December 10th, 2018


Catchup Sunday

LJ login on my laptop was from before they changed their password rules, so no I have a new one.

Got up at 6 am Sunday expecting to take till 8 to get out of the house. Threw some extra kibble into Spot's dish (to add to the programmed drops). But I was out at 7, walking to light rail the train was at and out of the station while I was 2 blocks away. No problemo, I was way early, another train in half an hour.

But the reader board said it was 8:25, and kept changing between the next train being in 45 minutes and 26 minutes. Not a good look for VTA.

Next train did show up in 26, long boring ride on a cloudy dark Sunday morning to the all-trains station at Diridon. Walked the whole width of the station, bought a diet coke and a bag of potato chips for breakfast, sat in the waiting room and finished the chips, but the coke lasted me much of the train ride.

Coast Starlight was a couple of minutes late, which is pretty good for a ride coming from Seattle.

My roomette was way at the front, which meant a 5-minute winding walk to the dining and  lounge cars.

Dirty windows in the roomette and dirty highly reflective windows in the "lounge" car did not make for good photography. You would think they would fix the observation car windows after 30 years. They have stopped calling it the observation car and it is now intended for people using the snack bar down below it.

No parlor car anymore. Business class instead. Parlor car was mostly useless anyway, except it  had the wifi router. Now the train has free but password required wifi which works well except in the deadlands by Vandenberg AFB.

Winter sunset was way before we got near the ocean, so nothing to see at all for the last 5 hours.

Lunch was with a mechanical engineer and a couple from OSU baseball. Dinner was with the same engineer, a young wife whose husband was away for work and kids staying with grandparents. And a Canadian guy who looked 18 but said he was 30, whose wallet was stolen in Oakland. No details. Our own undocumented alien. He thinks he can make a living selling photos of people on the beach in LA. Good luck with that.

The two women sharing the room across the hall kept the door open and the curtains closed, and yapped on the phone much of the trip in German. Annoying. One guy up two rooms kept his door open as he made marketing calls.

No ice. No apple juice, just orange. They used to have those available in the corner of the roomette area.

At SLO they also announced dinner would be early because we expected to be way early into LA. But gthat was a crock because even if we got in an hour early, that wouldbe 8 pm, plenty of tme for the crew to clean ujp after a 7 pm dinner.

We were  in SLO a long time, I did not have a schedule but I don't think we arrived early. A few minutes out of SLO we stopped for a mechanical issue, and it was slow all the way to Santa Barbara. From there it was slow until they announced there was a problem with the way the signals were programmed, slowing and stopping them for no reason. They were contacting the UP dispatcher about that. Soon after that we were sidetracked for about 15 minutes waiting for a northbound train.

So much for the excuses for an early dinner. I was in the last feeding, 5:30 pm.

Lunch was a burger, dinner was a small but excellent steak and a delicious crab cake. No dessert because no ice cream and nothing on the menu appealed to me. Lunch time I tried the chocolate "pudding" but it was actually a very dense cake-like object which did not survive being frozen.

Arrived half an hour early at LA, long long walk to the front doors, where two policemen looked at my Google map and showed me where my hotel was IRL. A yellow vest had pointed me in the opposite direction. 5 minute walk past a lot of homeless people and through a cloud of marijuana smoke to the hotel. No problem checking in.

Good wifi. No power outlets. Had to move the night stand to plug in the phone & tablet. Soda machine out of order, down one floor bought two diet cokes, but the machine was stocked with caffeine free despite the caffeinated label on the machine.

I was actually able to stream on twitch for an hour.

Plans for Monday:
hotel free breakfast
noon checkout
hang around Union Station till my3 pm train

If it's Monday, this must be San Diego

Long boring day, for the most part. Up at 8, dressed and had the hotel continental breakfast. It was okay - banana, bagel, cream cheese, OJ. Plenty of small pastries to not eat. Ditto cereals. No waffles.

Back to the room, looked for things to watch on TV, didn't find much except ads. Broke out the laptop and entered yesterday's journal.

Checked out at about 11:30, walked the wrong way for half a block before realizing I'd come in last night through a different entrance. Saw the street signs for the station and got there no problem. There were several classroom field trips, and one adult tour group going my way.

Breakfast was too filling to want lunch, there was plenty in the station. But there was also a very comfortable Amtrak waiting area, so after sitting outside in the courtyard which was set up for Santa, I waited in the waiting area analyzing eye candy. There was a lot of it, especially employees. Sexist hiring practices FTW.

Got bored and decided that since I had a lot of time I may as well walk to the Amtrak platform all the way at the end of the station and up a steep long ramp. Slowly. I was the only one there except for a couple of staffers.

The sign said track 11, and kept announcing a later train parked on track 12 - the tracks share a platform. I waited with a woman who was also early for the San Diego train. At the last minute, they opened the doors to the other train and without making any announcement it turned out to be my train. I got what I thought was a good seat but it turned out the be backward facing and only half a window with an annoying curtain in the way.

The window was clean but didn't stay that way.

Facing backward kills a lot of photo ops. I missed a lot.

They delivered a snack pack and a tiny diet cola for free - part of being in business class. The seats seem to be the same as coach.

Spectacular sunset, but windows too dirty for my Nikon, got some shots with the Pixel.

On time arrival downtown, Google maps charted me a course to the hotel, and got everything right except the entrance. San Diego made it more difficult early in the walk by removing all the street signs for the street I needed to turn onto. Construction on all 4 corners. The street I was on was clearly marked. Google showed me where I was, though.

Checked in, got the wifi code. Elevator needs you to tag your room key, but it doesn't say that and neither did the guy at check-in. A fellow passenger clued me in.

Unpacked, logged in on the phone & laptop, searched for a Thai place, but the one back by the station was the closest and it was nearly empty at 6. But I like the sign out on their patio.

The name of the place made me LOL. Aharn. It means "food" in Thai.

There's a Claim Jumper in the hotel, and I used to like going there in Seattle. So that's where I had dinner. Expensive but I'm on vacation. They messed up almost everything. Almost seated me in front of the patio door. Assigned me the bearded man waiter instead of the hot blonde woman who was serving the table next to me. I ordered a small steak covered in caramelized onions with a side  of crab cake. They gave me a choice of soup or salad, I got the salad which was came sort of chopped.

Two crab cakes showed up as an appetizer instead of a single one on the side. The onions were overcooked and chopped. the steak was well done instead of medium. There was a baked potato with a pound of sour cream which I had not ordered. When I told them I did not want it, they said they would just throw it away. The right answer would have been "what can we get you instead?".

Mud pie for dessert was some bland ice cream, not coffee or chocolate as the menu described.

They did get the diet cola right.

Tip was 10%. Not the 15-20 they suggested.

Back to the room, streamed for an hour. The usual suspects did not stay long.

In email was my job offer letter countersigned by the agency's CEO. No start date mentioned, whew. Also got email from a cretin at the background check company saying they were still working on it, when it has already cleared.

Wyndham Hotel: power outlets everywhere. Big desk, small TV, the big WTF is the closet is in the bathroom. There is an ironing board and iron in the closet and a handy outlet meant for a hair dryer nearby.

Soda machine is by the elevator, so is the ice machine. $2 for a 20 oz. Pepsi product. Not bad. But it only takes cash.

Plans for tomorrow:
Take the camera out to ride the hop on hop off trolley. Maybe hop off somewhere.