Wednesday, March 2, 2011

AMTRAK over...

Day 27, Mar 1st

After 12 nights on trains and a few hotel rooms, the AMTRAK adventure came to an end this morning. As I noted at the end of yesterdays blog, we thoroughly enjoyed the experience and although I've had enough for now, it has certainly whet my appetite to buy a Eurail Pass sometime in the future and use the train as a viable option to navigate around Europe.

The last leg however was not without it's problems and the late arrival into Reno which I floated was a probability since we left Chicago late on Sunday, did eventuate although for a while we were close to making it.

We awoke early on our last morning to take in our final breakfast/meal before arriving in Reno. We showered and packed our belongings ready for what was shaping as a mad dash to the airport to pick up the South Lake Tahoe Express shuttle. I made a quick video of the Superliner roomette before leaving the train...

It appeared we were looking at a 9:40'ish arrival into Reno. If we got our bags and connected with a taxi real quick, we would probably just make it. The train pulled into Sparks, which is a sort of dual city setup with Reno. For Aussies, think Albury/Wodonga. It was about 9:30 and the train stopped just short of the platform where we waited...and waited. Finally the crew announced on the PA that they were having problems with the lead engine and were playing it safe by replacing it to ensure they have no problems climbing the pass thru the Sierra Nevada mountain range which was awaiting the train after Reno. This was predicted to take about 30 minutes, so the 10am shuttle was now scuttled. I'd had contact with Lorraine via SMS and they were already at the shuttle terminal which was inside the airport terminal. I let her know we would not make it and she passed that information onto the shuttle people. It is a fairly common occurrence for people to be held up by late connections and they just said we could get on the next available shuttle after we finally arrive.

Of course the 30 minute engine change took well over an hour and we arrived in Reno a few minutes after 11am. A taxi ride to the airport saw us arrive in time to catch the midday shuttle. It was a very scenic trip to South Lake Tahoe and we arrived at the hotel just after 1:30pm. I took this short video as we approached our destination, a few miles out from Stateline...

Here are a few pics taken from the bus as we made the trip down...

Note the small object on the top of the hill...

This was the object. They are very patriotic...

It appears the modus operandi for clearing snow from shopping centre carparks is to stack it up around a light pole or tree. Every carpark looks the same...

A couple of buildings in Carson City...

After checking in, we had a bit of a job to locate Clive and Lorraine who were out and about having a look at things. We finally caught up with them on the casino floor and had coffee at Starbucks. After a few hours relaxing in our rooms, we met up for dinner in a simple restaurant in Harrah's Casino which is opposite Harvey's Casino where we are staying and can be accessed by a tunnel beneath the road adjoining the 2 gaming floors. They are both owned by the same group and their Player Rewards program is interchangeable.

After dinner we went back to Harvey's where we signed up for the Player Rewards program to maybe earn some freebies by the end of our week here. Diane and Lorraine played slots/pokies on machines side by side whilst Clive and I looked on. They both had a good run and finished the night well in front. It was getting late and we'd all had big days travelling after rising early, so I think we were all thankful to get some sleep.

The forecast is not good for the morning. They have had massive amounts of snow over the past 2 weeks and it appears there is more to come. Clive and I agreed to play it by ear and if it is fogged in and miserable, we will probably delay hiring our gear and have a rest day. I know that's a bit of a novelty to have a rest day before we even start, but we have all had a pretty solid month on the go over here and both Clive and I are treating this last leg as a quiet week with a bit of skiing, rather than a full-on ski every day ski holiday. Who'd have thought I'd be saying that!!

More tomorrow, later...


  1. I am still really enjoying the travelog and the pictures. Thank you so much for sharing your trip with us.

    i live in Sacramento, in the middle of the Central Valley and half way between Tahoe and San Francisco. The train trip from Sac to Reno is amazing over Donner Summit. On any given day it can be warm in Sacramento, snow in the high SIerra, and it seems to always be 65 degrees F. in the Bay Area.

    I have never ridden the train through the Rockies, though I have driving that route, and I look forward to doing that someday by train.

    Why was it your trip ends in Tahoe and you are not taking the train from there down to the Bay area to fly home?

    You both seem like nice laid back people to take such an adventure.

    I have traveled to all 50 states, as I had a goal of "50 States in 50 Years" and made it just before turning 50 last year. Now it is time to branch out. I am planning to visit Australia and was thinking of taking the train across the continent, or on the north-south route. Have you all ever taken train trips on those routes?

    Thank you again for sharing your trip with us.

    - Cheers, Thomas

  2. Thomas, I'm glad u are enjoying the blog.

    We are flying out of LAX because it is much easier to get a flight to Aust out of LAX then SFO, which doesn't even fly daily.

    I haven't travelled those train trips in Aust, but they would be nothing but endless desert, both the E/W (Indian Pacific) or N/S (The Ghan). You'd need to be a real train nut to want to travel all the way to Aust to do those trips, IMO.


  3. Thanks. I'll have to think about the LD train trip...