Our Great Amtrak Train Trip
Portland to Sacramento to Point Pleasant
Amtrak Coast Starlight and Amtrak California Zephyr

Coast Starlight Dining Room
Coast Starlight Dining Room

Food on the train is pretty good. Dining room staff make the rounds and take time reservations for dinner only. Other meals are first-come-first-served. Several choices are listed on the menu. Some trains offered complimentary wine pushing locally-produced products and we took advantage of every opportunity. We were given two complimentary bottles of champaign on one train which we saved and finally opened on New Years Eve while on our Florida trip!

We boarded The Coast Starlight in Portland at 2:25 P.M. and arrived in Sacramento the next morning at 6:15 A.M. Immediately after boarding, we requested the first dinner service in the dining room shown above. The photo was taken from our table and the reason it is empty is because we were the first ones in the dining room.

We had thought we would travel along the Pacific Ocean on the Coast Starlight, and even hoped for a seat on the right-hand (West) side of the train. However, the train travels inland and the ocean was never visible. Another sad thing was that the train travels through some of the most beautiful scenery in the country (northern California)--in the middle of the night!

We discovered that not all Superliner Sleeping Car Roomettes are the same. Some have been refurbished and are noticeably finer accommodations. In all cases, we found the people who worked on the trains were very helpful and we saw how they professionally dealt with a variety of travelers with an ever larger variety of needs.

This is one of the reasons for our grand train trip. Pictured is Elizabeth, her son Christopher, and his very good friend Bree. The image was taken in Salt Lake City near Little America Hotel where we stayed for four days.

Chris is sporting a cap that Elizabeth knitted for him.


Elizabeth Knits and Watches Pigeon

We carried our own luggage on and off the train. We each carried one large and one small suitcase. Our small suitcase accompanied us into our room while our larger suitcase was stowed in our car where we had access to it-if need be.

We had a layover in Sacramento where we changed from the Coast Starlight to the California Zephyr for our leg to Salt Lake City. Since the Coast Starling travels at night, there were few photo opportunities.

Elizabeth knits as she guards our luggage and watches an opportunistic pigeon.

We had a layover in Sacramento from 6:15 A.M. till 11:45 A.M. when we boarded the California Zephyr for our trip to Salt Lake City.

Jim watches the scenery fly by as he relaxes in our Superliner Sleeping Car Roomette. The opposing recliners fold down to make the lower bed while the second single bed lowers down from the ceiling. There is a fold-down desk beneath the window. Windows come in different sizes depending on the accommodation.

We took our portable GPS with us to help navigate around Portland; according to our Garmin, we were zipping along at 80 mph--and she kept trying to get us onto an Interstate Highway!

Elizabeth snapped this image at about 3:00 in the morning of the hotel where we stayed while in Salt Lake City--Little America. It is a very nice hotel, is beautiful inside and has a great restaurant. We didn't rent a car this trip so we decided we could stay in a little nicer place. We caught a cab from the train station to and from the hotel.

One unpleasant part of the trip was arriving and departing Salt Lake City. We arrived in SLC 3:45 A.M. We caught a taxi from the train station to our hotel--Little America. Naturally it was too early to check in so we had to purchase a room for the remainder of the day. On the other side, we departed SLC at 4:10 A.M. We took all sorts of precautions to ensure that we would be awake and have a taxi waiting to take us to the train station on time. There are no other time options available--the train makes one stop a day--or should we say night?

The California Zephyr makes another scheduled stop somewhere in the Midwest. Jim needed to exercise his legs and photograph this old train station--which was for sale.

The California Zephyr arrived in Chicago at 3:30 P.M. which was slightly over 24-hours from Salt Lake City. We boarded the Cardinal in Chicago about two hours later at 5:45 and arrived home in Huntington, West Virginia the next morning at 7:21 A.M. Note: the times listed are scheduled times . The train generally departed on time but in several instances it arrived ahead of schedule.

One sees a lot of different sights from the train that aren't seen from the interstate highway--backyards, grain elevators, deteriorated neighborhoods, etc. However, one of the oddest things that we saw was this barefoot and shirtless handcuffed chap being led away by police. Snowflakes were falling--it was November--as other officers and a police dog walked behind carrying his clothes and what appeared to be a new television set. Innocent until proven guilty--of course.

This page updated 17 January 2010