Emeryville Amy

This blog will be a combination of my favorite places in the Bay Area and abroad, memoirs, recipes, restaurant reviews and travel experiences.

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Location: Emeryville, San Francisco Bay Area, CA, United States

Saturday, November 05, 2005



It has been a spectacular train ride from Raleigh, NC to Washington DC and then across to Chicago. The Autumn colors that I had been longing to see in their full glory suddenly were present. The trees singly or in broad swatches of forests or lining the rivers have been transfixing with their fiery oranges and reds and glowing yellows against their dark branches. And then there are the trees caught in the in-between stages looking as if a painter had changed his mind part way through and couldn't decide which color was the most magnificent. Little towns or farms with red barns dot the countryside and usually a tree or two grace the houses like treasures left out in the open. If the tree has begun losing its leaves the ground is blanketed in color as well and one realizes how fleeting the showy beauty is.

I feebly attempt to catch the glory on my camera but on the train it is especially difficult. As soon as I see a breathtaking scene it is gone. If the trees are too close the image is just a blur and if it is too far away it doesn't show up much at all. Once in awhile we slow down or stop to let a freight train go by and that provides a better opportunity if we stop in a good place. More often then not it seems like they end up stopping by a junkyard or processing plant or something not quite as picturesque as I was hoping for.

I was supposed to have a 3 1/2 hour layover between trains in DC so I left my luggage in the train station and headed out to the fresh air. Union Station is only about 5 blocks from the Capitol Building so I went that direction and ended up at the Smithsonian Botanical Gardens. I didn't want to go too far away, so I chose to visit the National Postal Museum next, which is next door to Union Station. It turned out that our train was delayed for 3 more hours, but they didn't tell us that until it was the original time to board and then they didn't know how long the wait would be. It was comfortable enough in the First Class lounge (I had a sleeper car for that leg so I was in 1st class) but I could have visited more places in DC if I had known. Oh well. Union Station is an amazing train station with nice shops, a good food court and other restaurants and even a movie theater, not to mention the building itself which is made of gorgeous white stone and designed beautifully.

It has been interesting noting the differences between the trains. So far the Coast Starlight going from Emeryville to Portland has had the nicest observation car and parlor car and service. The parlor car had very comfortable swivel arm chairs and a nice bar where you could get free coffee, sodas and snacks. The Canadian VIA Rail had the most beautiful dining car. This train I am on now has the same sleeper car as the Coast Starlight but not as nice of lounge/parlor car or observation car. The service has been pretty sloppy and my room wasn't cleaned well, there was gross stuff on my tray table... I know that the train came into the station late, but the still should have done better with the housekeeping.

We are now running about 4 hours behind and some passengers are beginning to worry about their connecting trains out West. It is much easier fro me to type while the train is stopped so I am taking advantage of the time when we are just waiting on the tracks for the freight train to go by. Apparently some of the tracks are out up ahead so only a single track is available and the freight train has the right of way. The trains are not the way to travel if you are in a hurry or want to be in control of your timetable. I'm not in a rush and I have no real schedule to keep, so I'm able to just relax and enjoy the ride. I haven't been bored at all on this trip, even on the 4 day train ride across Canada.


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6:36 PM  

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