I’ve done this trip a couple of times before, and a couple of other Amtrak overnight trips, but this time on boarding, rather than getting to meet some fellow passengers that I could do without meeting I was directed to a cosy little spot where (a) I got to spend time on my own and (b) I got to lie down while doing it. Yes, I had lashed out and booked a sleeper – my first time in one since trips to Adelaide with mum when I was significantly younger. As the train pulled out of Salt Lake leaned back and had a beer then was rocked to sleep by the train movement. This is the only way to travel.
Torn between sleeping in and wanting to watch the sun come up, and of course sleeping lost out. Headed for the lounge car for breakfast and was back in my little cubby hole before getting to Reno. Nevada desert was snow free low down this trip but as soon as we started following the Truckee River upstream the snowpack started to thicken up rapidly. Great views of the Sierra and after a 180 degree bend and a quick trip through a tunnel emerged above Donner Lake in a view you can’t get anywhere but from the train.
Trip got a bit anti-climactic after crossing the Sierra sumit, particularly when we spent an hour travelling about 500 metres – would move 150 metres and then stop for 20 minutes – rivetting stuff, rumour had it that a computer was malfunctioning. By now our slight delay had turned into 2 hours, but the Amtrak schedule handles this in a variety of ways, including scheduling 25 minute segments to take 90 minutes, so ended up in Sacramento only about 45 minutes late. Stored the bags, hopped a cab to the airport and picked up the new rental car – smaller and far less impressive than the Equinox. Back to the station and after grabbing bags and a coffee was heading out of town before 5 pm.
Had no definite plan and it showed – down I-5 for a while then headed for the bay area. Was surprised I was feeling so tired that I was having trouble seeing properly as it got dark, till I finally realised I was driving with no lights – you get SO used to a car where these things just happen automatically. Made it across the bay to San Mateo and with both GPS units suffering simultaneous battery failure ended up driving around until a Motel 6 Sign appeared in the mist and cloud – I always seem to see them until I really need one, then it takes forever. After grabbing some dinner fell asleep ON the bed – didn’t actually get into bed until pretty close to morning – must have been tired or something.