Trains, Planes, and Knitting

We’re back from the Great California Train trip of 2007, and boy, do I have pictures. The trip was a blast, and I’d definitely do Amtrak again. We took the Coast Starlight from Tacoma to Los Angeles, then drove to Newport Beach, where we had a condo a little ways from the water. We flew home yesterday, and I finally sort of have my act together to post a few photos. We booked a “roomette” for the trip, which is two seats facing each other in a compartment that has a big window and a sliding door to the train corridor. At night, the two seats fold down for a single bed, and a bunk folds down from above for the second bed. We slept in this type of room the last time we were on Amtrak several years ago, and it is cramped but better than sleeping sitting up in a chair. The bathroom and shower are down the hall, and shared.

After we got on the train, we asked about upgrading to a larger compartment. Just as a tip, if you do this, you are definitely risking that there won’t be a larger room available, especially during the busier travel seasons, but they quite frequently will upgrade you for much less than you would pay by booking it directly. Fortunately, they had one “luxury” compartment available all the way to LA, and we were first to ask. These rooms still have bunk beds, but the compartment is about twice the size, and has a bathroom/shower combo that is just barely big enough to stand up in and turn around to rinse off. It works, though.ย  Here’s the train pulling in to the Tacoma station:



The Coast Starlight route goes by the water through Tacoma, then cuts inland for awhile until you get into California. Much of the route through CA goes right by the water. Here’s a view of both the new and old Tacoma Narrows Bridges. The one on the left is the new one, in the process of being built.


Here I am, settling in to the compartment for the long trip.


Of course, Sweetpea got to go along. That’s John in the mirror of our compartment.


I did a little knitting in the observation car, along the coast.


The “first class” compartments (the cars with the sleepers) normally have a separate parlor car, which is supposedly pretty fancy, but they are all offline for renovation. We’ll just have to plan another trip, I guess. They do have wine tasting on this route, every afternoon, for the “sleeper people”. Here we are enjoying a glass.


All your meals are included when you book a sleeper. You get to share the table with another couple while you are eating, so we met some interesting people on the route. The Coast Starlight is notorious for being late, but it seems to be getting better. We were only about 90 minutes late getting into LA, but as this was strictly a pleasure jaunt, the time issue didn’t bother us.

Here’s a photo of the first sunset from the balcony of our condo.


Our first lunch was at the Crab Cooker, which is sort of an institution in Newport. Fortunately, it wasn’t very busy when we were there.



We met up with friends from Germany that just happened to be in Newport on family business. It was purely coincidence, and we only found out that they were going to be there a week before we left home. Strange, indeed. They spent one night at our condo, and we had a couple of lunches together as well. We played a killer game of Mexican Train the night they stayed with us. Here’s me concentrating.


I still lost. And don’t let that water bottle worry you. The bourbon glass just didn’t make it into the photo.

Guess where we ate?


Mmmmm. Two double-doubles, with cheese, and chocolate shakes. Worth the whole train trip, right there.

We walked on the beach:


We took a boat tour of the Newport Harbor:


…With our friends from Germany:


We saw more sunsets, this one on Laguna Beach:



I’ll post the rest of the pictures later this week when I get them sorted out. There might also be a knitting update photo or two! How exciting!


In even more exciting news, my friend Kris, the Knitting Wannabe, and her husband Dana have opened up an online yarn shop, Sonny and Shear.

Go, shop! I am on this crazy yarn fast, and can’t shop again until the 15th, but I’ve got my credit card number memorized and I’m ready. Buy enough yarn to keep her in business. I am overjoyed to no end to have a friend who owns a real yarn shop. I need to get a sign that says “will work for yarn”.


Trains, Planes, and Knitting — 21 Comments

  1. Hi Lorette,
    Great photos. I know where you ate without cheating! By the way, is that Pippa you are wearing along the boardwalk in Laguna?

  2. Hey, you don’t know me, but i just loved those photos, with you knitting in almost every single one, sooo reminds me of me, though there are no pics as evidence! I live in CA, near where you visited. Did a train trip many years ago in a little room, but loved it. Enjoy your blog. Heather

  3. Oooh! Dan and I did the Coast Starlight up to Northern California for our honeymoon. That deluxe suite is pretty comfy and cozy, isn’t it? The food was surprisingly good, too. The Newport pictures remind me of my childhood! So sunny there.

  4. Fabulous post! I’d never travel if not for you guys! Glad to hear there were no incidents with wine glasses either;) Your sweater and Hot Flash socks look great in action too! Sonny and Shear!!! What a riot!

  5. OOh – looks like a great trip. I love all the pictures. What’s the pattern for that lovely pink hooded sweater you’re wearing on the train? It looks like a great sweater.

  6. You take the best trips! I’ve always wanted to take a long train trip. All that knitting and relaxing time. Thanks for sharing the pictures.

  7. Great pictures and report! I took the Sunset Limited from New Orleans to LA for a grandchild’s birth 5 years ago. I, too, flew back but that was a mistake. On the train, what you sleep through going one way, you see on the way back. I missed the Saguaro cactus and pueblos! I would go again in a minute!

  8. That’s a fantastic trip! Makes me want to seriously consider replicating it.
    And the crab cooker — isn’t that place a hoot? One of my best friends got married not far from there last year so we had to make the pilgrimage. But weren’t you worried that your knitting would smell like fish?! ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. I love your travelogues! When you retire, you can do it for us full time!
    You are so brave. I would fly to the ends of the earth, even to the moon, but I am terrified of trains.
    WElcome home!
    Jan in PA

  10. Great photos. Now I’m itchin’ for a train ride and I somehow have the song Chattanooga Choo Choo stuck in my head!!!
    Looks like a wonderful trip. Thanks for posting the photos. Thanks for the shout out, too. You’re the best!

  11. what lovely photos – it makes me want to go and hop right on a train – maybe I can do the murder mystery one as a quick fix ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. I LOVE the pictures on Amtrak. I took the same route for my cousin’s wedding in California and it was wonderful (unfortunately, I wasn’t knitting then). It feels good to know that I’m not the only grown woman that loves stuffed animals. Looks like you guys had some serious fun! ๐Ÿ˜€

  13. Thanks for the tips on Amtrak. The Coast Starlight goes right by me (both directions in theory meet here) and I’m shocked that your train was only 90 minutes late into LA. It’s usually 2 or more hours late! I’d love to travel by sleeper someday.

  14. What wonderful photos! It’s looks like a phenominal trip, you look so relaxed and happy!
    I found some red/purple sock yarn from All Things Heather! Whee! Couldn’t get any of the STR you had, tho’
    Love your yellow socks in progress!