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Letters: The pros and cons of traveling by train

More readers' letters: An unpleasant Customs experience; a U.S. endorsement in Greece.

August 11, 2013

Chris Erskine's story ["Roll on By," July 28] brought back remembrances of a trip my husband and I shared 10 years ago. Our train was filled with Australians as well. On Day 2 one jumped up, pointing in the distance and yelling "BARR!" Their cameras followed. Their enthusiasm was wild.

I whispered to my husband, "That's a tree stump; bears do not lie still on the ground for that long!"

They didn't hear it from me. When we picked up our rental car for the drive to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, we were warned that bears do graze along the roadside. In less than 15 minutes we saw six bears grazing, including one crossing the highway.

Casey Shields Maatranga

Huntington Beach

I have driven the route that the train takes 10 times over the last 20 years. To take the train is to miss the lovely town of Hope, to miss Devil's Gate ride down to the river on a cable car, to miss the lovely Okanagan Valley with its magnificent vineyards and restaurants the equal of or better than Napa, to miss the lovely mountain drive above the Fraser River, to miss seeing Kicking Horse Overlook as the train winds around itself, to miss the many waterfalls.

Instead, Erskine stays at the worn-out town of Kamloops and spends $500 a day.

A car trip for one week, not two days, would cost about $1,000. Take the road, not the rails, next time.

Larry Kittiver

Harbor City

On the Spot of Aug. 4 ("Clearing Customs ... or Not" by Catharine Hamm) talked about entering the United States from Canada. I have done this many times and have encountered many different attitudes from the custom agents on both sides of the border.

A few say, "Welcome back" and ask a few questions, and some want your life story and others act as if they are doing you a favor to allow you to return to the United States or to go into Canada. If we had to rely on the way custom agents welcome us, we would never cross the border.

The worst one was coming from Vancouver, Canada, to Washington state. We had been on an Alaskan cruise and stayed over in Vancouver for three days. Then we — my wife, her two sisters, her 90-year-old mother and I — were to be bused to Seattle to board a plane for Los Angeles.

When the bus, which carried lots of other cruise passengers, arrived at the border the driver was told to shut off the engine and unload all the luggage. After he did that, two agents searched all the luggage and questioned everyone on the bus. We were treated as though we were smugglers and should all be in jail.

We finally got back on the road and made our plane in Seattle by running — even my mother-in-law —- through the airport. When we got home, I wrote a letter to customs and received a reply saying how sorry they were for how we were treated.

To this day I do everything I can to avoid this crossing.

Jim McDowell

Cerritos

Overseas fan

When I read Ada Brown's letter [Aug. 4] cautioning readers about the beds, plumbing and other problems in Greek hotels, it reminded me of my Greek tour. Our guide said she had never been to America, but her husband had, and he was impressed. He summed up the United States in two words: "Everything works."

Carol Clark

Los Feliz

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