March 16, 2006

Oh, The Woes of Amtrak Travel...

Actually, it wasn't a bad as I feared (which says something already, doesn't it?)

The Coast Starliner mini-suite that I reserved for the San Jose to Anaheim, California trip never materialized. More to the point, the train itself never materialized. It was six hours behind schedule when I arrived a comfortable one hour before boarding time.

Yes, it appears that I am fated to begin my vacation experience early. I seem to have landed in Italian time even while still here in California trying to make it to the 2006 NCOA/ASA Conference. I have adopted "Romanitas" - the state of being that allows one to maintain equanimity in the face of simple tasks as they drag on to take millenia.

Robert, the quick thinking but Amtrak-speed acting ticketing agent at the station, got me safely onto the Amtrak bus. The driver took up my offer to me carried up the front stairs giving me a gorgeous view of California's early spring green along Highway 101. The driver offered to buy whatever I needed at the several stops along the 6+ hour excursion ending in Santa Barabara.

At Santa Barbara I caught the commuter Amtrak (no mini-suites) to Anaheim arriving two hours earlier than if I had taken the train I was originally scheduled for. (I never try to figure out the logic of train schedules. I satisfy my temptations to do so by convincing myself that trains operate in a parallel universe with different rules of time & physics.)

The Santa Barbara station is small, charming and retrofitted with short ramps in two of the front doors if you can find them.The lobby even has an old fireplace that appears to have long ago fallen out of use. For those needing to recharge a wheelchair there is a publicly accessible outlet -- sort of. Ask at the ticket counter for access to the outlet in the side room next to the men's bathroom. With enough layover time a trip to the Boardwalk is a must.

Unfortunately, the "wheelchair spaces" on this train were without windows. It hardly mattered. All the windows were dirty anyway.

Arriving in Anaheim at night can be beautiful. The palm tree lined boulevard near the convention center is illuminated very dramatically with several upfacing spotlights fixed to the upper trunks of the trees. What you see is a stark contrast between the brightly lit scalloped brown bark and the deep shadows it casts covered by an underlit canopy of green fronds. At intervals are lighting fixtures that are almost arabesque. The internally illuminated "light installations" add a softer element and a public ar feel. The lighting is sufficient and the neighborhood appearently sfae enough that I saw several folks in wheelchairs out for an evening passegiata.

Posted by rollingrains at March 16, 2006 03:40 PM