Back in the '80's & ‘90’s, I took some long trips using the All Aboard America fare. Chicago to New York (slumber coach) NYC to Philly, To Atlantic City, & return to Philly, Overnight in Philly, Silver Meteor (slumber coach) to Miami, over night in Miami, Sunset Limited, Economy sleeper (ES) to LA, thruway bus to Bakersfield, San Joaquin to Stockton, thruway bus to San Jose, Two days in San Jose (where my Brother lived), Coast Starlight (ES) to Portland, Empire Builder (28) (ES) to Chicago. I will say that one should take something to read on the Sunset as west Texas is miles and miles of boring scenery. Overall, I think I took about ten of these trips. The following is one where I had two unpleasant experiences.
In October of ’96 when Amtrak proposed to discontinue the Pioneer and the Desert Wind, I planned and took a long trip to the western US. Taking the Pioneer from Chicago thru Denver (ES) to Seattle, ( 1 night in a motel) thence on up to Vancouver (coach). (Stopover #1). Spent 3 nights there doing sightseeing. Then bus back to Seattle, the Coast Starlight (ES) to Emeryville, then back to Denver (ES) on the CZ. Overnight in motel (Stopover #2) then on the Desert Wind (ES) where I originally planned to take a Thruway Bus from Bastow to Bakersfield, San Joaquin to Stockton, thruway to San Jose. [see below for what actually occurred] (Again spent the night with my brother) Coast Starlight (C) to LA, and Texas Eagle to Chicago (ES LA to El Paso, then coach) to Chicago (Sleeper space all sold out). You were allowed three breaks in the trip, and if one train arrived after the next train left on a segment, it didn't count as a stopover. This trip was 15 nights, 2767 miles and the All Aboard America fare was $258.00 and the sleepers cost $862.00. I will say it was good to get home and I think the wife missed me.
The Desert Wind was running about three hours late (and I would not make my Thruway connection) and after discussions with the train Chief (remember them) he told me to stay on the train to LA. So We got into L.A. at about 4:00 PM, I'm handed off to station personnel who give me a voucher for a Southwest Airlines flight to San Jose, put me on a van that takes off like he thinks he's Dale Earnhadrt Sr. down the I-110 at 80 mph and he deposits me at the terminal for SWA. I check in and they direct me to a gate where as I get on and before I can get seated, they close the door behind me. We get into San Jose about two hours before the planned Thruway bus would have arrived. Call my brother and tell him where to pick me up.
I found that it does take patience and an open mind dealing with others and I was able to accept what came. Two experiences: On the Pioneer, the sleeper was next to the locomotive and I and another railfan wanted to look forward from the front car door. But when we got to talking, the “gentleman” in the end (E) Bedroom came out of his room and told us he wanted quiet. So we shut up. On another trip there was a feud going on between the Crew Chief and a car attendant. Crew chief was picking on the CA and provoking her. (Both female). I sympathized with the CA and gave her my name and contact info and told her that she could contact me if push came to shove and she got “written up”. Its not good when crews fight. Otherwise, I’ve had good experiences.