Mature Life Features

Cecil Scaglione, Editor

Train Ticket to Luxury

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By Cecil Scaglione

The tongue-in-cheek survey taken by the couple from Texas to determine “which railroad yard had the best graffiti” went off-track as the quarter-mile-long train skirted the base of oooh-inspiring Mount Shasta.

It took most of the morning to get by California’s highest peak while the American Orient Express occupants collected “AOE souvenirs” – small bruises collected on both arms while bouncing from wall to wall in the clattering cars.

Mount Shasta

Nobody complained. They were too distracted on this week-long land cruise that encompassed wineries and waterfalls as they trundled through the West Coast’s major cities. It began with a quick tour of starting-point Seattle followed by plenty of free time in Portland to, among other pastimes, browse through the renowned Powell City of Books after a morning clambering around Multnomah Falls, which overlooks the Columbia River gorge and claims to be the second tallest waterfall in the country.

The scenery was a major improvement over the wake-up view of the warehouse in Klamath Falls where the train rested overnight. Which prompted the unofficial survey mentioned earlier.

There was plenty of train time for talk and the adventures and advantages of the train trip was a recurring topic. And, like taking an ocean cruise, “There’s nothing to worry about,” like protecting your valuables or how to get to attractions.

This AOE experience is no longer available but was aimed at travelers seeking the sumptuousness of the luxurious legendary train that began carrying countesses and courtesans, philosophers and philanderers between London and Istanbul about a century ago.

After the train snaked south along the Sacramento River, which gushes out of the foot of Mount Shasta, passengers were bused through the grape-glutted Napa Valley for a wine-tasting session at a French-like chateau overlooking the rolling vine-covered hills before crossing the Golden Gate bridge to overnight in San Francisco.  After lunch the next day on Fisherman’s Wharf, everyone re-trained in Oakland’s Jack London Square to compare notes on their vistas from Twin Peaks and Presidio Park.

The hilltop view from Hearst’s San Simeon, the next stop, was equally impressive for those who took a moment to stray from the overabundant opulence of the late newspaper magnate’s Medieval memorial of amassed art.

The slide alongside the Pacific into Los Angeles was a restful respite at the end of a relaxing trip.  Rather than stop to sample some of attractions on their own in this megalopolis – Disneyland, Hollywood, Rodeo Drive, Santa Monica Pier, for example – a couple of fellow travelers chose to cover the rest of the U.S. Pacific shore. They picked up tickets in Union Station for the two-hour coastal leg to San Diego.

Written by Cecil Scaglione

September 29, 2021 at 1:30 pm

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