As crazy as it sounds it is true, I am taking a trip to Helena, Montana for a day. This trip was one that I thought would be interesting since I've flown through Salt Lake City or even driven from Washington. So this when I was looking for a Spring Break trip, I wanted to spice it up a bit and decided to fly from Burbank up to Seattle and then onto Helena and return the same day. Yes, same day return! I've seen it happen before and now it is my turn to try it out.
This route that I will be taking is operated by an interesting array of aircraft. For the flight to Seattle it will be operated by a Boeing 737-800, interesting note for this flight is it switches every other day. The flight from Seattle to Helena and returning is operated by a Bombardier Dash 8 Q400. Then for the flight from Seattle to Burbank it is operated by a Boeing 737-700, which is a major piece of the Alaska Airlines fleet. Having flown Alaska Airlines in 2005 between Los Angeles and Washington Reagan, it was time to do a flight on an airline other than Delta which has been a major player for me when I fly. Now on the first flight I decided to get the premium economy seat to see the difference between Delta and Alaska, though it may change since Alaska has an option for passengers to upgrade to first class for only $50 (disclaimer I do not know whether it is one way or the entire ticket) and I am interested in trying their first class product.
When flying, I usually use Seatguru to find the best seats but I ran into a problem when it came to my flight on the Q400. It seems as though it won’t matter where you sit but it will matter when your view is blocked by the propellers, so this is why it was difficult to find a seat on the aircraft. In 2014 I had the opportunity to fly the exact aircraft from Portland to Seattle, this time I will have the chance to fly it farther and a bit longer than the previous flight. Back to the reason why I use Seatguru, now I like to be able to have a good view yet also not be blocked when it comes to where I sit. This time I decided to get a seat behind the engine on the flight to Helena and a seat near the propeller to be able to see the difference in view.
I will be giving a full trip review of each flight next week. For now this is an appetizer to what is to come next week. Along with this flight I will be discussing the flights in the summer I am taking in the coming weeks. With all this travel upcoming, I hope that this blog helps you in seeing the world from a different point of view.
When we want to travel we have many options at our fingers, but sometimes it seems we find the right flight but then we are not able to add our touch to it. While booking on online giants such as Kayak, one is given multiple prices and choices but we also are given different prices all at once. The problem with this is that the prices given are from third party sites which everyonce in a while will not let you be able to make seat arrangements. A tip and trick you should keep in mind when looking for the cheapest flight is to check the airlines website when choosing a flight. The reasoning behind this is due to the fact that when you are searching multiple places, you are bound to find the right one but then they neglect to let you know that there are added fees or you are unable to choose your seat.
Now we all have heard about when is the best time to buy a plane ticket story in the news or elsewhere, but the thing to keep in mind is it may only be good for a certain period of time. For example when booking a flight that say leaves on June 23 of this year and you were viewing it last year in June or July, you are unable to find flights that far out. Trick for this is to keep an eye on it every so often up until the day before which would be August 8th, on the 9th you will be able to view prices for the 23rd of June. With this in mind, whether or not you buy then it will give you an idea of how much it will be. For me, when booking my next adventure, there were many options available from point A to point B. What ended up happening was the flights that were non-stop out of Los Angeles were upwards of $2,000 just for an economy seat, while searching around, I came upon two choices one from Seattle to Frankfurt with a connection to the destination or Los Angeles to Chicago to Dublin and onto the destination. The two were rather cheap but when looking at the Seattle option, it came down to looking at the flights in between to get to where we were going. The flight's between Los Angeles and Chicago although a bit more expensive were one's that had the best routing and only involves switching airlines in Chicago rather than in Seattle and Frankfurt.
Again, when looking at where to travel you should keep in mind that certain websites will say they are the cheapest but that is since they leave out the bulk of your needs. What it comes down to is when you are booking a flight, start at the airlines website, then check what other websites are offering in comparison to the airline in order to weed out the ones that will not work for your needs.
Hello everyone! Sorry for a long abscence from the page but traveling has been different lately. I started my year by going to Dallas, Texas and visiting the local sights. Then in April I took the train down to San Diego for the day and had some fun there. In May I traveled to Alaska on a cruise with Princess Cruises which was an amazing experience by far. After the cruise I went on a small adventure down the coast of Oregon and part of California. The towns I visited when on that adventure were a great change from the big cities that dot the inland sections of the states.
With going on those adventures, I have crossed a few different locations off of the map. I've almost crossed off the Western side of the United States, only state remaining is New Mexico. In the coming months/weeks I will be giving more of an insight to the next adventures I am planning on embarking on.
In the coming year I am planning on taking a few flights both in the United States and to/within Europe. In March I am planning on doing a day trip in which I fly out of Burbank and onto Seattle where I will switch planes and fly onto Helena. From Helena the same day I will fly back to Seattle and back to Burbank that evening. On that flight I am going to be trying Alaska Airlines "Premium Cabin" which I purchased for the flight from Burbank to Seattle, cost $16 extra for the seat. In the Summer, I am embarking on a special trip to take a cruise around the Western Meditteranean. For that I will be trying American Airlines first class between LA and Chicago, with a quick stop at the Admirals Club before flying out. From Chicago I will be trying Aer Lingus and their business class product to Dublin and flying in economy from Dublin to Rome. From Rome I will board the Royal Carribean ship, Jewel of the Seas and embark on a 7 day cruise. More on the fun planned in later post.
For now, I will be starting to get ready for the upcoming post and hope you enjoy the previous post. Looking forward to sharing the new adventures with you all!
Its been two weeks since I've been home and I would like to say it was one of the best trips I've ever taken. With all the delays and problems, some how I found a spot to be happy and feel free from all the stress of work and school just slip away.
When I was traveling back home, I found all the steel mill plants between Pittsburgh and Chicago amazing and somewhat interesting. Going across the United States by rail is something of a needed thing to do, you should only travel that way if you do not have somewhere to be and are required to be there by a certain time.
The many many miles I traveled and the many people I came across made me proud of what and where I live. As I passed through the great rolling hills in Montana I was lucky to see the progress of the nation. Going from the sprawling nations capitol to the small rural towns in West Virginia gave me a view of how life is like for others outside of big cities.
Now I know you are all expecting me to put the many countless photos I took, on my blog but I've been adding them to my Flickr account and would like to welcome you to view them there.
Now, back to the real meaning of the blog, I would have to say that traveling in a sleeping car is somewhat of a must if you are traveling on a long distance Amtrak train. The roomette is small but is enough for one or two persons to travel in, being that I traveled alone it was the perfect size and was the perfect answer to my long long journey. I would have to give a big round of applause to all the Amtrak staff that was on board the trains I was traveling on, they made sure that the journey was relaxing and safe. I enjoyed every single moment of the trip even with all the delays and problems. The only thing that caught my interesting attention, was that my last train the Coast Starlight 14 was the only train on time and actually ahead of the scheduled arrival times.
Well I should begin by saying seeing America by rail can be a very stressful experience and it does require lots of patience to get trough it. I will start off with saying one thing, if you ever decide to use a long distance Amtrak train, I do not want to hear any bad talking about Amtrak. Amtrak does not own the rails it travels on, except for the northeast corridor.
I will now start to unwind the journey on the California Zephyr, the beginning of the trip was very beautiful traveling through Donner Pass and going through a 4 mile tunnel in only 2 minutes flat! After exiting California we entered Nevada and began the trek towards Reno, which in my eyes is a very interesting city but to make it a bit more interesting, their station is built semi-underground and is situated right across the street from the national bowling center. While the lunch hour was very good, the dinner hour began the problems in the dinning car with the AC in the kitchen going out. The 7:15 dinner was pushed back to 8:30 and was still very good. Two very interesting cities we stopped in while in Nevada were Winnemucca and Elko, both the cities were small and the stations were stranger looking. Elko was just a bus stop and sign. Through the night we traveled through Utah and by the time I woke up we were about to enter Helper and about to enter Colorado. Now Colorado was were the journey began to go down hill with passengers.
As we began the journey through the great state we became aware of how the altitude can affect someone when they are intoxicated. I will get back to that a bit later. The lower gore of Colorado is filled with lots of sights and lots of points of interest. Now Colorado is known for the Colorado river and the state spent $2.6 million on a highway that goes right in the way of the river and they do not have to worry of any problems with the highway since it is so advanced and very up to date. Going through Colorado means that you have to go through the 6 mile Moffat tunnel just to get to Denver.
Now back to the drunks, while I noticed a group of passengers were becoming intoxicated I would have never expected them to disobey and tarnish a great journey across America. The person who was most intoxicated had to have a special service. The passenger who was seated behind me was a smoker and while I was in the lounge car decided it was alright to go smoke in the bathroom after being told and everyone being told its not alright to smoke onboard the train. When we stopped in Winter Park the conductor spoke to the gentleman and told him that the reason they got rid of the smoking car was because of idiots like him who disobeyed the rules and went and started to smoke in the areas which were non-smoking. Now after a while and after we had exited the Moffat tunnel the one most intoxicated gentleman was becoming more and more irate. Well the gentleman, decided it would be alright to fight with another passenger after the gentleman decided to hop into the bathroom and take a few puffs of something. What transpired from that caused all the conductor on board to rush to the lounge car and subdue the gentleman and bring him to the car I was in and give him a choice of calming down or being taken off the train by the authorities and he chose the law enforcement way. We had to be stopped outside of Denver in order to wait for the authorities to arrive. We were stopped for quite some time before the authorities came and carted the gentleman off the train and to the local jail.
Now before we got into Denver, we were moving for an on time arrival into Denver before the incident. But after the incident we just became a very late train. By late I mean 3 hours late into Chicago. Now that I've given a rosy picture of that I'd like to turn to the ill run baggage handling that Amtrak has. Now I had checked my back into Chicago due to my final stop not offering baggage service. As we were entering Chicago I was hoping to have enough time to grab the bag and rush to my next train. Turns out a train that had arrived before us got their bags before I did. By the time they had called the last boarding for the train my bags had not shown up still and had to rush to the gate and graciously be assisted by the lovely gate agent Barbra. I would like to say that Amtrak needs to start to update the system and create a system in which gets the bags out in a more timely fashion.
Thankfully I was able to get the bag a day later. As I traveled on the Capitol Limited I was able to see the many industries that are present in the area such as the steel mills outside of Chicago and the great highway system through Pennsylvania.
To close up this post I would like to give a few sound words of advice:
1. Do not ever say Amtrak is the one to blame
2. Amtrak is NEVER EVER ON TIME
3. Always have a back up plan if your train becomes delayed
4. If you're a smoker, try and refrain from smoking on board the train because us healthy people are trying to live a clean life.
5. I do not want to hear how Amtrak is just a waste of American tax payer money.
6. Please please please try and help Amtrak survive into the future.
As a final addition to my blog before heading out on my journey, I cannot forget the one train I have actually traveled on before, the Coast Starlight. The Coast Starlight was actually originally run only from Los Angeles to San Francisco on the Coast Daylight ran by Southern Pacific and then the Cascade which ran from Oakland to Portland. The closet one to the full Starlight was Southern Pacific's West Coast which ran from Los Angeles to Portland with through cars to Seattle. The train itself is unique due to the fact it has a special lounge car specifically meant for the sleeping car passengers, this car is called the Pacific Parlour Car. The car itself is one of the few remaining Hi-Level cars that are dated back to the beginning of Amtrak. There are five different named Pacific Parlour Cars, the first being Columbia Valley number 39970, second being Napa Valley number 39972, third being Santa Lucia Highlands number 39973, fourth being Sonoma Valley number 39974, and the fifth and final car being Willamette Valley number 39975. The Coast Starlight is a train that travels through the vast mountainous area around Klamath Falls and goes near Crater Lake, while on-board you will be graced by the many fields of agriculture through the Central Valley of California, by night you are rolling through the Bay area and while traveling through the night you pass through Sacramento, Chico, and Dunsmuir. The next morning you are traveling through Oregon and heading through the fields that grace the state, by noon you are in Portland and will be awestruck by the beauty of the old Union Station, then after the stop in Portland you are back on your way to Seattle, you head towards Seattle by going inland somewhat and on the way to Seattle you take the water route and are blessed to see the great Puget Sound of the great Pacific Northwest.Another interesting fact about the route is that the train offers wi-fi but it is rather slow and is not reliable but hopefully soon it will be fixed to handle many devices. I have taken the train myself and I would have to say that it is one of the many trains that you should take if you ever decide to take a trip across the United States. I will be ending my journey on the train and joining it in Portland, the great Union Station in Portland is near the city center and gives you great access to the city and its surroundings, so if you do have some time in between your own journey, I would recommend going into town for a short walk and to enjoy the surroundings of the water and the people. Now when traveling on the Coast Starlight I do recommend that during the summer months if you are traveling in the coach section, that you bring a warm blanket since in the evening the train is a tad cold due to the fact they are getting ready to head into areas where it is warmer and want the passengers to feel comfortable. Now I hope you all have enjoyed some of the information I've shared on the routes, my next few blog post will be centered around what to expect while you are on-board and what you should bring. As the time dwindles to my trip, I hope you all will join me and reading the blog while I am traveling through the United States! Thank you and please comment any of your thoughts.
The Empire Builder has been a staple of rail travel between Chicago and Seattle. The Empire Builder was originally ran by Great Northern and also the Milwaukee Road which ran the Olympic Hiawatha. The train used to travel a different route with the Milwaukee Road, the train would travel through Bozeman and have connection services to Yellowstone National Park. The previous route was electrified through parts of Montana and was able to travel at high speeds. The current Empire Builder run by Amtrak runs through Milwaukee to St. Paul, then onto Fargo and a few other stops in North Dakota, then as the train enters Montana it starts its journey through the great scenery and stops in Glacier Park for passengers to get off and enjoy the park during the Summer and also in the winter for the great skiing access that it offers. After exiting Montana the train enters the northern most point in Idaho before the train enters Washington state around 1 in the morning were the the train splits up into two different trains from Spokane, one train goes to Seattle and travels through the Stevens Pass and Everett before ending the journey in Seattle. The other part of the train continues onto Portland and the lower section of the state of Washington and also gives you great views of the numerous apple groves that the state offers and ends the journey in Portland around 10 in the morning which offers passengers enough time to connect to the Coast Starlight. The train is one that is also a must take if you ever decide to take Amtrak across America. One of the problems that the train encounters while it is traveling to Seattle/Portland is the many freight trains coming out of Williston, North Dakota, the train is sometimes an hour to two hours behind schedule since the train has to wait for the numerous coal freight trains go through there. I will be taking this train when I travel home and also have a Sleeper car which is going to give me the chance to see the many amenities that Amtrak offers to its Sleeper car guest. A perk of traveling through the Chicago is that if you have a Sleeper car reservation is that you are given access to the Metropolitan Lounge. Most of the route of the Olympian Hiawatha and the Great Northern Empire Builder has been changed due to the fact that the old tracks it used to travel have been turned over to the Montana Rail Link and BNSF. The summer months are one of the most busiest for the Empire Builder, due to the fact that most of the passengers are going on vacations to either Glacier, Chicago, Milwaukee, Seattle, Portland and St. Paul. The Empire Builder is the only link for travelers between St. Paul and Chicago. The total distance between Chicago and Seattle is 2,206 miles and the total distance between Chicago and Portland is 2,257 miles. There are two different numbers for the train for the Chicago to Seattle trains it is the number 7 train and the Chicago to Portland train is the number 27.
The Roomette has been a standard on any train for one or two traveling passengers. The word roomette means,"A private single compartment in a railroad sleeping car." Now I will be traveling myself in a roomette when I take the Empire Builder from Chicago to Portland. The roomette is 3'6"x6'6" in dimension and offers to passengers traveling in one many amenities such as turn down service, meals are included but tipping the waiters is a must, bottled water, a table for you to play games on and towels and linens which are fresh everyday. Roomettes are very small but if you're traveling by yourself or another person it is the best choice. It is best to book your room months before because they are a hot commodity on a train. The rooms are expensive and are not worth it if you are traveling on a budget. The roomette on a Superliner is different than the ones on a Viewliner, due to the fact that the Viewliners have two windows on both top and bottom bunks, this was done since travelers on board would feel claustrophobic and Amtrak decided to change the design so that passengers wouldn't feel so claustrophobic. Many of the Roomettes are located on the first floor of the Superliners but others are available on the second floor. I will be adding more about the rooms later but this is some of my knowledge.
The Capitol Limited is a major artery route in my opinion between Chicago and Washington D.C., it is also one of the names that Amtrak has kept over the many years. The train itself is unique in the fact that it is the only Superliner car run train on the East Coast since many of the cars are usually Amfleet coach cars and Viewliner sleeping cars. The journey goes through many cities such as Toledo, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Cumberland, Harpers Ferry, and Rockville. Interesting fact is that the Limited crosses the state of Maryland twice, once in Cumberland before entering West Virginia and again in Rockville before entering Washington D.C., that is just something that the state of Maryland can do since it has a small pan handle near Harpers Ferry. Back on February 16th, 1996 a westbound Capitol Limited collided with a MARC train heading towards Silver Springs, Maryland. Now the route is an overnight train and it crosses through Pittsburgh in the evening when train number 29 from Washington D.C. and passes through early in the morning on train number 30 from Chicago in time for businessmen to arrive at work rested and ready to go. The Capitol Limited was created by the B&O railroad but the train originated in New York City and reached Washington D.C. later in the evening while the train would arrive at 8 in the morning into Chicago.The Capitol Limited received streamlined heavyweight sleeping and dining cars in 1938. A typical consist included the following: baggage-dormitory, 8-section 1-drawing room 1-compartment sleeping car, dining car, three to four 8-section 5-double bedroom sleeping cars, 14-section sleeping car, two 12-section 1-drawing room sleeping cars, and a sleeper-buffet-lounge with a drawing room and three compartments. In 1941 these cars were augmented by several lightweight 10-roomette 5-bedroom sleeping cars. Now a days the train is run by two P42 engines following behind are a baggage car, transition sleeper, two sleeper cars, dining car, sightseer lounge, and three coach cars. I will be taking trains number 30 and 29 but on the way there I will be ending up in Rockville and on the way home I will start from Washington D.C. Union Station. In the coming weeks I will post some pictures of the train and its old owner the B&O. Next will be the Empire Builder and I will post on this train in two weeks.
The California Zephyr has a glamorous history with many different railroads, from Union Pacific to Rio Grande. Most of the route that the train takes is through picturesque areas of Colorado and through the mountain ranges between California and Nevada. The original plan for Amtrak was to use the route it originally took between San Francisco and Chicago but it ran into difficulty due to the fact that the Rio Grande did not want to join Amtrak in fear of loss of certain entities. 1983 brought Amtrak the route they had been wanting and the California Zephyr was reborn. The California Zephyr was originally the San Francisco Zephyr and Denver Zephyr, the San Francisco Zephyr would travel from San Francisco to Denver where passengers would board the Denver Zephyr and continue onto Chicago. The route of the California Zephyr is 2,438 miles and takes about two days to travel either way. The train is one of the longest journeys you can take with Amtrak, while the longest one in North America is VIA rails Canadian which travels from Vancouver to Toronto and is 86 hours or 3.5 days long compared to the Zephyrs 51hr. 20min. journey. The train leaves Emeryville daily and by late that evening it is already in Nevada closing in on Utah, where the train stops shortly after midnight in Salt Lake City and continues on to Colorado which is a full day travel going through Moffat Tunnel which cuts through the Continental Divide and that evening the train arrives in Denver for a small cleaning and continues on through the night passing through Nebraska and Iowa. The next morning you arrive into the great state of Illinois where you make a few stops before arriving into Chicago in the early afternoon. The train is pulled by two P42 engines and behind it follow a baggage car, one transition sleeper for the staff, two sleeper cars, a Superliner Diner car, a Superliner Sightseer lounge car, and three coach cars. I will be traveling on the California Zephyr at the end of May and will be writing about the service and posting many pictures of the gorgeous scenery that entails this magnificent train and route.
Well lets start off with saying that I enjoyed traveling on board all these flights.
Well this flight was one that I had to say that I would not have enjoyed but I did since I got to speak to the captain and both of the first officers. I had an amazing time flying with them. I can say that the flight was a very bumpy one and all the other flights for the day were bumpy too. I actually watched a film on board which was the movie Bad Grandpa and it was very funny and I enjoyed it. We were served three meals on board one was the main one which was a choice of either pasta or Thai curry chicken and I had the pasta which was good but I think the chicken would have been a better choice, the second meal was a small snack of a small sandwich which was fine, then the final one was the pre-arrival meal and I had the three cheese calzone and boy was that yummy. The one down side was that I kept getting shocked by my arm rest which some how had an electrical charge going through it. But the flight was good and I did get a little sleep and I was glad to be on the ground after the long flight. But I will miss flying on a big plane.
Well this flight was something to speak about, I mean I am going to honestly rate the cleanliness of the plane a 5/10, due to the fact the was big dust balls located in the overhead system and that there was dust above and also it would in my opinion need to go in for a cleaning. But the flight was ok even with the turbulence. The plane was a 757-300 and it offered WiFi onboard and I would say it is sloooooooow but it always is when traveling on an aircraft traveling to the west coast. Over all I loved flying with Delta on this aircraft and I even enjoyed seeing our approach into San Francisco, we approached over the bay and came in on 28R. Interesting fact is that the plane made some strange noises while taxiing and I think it needs to have some WD40 added to the landing gear to fix it haha!
Delta Shuttle 6447
The flight was a short one only an hour but boy what a view did I get while taking off out of San Francisco. The fog began to roll in over the mountains and made for an interesting sight when we took off and I loved to watch it just roll on down and come over the city. The flight attendants were one sight for the eyes but that's something else. I enjoyed watching the sun set over the state of California and we came into LAX over the city of Los Angeles and I got to catch a glimpse of the Hollywood sign and also we came into the airport with a US airways A321 aircraft landing on 25R while we landed on 24R. The sight of all the tails at the Tom Bradley terminal was a shock to me and I wouldn't regret it. A very interesting thing was that we joined a Delta 767-300WL and I would say that we must have been super close to it while taxiing to the gate.
For now I would like to say thank you to all of you who have been reading my blog and look out for my next post coming up on the Amtrak service up the West Coast.