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» RAILforum » Passenger Trains » Amtrak » which western capitols?

   
Author Topic: which western capitols?
sojourner
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I am still planning another CA Zephyr trip, late spring or summer, on which I hope to be taking in lotsa capitols I've never visited. So I have these questions:

(a) Has anyone been to Lincoln Nebraska? I got off to stretch my legs when we had a (very delayed) smoke stop there on my eastbound Zephyr trip last May, and it looked like a cute enough place, with a Holiday Inn right near the station. But the westbound Zephyr gets in and leaves after midnight. How will that pan out? Do you recommend the Holiday Inn? I would just stay 24 hours to see the capitol; anything else anyone recommends?

(b) I will likely stop in Denver overnight because I have a friend to have dinner with there and because, though I saw the capitol from the outside last time, I want to go in and tour it. No questions, really; I'd like to stay at the Oxford if I can afford it.

(c) I will continue to Salt Lake City to see the capitol there. Will middle of night arrival be a problem here? Also, if I get there Saturday/Sunday night and am there on Sunday, can I see a lot of the sites, or are they closed on Sundays? Then Monday I will visit the capitol (closed weekends) before departing, possibly midday, possibly not till night--depends where I go next.

(d) Boise is a long bus ride but it looked quite nice in the news this past week. Anyone have any input on it, including hotel rec? I'd have to stay 2 nights, I think.

(e) Helena seems really hard to get to! OTOH, if I decide to do Yellowstone on this trip, I think I can take a shuttle to Idaho Falls or Pocatello and then another bus to Butte and another to Helena. But it's pretty tough without a car. Anyone have any input on Helena, including hotel? Of Idaho Falls and Pocatello, which do you recommend if I have to overnight? If I have to skip one capitol, shall I skip this one because of the difficulties? Of Helena and Boise, which do you recommend?

(f) Looks like I can get to Carson City on a public bus from Reno if it's a weekday. Any input on where to stay in Reno, and what else to see? Shall I stay longer to go to Lake Tahoe, or is that a bad idea without a car?

I have already visited and toured the capitol buildings in Sacramento CA, Salem OR, Olympia WA, and SAnta Fe NM, and hope to get to Phoenix on my long-delayed Tucson trip.

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train lady
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We were in Boise when we followed the old Oregon Trail. I can tell you we were underwhelmed and didn't spend the night there.
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DeeCT
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Sojourner

As for Boise,

This looks like an 8 hour trek on the Greyhound from Salt Lake City. 16 hours total on a bus is a lot ---- but I routinely do 7 hours each way going to Maine. However, I do have more than a one day break in between trips. If you are able to read on a bus, take a good book. That, some music and watching the scenery will make the time pass quickly.

I have yet to find a city that I could not find enough to keep me occupied for at least a days time. Check here ---

http://www.boise.org/

All this said --- I think if I was to make a visit to Boise, I would ignore medical advice and fly from either Salt Lake City, UT or Portland, OR. Both are a 1 hour flight. (At least would fly one way).

Dee

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mr williams
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Even from six thousand miles away I can advise on Reno!

Yes, there is a public bus from Reno to Carson City (it's called the PRIDE) and I've taken it myself. $3 one-way, good and reliable and it takes under an hour. Be warned though that it is intended for commuters so there is an hourly service from approx 5.00am - 8.00am in the mornings but then there's a seven hour gap in the middle of the day and then hourly again from 3.00pm - 8.00pm. Carson City has no local bus service within the town and as it is quite a spread out place you need to enjoy walking!

There is a bus service to Lake Tahoe from Reno airport and I'm sure there's a local bus service around Tahoe/Truckee but it really does need a car to see it properly.

However, Reno being a tourist town there are several companies which offer all half or all day tours of the area, taking in Donner Pass, Lake Tahoe, Carson City, Virginia City, "The Ponderosa" etc They pick you up at your hotel around 8.00am and drop you back at around 6.00pm. The last I saw it cost about $50 but that included an all you can eat lunch. I went on it about five years ago and thought it was excellent - we even saw a Bear in the mountains!

Where to stay in Reno? Most if not all of the big hotels are casinos. Harrah's, Eldorado, and Fitzgerald's are all adjacent to the Amtrak station on the main casino "strip" Silver Legacy and Circus Circus are two blocks north.

The Sands Regency is two blocks west of the Strip and although a little more "blue collar" is probably the cheapest (you can get a good size room mid-week outside of the main season from as little as $19 a night)perfectly safe and probably the friendliest.

If you don't want to stay near the strip the Hilton is out by the airport and you will find countless hotels on the internet. There is an excellent bus service around the city with services from 5.00am - midnight on many routes (and a few are even 24 hour).

But whatever you do be VERY wary of the cheap motels especially in the northern blocks above the strip. All casino towns attract an undesirable element and whilst most people will never have any issues or problems some of the people I saw around there seemed to be auditioning for the next series of "Cops"!!

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Kiernan
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When I stay in Denver I usually stay at the Comfort Inn just off the Mall. I don't know what it costs because I always stay there when I'm traveling for the Forest Service. With the trolley running south of downtown now, you might be able to get a hotel in the Tech Center area, and on the weekends they would be less expensive. I stayed at one of the hotels in the Tech Center when mys sister and I went to Denver to see Van Cliburn a few years ago. The Colorado Capitol is just off the end of the Mall.

The last time I was in Salt Lake I stayed in Sandy, Utah, at the end of the trolley line. Not really convenient, but I wanted to ride the trolley. The best place to stay in Salt Lake, though, is one of the hotels near Temple Square. There are shopping malls and everything right there. And make sure that you find the monument to the California seagull.

When I lived in Juneau I met a couple on the capitol steps. They wanted me to take their picture with their camera. They had visited every state capitol and the Alaska Capitol was their fiftieth. It was also their fiftieth wedding anniversary.

--------------------
Kiernan

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sojourner
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Thank you all so much for the info. I haven't gotten too much further in my deciding. Right now I've booked as far as Salt Lake City, with a stopover in Lincoln and Denver. I've booked a sleeper to Chicago but coach from there. If for some reason I miss my Chicago connection--I always take that into account and make "cushions"--one of those will serve as my cushion night--i.e., I'll skip a stopover and continue to the next place, and I'll make sure to book hotels that have day of arrival cancellation policy. I haven't booked any hotels yet.

I am pretty sure I am going to take the bus from SLC airport to Jackson, stay there 3-4 nights, and then catch the tours of Yellowstone & Grand Teton from there. I could then catch a bus to a bus to get to Helena, and get from there by bus to Whitefish, and go home on the Empire Builder. Or I could stay longer and use buses to get to Boise or to Spokane or Portland and then head down to Reno, or go to Reno first . . .

Well, it's all a little complicated, but I'll try to figure it out. Still, I'm not sure I can endure too many long bus trips. I like trains, not long-distance buses!

Mr Williams, are you sure there is no local bus from Reno to Carson City weekdays midday? I could have sworn when I looked it up there was one. I wonder if it's affordable by taxi?

I am still looking for more info on Helena and Boise, if there is anyone who knows anything. I read a few books set in Boise and it didn't sound so bad--Train Lady, when were you there?

Thanks again.

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train lady
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Sojourner I just checked my travel journel and we were there Sept.23, 1999, The reason I know I was underwhelmed is because the only thing I have written down is "Boise... a city". I apparently had nothing against it to say I just wasn't impressed. In the addenda I did note that I had gone into the Idaho store in Boise and had bought chocolate covered potato chips to take home to my daughter.I do remember that it was beastly hot and I was miserable walking over to the capitol.That may account for my disinterest.
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HopefulRailUser
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Chocolate covered potato chips! I thought my husband's home town, Grand Forks, ND, was the only place that had those. Those potato places have to find some claims to fame I guess.

--------------------
Vicki in usually sunny Southern California

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zephyr
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quote:
Originally posted by HopefulRailUser:
Chocolate covered potato chips! I thought my husband's home town, Grand Forks, ND, was the only place that had those...

The Zip Code for Grand Forks is 58201.

Need I say more?

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TwinStarRocket
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And the first digit of Zephyr's zip code is -?

How do we know he is not actually a zip fiver, who disguises his humble origins with his disdain for those of us so afflicted?

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delvyrails
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For Nevada, don't forget the fabulous Virginia & Truckee railroad (restored to service southward out of Virginia City toward Carson City), plus the V&T Museum on the south side of Carson City and the former V&T depot north of downtown at Carson and Washington Sts.

--------------------
John Pawson

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train lady
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Vicki, I must admit I did buy some for us to munch on too. They were fabulous!!! In MT. Home ID.my husband had ice cream for dessert and it looked exactly like a baked potato opened up with sour cream on top. He also found candy that looked like potatoes but didn't taste like them. People can be very inventive regardless of their zip code
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mr williams
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Just looked again and I'm afraid I was right - nothing from Reno to Carson City between 07.50 am and 2.20 pm.

Here's the full schedule:

http://www.rtcwashoe.com/transportation/pride/planning/schedules/

It's always possible there may be another service provider but if there is I'm afraid I don't know of them
[Frown]

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mr williams
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Taxi would be $80 - 100 each way, but that might be negotiable
Posts: 394 | From: england | Registered: Sep 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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