The Coast Starlight along the California coast
These travels occurred in late September/early October 2021. The posts are gathered under the ‘Travel’ category (top right of page) and numbered to indicate the order in which they should be read.
The return trip back to SF from Yosemite with Jack trying to set new land speed records in a motor coach was a bit less frightening than the trip up, probably because we were beginning to trust him. It is amazing even in the city how they can maneuver those rigs and get them into tight spaces. Oh, and for our delicious evening repast we stopped at that same grocery store we hit on the way up. Jack dropped us off in the Fisherman’s Wharf area just after dark and we went back to the hotel. No touristy stuff in SF for us with a taxi ride to a bus stop for a 7 o’clock pickup for the train to Los Angeles in the morning. The Amtrak Coast Starlight zips us from SF to LA in about 12 hours and 40 minutes. Again, it is a beautifully scenic route down the California coastline. We had a roomette again, but because it was not an overnight trip, a roomette is fine. The train was about an hour late picking us up at 9:20 rather than 8:20. Fortunately the dining car stayed open until everyone who had a sleeper reservation could get breakfast. As we left SF we passed great expanses of farmland again. As I said before, you folks better start eating a lot of salad because the lettuce is on its way.
We had great views of the Pacific Ocean on one side and Vandenberg Air Base on the other with huge buildings labeled SpaceX right beside the tracks.
We arrived at Union Station around 10 PM and when we called for a taxi they advised they don’t take calls for Union Station because folks don’t wait for their taxi, they just grab the next one that pops by. She said wait 5 to 15 minutes and one will happen by. After 20 minutes an employee of Union Station called a cab company and “suggested” they a send a few taxis right away because he had a whole line full of people waiting. We got into the very fancy Weston Bonaventure Hotel around 11PM.
It looks very fancy with a 5 story atrium style lobby and 3 or 4 exterior glass elevators that were color-coded to help guests avoid getting lost. In my opinion the hotel tried too hard to be fancy and failed at basic creature comforts. I went looking for a drink vending machine and found one that would not take cash or a credit card. I went to the desk in the lobby and asked. She said go to any floor and try again. All the machines are in the same location on each floor. The hotel was about 30 floors high so I went to 2 and no vending machines. I tried 5th floor and still none. We were on 24, so I tried 10, 23 and 25 with each being out of order or empty. I went back to the room and settled for warm tap water. There was no note pad, pen or welcome to our hotel with a list of guest services or restaurant hours. There was only 1 chair in the room, so if we both wanted to read one had to read from the bed. Fancy is OK, but I think you have to follow up with the little details. Sigh, I guess I am just a Motel 6 guy. Leave a light on for me and make sure the soda machine outside the office is stocked and works.
Oh, and the restaurant…the food was fine and the service top notch. Here are some of the prices: coffee $8, juice $9, omelet $28 and wheat toast $4.50 a slice dry, had to ask for butter and jelly. Salt was free, I think. And the restaurant was in the 5 story atrium with the lobby. Also were a few calming pools and some trees. Along with the trees was a small flock of birds flying about. In the restaurant. If a restaurant in New England had birds flying inside, I think the health code enforcement crew would have a heart attack.
We had some free time in the morning and walked to a book store that ‘The Google’ recommended to Bonnie. The store is “The Last Bookstore” and has over 500,000 books in stock, both new and used over 2 floors in an old bank building. There were collectible books kept under special protective lights in 3 different old vaults. When we had trouble calling a taxi, we talked to the manager and he said taxis won’t usually come to that section of town and he arranged for an Uber on his account. Now THAT was great service from a bookstore. If you are ever in LA stop in The Last Bookstore for a bit.
While motoring around LA we learned gas is $4.49/ gallon and it takes 45 minutes to drive 8 miles because of traffic.
While waiting on Hollywood Boulevard to take a tour of famous people’s homes a guy showed up in a flatbed F550 with a generator, huge speakers and a light show. He blasted rap and hip hop songs while accompanying them on drums. He was so loud it was difficult to have a conversation 3 blocks away. We decided to not wait for our tour since it was almost 1/2 hour late and it was just unpleasant waiting on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with that loud music. We found a taxi and returned to the train station.