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Day 1 - Getting on the train in San Francisco

My 45 day USA rail adventure began on July 7th 2015 with the departure of the California Zephyr, Amtrak train number 6. Well actually to be more precise the journey already began the night before in Los Angeles, California where I boarded the Greyhound service 6848 bound for San Francisco, CA with stop in Oakland, CA. After the slightly delayed departure in Los Angeles the trip began around 11.40 pm. Surprisingly I very quickly found sleep which normally is not the case as I am not sleeping very well on buses, trains or airplanes as long as seats do not recently recline. Nevertheless, as I just had returned the same morning from an overnight flight from Tokyo that had followed an overnight flight from Singapore the night before, so two nights in a row without proper sleep, it seemed my body just needed nothing else than sleep. The sleep was only interrupted by the announcement of the bus driver that we might have to expect a delay in arrival at Oakland of about 90 minutes due to an accident on the number 5 highway. This certainly affected my night rest as I had only about two and a half hours to transfer between Oakland and Emeryville station. In the end the bus was only 45 min delayed and reached Oakland Greyhound Station by 7.10 am. After a short look at the even though slightly ran down but beautiful Oakland bus station I made my way down to 19th Street station to catch the northbound BART to Ashby and started then walking down Stanford Street until I reached the Emeryville Amtrak station. I just arrived there about 8.15 am so still well in time for the 9.10 am departure of the California Zephyr. After I had checked in my purple blue trolley the station staff made an announcement regarding the boarding procedures. Before our train pulled in train number 11 the Coast Starlight called at Emeryville, this will be the last train on my schedule on day 45 when I will return to Los Angeles. After taking a few pictures of train 11 and a short video of its departure it was already time to get ready to board train 6. At first I was disappointed because I had been given an aisle seat and I didn’t like the idea to look over someone’s shoulder for the next 32 hours in order to catch on the scenic views. However, I got lucky as a family settled in next to me and asked me if they could switch the aisle seat with them. Train 6 left Emeryville, CA almost on time. After a couple of stops in Richmond, CA, Martinez, CA and Davis, CA the train reached the Californian state capitol, Sacramento. I had the chance to see the state capitol from the train window, the only thing worth seeing in Sacramento, as I was told, besides the California Railroad Museum of course. Passed Roseville, CA and Colfax, CA it was time to leave the seat for the first time in order to discover the rest of the train, especially the launch and dining car. As the dining car was busy I had to wait a while until I could be seated. The scenery however turned as beautiful as we were climbing the Donner Pass up to the High Sierra that I almost missed my call. I enjoyed the veggi burger with extra cheese and a Pepsi for about $17 including tips while meeting some fellow passengers that were seated at the same table with me. I spend the afternoon partially in the launch car and partially at my seat admiring the breathtaking scenery while getting to know some more of the other passengers. The launch car is really great as it has seats that can be turned and large windows that give an even better view. The best however of this trip is to have seemly endless time to just enjoy scenery, write or just do nothing. Further stops of the train were Truckee, CA, Reno, Nevada, Winnemucca, NV and Elko, NV. Unfortunately the station in Reno doesn’t provide a view on the city so I couldn’t see any of the famous casinos. After the train had passed Elko, NV and I had changed my clocks from Pacific to Mountain Time I returned to my seat and started to settle in for the night. The reclining possibilities of the coach seat were impressive nevertheless I had a hard time to find sleep. Due to the jet lag I had been quite sleepy during the day and napped a bit in the afternoon. Also it was quite cold in the car which is why I woke up several time during the night shivering. At some point however I must have fallen asleep.

Boarding the Greyhound to Oakland

Train 11 "Coast Starlight" calling at Emeryville

Train 6 "California Zephyr" pulling in to Emeryville station
Spending time in the launch car

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