Coast Starlight Santa Barbara and Back
February 17-18, 2003
Day One--Monday, February 17, 2003, Oakland to Santa Barbara, Train # 11
I arrived at Jack London Square with my sons Robert-RJ, Christopher (who we called train buddy) and myself. I wanted to tell everyone that you can now purchase Amtrak tickets from EBay. Here is how it goes. When you find a trip on EBay that you would like to take bid on that ticket. If you win the auction you can use that tickets price to purchase as many tickets as you like. Example is, I bid on the tickets from Oakland to Los Angeles. I won the bid at $34.00 and Amtrak called me about two days after the bid to ask me when I wanted to travel. I gave them the date and was able to purchase additional tickets for this price. There are restrictions and travel date blackouts. If you want more details contact me: .
Back to the trip log. We arrived at Jack London Square and departed about 20 minutes late. My wife was not able to come on this trip so I had an extra ticket. It was nice to have that extra ticket because now I would have an extra seat. With two boys this is always nice to have. The train was very full. Later I discovered while talking to the coach attendant that in the winter the Coast Starlight runs with one coach car less. In the early spring they add another coach car. I think the main reason it was so packed this time is due to the kids being out on winter break.
The crew working the train all look so familiar, with the exception of a few. The kiddy car was open and train buddy spent most of his time in there. That kiddy car had toys in it and they played Spy Kids II for the kids. This is a far cry from the trip I took to Portland where the only video they played for the youngsters was Blues Clues. Anyway this time they played a couple different videos for the kids. That was nice of them. The lady working this car was very nice also.
I noticed something with the conductor and the train attendants. It was like they were meeting and following this one kid around the train. He had to be 18-20 no more then 21. At Paso Robles the police were waiting and they took the kid into custody. I later found out that he was using dope on the train. The Amtrak folks were right on it and he was off the train.
I was using my GPS and noticed that we were on time or ahead of the schedule on most stops. Wow, I am impressed that this has happened. The scenery of course was wonderful and the train crew was outstanding. We detrained in Santa Barbara ahead of schedule. What a nice trip down. I hope the trip back will be just as nice. My only complaint is that the diner car people never made it to the rear coach for dinner reservations. Everything else was a A++++++ trip.
Day Two--February 18, 2003, Santa Barbara to Martinez, Train # 14
The train arrived into Santa Barbara on time. Everything was normal, no additional cars or engines on this train. We departed on time and away we go.
I have been amazed at how on time we are. As with the trip down here we are again on time into every station. As San Luis Obispo we are a half hour ahead of schedule. We have to wait for the departure time for the train so we had to stay at the station until its designated time to depart. This is nice I got a chance to wander away from the train and look at the area. I am still using my GPS to calculate arrival times and every time we leave and depart we get into the next station ahead of schedule.
I had dinner in the diner and noticed that the track from about Paso Robles to Salinas is really rough. A lot of people are complaining about it. Maybe Union Pacific should do some track work around here. Doesn't bother me at all. Heck I was hoping to go further then just Martinez. I was thinking of another trip to plan maybe to Seattle. Of course I love riding on the train.
We are now arriving into San Jose Train Station and again we are about 30 minutes ahead of schedule. This means we have to wait until the proper departure time to leave the station. I got out and walked around the train looking at things. Nice to have this time to look around.
The rest of the trip was pretty much the same. Again a really nice crew and people on the train were friendly. One thing I did this time with the boys. I had only three tickets so I purchased another ticket for an extra seat. That would give me 4 seats total. Well, worth the money. I think on my next coach trip I will purchase an extra seat so I can have room to sleep. My buddy that works Amtrak told me that people do this all the time. I think it is well worth the investment. Anyone that wants any information or feedback email me: . I will be glad to answer questions or just shoot the breeze.