detector: MP 512.5
SAT 01:40 AM MT 03/28/98 Kingman, AZ
CH 36 160.650 Detector: MP 536.0
CH 36 160.650 Detector: MP 561.5
SAT 01:34 AM PT 03/28/98 Needles, CA
CH 55 160.935 Detector: MP 607.5
CH 55 160.935 Detector: MP 612.4
CH 55 160.935 Detector: MP 628.1
CH 55 160.935 Detector: MP 644.5
CH 55 160.935 Detector: MP 665.0
CH 55 160.935 Detector: MP 690.3
CH 55 160.935 Detector: MP 711.1
CH 55 160.935 Detector: MP 733.3
SAT 04:14 AM PT 03/28/98 Barstow, CA CH 27 160.515
CH 32 160.590
CH 72 161.190 Detector: MP 08.5
CH 72 161.190 Detector: MP 28.5
SAT 04:51 AM PT 03/28/98 Victorville, CA
CH 72 161.190 Detector: MP 48.5
CH 72 161.190 Detector: MP 57.3
CH 72 161.190 Detector: MP 64.1
SAT 06:03 AM (about 6:50 AM) PT 03/28/98 San Bernardino, CA
CH 36 160.650 Detector: MP 32.0
Approaching my stop in Fullerton, California, things got a little hectic,
but no real big problem. Naturally I was watching that clock. The exact
arrival time of the Amtrak Southwest Chief into Fullerton would determine
whether I would try to transfer to the northbound Amtrak San Diegan in
Fullerton or would stay onboard until Los Angeles. I'd be safe to transfer
in Fullerton if we arrived anytime before 7:50 AM and that was going to
be real close!
Bob Stone went from room to room to check to see if each person had a
pleasant trip, if there had been any problems, and to say goodbye. I
mentioned my problem of trying to meet with the northbound Amtrak San
Diegan and he said it would be no problem to continue on to Los Angeles
to catch up with it if I needed to do that. We exchanged some last minute
reminders, for Bob to check out this travelogue on TrainWeb, and for me
to check the Southwest Chief web page at
www.amtrak.com to which he had
contributed updated material.
The Dining Car had opened for breakfast at 5:30 AM PT and would only be
open until 6:30 AM PT to give the Dining Car crew time to clean up the
car in time for our early arrival into Los Angeles. Someone went through
our Sleeping Car about 6:15 AM making last call for breakfast. A lady in
another Sleeping Car asked: "First call for breakfast?" I heard the
answer come back: "No, last call. The Diner will close at 6:30 AM so it
can be cleaned before our arrival in Los Angeles." Another lady was
upset, or maybe it was the same lady, that her husband had ordered
breakfast for both of them and came back to fetch her to the diner instead
of bringing the breakfast back to her. I guess she didn't feel presentable
to the world yet.
At about 5:30 AM, I put on my "Call Attendant" light to alert him to come
to my room to make it up so that I would have somewhere to sit. I then
left the room to get ready and to get some coffee and orange juice. He
did have coffee and orange juice available at the refreshment area in the
Sleeping Car. I returned at about 6:00 AM, but the room had still not been
made up. I just sat up in my bed for about the next 15 minues. I noticed
that my Car Attendant was quite busy running around. Maybe he just had too
many rooms to make up and too many people to tend to who were getting off
in Fullerton and Los Angeles. At about 6:15 AM, 45 minutes after I had
first pulled the "Call Attendant", I decided that sitting up in the bed
was pretty comfortable and turned off the "Call Attendant" light.
SAT 07:13 AM (7:51 AM) PT 03/28/98 Fullerton, CA
About 5 minutes before pulling into Fullerton, my Car Attendant finally
came by. He made a couple of good morning comments and then just confirmed
that I was getting off in Fullerton. I assumed he would be coming back for
my luggage as most Car Attendants usually do. He never did come back for
it. Thus, I put on my heavy winter coat so that I wouldn't have to carry
it, put my backpack on over that, and then picked up my heavy roller
suitcase with both hands and carried it downstairs. Usually I have empty
hands when I'm about to leave my room which is my que that I have to take
the small box that holds my tripod. Since my hands were already full, I
did manage to leave my room and get off the train without my tripod!
I'll try and track it down to see if it ended up in the "Lost & Found"
in Los Angeles, but fortunately it was an inexpensive one that I had
purchased as an experiment just for this trip. I think I paid $19.95 for
it. This was a very successful experiment and I may now want to buy an
even smaller and even more light-weight tripod, maybe even one that can
fit into my suitcase so that I won't have to worry about leaving it
I do want to conclude that this trip was a very enjoyable experience
overall. The staff was very friendly and accommodating throughout the
train. I do try to mention names when I'm able to obtain them, but
only refer to people specifically when they have provided good service.
I may detail unfavorable events, or things that I observe but do not
understand, but I will not mention the name of the personel in those
circumstances. The events are described here because I do want you to
know what you might expect when you travel by Amtrak. However, my
purpose is not to assign blame to particular individuals as I know there
can often be circumstances beyond their control of which I am not aware.
But, once again I do want to stress that my overall experience on this
train was very favorable. Although I don't know them all by name, I have
had various members of this crew on my previous journeys on the Southwest
Chief and remember them as creating a light and pleasant atmosphere on
Please do continue to revisit this web page over the next few days. I
will be adding further photos along with some final detail. I also plan
to add a few words about my connection to the northbound Amtrak San
Diegan to meet up with the San Diegan Club on its way to Santa Barbara.
I don't plan to write a lot about that meeting and trip, so I will
probably just add a few more paragraphs onto the end of this travelogue.
So, do check back from time to time this week!
- Train Route: Southwest Chief
- Train Number: 03
- Direction: Southwest
- My Route: Chicago,IL to Fullerton,CA
- Accommodation: Superliner Standard Bedroom
Onboard Crew #4 of Train #3
- Chief of Onboard Services: Bob Stone
- Dining Car Steward: Barbara
- Cafe Car Attendant: Patrick
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