As I mentioned back on page 1 of this discussion, knowing dates early is definitely not going to guarantee lower hotel rates. I went and priced out things for the same cities we just visited last month going 11 months into the future and prices were still very ugly for all 3 cities. Additionally, for this last fest and in part because of AGR II coming, we knew almost six months before the event where we were going and when. And it didn't help, prices were still through the roof. And my additional samplings back on page 1 showed that things are just generally pretty bad in those cities.
As for Amtrak, being early isn't always the best choice either. Amtrak learned a few years ago that people would jump on booking things as soon as the dates opened for sale. So they tend to eliminate low bucket prices for the first month or so, and then they'll start to drop prices if things aren't already selling well.
Finally, since we're putting up potential reasons to move things; one argument for staying put in July, or perhaps moving to June, is the fact that we have the longest days of the year. This provides for more scenery when riding Amtrak, as well as the potential to do an after dinner run that's still in daylight like we did in Portland this year.