Friday, June 24, 2011

Down the Coast on the Train!

Since we boarded the Coast Starlight at 7:05 am, the first order of business was drop your bags and head to the dining car!  This is daughter-in-law with her breakfast - maybe biscuits and gravy?  The Coast Starlight prides itself on being one of the very last lines to still use real china dishes and not plastic.  Once again I found the food to be surprisingly well-prepared and delicious and relatively modestly priced.  And the service was always SUPERB!  The Coast Starlight dining area staff are very courteous, prompt and pleasant.

The ride through central northern California to Oakland was pretty urban.  There not a lot of rural 'vistas' to enjoy.  This was one of the few as we came closer to Martinez.  This trip I did not take any interior photos of the train as it was the same style dining and passenger rail cars as on the California Zephyr.  You can see my photos of the passenger car HERE

Marina on the outskirts near Oakland, California

I think this may have been the Oakland Depot.  I took the picture because there were 3 AMTRAK passenger trains at the depot at once.  I think it was the Zephyr, the Capitol Corridor and us, the Coast Starlight but I'm not 100% sure.  I was glad I wasn't boarding here as it would have been confusing for me.  One of the Major Downfalls to these old historic depots Amtrak still uses is the Acoustics.  They are horrible and when they announce the trains/buses it sounds like the mother use to sound on the old Snoopy/Peanuts cartoons "Wawh, Wawh, Waaawh."  EXTREMELY difficult to understand and I bet one of the things we can look forward to is a vast improvement in the acoustics in the upgraded terminals in Denver and Sacramento.

When we boarded at Sacramento, where they board numerous trains and buses, they announce a platform number.  As you head out the door there were signs such as "Platform B Left" so it was pretty easy.  The directions route you to underground tunnels and you come out on the proper runway of cement (your platform) to board your train.  There you show your ticket to the conductors standing outside the cars to board the proper car.  In Denver, they pre-assigned a seat to you in the station but they did that right on the platform at Sacramento if I remember correctly.

After turning south, we started a beautiful trip through numerous vegetable fields and small California towns.  The scenery was so beautiful.  We saw a lot of fields where the Migrant workers were picking broccoli, cabbage, strawberries and more.

There were numerous vineyards.  My California Train-Riding Buddy told me a lot of the old fruit orchards in California have torn out their orchards and put in vineyards.  I just don't see how these many vineyards will sustain themselves.  I think the wine-thing is a fad if you ask me.  These photos were all taken near Salinas, California in the Salinas Valley - the salad bowl of California.

Another view of a vineyard in the Salinas Valley.

Around Lunch time in the dining car and we are starting to climb the mountains out of the Salinas Valley to go over near the coast.

This may have been the depot at San Luis Obispo, I was taken by the red flowers climbing up to the tile roof.

A close up of the flower.  If could just photo-shop out the air conditioner!

Our first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean just north of Ventura.  From here on south, we would not leave the coast.  Once again I was surprised how rural a lot of the coast was.  It was not all the developed Malibu Beaches I had envisioned.  In fact, quite large areas were still cattle ranches.

A campground on the coast we passed by.

Highway out the train window very near Santa Barbara.

Santa Barbara!

It was a beautiful train trip and very, very scenic.  I highly recommend taking the Coast Starlight South out of Sacramento if you want an enjoyable train ride.

Next the Mission, Botantical Gardens, Courthouse, Beach, Whales & Carriage Musuem in Santa Barbara.


  1. As always, I'm glad you took your readers along on the train. The trip looks very relaxing. I may have missed this: did you have a sleeping compartment or was it only a day trip?

  2. It was a day-trip. We left Sacramento at 7:05 am and arrived in Santa Barbara at 6 pm that same day. Perfect! So no sleeper.