Report on my recent trip

jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois(5b)March 23, 2014

Karen and I flew from our local airport (free parking) and spent 4 nights in Sacramento. Our 15-day Princess cruise began sailing from San Francisco to Hawaii and back. We stayed on the ship and cruised to Mexico for another 10 days. We spent 2 nights in San Francisco and rode Amtrak back to Illinois!

In Hawaii, we rented cars in each of the four ports and explored places we had previously missed. If you are ever on Kauai, please be sure you see the Tropical Botanical Garden. Be aware that this wonderful place has many, many steps and steep slopes. Plan on being there for two hours minimum. We also drove to the north shore of Oahu and the east side of Maui where we drove into the hills, away from many tourists.

Our trip to Mexico included the wonderful towns of Loreto and La Paz, on the east side of the Baja peninsula, places that cruise ships rarely venture. We had been to both places and were eager to return. Loreto in particular is a treat, with its small-town atmosphere (only 14,000 people) makes it a trip to Mexico unlike most other tourist spots.

The Amtrak portion was on the California Zephyr, leaving California on Monday morning and arriving in Illinois on Wednesday evening. Riding the train through the mountains was unique. Many isolated spots that we experienced would not have been seen if we had driven. Since we had a reserved sleeping car spot, the food was included, alcoholic drinks were extra. It was a wonderful trip and I have to spend more time deleting photos, I really need to get it down to fewer than 600.

Next cruise is in early November, 31-days round-trip, San Diego to Lima, Peru. Lots of time for you to book that. Cruising with me (and my loving wife) is an experience not to be missed!

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Thank you for sharing your trip with us. I think you are using the cruising experience the way it should be, exploring as much of the areas as possible. The train-ride sounds great, I am a long-time fan of railroads.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 12:10PM
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This trip and the next one sound great. I tend to shy away from "tourist" spots too. The train trip would be right up my alley. Thanks for the trip description.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 1:34PM
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It sounds like you had a great trip. I enjoyed reading about it, thanks for sharing.
We've been to some of the places you mentioned and they are beautiful.
Pretty flowers in the pic. Lol, don't delete any pics, just post them here.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 6:18PM
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Jim, thanks for sharing your trip with us. Since something like that is not in my future, I appreciate hearing about yours.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 6:27PM
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I'm thinking back about our trips to Hawaii, Mexico and beyond.
The last thing we want to do is get in a car and drive around.
That's our choice.
We book a hotel that have "tourist" services. Be it a tour bus, private tours etc...
Just another choice for the people that does not want to drive.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 7:50PM
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jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois(5b)

For us, one of the good things about renting a car is that we can stop when and where we want and stay as long as we want. We have done the hired services in the past in Hawaii. This time, it was just the two of us doing what we wanted to do. We 'discovered' some places that we did not know existed. Some meals in out-of-the-way places, such as People's Cafe in Honolulu (what a treat).

One of the interesting things about this 25-day cruise is that nothing was new to us. We had been to each port before. We felt no need to try to do and see lots in one day. Our next cruise will have some old ports and many new ports.


    Bookmark   March 23, 2014 at 10:04PM
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Jim, I'm sure there are many more people who would like to travel the way you do than the way I do.
But I've had some interesting transportation. Like the time my girl friend and I rented a rickshaw in Singapore, he brought us to a huge open air market, that had the most wonderful and unknown (to me) vegetable, fruits and other foods. He brought us down alleyways that had tiny shops full of unusual goods. We had a great time, but that kind of travel may not appeal to a lot of people.
I do enjoy reading about your travels.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 5:21PM
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mrobbins(6b - Brooklyn)

Thanks for sharing your story, Jim! Your description was well-written and the trip sounds terrific. I'm thinking of taking an Amtrak sleeper trip for the first time; any recommendations? What did you think about the food?

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 2:06PM
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Jim, my husband and I are planning a trip to Maine in August and it so unlike your trip. Ours is pretty pedestrian--train to Boston, train to Portland, ME, and then rent a car for the last legs of the trip. But we will be with our son and his wonderful family for the Machais ME Blueberry Festival. I will be so happy to be there!!!!!

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 6:01PM
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Jim, one of the fun things for me, is that you name places and plants.
I go to search and check out the travel possibilities. It is nice to "know" someone who has actually been in a place and taken those photos.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 7:30PM
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jim_1 Zone 5B Illinois(5b)

In the 1960s, I was in the Navy and was stationed near Machias. I was at the Cutler Radio Site; I don't think it is still in business.

Amtrak sleeper information: there are two basic choices, a roomette and a bedroom. We booked the roomette and should have booked the other. When the beds were made up, we had to open the door to properly stand - it is a bit crowded. Every cabin on our train was taken! And, when you are in bed, you are front to back and the train sways side to side, thus you roll a lot. However, in the bedroom, there is MUCH more room, and you are side-to-side and the swaying in not the same issue. In the bedroom, even when the beds are made up, there is still lots of room. In the bedroom, you have your own toilet and shower; for the roomette, you have to share (and it is tiny - no problem with falling!). Price will be a big determining factor, as will availability. I was just looking at Amtrak to take to Austin for a wedding in May and there are no bedrooms going down and only two roomettes. Coming back, one bedroom and one roomette. Each sleeper car has about 10 bedrooms and 20 roomettes. On our trip from San Francisco, there were two sleepers and 3 coaches - all booked!

The food was OK, the menus are always the same, but you can get a variety. On our trip, there were some items that were gone (cheesecake and vanilla gelato for instance) on the last day. Those in coach have to pay the menu prices. I did leave a small tip for the servers, who were not overworked. Soda is free with the meal, however wine and beer are extra. There is also a cafe car with simple nibbles that are cash or credit card transactions.

Still, not a bad way to see the countryside! And there were lots and lots of interesting people on board. You have some time to sit and chat in the upper level of the cafe car.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2014 at 9:07PM
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