Amtrak to Burning Man? (reno)

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Re: Amtrak to Burning Man? (reno)

Postby catinthefunnyhat » Fri Jun 08, 2012 2:10 pm

I think you underestimate our ability to appreciate people who are way different from us. You'd benefit from our belief in multiculturalism.

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"Huh. Well, his pedal car is nice, eh?"
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Re: Amtrak to Burning Man? (reno)

Postby Simon of the Playa » Fri Jun 08, 2012 2:29 pm

i love jaywalking in canada....it actually makes them cringe and mumble under their noodles and ketchup breath breath..."fucking american' eh"....
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Re: Amtrak to Burning Man? (reno)

Postby catinthefunnyhat » Fri Jun 08, 2012 2:31 pm

Simon of the Playa wrote:noodles and ketchup breath


Oh, now them's fightin' words!
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Re: Amtrak to Burning Man? (reno)

Postby Simon of the Playa » Fri Jun 08, 2012 2:36 pm

how do canadians ask for the Breakfast Special?




"whats on tap, eh?"




i'm from western ny and am well aware of your eccentricities and grazing habits.
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Re: Amtrak to Burning Man? (reno)

Postby Zhust » Fri Jun 08, 2012 6:45 pm

Simon of the Playa wrote:theres plenty of sky, and always another flight as stated above.


Yes yes, I obey. I will fly instead.

Good Simon ... good Simon. Calm down there.
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Re: Amtrak to Burning Man? (reno)

Postby Simon of the Playa » Fri Jun 08, 2012 6:55 pm

yes jayce, i'll stop frothing.

it is a sincere attempt to warn any would be burners the risks involved with trusting their lives to amtrak.

the story of the one train caught in donner pass under an avalanche for close to a week comes to mind....
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Re: Amtrak to Burning Man? (reno)

Postby tattoogoddess » Fri Jun 08, 2012 11:26 pm

Hey I will take a plane if you are paying. But sadly your not so train is my best option. Plus I get to ride with some pretty cool people :)
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Re: Amtrak to Burning Man? (reno)

Postby Dr. Pyro » Sat Jun 09, 2012 1:48 pm

I take Amtrak three or four times a year, between Rocklin/Auburn and San Francisco or to Reno. Never had a problem, being late was never an issue (the California Zephyr in the middle of winter can be late by the time it gets to Reno, but it's August, not January), and usually can bring my own adult beverages. No hassles with weight, luggage, timetables, room, and so on. Have even managed to have a little "adult getaway time" on several occasions. I truly believe the glass-half-full people are doing a major disservice to those of you taking Amtrak. Safe travels everyone.
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Re: Amtrak to Burning Man? (reno)

Postby tattoogoddess » Sat Jun 09, 2012 2:14 pm

Well said! :) Im really looking forward to Amtrak. Not really enjoying the sky is falling crap.
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Re: Amtrak to Burning Man? (reno)

Postby lemur » Sat Jun 09, 2012 2:40 pm

i dont think its a disservice to people to talk about real experiences on amtrak.

in recent years ive only ever used amtrak on trips to reno or emeryville and back to chicago on the zephyr for burning man trips in august/sept..

i did it for 4 years in a row..

on 3 trips of the 8 there was 1 of the coach cars that had out of order toilets for half of the trip.. they were clogged/broken and stunk up the whole car... one time they brought the pumper truck in at grand junction..the toilets went down before denver.. (going west) the smell in the car was bad before the pumper truck started.. they didnt tell anyone to evacuate the car when the truck started pumping... the stink went through the ventilation system and there was a mad rush for the next car by quite a few people as the gag inducing smell permeated .....i am not squeamish when it comes to such smells as i grew up using an outhouse all summer at a family fishing cottage that still to this day doesnt have plumbing.. i had to leave the coach, i was about to hurl... unpleasant !

on one of the trips west those people going to winnemucca/reno were put on a bus at elko to make the final portion of their trip due to track and tunnel work.. i was going to reno.. so it was about 400 miles on a bus... not a whole lot of fun.

i dont think that i ever had a delay of less than 1.5-2 hours going in either direction.. one of the trips going east there was a 7 hour delay for the train to arrive in reno.. that 7 hour delay is surely twice as long as it takes to get from emeryville to reno.. ..wasnt fun waiting in the station in reno for that long.

another time the delay on the way east added up to 10 hours over the course of the trip from emeryville to chicago ..they started to hand out snacks and bottles of water to people in iowa as they had ran out of/low on food (and probably to calm people down.. lotsa grumbly folks in those seats)

on nearly every trip i was on in Omaha and Reno the police with dogs usually boarded and asked to search the bags of random people.. i was one of the folks once ....if you refuse to be searched you give up your right to travel on that trip.

numerous times there were drunk/disorderly folks who were loud/abusive of passengers who had to get thrown off because they were drinking their own private stock of booze and werent able to be cut off by train staff..

crying misbehaving kids running up and down the aisles..

at night they seem to turn the a/c on superdeep freeze in the observation car to discourage use.. which isnt awesome if youre having trouble sleeping in your coach seat next to some elderly snoring person and just want somewhere to sit and zone out for a bit


as said above by simon.... I enjoy the train!

its a great way to travel.. its fun, theres benefits (you dont need to show up 2 hours early to the station for security checks)..

but there are also realities of our public national train system.. sometimes the cars arent well maintained, sometimes the staff isnt the best, sometimes the people with you arent the best... often times its late.. the food aint all that great and it costs a lot....etc.. etc..

it is cheaper than flying... you get scenic views, you get to talk to people.. and walk around and bring on tons of gear..

for some folks the thing that appears in the computer world applies "HEY IT WORKS FOR ME!!" but.. the reality of the largely broken underfunded rail system still remains.

some trips are better than others.. some arent so fun at some points.

as we saw with jayces trip getting ruined cuz of it..
as ive seen with horrible delays and poorly maintained trains .. it aint perfect

the views west of denver are great on the zephyr.. but.. if things arent perfect.. dont freak out cuz that kinda stuff happens all the time on amtrak! be ready for it.
Last edited by lemur on Sat Jun 09, 2012 2:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Amtrak to Burning Man? (reno)

Postby Simon of the Playa » Sat Jun 09, 2012 2:44 pm

thank you lemur for expressing what my snark could not.

i too have been "trapped" in Minot, North Dakota because of flooding.

had to go all the way BACK to portland and THEN fly to my destination.

NONE of the trains were making it across the mississippi and there wasn't anything anyone could do.


like you so eloquently put, be prepared.
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Re: Amtrak to Burning Man? (reno)

Postby Savannah » Sat Jun 09, 2012 2:52 pm

I've ridden the train a couple hundred times without incident, and this will be the third Burn in which I employ it to meet up with my rideshare co-pilot.

The only bit of excitement I ever encountered was one August on my way back from a visit to an Aunt, when the air-conditioning failed in most of the train cars, and the silvery metal train baked for an hour in the hot sun. Verrry stifling, easily 95-100F with no air flow. The train staff handled it expertly, moving children and the elderly to the cooler cars, and making announcements about what they planned to do (to quell anxiety). They were about to call in buses to transport us the rest of the way when some mechanical wizard got the AC going, and we were able to resume travel. The five dollar Bud Light I treated myself to in the dining car was far too tasty after that. :lol:

I've never been subject to searches or long delays, but I think that is the privilege of being on the West coast (little to no snow). I'm very interested to hear that searches may occur, Lemur. :shock: Worth knowing.
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Re: Amtrak to Burning Man? (reno)

Postby Simon of the Playa » Sat Jun 09, 2012 2:57 pm

searches do occur, however they tend to be Immigration. (ICE)

sometimes, if they get a tip, they'll bring the dogs thru.


after Croptober, ALL trains coming from the west coast tend to be boarded and searched with dogs, sometimes in Reno, other times in Omaha, sometimes they are waiting at Union Station in Chicago.

hint: to avoid search in chicago, ride sleeper. They escort those passengers thru the first class lounge and then out.
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Re: Amtrak to Burning Man? (reno)

Postby tattoogoddess » Sat Jun 09, 2012 3:17 pm

As said, yeah I have rode it 3 times for over 24 hours. Never had a problem ever. Only minor thing was a 2 hour delay into omaha. Not a huge deal. I have rode it from PDX to Seattle quite a few times and no issues and always on time. Plus this stuff say delays, toilet issues , ac ect ca happen on planes to. I had a flight CHI to NYC. No ac 3/4 of the trip. ICK. Delays.. yep quite a few I have delt with. So just saying, you really run the same risks with train as you do a plane.
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Re: Amtrak to Burning Man? (reno)

Postby lemur » Sat Jun 09, 2012 3:39 pm

yeh they do searches... i was kinda surprised to see them the first time it happened

one time the young man in front of me was searched .. they took him off of the train and the train waited as they went through his bags... they found 2 ounces of the green marijuana stuff in them.. and surprisingly.. he filled out some paperwork, (in omaha) and the undercovers let him back on the train (after taking his marijuana).. they told him "you arent the kind of person we are looking for, we're looking for people with pounds." ..the guy was overjoyed that he wasnt arrested ..but a bit sad to lose his marijuana.

the searches usually happen after the smoke break when passengers board the train again.. they flash a badge and mention searching for narcotics they ask to search the bags with you and if you have any other bags on the train or checked.. etc... one time the doods came on the train in some of that fancy tactical SWAT type gear.. sometimes the train waits for the search to end... with the doors closed on the platform.. and other times i saw em ride on till the next stop (for whatever reason)
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Re: Amtrak to Burning Man? (reno)

Postby theCryptofishist » Sat Jun 09, 2012 6:41 pm

You know. They are going to be alright. There are at least three of them. They are adults. They will have cell phones to call their campmates and hotels to tell them they will be late. They will have emergency money. If the toilets go wacko, they will laugh at the JotS. If the train gets delayed, they can ask themselves "What Would Doc Pyro Do" and break open the absinthe.

It's gonna be better than car trouble in Nebraska--and you know some poor burner's going to go through that this year, whether or not it's someone on this board.
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Re: Amtrak to Burning Man? (reno)

Postby BoyScoutGirl » Sat Jun 09, 2012 9:24 pm

Just posting to say: I love the unique blend of supportive encouragement, somewhat cynical realism, and snarky snark eplaya has to offer. I feel like I could post a thread with almost any idea and by the end of the trial by fire, the idea would be greatly improved from everyone's input. Or at least I'd understand the idea from many experienced viewpoints. The past few days on this thread are a good example - if you look past the banter, there's a lot of information to be had!
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Re: Amtrak to Burning Man? (reno)

Postby Zhust » Sun Jun 10, 2012 5:52 am

lemur wrote:some trips are better than others.. some arent so fun at some points.

as we saw with [ jaycesZhust's ] trip getting ruined cuz of it..
as ive seen with horrible delays and poorly maintained trains .. it aint perfect


Let's be clear here: the California Zephyr got cancelled because the eastbound train hit a crane in the tracks. Totally random fluke. If it were a car, they train probably wouldn't have derailed and traffic would have resumed the next day.

(Now imagine if that happened to a plane at an airport and what the response would be.)

And there was an alternative, but I already had enough signs that I wasn't meant to go.
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Re: Amtrak to Burning Man? (reno)

Postby FeetOfClay » Sun Jun 10, 2012 6:07 am

You know. They are going to be alright. There are at least three of them. They are adults. They will have cell phones to call their campmates and hotels to tell them they will be late. They will have emergency money. If the toilets go wacko, they will laugh at the JotS. If the train gets delayed, they can ask themselves "What Would Doc Pyro Do" and break open the absinthe.It's gonna be better than car trouble in Nebraska--and you know some poor burner's going to go through that this year, whether or not it's someone on this board.


I find that in all decision making processes, including planning my trip to burning man, my steps are usually:

1) Identify the question at hand (ex/ how to get from NY to NV)
2) Research lots of potential solutions (using e-playa, first timer's guide, internet sites, my own intuition, guidance of loved ones, etc).
3) Choose what seems "best", based on what I have learned, and many factors (cost, safety, enjoyability, duration, etc).

4) LET GO AND TRUST. THE ASPECTS WHICH ARE WITHIN MY CONTROL HAVE NOW BEEN ATTENDED TO. ANYTHING ELSE THAT LIES AHEAD (ACCIDENTS, DELAYS, HIJACKINGS, WEATHER, STOMACH FLU) IS BEYOND MY CONTROL.

I have found this last step to be very important. It does not mean that i am reckless, or unheeding of others' advice, or resigned to bad stuff happening, or any of that.

It means that I have learned that the idea of control and being able to MAKE stuff happen ("no matter what, I WILL make it to the playa") is largely an illusion. For me. Yes, I am determined with everything in my power (which is, again, circumspect) to make it to the playa. But no matter HOW i choose to get there, something could always put a hurdle in my path. so i will be ready, and trust.
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Re: Amtrak to Burning Man? (reno)

Postby lemur » Sun Jun 10, 2012 6:47 am

jaycerochester wrote:
lemur wrote:some trips are better than others.. some arent so fun at some points.

as we saw with [ jaycesZhust's ] trip getting ruined cuz of it..
as ive seen with horrible delays and poorly maintained trains .. it aint perfect


Let's be clear here: the California Zephyr got cancelled because the eastbound train hit a crane in the tracks. Totally random fluke. If it were a car, they train probably wouldn't have derailed and traffic would have resumed the next day.

(Now imagine if that happened to a plane at an airport and what the response would be.)

And there was an alternative, but I already had enough signs that I wasn't meant to go.


i think that speaks to the point that simon was trying to mention.. that there is only 1 rail .. (with hundreds of grade crossings where if theres 1 fluke things fuck up)

theres no need to be defensive, or offended by this... in my mind this discussion isnt a either or or for or against thing.. its just 'hey! this stuff happens' ... like a survival guide for burning man not being a document to say 'DONT GO TO BURNING MAN' just.. hey.. be prepared.

yeh! i know of the incident youre referring to ..and yes it is a bit of a fluke when a train hits something at a grade crossing..

this was the story from the LA times at the time..

Just two months ago, a passenger train on the San Francisco-to-Chicago line known as the California Zephyr was struck by a big rig at a rural crossing 70 miles east of Reno. Five passengers and the truck driver were killed.

On Friday, the California Zephyr again ran into trouble. The Amtrak train carrying about 175 people derailed in Nebraska after striking a farm vehicle stopped on the tracks.


mentioning this isnt to say 'DONT GO ON AMTRAK' just.. to say.. yeah flukes happen, sometimes often, sometimes not.. and grade crossings are a dangerous thing for all train travel.. if the train companies had their way there wouldnt be any.

but these kinds of flukes can have a big impact, specifically on the zephyr.. it has 1 train per day.

southwest airlines has at least 12 planes going to reno per day.. with other airlines leaving a good 40+ options per day

sure!! we could start arguing like 'YEAH BUT AIRPLANES COULD CRASH TOO!!!' or 'SOME IDIOT WITH A SUSPICIOUS PACKAGE SHOULD SHUT DOWN AN AIRPORT!!' but i think that kind of misses the point as to why some people are mentioning some stuff about amtrak

at least in my mind.. the point is that: its a system that not everyone has experience with.

and like burning man itself.. with its survival guide, its not there to encourage you to not go.. its there to point out what you can expect.

the amtrak survival guide isnt here to suggest you take the plane, not in my mind... just to prepare you for the realities

..the burning man survival guide isnt there to suggest you go to bonnaroo or coacella instead.. its there to prepare you for the realities.
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Re: Amtrak to Burning Man? (reno)

Postby BoyScoutGirl » Sun Jun 10, 2012 9:35 am

As it happens, I'm currently posting while onboard the Surfliner - looking out over the Pacific Ocean from the second floor deck and surfing the ePlaya. Definitely don't get these views or this free wifi + AC jack on a typical flight.

:D
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Re: Amtrak to Burning Man? (reno)

Postby Simon of the Playa » Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:10 am

Unlike you FeetofClay i DO NOT give up control of my destiny...if i want to get to burning man i will get there if i have to bludgeon my way across country in a series of stolen vehicles.

My point is, you can make informed decisions based on gathering information, reviewing the options, and THEN making a choice as opposed to decidifying ( bushism ) and then asking people to affirm said decision instead of asking for advice and guidance...

Like i said, toots, it aint no skin off my nose if y'all dont make it.

Seriously.


Remember this conversation when you are sitting still in the middle of wyoming for 6 hours because yet ANOTHER cow got creamed...

Ill be in the new SFO VIP lounge ...
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Re: Amtrak to Burning Man? (reno)

Postby lemur » Sun Jun 10, 2012 10:20 am

we sat for well over an hour still on the zephyr in iowa (maybe it was illinois) once when the train hit a dear and knocked some of the cables between one of the forward cars off.. they needed to do repairs and the train had sporadic power during it (at least thats what they told us)

this happened to be one of the many areas on the zephyr line that didnt have any cell phone service..


last i recall the zephyr was one of the trains without wifi ..and as it is usually quite far from cities/towns and the highway it doesnt have great cell phone/3G coverage throughout the trip.. there are some stretches where the train rides along within view of I-80 with good cell phone signal.. but most of the trip its pretty spotty..... from truckee to emeryville the signal is fine if i recall correctly
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Re: Amtrak to Burning Man? (reno)

Postby BoyScoutGirl » Sun Jun 10, 2012 12:56 pm

Poor dear.
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Re: Amtrak to Burning Man? (reno)

Postby lemur » Sun Jun 10, 2012 1:10 pm

    DEER.
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Re: Amtrak to Burning Man? (reno)

Postby Simon of the Playa » Sun Jun 10, 2012 1:29 pm

that must be one helluva headlight.
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Re: Amtrak to Burning Man? (reno)

Postby Zhust » Mon Jun 11, 2012 6:48 am

Simon of the Playa wrote:My point is, you can make informed decisions based on gathering information, reviewing the options, and THEN making a choice as opposed to decidifying ( bushism ) and then asking people to affirm said decision instead of asking for advice and guidance...


I think I understand your rationale.

What I know about how you are getting to Burning Man this year, you are going to fail. I hope you learn your lesson.
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Re: Amtrak to Burning Man? (reno)

Postby kalouts1 » Mon Jun 11, 2012 11:17 am

Thank you guys for your opinions and advises on AmTrack...

I chose AmTrack because it was my only affordable option. It is true that I am used to use the European rail which is more reliable.
However, even if we have some delays, we'll make it !!

Thanks for the warning, but I prefer to think, and it's more likely to happen, that we are going to arrive before the beginning of the event.

Furthermore, I think it's great to cross the country, especially for someone from overseas.. We might have some problems, but there is nothing to do about it. If it runs perfect...what else can we ask ??
To me, it is part of the experience (and the risk), weather it works or not !

Regarding the dogs, I love them, but not on a trip like this one..

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Re: Amtrak to Burning Man? (reno)

Postby FeetOfClay » Mon Jun 11, 2012 11:50 am

i am grateful for all the advice and info that has been shared on this thread--not only has it provided me with TONS to read about the pros and cons of using the train, but it will be there for future burners who are making decisions about travel :)

at this point, I am just keeping my fingers crossed for my (imminent, hopefully) STEP ticket, and wishing everyone safe and prompt arrival for the event. some people love amtrak, some hate it, some are in the middle. for now, I am looking forward to my train trip that will be, if nothing else, a new experience for sure!

no need for strife on here! we are all making difference choices about how to get to the event, but of greater importance is our common bond: we are going to Burning Man! it's coming faster than any of us can imagine! i'm gonna give you all hugs at the Meet & Greet :)
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Re: Amtrak to Burning Man? (reno)

Postby lemur » Tue Jun 12, 2012 11:29 am

awkward? maybe..

but nothing that cant be worked out while sharing a microwaved digiorno pizza in the snackbar while rolling through the beautiful Utah landscape...
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