Everything started well. I had packed everything except my computer and toiletries the night before, and I arrived at the St. Louis Amtrak station in plenty of time to catch my first train to Chicago.
We departed St. Louis right on time; but as soon as I started getting my usual computer setup in order, I discovered, as I reported earlier, that I had stupidly failed to pack my laptop’s power cord (*sheesh*). I still had a few hours of battery power available, but that clearly wasn’t going to get me to California. I was off-line all the way to Emeryville and took no notes, and so I have almost nothing to report until the antepenultimate stop on day 2.
We started boarding the California Zephyr and, amazingly, departed Chicago right on time at 14:00.
My sleeping car [train] attendant (TA), O. C. Smith, was very helpful all along the way, the food and the [food] service attendants (SAs), not so much. The quality of the food service on Amtrak trains has taken a nosedive in the last decade or two.
2023-11-02, ca. 07:00−6:
It’s been at least twenty years since I last rode the Zephyr and, unsurprisingly I guess, the Denver station was all different from what I remembered. We still had to pull quite a way north of the station and shove back to the stop, but this time there were several more tracks and very attractive platforms, and we were spotted on track 4 or 5 (I don’t remember which). The last time I rode this train, we were shoved onto track 1 and spotted on a dingy platform near the headhouse.
I would later notice similar improvements at the Salt Lake City and Emeryville stations.
All the way from Denver to Grand Junction, the conductor made frequent announcements on the PA about the various sights along the way; and he was often amusing. Most of the things to see were on the engineer’s side of the train (off to the right), but my room was on the fireman’s side. I still appreciated the announcements, though.
2023-11-03, ca. 15:30−7:
Amazingly, we were right on time, even waiting for scheduled departure times at several stations, all the way to arrival in Martinez, CA.
We seemed to be having a really long dwell time in Martinez, surprising because the westbound Zephyr is discharge-only all the way from Sacramento to Emeryville and so doesn’t have to wait for scheduled departure times. After about fifteen minutes or so, the conductor made an announcement on the PA saying that we had a medical emergency and that the train would be in Martinez for quite a while, but that passengers for Richmond and Emeryville would be handled on a Capitol Corridor train that was about an hour behind us.
I got off the train and followed the conductor to the baggage car where I claimed my one checked bag; and a station agent graciously allowed me to ride along with him with the other checked baggage to the headhouse. He wouldn’t accept a tip.
I was working up a sweat, though. I always wear a suit when I travel, principally because I like having all the pockets; and I was also wearing a St. Louis Cardinals baseball cap* and an overcoat on what turned out to be a warm day in the Bay Area. This was going to be a problem because I’d be wearing the same suit and dress shirt all the way to the hotel on the Big Island. When we got to the headhouse, I threw the hat and coat into what had been my checked bag, but that didn’t help much.
When the Capitol Corridor train arrived, the same station agent collected me and drove me to trainside where he got me a one-up seat on the lower level with a place to put my bags for the short ride to Emeryville. My stress level was beginning to subside. 😎
On arrival in Emeryville, I’d be spending my first night at the Hyatt House just across the tracks; but the station agent couldn’t assure me that the elevators to the pedestrian crosswalk over the tracks would be working and suggested that I take a taxi. I was reluctant to stick a taxi driver with such a short fare, but fortunately, the one taxi that was still waiting was the Emeryville Taxi Service. The driver immediately understood my predicament, and I made it worth his while.
After checking in at the hotel, the clerk at the front desk said that there was a Best Buy not far away. Fortunately, the taxi driver had given me his business card; so I called him back and he graciously drove me to the Best Buy and waited while I bought one of those universal laptop power cords. On the way back to the hotel, I told him that I’d have a much longer fare for him tomorrow if he wanted it: the Hyatt House Emeryville to the Grand Hyatt at SFO. He agreed to pick me up at 13:30 and take me to SFO.
Recommendation: If you ever need a taxi in Emeryville, CA, call the Emeryville Taxi Service, +1 510 612 9000.
The folks at the hotel’s front desk were very nice, the room is comfortable and convenient, and somebody in the housekeeping staff was happy to provide me with a stool to sit on in the shower (this old back complains if I’m vertical for more than a minute or two). I do have one caveat emptor though: the Hyatt House Emeryville doesn’t have a proper restaurant where you can get lunch or dinner. They do offer a complimentary breakfast from 07:00 to 11:00.
My goal of getting caught up with my blog reading wasn’t accomplished. PZ, Mano and Marcus have some interesting posts with comments that deserve careful reading; but I wasn’t up to that. I verified that my new power cord worked corrently, played a little solitaire on the computer (as you might imagine, not something I do to improve my mind 😎 ), and crashed about quarter to nine.
*I have a red Cardinals cap. I’ve been thinking about getting a blue one since folks who see only the red baseball cap might think that I want to Make America Hate Again. I really like the red one, though.