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RonO's Ramblings

Mar. 21st, 2009 04:32 pm If the Best Laid Plans... Imagine What Can Happen to Very Preliminary Ones

A couple of days ago, it occurred to me that traveling from San Diego, or more correctly Oceanside, to Reno by train should be both doable and fun. So, this afternoon I did some poking around on the Amtrak website to see how well this would work using the 2009 schedules -- since the 2011 schedules won't be out for a couple of years. At least this idea won't work. The Coast Starlight from Los Angles reaches Emeryville (the common station) after the California Zephyr departs, by an hour or so. The layover would need to be a couple of hours the other way to give time to change trains. From the website's routing options, it doesn't look like someone can cut off the distance on the train that connects the Bay Area to Sacramento either.

Of course, if I recall correctly, there may be another opportunity that is sure to work out better. The Coast Starlight stops in San Josè before it gets to Emeryville, and Jan Josè is bidding for Westercon in 2011 or possibly 2012.

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Date:March 22nd, 2009 02:01 am (UTC)
It might be better to use the San Joaquin train instead of the Coast Starlight. You would have to use the bus between Los Angeles and Bakersfield, then the San Joaquin from Bakersfield to Sacramento. Another possibility is to take the Coast Starlight to the Bay Area on one day, stay overnight with us (I'll clear this with Tupou, of course), then we could all go together to Reno on the Zephyr.
Date:March 22nd, 2009 05:33 am (UTC)
Second things first: Taking the Coast Starlight to San Jose for the 2011 Westercon is a good idea. The Starlight (when running on time) arrives a bit before 9 PM in San Jose. You can either take a short taxi right or hop on light rail (the light rail station is adjacent to the Amtrak/Commuter Rail station) and ride it a few stops to the Paseo de San Antonio stop, basically right outside the hotel's back door. If I were doing it, I'd recommend planning to arrive the night before the convention and leave the morning after, the southbound train being a mid-to-late morning departure from SJC station.

Now, as far as taking the train to Reno goes, you have a few options, mostly bad ones:

1. If you want an all-rail routing, you basically have to lay over one day at Emeryville (or Sacramento) each way in order to connect the Coast Starlight to the California Zephyr. Note that I think you have an AM/PM confusion: the northbound Starlight arrives EMY around 10 at night, while the eastbound Zephyr leaves EMY shortly after 9 in the morning. The reverse trip is similarly mismatched, with a late-afternoon arrival RNO-EMY and a mid-morning departure EMY-southward. Those two trains' schedules have no connection, and it's unlikely they ever will, as their schedules are driven partially by other connections at their other major terminals in Seattle, Los Angeles, and Chicago. There is actually a nice-looking hotel across the tracks from the EMY station that's an easy walk -- there's a pedestrian bridge across the tracks and lands in the hotel's parking lot. I walked over there once while laying over for an hour or so between the Zephyr and a connection to a Captiol taking me home to Fremont.

2. All of the other ways to do this require spending time on buses. In fact, more time on buses than on trains. Example: Bus from Oceanside to Bakersfield, train to Stockton, bus to Sacramento, bus to Reno. I know that if I wanted to take a long-distance train trip, I darn well wouldn't want most of the distance to be on buses! If it were somehow possible to get to Sacramento earlier, you'd only have the Sacramento-Reno bus, but the last one of those leaves Sacramento 4 PM, and there's nothing I can see that can get you north early enough in the same day to make it happen.

At the moment, my own plans for the great transcontinental journey to Montreal later this year include me spending one night at EMY, although at the Hilton Garden Inn a kilometer or so away because I can get one night free on points rather than the closer-but-not-free one across the tracks.
Date:March 22nd, 2009 04:32 pm (UTC)

Meta reply

After I finished with my posting, I told robot_grrl something to the effect of "You know I just made a posting that practically screamed 'Hey Kevin, reply to this.'" After all, how many posts combine vaguely
SMOFish topics with trains :-)
Date:March 22nd, 2009 06:19 pm (UTC)

Re: Meta reply

I half-expected the subject line to be "Paging Kevin Standlee."