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I think it starts at 7AM. Your room steward or dining car manager should make an announcement and come by your room to take your reservation. Once onboard, I'd let your steward know that you'd like to eat at the earliest time. (Just noticed the date of your post). :)
8 months ago on Roomette with a View (or Two)
Use the Chase Amtrak Card! This will be our 3rd trip via a sleeper to 2 zones with ZERO out of pocket- minus the points that we earned. It's about $6K in Amtrak travel. Meals included and a place to relax during the day if you want to be alone is awesome. Wish there was more wifi on the long trains.
8 months ago on Coming Soon: New Long Distance Cars
I have used the Amtrak Chase Card for years. About every 2 years, I take the family or my kids from Santa Barbara on the Southwest Chief to Chicago. There, we depart with our rental car (located inside the station), to Lu Malnatis Pizza. Once full, we drive to Ohio to visit relatives and visit the Rock N Roll Hall, attend an Indians game, and local water parks. One year, we drove to Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Gettysburg before visiting the Inlaws on Lake Sebago, ME. We then drove to the Dells for a few days.
We LOVE Amtrak travel via a sleeper. We have taken the Zephyr, Empire Builder, and Starlight as well. The service as improved greatly over the last 20 years and our room stewards are always pleasant.
This summer, we have points once again and I'll take 1 or 2 of my kids across, but maybe to Boston this time. It's a great way to relax- no lines, flights, rest stops in a car, etc. The Zephyr is our favorite of the the four that go across the states. The scenery through the Rockies is unmatched- plus, my kids like all the river rafters who "moon" the train.
Have yet to take the Texas Eagle and figure in the summer it may be too hot, but perhaps someday.
If going, get off at longer stops and shop- we always buy something in NM from the local vendors. There are usually food kiosks in the stations as well. I once ran into Portland's station and bought up all the diet coke because the train was only serving Pepsi products. Glad I stopped that habit, however!
8 months ago on 10 Best Places to Visit in 2014