The Coast Starlight
Becky came in to wake me up at 7:00, but I'd been awake since 5:30, wondering how I was going to fit everything in my bags. Miraculously, I managed it (gaining a bag, since my purse had been packed on the flight). They drove me to Jack London Square, and waited while I got my ticket and checked my bags. Then they waited for the train with me. The train pulled into the station, and we said our goodbyes.
Unlike the Northeastern Corridor, the Coast Starlight has assigned seats, and I was stuck on the inland side of the train, on an aisle seat. As soon as we started moving, I headed for the observation car. All of the seats on the coastal side were already taken, so I grabbed one on the left.
The train wasn't anywhere near the coast, and the landscape was "golden" and hilly. In some parts it was actually quite pretty. I got a muffin from the snack bar for breakfast, then a sandwich for lunch, and ate my leftover Salt and Vinegar Kettle Chips and drank my water from the previous day. An older woman sat by me for a while; across from us was another lady traveling cross-country with her grandson, all by Amtrak. The front of the car was filled with noisy high school students who were getting off in Santa Barbara (I couldn't wait).
Finally, we started to see coastline, and it was beautiful. Nowhere nearly as spectacular as the pictures I've seen of the coast around Big Sur, but still - nice.
We moved inland again as the sun started to set, and the snack bar closed and the car started to clear out. Union Station was pretty, but it was getting late and I was ready to crash for the night.
I picked up my luggage and found the taxi line. The cabbie, however, had difficulty finding my hotel (or at least, his GPS did). A drop-off across the street and $55 later (a little more than my train ticket!), we made it. The desk clerks were friendly, my room was gorgeous - the only disappointment was the semi-clogged shower drain. After showering, I logged onto the free internet, checked my e-mail, favorite blogs and online communities, and went to bed.