The Jour­ney Is The Va­ca­tion On This 35-Hour Am­trak Trip

Riverbank News - - NEIGHBORHOOD VALUES -

LOS AN­GE­LES — It was late Fri­day night and we were scour­ing the usual sites tout­ing the top things to do in Los An­ge­les. Unin­spired by our op­tions and fac­ing a long weekend with­out obli­ga­tions, my hus­band and I made a last­minute book­ing on Am­trak’s Coast Starlight. Ten hours later we’re set­tling in for a 35-hour train trip span­ning 1,377 miles (2,216 kilo­me­ters) up Cal­i­for­nia’s pic­ture-per­fect coast­line and Ore­gon’s rugged ter­rain. Seattle may have been the end des­ti­na­tion, but this weekend was all about the jour­ney.

10 A.M. UNION STA­TION, LOS AN­GE­LES

At the sta­tion we are greeted by a friendly car at­ten­dant who shows us to our pri­vate room. Am- trak’s top-tier ac­com­mo­da­tion sleeps up to three and in­cludes a small work or lounge space, your own bath­room, shower and five meals. “This is gonna be fun!” our at­ten­dant beams as the train roars to life.

12:40 P.M. SANTA BAR­BARA

As the scenery changes from ur­ban and in­dus­trial to the golden beaches of Ven­tura, we stum­ble to­ward the din­ing car for lunch. Lunch op­tions in­clude tasty steamed mus­sels, spicy chi­laquiles and a de­light­ful choco­late rasp­berry tart. Mak­ing meal reser­va­tions and ob­sess­ing about what to order be­comes a full­time job as we roll into hour three.

3:30 P.M. SAN LUIS OBISPO

With forced re­lax­ation in full ef­fect, it’s time to kick off happy hour as we pass by the cen­tral coast’s sprawl­ing vine­yards.

10 P.M. EMERYVILLE

Am­trak’s sleeper cars of­fer turn­down ser­vice and with lit­tle else to do, we tuck in for the night. Not ex­actly lux­ury, but a few notches up from camp­ing, sleep­ing in the train’s tight quar­ters was ad­e­quate with oc­ca­sional in­ter­rup­tions from noisy neigh­bors, an­nounce­ments or bumpy ter­rain.

8 A.M. KLAMATH FALLS, ORE­GON

I wake in Ore­gon to high desert wilder­ness and snow-dusted pine forests. We opt for the buf­fet break­fast and spend the morn­ing tak­ing in the panorama from the ob­ser­va­tion car, which of­fers comfy seat­ing. Cell ser­vice is non-ex­is­tent for most of day two, which meant board games, deep con­ver­sa­tions and ac­tual hu­man con­nec­tion sans so­cial me­dia.

9 P.M. KING STREET STA­TION, SEATTLE

There were a hand­ful of stretch breaks, in­clud­ing quick stops in Eu­gene and Port­land, but I’m ready to get off when we reach the grand, gran­ite-clad King Street Sta­tion. With only a few hours left in our spon­ta­neous weekend ad­ven­ture, we set out to ex­plore Seattle’s nightlife. Fi­nally, an early flight brings us back to re­al­ity — wob­bly-legged and won­der­fully re­ju­ve­nated from the jour­ney.

PHOTO COURTESY OF AM­TRAK

The Coast Starlight trav­els along the Cal­i­for­nia coast.

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