Here are some details from my Amtrak trip from Cleveland to Emeryville (Oakland) last month.
The station in Cleveland is sometimes called AmShak and it’s easy to see why. Stuck between the football stadium, science center and Rock Hall and the skyscrapers downtown, it is humble. Add in the dim lights and the half-asleep people waiting for the 3 a.m. arrival and it can be depressing.
Chicago's Union Station was a bit confusing and involved a bit of walking but staffers there offered a cart, which I declined, but did give clear directions to the El’s Blue line. My trip to Logan Square was uneventful.
Advice: get to Union Station early. I was late but not comfortably early.
There were several stops in Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska, but only one seemed to offer enough time to get out and walk trackside. That was Ottumwa, Radar’s old home.
There were plenty of opportunities to get up and move around in the train. Getting to the dining car required walking up some steps and sashaying down the aisles of several cars. Same for the observation car and snack bar. I did this several times just to keep blood flowing in my legs.
In coach, you must pay for your dinner. Expect at least $15 plus whatever you drink. The menu is very limited but the food is of decent quality. You need to make reservations for dinner.
Uber service was excellent in Denver. The La Quinta was what you could expect for $99.
I had a roomette for the trip from Denver to California. It is about the size of a closet with face-to-face reclining seats.
I had intended to do some reading but that ended after I got into the Rockies. They were so beautiful and different at every turn, I felt I would be cheating myself by putting my attention anywhere else. The PA system offered a few highlights.
I slept through Utah and some of Nevada.
Lunch in California was a problem. All they had left was the hamburger I had the day before or a hot dog or mac n cheese off the kids’ menu. Meals were free for those of us in sleepers or roomettes.
Sleepers are larger rooms with real beds and bathrooms, but I did not go in one. The showers were roomy enough, but a little wobbly.
Thanks for reading.