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Trip Report

Milwaukee to Bay Area

August 1-3, 2001


This is a recap of my trip to the Bay Area which began at Milwaukee on Aug. 1st and ended on Aug. 3rd.

Hiawatha service to CUS with delayed arrival due to interference from Metra.

Did some photography on the Metra West (UP) line and got back to CUS at 1:45. There were no indicators as to boarding for #3, #5 and #21. With a large number of passengers, there was a crush to be in the head of the line. Number 5 was shown 'delayed' so #3 was boarded first. The first class people were boarded first. A group of maybe 150 scouts en route to Camp Philmont were next. Instead of going direct to the train, they did a Conga Line through the waiting passengers (all of them) and out the door. There was little control or supervision by Amtrak Personnel. They seemed to run around like ants with radios to their ears. Nobody in charge.

Train 21 was handled next, and eventually #5 rolled into the station. As always, they blamed the Diner for the delay.

I went coach this time. We were allowed to go out to the train. An attendant directed me to a particular coach and I was asked, "where to and how many?" At that point the attendant assigned me to a seat using a hand scribbled paper.

Like if they are going to assign seats, why not do it like the airlines and eliminate the 'I gotta be at the head of the line' in the terminal.

It is my impression that the coaches, if not sleepers, were sold out.

One hour and ten minutes late at Princeton, ILL.

Meal service was excellent the entire trip.

One Hour and 45 Min late into Denver; Two Hrs and 23 minutes late departing. They oversold the chaircars out of Denver, but that was OK because a net loss was experienced at Glenwood and Grand Junction.

More delays: A drunk sexually assaulted a female passenger. in the smoking compartment and punched out the door glass. The smoking lamp went out, and so did the wrong doer, out the door into an awaiting sheriff vehicle.

Two Hrs and 50 Min. Late out of Grand Junction. Lead unit 45 dies and we lose power. Get started again, but quits once more. They get it going again with the help of stuff they scrounged out of travel bags (splicers and duct tape).

Am asleep as we roll into Salt Lake City, Like 1:50AM, so they made up some time. Yet again, the train loses power and all the time made up is lost with more added on. We are in excess of 3:15 late.

Get to see some of Western Utah and Eastern Nevada due to lateness. No other incidents other than a couple meets with freights and some kids playing chicken on the tracks out of Reno.

Arrival at Emeryville was 9:10 or so; 3hrs and 50 min late.

Passengers for other California connections were taken off at Reno and bussed to their connections or final destinations. Same to some degree at Sacramento. The crew prepared an extra supper for us for which we did pay for. No complaints there, however.

All the delays were Amtrak generated.

OTHER NOTES: I usually go Sleeper with Beth, but being solo this time thought I'd rough it. Did average 5 1/2 to 6 hrs of sleep. Few interruptions. I did get up to stretch the legs in Omaha and SLC. There were a number of families with kids, and the kids behaved in an excellent manner. The later arrival allowed my son to drive up from Red Wood City without the traffic hassle.

We used Caltrain for much of our activities: getting to PacBell Stadium, sight seeing in S/F and San Jose. Super service. For anyone not having visited the Bay Area, The MUNI Passes are the way to go.

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