LA to San Fran Part 2!

Trip Start Oct 04, 2004
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of United States  , California
Tuesday, October 5, 2004

We were travelling to San Fran on a train called the Coastel Starlight, a monster of a train which had over 20 passenger carriages. Many of these carriage were first class sleepers, a little out of our budget, but also a restaurant carriage, viewing carriage, cafe, cinema, and of course for us commoners the coach class carriages at the rear! Our seats for the next 10 hours! In an ideal world, we would have booked the first class sleepers, every time we travelled overnight, but seeing as one of these cabins would have cost more for 1 night, than out 30 day ticket (about $400) it was coach class all the way! To be fair though they were much better than we expected. We had enough room to stretch our legs out straight and not touch the seat in front, and were wide enough to be acceptable for first class airline seats. Saying this though we hadn't slept on them yet!

We would be catching this train frequently in the next week as it travels for 1600 miles from San Diego in the South (California) all the way to Seattle in the North. We would encounter the same tired looking staff on a number of occasions!

The first thing i noticed when leaving LA was the fact it is a concrete jungle. We landed at night so all we could see were the rows and rows of street lights, with thousands of cars slowing travelling home. As well as the building and Roads, they seem to have a hell of a lot of storm drains covering the city. These are concrete canals built to protect the city in case of flooding. You will know what i'm talking about if you think of the films Terminater (drives a lorry through them) or Grease (they race their cars through them.) Although from the weather we have seen here, its hard to imagine it ever raining enough to warrant them!?

LA also seems to have a very high car crash rate as they have an abundance of scrap heaps. You don't see Skodas and MK2 escorts pilled up here, instead you have brand new dodge's and ford's that would have cost the owner a fortune. It seems that in LA, you are nobody unless you have a gleaming brand new car with the obligatory shiny alloy wheels!

It wasn't to long until we were out the Mecca and making our way through the American Countryside. The good thing about the Coastal Starlight s that its track runs parallel with the coast for 200 miles, giving us great views of the Pacific Ocean. Because the train had a specific carriage just for viewing (see mpeg video in last entry) we were able to get great view of the coast and sea, including even seeing wild dolphins chasing the train. You can imagine how many camera's were brought out then!

One of the many things we love about Amtrak were the regular 'smoking' stops, it seems Americans still cant wait long until there next hit! This gave us a good opportunity to jump off and explore the area briefly. (5mins usually!) But also at these stops, retired men would jump on and give narration about the local area we were travelling through. Today it was Tom & Bill! Although we would have been happy to sit there in peace, it was cool to find out about certain area's that we wouldn't have known about without them. One example was when they pointed out where NASA used to launch all the space missions, with the launch tower still in place, and also the longest runway in the world where the shuttles used to land. Without them i guess we would be none the wiser?

After 5 hours the landscape completely changed, changing from lush green to a dry yellow. The best way i can describe it is to think of old films where you see children sitting under a large tree with nothing else around them?? Not to sure if thats any clearer, but its the only way i can really describe it!

The only complaint i had about the journey is that the trains are so long! It made the C2C trains look like the Japanese Bullet train. The only advantage for this was we got to look in a lot of peoples houses and gardens! Unilt you get to America, you cant really comprehend how Patriotic Americans are. Nearly every house we past, there would be an American flag flying, wether it be a small flag taped to the window or a massive one on it own flagpole everyone would have one. It makes England's 'Patrism'when we are in a football competition look a bit fickle?

10 hours past, and with little sleep - i think we were worried we might miss something outside! we arrived in Oakland, Emmeryville, where we would catch a connecting bus to San Fran. If all future train journeys were to be as good as this one, then this month might not be so bad after all...

Funny things that happened on the train:-
* We were warned not to venture to far on the smoking stops as the train would leave without you. The announcer later took great pleasure to let us know that 2 such people did venture to far and were now getting a very expensive taxi to the next station!
*Dan made a friend with a drunk in the viewing carriage. He decided to tell Dan in great detail about his life story, even dropping 'when i was in Nam' line - classic! (you can see him briefly on the mpeg video in the last entry)

Pointless fact about LA:
Today Los Angeles has a population of over three million people, an area of 465 square miles, 7,366 miles of streets,
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