Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

Planes, Trains & Automobiles - The Sequel


Regular readers may recall that I celebrated the arrival of 2012 on board an Amtrak train en route from Los Angeles to Santa Fe. (Actually, I slept through the moment itself but, as they say in the Airplane movies, that's not important right now.) The story of that New Year adventure appears on this site under the heading Planes, Trains & Automobiles. Not unusually, the trip was taken along with my friend Bruce, who was based in Southern California at the time. I think it's safe to say that we both enjoyed it immensely.

It was therefore no great surprise when Bruce, now living in the southwest of England, proposed a similar jaunt for November 2013 that I quickly began to think of as 'PTA 2'. Focusing on the Pacific Northwest, it would once again combine those three essential transport elements, the rail highlight this time around being a 23-hour ride on the Coast Starlight from Seattle to the San Francisco Bay Area. To apply a couple of drops of lubricating oil to my decision-making cogwheels, he was also proffering some soon-to-expire systemwide upgrade vouchers from American Airlines, with the suggestion that we use them to sample the airline's new business class product on the Boeing 777-300ER, currently available between London and Los Angeles.

Those cogwheels didn't need to do much grinding: I can recognise a no-brainer when it presents itself! The city of Portland was a glaring gap in my own coverage of the USA that cried out to be filled, and we soon concocted an interesting little road trip between there and Seattle. My first day in the US, prior to meeting up with Bruce, was spent in Long Beach and the land-based part of the journey ended with a day in one of my favourite cities and a former hometown for Bruce, San Francisco.

In an astonishing stroke of good fortune, virtually our entire time in the Pacific Northwest was blessed with fine weather - not at all what one might expect for the second half of November!