Day 7

May 26, 2021

Train Derailment Reprise

Yesterday was memorable, that’s as generous as I can be in describing it. To recap: when we were ready to board the Sunset Limited in New Orleans to Los Angeles, we were told there had been overnight a fifty car freight car derailment near Lordsburg, New Mexico. The derailment damaged the tracks in both directions closing down the Sunset Limited line. Amtrak decided to terminate the train in San Antonio.

Amtrak made arrangements to charter three buses to meet us in San Antonio to take us past the train derailment. Our train arrived in San Antonio around midnight but the buses weren’t scheduled to depart until 3:00 AM so the train attendant recommended staying onboard and getting more sleep. 

The Bus Ride From…

We were on the road by 3:30 AM on Interstate 10 for the next fourteen hours. I think it was the longest14 hours of my life—I may be exaggerating but you get the point, I was miserable. I told Larry the bus ride ranked up there with camping. And y’all know what I think about camping. Cramped seating, a non-working toilet, and only two stops for bathroom breaks and stretch our legs. Sitting in the same position for fourteen hours stiffened me up. 

Luckily I dozed a good chunk of the ride. I can thank Mom and Dad. When I was fussy as a baby, they would take me for a car ride until I quieted and went to sleep. As I grew up, I fell asleep every time I was on a lengthy car ride. During childhood vacations, Dad grumbled that all I ever of the countryside was the inside of bathrooms and motel rooms. Years later, Mom and Dad, and Larry and I took a road trip through south Texas. Sure enough I fall asleep pretty quickly. Larry mentioned to Dad that I always fell asleep. Dad said, “Oops, I think that’s my fault dating back to her being a baby.”

I think that’s why I’ve napped so much on the train and was able to nap some on the bus is that “gift” from my parents in my infancy. 

Re-Boarding the Sunset LimitedRE-BOARDING

The bus pulled into Tucson, Arizona around 5 PM yesterday and we then waited until 7:30 PM to board the Sunset Limited to take us the rest of the way to Los Angeles. Larry and I went to bed at 8:30 PM and slept until 5 AM thinking we’d be in LA. But, there had been several delays along the way including a train breaking down ahead of us.

We arrived at the Lost Angeles train station at 9:00 AM — four hours late. We didn’t have long to wait until it was time to board the Starlight Coast for our trip to Seattle. 

We have a private roomette. It’s not as spacious as the bedroom nor does it have a private bathroom but we have sleeping accommodations and first class service. As long as we are in our room, we don’t have to wear our masks. Outside of our room, we must wear a mask.

Our car is the first on the train—behind the locomotive. The dining car and observation cars are about six cars behind us. Walking on moving trains is a perilous sport for me. On the way to New Orleans I threw my back out—the train zigged and my back zagged. Sigh… The upside is I can have “room service” and take my meals in our room. And, Larry can adventure up to the observation car if he wants. But for me, I’ll be enjoying the ride from my private car.

No More Separation and Train Full to Capacity

We learned at the LA Amtrak station that all the Amtrak lines were selling out to capacity including the Coast Starlight. No more social distancing—coach passengers will be sitting next to one another. I haven’t heard how the dining car will work now. On our previous links, only first class passengers could eat in the dining car and then only one room per table and half of the tables were blocked for social distancing. Normally, the dining car seats four people at each table and it’s fun to chat with your dinner companions. We’ve met lovely and interesting people during those meals. 

The Coast Starlight

My hope is for a peaceful, relaxing ride on the Coast Starlight with no further train breakdowns, long delays, train derailments, or bus rides. We ridden the Coast Starlight before and it’s considered the jewel of the Amtrak routes. We’re embarking on a thirty-five hour west coast adventure from Los Angeles to Seattle. The Coast Starlight passes through Santa Barbara, the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, and Portland. 

Coast Starlight Route

We traveled on the Coast Starlight previously and the scenery is spectacular. The snow-covered peaks of the Cascade Range and Mount Shasta, lush forests, fertile agricultural valleys and long stretches of Pacific Ocean shoreline.

Along the California Coast

We should arrive in Seattle tomorrow night around 8 PM not withstanding delays. I’m hoping the delays are only for allowing freight trains right of passage (they own the tracks after all.)

Finally, a heart-felt thank you for your patience in reading through typos, missing words, incomplete sentences. I’ve learned it’s very hard to type on a moving train…

We can’t seem to upload our own photos on the train but I’ll put together a recap with photos when we get back to Whidbey Island.

Signing off for now from somewhere along the California coast,

Debora Ragland Buerk
The Write Stuff
Looking at life from a different POV.