There is something about a 33 hours train ride ….

Its really nice when I can spread out to the other seat too... but I had to give it up at Portland. ..

Its really nice when I can spread out to the other seat too… but I had to give it up at Portland. ..

There are many ways to get from Port Townsend to LAX and this time I chose to do the Amtrak…. altho its gonna be a 33 hours ride from Olympia-Lacey to LA Union station. Well, I had time and maybe 33 hours bound inside a train with lousy wifi is exactly what I need to relax… and yes its US$178 for the Amtrak versus $310 for Alaskan Airways direct to LAX. The other deciding factor was that Doug prefer not to drive into SeaTac… its 2 hours stressful traffic drive versus the 1 hour scenic route to Olympia-Lacey.

1110hrs: Train rolls in, unloaded a few passengers and loaded me in.

1115hrs: Train starts rolling off already. I hardly have time to put my trolley case in the rack and I start feeling the motion, makes it hard to be balanced and lifting that bag onto the rack…

1120hrs: Got to my seat, all this time, the train is just picking up speed. So I gather, the train only stops less than 5 mins at most stations, unless its a base station like Portland, Sacramento and San Jose..

The gallery car. This might be much better than in-flight entertainment system. Live view of the outside world... :)

The gallery car. This might be much better than in-flight entertainment system. Live view of the outside world… 🙂

Turning my attention to whats around me. There is NO internet on the Pacific Coastline train, although the Amtrak website say it has, its only for the sleeping class! I been robbed! But there is no recourse, so its down reading, sleeping, eating, writing my notes, drawing my new house plan… all things non related to the internet or my job. Yes, I need that break from being connected! … interestingly, the thought of it felt like pulling teeth at first, maybe its like cold turkey, after it passed, it felt like I was better off without it..

Crossing the Sacramento river.

Crossing the Sacramento river.

The coach seating area is really nicer than I had imagined. More hip space, huge leg room, more reclining angle, large windows, no attendants pushing service carts in the aisle… but they don’t have the in-train entertainment system like international flights does. Maybe it is a good thing after all, else I be up at all times watching the TV or playing games… at least here I got some sleep, did read the Economix book that was so interesting and did got some ideas about work and house plans and did write them down. Yes, I always have ideas, and I forget so many of them that I never write down… so I keep a idea and activity reminder book with me always.

On the train, you have to get your own food from the café that is on the lower level at the gallery car and then find a nice window seat to enjoy the highly marked up meals. Could always bring your own food to save some money, but then its not hot and always too dry. So I did enjoy the 300% marked up cup noodles and think that I paid for the view already… hmm…. Well, but this is a trip that I consider my vacation and I was simply splurging 🙂 so I am fine with the $2.50 for the lousiest cup noodles that I could have bought at Safeway… wonder if anyone actually bought their own electric kettle and gallons of water, just so that they enjoy they favorite brand of instant noodles or instant drink mixes? … That’s an idea for future long train rides… afterall, they do have plenty of electric points at every seat, including the gallery car. That’s a really nice feature.

Snapping close objects aft, results much less blur.

Snapping close objects aft, results much less blur.

Day 2: I spend the entire day at the gallery. Bought my gadgets with me, although I didn’t use most of it. Like I didn’t start the laptop or use the phone, but I read the Economix and jot down more thoughts, while enjoying the view and taking pictures. As I heard, this was summer break and the train is totally filled up. So it was fortunate that I got to the gallery early because those seats were fully taken by 10am.

I analyzed why pictures on day 1 didn’t turn out nice.. As the train is at full speed (this slow train goes at 60mph max, average 50mph), close up objects like trees and houses that are close up zoom by too quickly, causing a blur to the picture if that’s what I am trying to capture. While these scenes are pretty, they really don’t turn out well in snaps. So in WA and OR, I got a lot of blurry trees and hardly any open landscape. By day 2, we are into CA where there is more open farmland which are easier to snap. And of course there is the angle of snap, always try to after the object past and give it some distance. This gives the camera the time it needs to compute the focus and light settings.

Rolly dry hills between Monterey and Santa Barbara.

Rolly dry hills between Monterey and Santa Barbara.

2050hrs, train is now pulling into LA Union station. This is where I get off the train and get on the LAX shuttle. Directions are not good, I had to ask and got a ride on the buggy, so that turn out well. Its US$8 for the shuttle, and it goes half hourly till about midnight.

2200hrs, I am at Tom Bradley international 14 hours before check in time… so what do I do? Dun wanna go to a hotel, so I am camping out at the airport… as I discover, so are many other people, mostly of Asian origins, but only 1 from Singapore … 🙂 me! Well, at least here I get to indulge in free internet! But its not great internet, so no movies just surfing. The bathrooms are clean, and there is water cooler. Shops are closed, so I survived the night with only chips that I bought from PT.

Time past quickly. Caught 2hrs of sleep sitting on a bench. Of course its not comfy and had to put up with lots of noise from the cleaning staff to the other campers, but at least I did not feel like its not safe. Was starting to feel restless at about 1100hrs, so I wondered over to the Singapore Air check in counter thinking I might as well be the 1st in line…. but nope, there was a line already! My jaw dropped! 30 people in line before the counter opens at 1130hrs. 30 people were going to stand for 30 minutes in a line that was not moving! I am amazed!

1200hrs, I am in the terminal … and unlike SG Changi airport, the only edible foods that are reasonably priced is the Panda express… sigh…


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Sailing 2015: Port Townsend(WA, US) -> Costes Island (BC, Canada)

Sailing 2013: Singapore -> Okinawa -> Kobe

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