October 04

An Appreciation: Edward Galland Zelinsky
Gridlock, Ferries & Peter Grenell
Amtrak to Portland
Tiburon a town of Grace and Fun
Sprawl Is All Around
SF Taste of Greece Festival All About Choices
Bay Crossings Cuisine
Bay Area Tollpayers Race Clock To Take Advantage of FasTrakTM Discount
Drinkin’ in Dogpatch and dancin’ on the Third Rail
Middle Harbor Shoreline Park Debuts
Fall into Jack’s New Tapas
Port of San Francisco First West Coast Seaport to Install Radiation
Bay Round Up
Barrel of Fun
San Francisco Welcomes the US Navy
Boating Calendar
Berkeley Ferry Service
Community Calendar
Best Alternative for Bay Bridge Replacement Is Awarding Current Bid



Amtrak to Portland

Guy Span

Not long ago, your curmudgeon got the chance to take the train to Portland, OR from the Oakland station in Jack London Square. The departure is 9:40 pm, which affords time to visit the lounge car and spend the next hour looking at Bay views as the train winds it way around the Bay to Martinez. It’s not particularly fast, but the views (even at night) make up for the difference.

The train is well furnished with lounge space, so if you decided to spring for the extra fare and book a sleeping compartment, it comes equipped with a “welcome aboard” package and your own lounge car. All the equipment is double-decked, and the lounge has windows in the roof, so viewing the scenery is easily accomplished. A stroll through the train reveals a full dining car, a coach lounge and leg rest coaches that make sitting up all night a completely different experience from the airlines “Red Eye,” as you have more space in coach than a first class airline passenger.

There is even a children’s play area in the lower sections of one of the coaches, so that travel with small children is comfortably accomplished. But your curmudgeon opted to take advantage of the sleepers (figuring that the cost of a sleeper was fairly similar to motel costs saved by taking the night train). A longer stay in the lounge car revealed an old-fashioned camaraderie where complete strangers were talking to each other like old friends.

The next morning, the lucky passenger awakes to startling views of Mount Shasta and sweeping views of the countryside from the escarpment. Early morning sunlight illuminates the scene in a magical way. Even the air smells good. And then breakfast is freshly prepared and served in the dining car, affording another opportunity to mingle with your fellow passengers before retiring to the lounge car and taking in the views.
Newspapers from Klamath Falls (our early morning stop) bring you up to speed on the day’s news as the train winds its way around the rugged countryside. Mid-morning brings you back in touch with civilization’s cell towers and more than likely your cell phone will prod you with messages missed as you drop down into the Willamette valley. At 3:40 pm, you ease into Portland, rested and willing to take on the rest of the day’s challenges.

The next time you head north, be it Klamath Falls, Portland or Seattle or even Vancouver, you might consider taking the train. Good food, nice equipment, excellent service and friendly passengers make this a “land cruise” rather than simple transportation. And it all occurs for the price of simple transportation.