Here’s another Blast From the Past for your weekend: a train trip we took in March!
When we went West for our yearly California wine vacation, we started things in Seattle. And from there, rather than fly or drive, we decided to check another item off our bucket list and take Amtrak’s Coast Starlight along the West Coast.
We seem to always get the same room on the train, and I’m not sure why that is (first one on the right when you come up the stairs). This was our roommette, our little cozy home for the next day and a half!
Then the journey began! The Coast Starlight covers 35 hours if you’re on it for the whole ride (we weren’t – it stretches from Seattle to Los Angeles, but our final stop was in San Luis Obispo, a few hours north). Our trip covered every type of weather you could think of! First, we started with the gloomy, rainy skies of the Pacific Northwest, as we hugged the shore and made our way south. (Pretty sights, but not the finest picture-taking weather, as the rain drops got in the way of the camera sometimes.)
And no train trip is complete without an Amtrak hot dog and bag of Doritos!
The Coast Starlight is unique among the other sleeper-car trains in that it has not only a dining room, but a Parlour Car. The Parlour Car was open for meals to sleeper passengers only (the regular dining car is open to coach passengers as well), and it provides a more intimate dining experience – just your party at a table, whereas you share a table with another party in the dining car.
We decided to try our first meal in the Parlour Car. Your porter comes around to each room to ask what time you’d like your next meal, and you receive your reservation card then. (Ours has a ‘P’ on it for Parlour.)
Later in the afternoon, we got to return to the Parlour Car for a mini wine tasting! (I know, I’m drinking coffee in this picture, but there was wine in my hand later!) We sampled wine from different vineyards in the cities the train was passing through, along with local cheese and fruit. I thought this was such a cute idea!
The Coast Starlight also has a movie theater, and they run two movies a day to keep you entertained. We didn’t watch any movies though, as we were too busy taking in the scenery and writing (writing on trains is one of our favorite things).
Along the way, you can get off at certain stops and pop into the station for a few minutes while the train crew is refueling, swapping members, or doing maintenance. Here we are in Portland, Oregon, which was a beautiful station. Still rainy though!
That evening over dinner, we passed through an incredibly snowy part of Oregon. There were snow drifts all along the tracks, some as tall as 8 feet! Apparently, there had been some track closures in previous days because of this. It was also a little terrifying to look out the window, because we were on these very, VERY high narrow bridges above deep ravines, with just snow and darkness all around. We kept our eyes pretty fixed on our delicious train dinners.
That night, we headed into the Parlour Car with our laptops to take advantage of the free WiFi and write for awhile (while listening to some Guns n Roses with the Parlour Car attendant, who was rocking out to Appetite for Destruction while doing her final cleanup).
Bright and early the next morning, we were up and enjoying breakfast in the dining car with a nice couple our age from Florida. (We wound up having both breakfast and lunch with them on the final day, and had a great time chatting!)
The weather shifted completely as we passed into California and started traveling through the desert climate of Salinas. But we knew we were getting closer to Central Coast when the vineyards started popping up! I also saw a coyote up on one of the hills, and then spent the rest of the ride looking for another one when I had my camera out to get a picture.
In addition to all the other on-board entertainment, the Coast Starlight has a big cabinet of books and board games, so we took some time to play a serious game of Scrabble. (Michael won. I hate when he wins board games, because I have to hear about it for days!)
Finally, we knew our stop was coming up, because the rolling hills of wine country that I love so much were in sight! I can be having the worst day of all time, and one view of these hills, and I instantly feel better. (Central Coast is my Happy Place 🙂
We packed up our things and headed off the train, ready to begin the next part of our trip: our West Coast wine adventure!