This Valentine’s Day, we’re sharing the story of Armand Soliz, who met his wife of three years on the Coast Starlight!
Armand was returning to Portland, Oregon after visiting his mother in Bakersfield, California, a trip he took several times a year, going from Bakersfield to Sacramento via the San Joaquin line, then the Coast Starlight from Sacramento to Portland. He boarded the Coast Starlight around midnight, and the Conductor directed him to a specific seat, an aisle seat five rows from the front of the coach. As he approached his spot, he saw a sight that will be forever etched in his heart, beautifully flowing blonde hair, cascading down on to a pink hooded sweatshirt. The gal with this lovely hair was asleep, seating directly across the aisle from him, so he settled in for the overnight trip.
Sometime early in the morning, he woke up to the faint sunlight close to Klamath Falls, Oregon. He glanced over to where the blonde had been seated, but she was gone. Armand thought she had probably already disembarked. Disappointed, he headed downstairs to the Cafe Car for coffee and a sweet roll. When he reached the Cafe Car, behold the blonde was sitting alone with her coffee! He retrieved his breakfast, then made his way to her table and asked if he could join her. She obliged and they sat for the next eight hours from Klamath to Portland talking, laughing, chatting, dining, sightseeing and sharing. She was heading to Minnesota to visit her family via the Empire Builder. He knew she had a several hour layover in Portland, so he stayed with her, treating her to a hot dog dinner from the Amtrak Station Store. As the time approached for her to continue her journey, they exchanged phone numbers and a hug and she turned around and walked away. For a moment Armand thought he would never see her again. Just then, she called out his name and ran back to him, hugged him and planted a wonderful kiss and said "I'll call you, I promise."
They had a wonderful, five-year, long distance romance. With a special surprise in mind, Armand invited her to take a scenic excursion ride on the restored 1950s vintage coach, the Overland Trail, which was attached to the end of the Pacific Surfliner. They caught the train in Santa Barbara, traveling up along the stunning Pacific coast to San Luis Obispo. Armand had taken this excursion several times and gotten to know the staff, and was able to make arrangements with them to act as an onboard docent. At the perfect time, just past the Gaviota Bridge, he was handed the microphone. He gave a quick introduction, mentioned his girlfriend to the group and told everyone on board how they met, then said "seeing as we met on a train I think it only proper that I ask her to marry me." With the view of the magnificent ocean waves out the window, Armand dropped to one knee and asked her to marry him.
They married in a simple backyard ceremony one year later with family and friends. They have been married for three years now and have taken Amtrak on many other excursions!
Amtrak San Joaquins helps connect you to California, but destinations aren’t the only type of connection a journey can create. Meeting fellow travelers is a part of the ride, and you never know who you’ll meet on the train. Do you have a love story with Amtrak San Joaquins? We’d love to hear about it!