Across America - Buffalo to San Francisco by Amtrak

RBrodzinsky Jul 20, 2014

  1. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    My wife and I just did a 2 1/2 day cross country rail trip, as the conclusion of our vacation to visit family in western New York. We flew to Buffalo, and spent 6 days in Chautauqua County, where she grew up and still home to much of the family. To end our journey, we decided on a little adventure, returning via Amtrak, specifically the Lake Shore Limited and California Zephyr.

    I took about 400 pictures on the trip, so will be posting select ones from the collection, here, over the next few days.

    All in all, it was an enjoyable adventure, but not one we will repeat anytime soon. While I was able to watch the endless miles go by (only really getting bored in Nevada) my wife wasn't quite as enthusiastic. We had a bedroom compartment on both trains, with private toilet/shower, but the space was very small. Also, with only one observation car on the train (CZ), it was quite crowded, so spent most of the time in the bedroom.

    The Lake Shore Limited was a bit over an hour late getting into Buffalo, and then we lost another two hours between Buffalo and Cleveland. It is supposed to arrive in BUF at 11:55pm, but we didn't board until after 1am. We went immediately to bed, and I woke up about 4 hours later, and we were near the Cleveland airport. Have no idea why the added delays, but by the time we arrived at Chicago's Union Station, we were almost 4 hours late! The same amount of time as our connection window. But, Amtrak was holding all the trains for those connecting, and we had about 15 extra minutes to get settled. (More on that portion when I start posting photos)

    EDIT: With the July 2015 TB upgrades, all the links for photos for this thread were broken. Anyone wishing to view the photos can see them in this Trainboard/Railimages album: http://www.trainboard.com/highball/...erica-by-train-buffalo-to-san-francisco.1463/
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2015
  2. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    It was already past dusk when we arrived at Depew, NY Amtrak for our midnight train (already an hour delayed). Unfortunately, a slightly blurry photo of the station sign

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  3. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Waiting was getting boring, so I thought to try taking some track photos in the dark. I first put the camera down on the platform, but then found two footstools which I stacked, and used as a camera stand. Didn't carry a tripod on the trip.

    This is looking east down the platform

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    And this is looking west

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  4. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    This is what the eastward looking view was more like (quicker shutter speed)

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    As I turned to take the photo west looking, a freight was pulling in from that direction, for a crew change.

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    The train was headed by GE-AC45 UP 7718, which I got this cool photo using small flash from distance
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    Here's the flag side

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  5. fitz

    fitz Staff Member

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    Rick, thanks for posting those, and looking forward to more of your trip. As an ex-NYer I enjoyed your Buffalo pix. Night photography is tough, and I never have mastered it.
     
  6. Eagle2

    Eagle2 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Nice start on what should be a fun photo-essay. Like the night shots, esp the way the Scotchlite lit up on the diesel.
     
  7. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Sounds like it was aloooong trip. Seems like there are a lot of delays being reported, everywhere on Amtrak. Hope you had daylight for the best places to be viewed.
     
  8. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Perfect timing, so no issues with Colorado Rockies or Sierras. Slept through most of Iowa and Nebraska, and Utah and far eastern Nevada. More photos tomorrow.
     
  9. Charlie

    Charlie TrainBoard Member

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    Great photos Rick!

    Thanx

    Charlie
     
  10. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Staff Member

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    Thanks for posting. [​IMG] Keep them coming. [​IMG]
     
  11. GP30

    GP30 TrainBoard Member

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    Good start to the "Photo essay"! Looking forward to following this thread.
     
  12. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    An Amtrak Bedroom

    For those of you who have never seen what the bedrooms on Amtrak are like, here are some shots of the one we had on the Lake Shore Limited. This is a Viewliner car, so there is an upper window (and small storage area above the bathroom). On the Cal Zephyr, being a Superliner, which is two stories, there are no upper windows, and the room is about 7 ft high, rather than 8-ish here.

    Other differences are the Superliner is slightly "plusher" in the appointments. Instead of the bare plastic as seen here, we had carpeted surfaces, except around the sink (some of the cars were upgraded with wood paneling, and nicer faux marble sinks, but not ours).

    This view is looking into the room, from the doorway (and for those wondering, these are taken with a 9mm fish eye lens). The bench seats my wife is on fold down into a bed, and you can see the upper bed latched up.

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    This is standing with my back to the window. You can see the door to the shower/toilet, and the sink. The windows are in the corridor, and there is a sliding door with privacy curtain

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    In the area in front of the bathroom door, there is also a swivel out chair. Most of the compartments are like this, but on the Zephyr, the "A" compartment actually has the shower/toilet door in a small alcove next to the corridor, and not quite as much room on this side. We had the "A" room on the Zephyr, and "B" on the LS Ltd.
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    Looking from the chair back to the rest of the room
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  13. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I was still pretty groggy in the morning, after only a few hours sleep. Woke up as we were passing the Cleveland Airport, it was dark, rainy outside, and was more interested in cleaning up and finding caffeine and food. By the time I thought about "take lots of pictures", had already gotten to Toledo (home to Corporal Max Klinger and the Toledo Mud Hens).

    It was a "cigarette" break stop, so I jumped out and got a good photo of the platform

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    and this was our car
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    and our room from outside

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    The sleeper cars (on both trains) are at the back of the train, so we tend to have the really scenic area of the station, if we even make it to the platform
     
  14. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks Rick, I'm enjoying your travelogue.

    BTW, I can sympathize with elderly couples riding LD sleepers, where only one is a foamer. My wife and I had a rough ride on the Crescent awhile back. For me it was about an 8, rare for my usual 9/10, though for my wife possibly as high as a 6, and then only north of Atlanta.
     
  15. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I have no idea why I didn't take any pictures of Bryan OH or Waterloo IN. I think I was just zoned out, and worrying about the creeping lateness of the train.

    Anyway, when we got to Elkhart, Indiana, I got very excited about what was on the left side of the train -- a New York Central Museum.

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    The front of our train is to the right in this photo, and there was another 2 cars behind us, so you can see we were blocking the road

    The main part of the museum
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    And the far right area, with a steamer!
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  16. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Being stopped "before" the station, we had a nice view out our window of the street leading from the station

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    Pulling through the station

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    Bye Bye, Elkhart!

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  17. Doug A.

    Doug A. TrainBoard Supporter

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    Cool writeup and photos, can't wait to see the CZ portion of the trip. I'm scheduled to ride from Chicago to Grand Junction, CO in a couple of weeks. It may fall through though, but I'm hopeful...still have my reservations as of now.
     
  18. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Coming into South Bend, Indiana, was rather disappointed in this small station. Was hoping for something cooler for Notre Dame. Saw modern tall buildings, plus churches, over trees, but no good views of the city.

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  19. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    About an hour outside Chicago, we sat next to these woods for about 45 minutes due to freight traffic.

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  20. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Coming into Chicago on the Lake Shore Limited, you get to ride past lots of old factories, in Gary, IN and South Chicago

    Here's the Gary US Steel Plant (everyone start humming "Gary Indiana" from The Music Man)

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    This old and very long plant fascinated me

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