by Melvin Mayes
Ipswich, Great Britain
Fly to Los Angeles, pick up a car, drive to Seattle and join our Alaskan cruise — good idea? One way interstate car hire is not cheap and I alone will have to drive the 1,250 miles because my wife does not drive. Oh yes, add in the fuel and hotel — is there an alternative?
These were my thoughts as I planned our honeymoon in the spring of 2008. I wanted to drive Highway 1, visit Los Angele and San Francisco, see the High Sierra's and cruise the Alaskan coast. And I had to pack it all in to two weeks after getting married at Tower Bridge in London, England. I needed to put together a tight schedule and the Amtrak Coast Starlight from Sacramento to Seattle was a key part of it. So at 23:59 on the 22nd of May, 2008, my wife and I were on the platform at Sacramento waiting for our train. We had enjoyed a wonderful afternoon and evening in Sacramento after checking in our luggage at lunchtime.
With that fabulous train whistle noise, its arrival was announced. Advice from station staff meant we were in the right spot on the platform and soon, with the aid of a little yellow step, we were onboard in the gorgeous Parlour Car while our room was prepared by our fantastic coach steward. Gently we rolled north and enjoyed a great night's sleep, waking in the morning to waterfalls, snow and forests. As we took breakfast leaving Klamath Falls, a local couple joined us. They were off to their grandson's graduation and had been married a mere 58 years — something to aim for.
As we climbed into the Cascades, our customer service manager told us about the route and how a recent mudslide had blocked the line but engineers had got the line back open. When we saw the site this was most impressive and I would like to say thanks for the hard work because without it we would not have enjoyed such a fantastic journey.
We continued north towards Portland and Seattle seeing real America, enjoying lovely meals and talking to great people. All too soon we were along the shores of Puget Sound and preparing for our early arrival in Seattle.
Our experience of Amtrak was one of great staff and customer service, good food and wonderful comfort. All this and a journey as well. We will be back to see some more of America and we can be sure that a journey with Amtrak will feature in the schedule. Many thanks to all involved.