Monday, November 9, 2009

Oregon trip

Saturday, Nov 7, 8:30 PM. The Coast Starlight gets into Diradon Station, San Jose early so I board ahead of time. I have checked my suitcase through. It weighs 45 lbs and they won’t take anything over 50. WHEW! It’ll be lighter coming home as I have several copies of my book that I will be giving away up here. My car attendant is Anthony and he shows me up to my room, 2. Dinner is still being served so I go to the dining car after settling in, where I meet Patrick, who is the dining car steward, and my server, Irma. I have a piece of braised beef and a salad; I am not too hungry. By the time I get back to my car, Anthony has made up my bed and in minutes, I snuggle in and am asleep. I love riding the rails; the motion, the sound of the clacking metal wheels on the tracks.

Sunday, November 8, 3 AM. WIDE AWAKE! SHOOT! I eat the sandwich I brought along from Subway and I turn on Pandora radio. The ”Spa” channel plays this artys-fartsy new agey stuff that puts me right out. 6AM I get up and shower. The train shower is just BARELY large enough for me. But there is plenty of hot water and I feel refreshed. I go to the dining car for breakfast, where I am met once again by Patrick, and Irma. The guys work until 10-11 every night getting ready for the next day, and they have to report back the next morning, 5:30-6:00 to prepare breakfast. I suspect the engineers & conductors have a strong union, and I think the train workers (who have a separate union) do not. I have been told that it harkens back to the day when the engineers & conductors were all white, and the other workers were not.

During breakfast, I see Mt Shasta retreating in the distance behind Train #14. I have breakfast with 3 others, none of whom give me their names. The man besides me rides an R1200 GS BMW. The woman across the table tells a wonderful story about how she met her husband ON THE TRAIN! The other woman, who has very short, blond hair and a hint of a British accent, doesn’t really get a chance to get a word in edgewise, so I know nothing about her.

I go back to my room and listen to Pandora and read. The scenery out my window is beautiful, the lower cascades and Klamath Lake are among my favorite sights. I get a 12:15 lunch reservation.

12:00 I head to the dining car and purchase a commemorative coffee mug, that has a cool picture and ‘Coast Starlight’ on it. I sit at lunch with a couple, Terry & Jerry (YES!!) and a woman who doesn’t offer her name, but hammers 3 bloody marys before my lunch (veggie burger) arrives. We stop in Eugene and she runs out to grab a smoke. Hmmmmm.

At SOME train stops they take a ‘fresh air’ break where people can get off and stretch. They always tell you to remain trainside so we can leave when it's time. Well apparently a few people wandered off too far and the Coast Starlight left a handful of people in Eugene. STUPIDOS!

I arrive in Salem right on time and my dear friend from high school Mary Lou is waiting for me with her husband, Don. She hasn’t aged a day and we recognize each other right away. Of course I’m the only guy with a tuba on my back. I am staying in the Phoenix Inn and have a wonderful suite on the 4th floor.

At 6:00 Mary Lou & Don come pick me up for dinner, a nice Mexican place just down the street. Home at 8:30ish and asleep in moments. Tomorrow is Day 1 in Salem. Can’t wait to see the kids.


  1. It looks like my previous comment didn't take:

    Sue and I are looking into the train for our trip back home over Christmas. Does the food come as part of the deal? Does the two-person roomette actually fit two people ok? Are the trains cold? How's the internet? Is it a pain to check luggage?

  2. If you get a sleeper, all meals are included, the roomette is fine for two people. It is small, but it works. Each room has its own temperature control, but you should bring a sweater along. NO WIRELESS on the train. Better Jailbreak your iPhone before you go. Checked through bags are ok, but UNDER 50 lbs. There is usually ample space on the lower level to put your stuff. That's where I put my tuba and just bring a small bag into the room with me. Let's talk. By the way, if you wait later to book your trip, the cost goes up substantially. WAY better to book early.

  3. Tony, this has been a great blog entry about your trip. Was your friend Mary Lou the trumpet player? One of my favorite people EVER since 4th grade. I would love to see her again.