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Amtrak Experiences


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My wife and I took the Amtrak Surf Liner from OC to San Diego for a day trip once. It's a commuter train so no sleeper cars and was very comfortable, clean and they had a nice food car where you could get a good selection of craft beer and typical bar type food.  

I dont know how long your trip would be but I'd take that train again.

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We took it from Buffalo to NYC last month. Overall I'd give it a B+. Cheaper than flying or driving (NYC charges $70 per night to park, wouldn't be very expensive to park in NF) 

A little slower than driving, but much less hassle once you get to a big city. Niagara Falls isn't too tough to navigate in a car, though.

Niagara Falls NY just got Uber, and I think Niagara Falls Ontario has had it a while, so you can go carless. On the Canadian side is the town of Niagara on the Lake, which is worth a visit, when you get tired of tacky touristy stuff, and want quaint.

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I've done Kalamazoo to KC and back a couple times.  If the train is full it can be a not so fun ride.  Train schedules are to be considered as suggestions.  Never set firm plans based on the schedules.  They might have to stop in the middle of a corn field to change crew or simply one conductor and they use freight lines that have priority so the Amtrak train might get diverted to a siding for a while.  My parents loved to travel by train.  My sister in Lincoln NE visits here by train a couple times a year and enjoys it.  I would rather drive.

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When I was a young bot, living in Dallas with my parents, Dadbot took a job in Oklahoma City.  Mombot stayed in Dallas so we could finish the school year.

We rode Amtrak Dallas to OKC and back quite a bit that year. It was fun for a kid.  Got to know the crew well and got to see cool stuff, like inside a baggage car, etc.

I like trains but have not been on Amtrak recently, so have no useful input for you other than be ready to go slow and stop in lots of little town, etc.

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We rode the train from DC to Boston. Cheap but it took forever. The drive is around 9 hours with stops. The train took 12 hours and we still had to get from the station to our final destination.

if your wife wants to take the train for the "experience", plan ahead and book a flight back. I don't think you'll want to ride the train both ways. I'd prefer the drive but that's just me.

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I've taken the train from NY to Boston and NY to DC.  In both cases it was a lot more convenient than flying because the train station is a lot closer and  I didn't need to allow time for security etc.  My trips were relatively short.  One was during a snowstorm when the planes stopped flying and that train was pretty crowded, but still ok.  It takes longer because you stop at more locations (and sometimes stop randomly for no apparent reason), but it can be more fun if you're the one who'd otherwise be driving a long distance.

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Womaxx is afraid to fly.  She will only fly with me and on drugs.  During my contract in Orlando she flew down to visit and was so shook up by the trip that she used Amtrak for future visits.  The train ride to Orlando from CT is about a 24 hour trip.  She did not book a sleeper car but did take advantage of the dining car where she enjoyed the company of 3 other passengers and their tales at her table.

I had other friends who had a home both in Florida and on Cape Cod.  They did the twice a year swap via the auto train out of Sanford FL and only drove up from the DC area.  They swore by it, not at it.

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Mrs. Silly took Amtrak from here to Chicago.  We got on at the second stop so the train was on time and we had a pretty easy time sitting together.  It took a little longer than driving but the trade of was not having to deal with parking in Chicago.  I thought the trade off was worth it.  The seats were comfortable and it was nice that you could bring your own food and beverages.  It was also nice that you could just show up and get on the train without getting molested by TSA agents.  I also like that we could get up and walk around.

I also took the train from Windsor to Toronto.  The Amtrak train was cleaner but that is because a group started drinking as soon as the train left the station.  If is hard enough for a guy to hit the target when it is standing still.  Even harder when he is swaying back and forth because the train is moving.  Impossible if he is swaying back and forth after drinking.

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I used Amtrak across Missouri twice to near KC with my bicycle. I rode back to St. Louis. Amtrak was great both times. They even sold White Castles for lunch on the train. We plan on taking the train to KC to watch a Royals/Cards game next year.

HOWEVER Amtrak screwed me over once very badly. We had a niece's wedding in NJ near Philly. So WoJSTL and I first flew to NYC for a few days where we did all the tourist trap stuff like meeting RG. Then the plan was to take Amtrak to Philly and rent a car there.

A couple of days before leaving NYC, I checked the Amtrak schedule to Philly. DAMN! They just started a policy of only small carry-on bags and no luggage except on a couple of trains that left around 3 AM. We had plenty of luggage. Also I didn't want to be out and about in either NYC or Philly at those hours. Heck the car rental place didn't open for a couple of hours after we got to Philly. That "no luggage" policy was not there when I made plans a couple of months before. Evidently there were too many passengers so they added passenger cars by getting rid of baggage cars.

I wound up calling Enterprise Car Rental and getting a car in NYC and driving to southern NJ for the wedding.

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10 hours ago, Kzoo said:

I've done Kalamazoo to KC and back a couple times.  If the train is full it can be a not so fun ride.  Train schedules are to be considered as suggestions.  Never set firm plans based on the schedules.  They might have to stop in the middle of a corn field to change crew or simply one conductor and they use freight lines that have priority so the Amtrak train might get diverted to a siding for a while.  My parents loved to travel by train.  My sister in Lincoln NE visits here by train a couple times a year and enjoys it.  I would rather drive.

Exactly my experience from Grand Rapids to Chicago.  Slow, and usually required to divert for freight.  It might be one thing if the seats and the ride were of a comfort level that surpassed driving, but it isn't, and it's much slower.  The only thing it might save you is having to park in a busy city, but if I wanted to do that, I could drive to Indiana, park there and take the South Shore Line commuter train in, with a lot less hassle.

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I only took Amtrak once, it wasn't bad but I don't think I'd ride again.  It was kind of neat that the engineer was K.C. Jones, though.  We left Central Station on time, and passed through River Junction a little while later.  Pretty soon we were going at a hundred and two, and somehow we wound up on the wrong track - maybe because the switchman was sleeping.  I just got this notion crossing my mind that there was trouble ahead, and trouble behind.  Next thing I know we come around a bend and the fireman screams, the engine just gleams, and I guess you know the rest...

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2 hours ago, RalphWaldoMooseworth said:

My only experience is it is fricking expensive!  Cheaper than flying I guess, but aboot on a par with driving.  I'd say do it for the experience, plus the wife points.  Each one is easily worth 5.6k potatoe points. :)

 

Yes, but wife points may actually get you something.

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