Trip to the USA - Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York

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Trip to the USA - Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York

Postby ATSF5811 » Thu Jul 09, 2009 7:48 am

Evening folks,

I am planning a 2011 trip to the USA. I have 3 route plans I will want to have done over the next 10 years.

So the 2011 trip will consist of the following:

Fly from Australia to LA.
-2 days exploring LA with the misses doing the tourist thing and getting used to the 13 hour time difference.
-Santa Monica (I asume Amtrak's Surfliners serve this far?)
-Get a Metrolink service first thing in the morning to San Bernadino, then hire a car there to photograph the Cajon region for 2 full days.
-Do Disneyland (to keep the misses happy).
-2 Days on Tehachapi Pass.
-Head down to San Diego for 2 full days on the Surfliner!

-Board the South West Chief from LA all the way to Chicago.
-Capital Ltd from Chicago to Washington.
-Celebrate 4th of July in DC
-Do a day seeing all DC has to offer - Whitehouse, Various museums.
-Somehow get out to NS's Horseshoe curve.
-Acela up to NYC
-3 days doing touristy things in NYC
-Full day of photographing NJT's system.
-Fly back to Australia!

So basically going on the above, I have quite a few questions which I'm hoping the good folk on here could answer.

Lets start with Amtrak.

- There is a 3 hour stopover in Chicago where we need to change from the Chief to the Capital Ltd. What if the Chief is late? Does Amtrak put on an extra service so we can get our connecting train to Washington?

-We are getting a Bedroom on both the Chief and Capital Ltd. What is the quality of the room and quality of service like? Do the bedrooms have windows? (odd question, but on Amtrak's website, the diagram was misleading!)

-We will need to get an Acela service - is the upgrade to business class/first class worth it?

LA questions:

-How long is the drive from LA Downtown (where the hotel is) to San Bernadino on the freeway?

-Is photography acceptable these days on the station at San Bernadino, LAUPT and Fullerton?

I am thinking we might stay in San Bernadino or somewhere very close to Cajon Pass and then drive direct from there to Tehachapi. How long would this take to drive?

-How many BNSF trains would run the Surfline each day? Im very keen to be on the beach with a BNSF manifest train going by. :wink:

NYC questions
-What is NJT's offical photography policy? I have tried their website- no dice! :(

Washington DC question
-I have looked on google maps, but found it hard to gauge travel time from Washington to Altoona/Horseshoe curve. How far is it by road?
-What would be the best ways of getting out to Horseshoe curve? Would hiring a car and driving out be best or is there a bus/rail service out that way from DC?

In a non-2011 trip related question -2014, We are going to do the Sunset Ltd in a combination with a whole heap of other Amtrak services in the SouthEast. the map on Amtrak's website, the Sunset Limted goes all the way to Jacksonville, but the timetable terminates at New Orleans.

Thanks for all your time & help guys!!
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Re: Trip to the USA

Postby atsf sp » Thu Jul 09, 2009 12:50 pm

ATSF5811 wrote:Washington DC question
-I have looked on google maps, but found it hard to gauge travel time from Washington to Altoona/Horseshoe curve. How far is it by road?
-What would be the best ways of getting out to Horseshoe curve? Would hiring a car and driving out be best or is there a bus/rail service out that way from DC?

Altoona is not close to DC but still driveable. Probably between a 2-4 hour drive. Keystone corridor trains run there but drop you off well before the curve, and they go out of NYC and Philedelphia. If you just want to spend a day driving, stay there for a while and spend the hours back to DC it is very plausible. Just wake up early and drive. You should be able to get alot of viewing in. You may even catch a SD80MAC running over the curve. But Altoona in itself is a great railfan spot that one can spend a day in just go to museums and historical sites. That is where the Juniata Shops are. Car driving is the best. Take RT270 out of D.C. and pick up I-70. You'll be near Harpers Ferry which is a famous B&O spot. Tkae I-70 to I-76West. You'll look for RT99North and take than into Altoona. I'm not sure how to exactly get to the curve because I haven't been there in a while but I think there are signs. It is a State park I believe.
ATSF5811 wrote:Do the bedrooms have windows? (odd question, but on Amtrak's website, the diagram was misleading!)
I believe all Amtrak bedrooms have windows.
ATSF5811 wrote:-We will need to get an Acela service - is the upgrade to business class/first class worth it?
If you want to really travel in style. But the ride is the same no matter where you sit. I think the only differences are the food service which is still basically only snacks or cold sandwiches, and a computer High speed internet jack. But if you want to see the scenery just sit anywhere and not spend the extra money.
ATSF5811 wrote:-Do a day seeing all DC has to offer - Whitehouse, Various museums.
If you really want to fill your days with trains, try staying in the Holiday Inn in DC by Le'Enfant plaza. The hotel overlooks the busy CSX line through DC that hosts CSX(including SD80MACS), VRE, and Amtrak. Plus it is a 2 minute walk from the Mall and Air and Space Museum and across the street is a Metro Station.
ATSF5811 wrote:-What is NJT's offical photography policy? I have tried their website- no dice!
I think you can shoot pics but it is still tense. It may be like the MBTA's policy where you can take pictures without a permit but the transit police can talk to you. I would ask in the NJT forum.
ATSF5811 wrote:3 days doing touristy things in NYC
Make sure you see Grand Central Station. Ranked as one of the most beautiful stations in the world and very close to Times Square. Just be careful is some spots of New York if you take the subway out of the tourist areas. Manhattan is pretty safe but don't venture into the Bronx or Harlem.
I hope you have a great Trip in a few years!
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Re: Trip to the USA

Postby David Benton » Thu Jul 09, 2009 3:34 pm

I would spend at least one nite in Chicago as a break form the trains .
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Re: Trip to the USA

Postby 3rdrail » Thu Jul 09, 2009 3:49 pm

To get a good feel for the old as well as the new, may I suggest either the Cumbres and Toltec or the Durango and Silverton in Colorado. Both are great with the D&S leading in my opinion. I rented a car after flying in at Albuerqurque, NM. It was a nice drive. Riding the D&S on sharp mountain ledges and paralleling the Animas River is an experience that you and your wife would never forget.
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Re: Trip to the USA

Postby atsf sp » Fri Jul 10, 2009 9:21 am

David Benton wrote:I would spend at least one nite in Chicago as a break form the trains .

Even though your tinery does not sound like it could handle it, Chicago is a beautiful city. I'd rank it as my favorite city. Great tourist and walking city and great railroad city. Maybe on another trip sometime you'll go.
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Re: Trip to the USA - Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York

Postby CarterB » Mon Jul 13, 2009 10:25 am

Might want to consider an overnight at the Tunnel Inn in Gallitzin, when you go to see Horseshoe curve. A great little inn right at the Gallitzin tunnels!!

http://www.thetunnelinn.com/
Bring back the Slumbercoaches!!
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Re: Trip to the USA - Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York

Postby ATSF5811 » Sun Jul 19, 2009 8:06 am

Hi Folks! Thanks very much to everyone for their replies!!

That hotel in DC sounds like a go-er!!

Hearing some of the stories about Amtrak and their on-time performance, I think it might be wise to have 3 nights in Chicago. Will do some tourist things there, but will definitly have to head out to Rochelle for a night!

What is the best way of getting out there? Coming from a city of just under 2million people which drive on the left of the road, then going to Chicago and driving on the right hand side in a city that size might be a bit hair raising to say the least!!

I've seen Metra run as far as Aurora. I might hire a car there and drive the rest of the way out to Rochelle.

Or is there a bus service from Chiago to Rochelle?

Thanks for your help folks!!
ATSF5811
 

Re: Trip to the USA - Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York

Postby slchub » Mon Jul 20, 2009 1:02 pm

Michael,

In regards to your Los Angeles portion I would suggest taking the FlyAway Bus upon arrival at LAX to LAUPT. The FlyAway Bus will pick you up on the lower level of LAX (Arrivals) and take you to LAUPT for USD6.00 per person (cash only!). The FlyAway Bus operates on a 30 minutes schedule for the most part. Here is the website:

http://www.lawa.org/welcome_LAX.aspx?id=292

Click on the Union Station link for info. on the trip from LAX to LAUPT. By traveling directly to LAUPT and renting a car at LAUPT INSTEAD of LAX, you’ll save money by not having to pay for concession and junk fees for the rental car agencies on/near the LAX complex. Inside LAUPT you will find Budget and Hertz rental cars. Here are the links for each:

www.hertz.com

www.budget.com

For Budget and Hertz use the Zip Code of 90012 as the PICK-UP LOCATION and then select Union Station. You can do a comparison for pick up at LAX vs. LAUPT and note the difference. The other nice thing about picking up your car at LAUPT is that you will be able to drop the car off and continue on your way right from LAUPT when you go to Chicago. If you get your car at LAX you’ll have to return to LAX and find transportation to LAUPT (FlyAway Bus or taxi [not cheap]) or pay a drop fee close to LAUPT. I suggest taking the time upon arrival (I know, you’ll be tired as all get out) to hop the FlyAway Bus to LAUPT, rent the car and then continue on I-10 (interstate/freeway) to San Bernardino or your local hotel.

San Bernardino is not the highlight of any trip while doing the tourist thing in LA. The Misses might like it a little better if you stayed at a hotel near Disneyland or in the Santa Monica area. You can find many great hotels in the Anaheim/Orange County area which will provide easy access to Disney, the beaches and Cajon Pass. Traffic will be sparse in the late evening hours but you’ll find that most freeways will have traffic throughout the day with rush hour (0500-0900 and 1600-1930) being the heaviest periods. Give yourself ample time to find your way. If you can, purchase a GPS that has US maps on it or rent a GPS with your car rental to assist you with your travels. It will be worth it.

If you were to stay in Anaheim and travel to Cajon Pass you could do so very easily on the 57 freeway connecting to the 210 east and then head north on I-15. Depending upon the time of day and traffic conditions you should be able to do so in about 1.25 hours. From San Bernardino you could do it (again, depending upon time of day and traffic) you could do it in 20-30 minutes. Keep in mind that Thursday night through Saturday night lots of folks head up I-15 to go to Las Vegas. I-15 can be a nightmare sometimes.

From Cajon to Tehachapi it is about 180 km. It could take you from 2 – 3 hours depending upon your route. There are two common ways to get there. Up I-15 to 395 and connection to 58 west, or 138 (right at Cajon) due west to Palmdale, merge onto 14/138 up to 58 at Mojave and then west to Tehachapi. Either way is an interesting drive which you and the Misses will share with all about the jack rabbits and rocks.

Another option would be to stay put right in the downtown area (not suggested though) but it sounds like you want to travel on the train quite a bit while in LA. A decent hotel (where the Amtrak crews are put up) is the Metro Plaza just across the street from LAUPT:

http://www.metroplazahoteldowntownla.com/content/

You can walk to/from the Metro very easily and find yourself looking at an array of rail options to/from LAUPT. You could go to Anaheim and take a shuttle from the Amtrak/Metrolink station to Disneyland for USD3.00 each person, one way. You could go north up the coast to Santa Barbara, south to San Diego, Fullerton, San Bernardino, etc.

If you wanted to stay in San Bernardino you could easily rent a car from Enterprise rent a car:

http://www.enterprise.com/car_rental/de ... 04&cnty=US

They will pick you up and drop you off at local hotel without a charge. I would suggest staying at a nationally known hotel brand. Go to Google and type in “92410 hotels” which will give you hotels for the area surrounding the San Bernardino Amtrak/Metrolink stations. Again, given the area and consideration for the Misses, I would strongly recommend staying in the Anaheim area or one of the coastal cities in Orange County or the Santa Monica area.

Photography at any and all stations should not be a problem. I cannot help with the BNSF questions.

I wish you the best in your trip planning an a great holiday!
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