Jump to content




Help Support AmtrakTrains.com by donating using the link above or becoming a Supporting Member.

Photo

19,000kms zig-zagging across the USA and Canada, April/May 2018


  • Please log in to reply
161 replies to this topic

#21 mcropod

mcropod

    Lead Service Attendant

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 143 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Oz

Posted 28 April 2018 - 04:07 PM

Your East Texas town is Big Sandy!It isnt!


Too true! Many thanks for identifying it for me - I was looking in the stretch on the other side of Longview, and I also had the Sandy part as the first rather than second word. No wonder it was an unproductive search!

It wasn’t big, but it was a bit sandy, I thought :-)

#22 mcropod

mcropod

    Lead Service Attendant

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 143 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Oz

Posted 28 April 2018 - 04:18 PM

"Crossing the (Missouri?) river was a bit special, before Louie had to jump outside for a cigarette break. As someone who knew what it’s called in the UK, Louie was happily knew she could call it a **** break in front of me without causing offence."
 
That reminded me of a UK friend who was rescued injured from a road accident in the states. He was asked by the medics how he felt, and attempting to put on a brave face, he replied that he would be fine after a bottle of beer and a f-a-g...   Oops!
 
Ed.


Two nations separated by a common language, an observation attributed to both George Bernard Shaw and Winston Churchill.

I did tell a story at last night’s dinner table about how much better flavoured second day soup is compared to first day, which involved a swaggie (Oz abbreviation of swagman - a bloke who wanders the country on foot) carrying his pack, called a bluey. In Oz idiom, it’s the perfectly innocuous and safe for children expression: the swaggie humping his bluey.

I saw Louie stifling a giggle, and then she explained.

#23 mcropod

mcropod

    Lead Service Attendant

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 143 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Oz

Posted 28 April 2018 - 05:38 PM

Loco #18 was taken off at Fort Worth.

I didnt have my ears in to suss out why, and SCA Toya seemed to be caught unawares, so it seemed like it wasnt a usual move.

Were now being pulled by replacement #131, and still led by #151.

From this pic of #151 at Chicago, it looks like its seen a bit of action.Attached File  502A2529-B323-44DC-8C1C-C89DD46923FA.jpeg   114.41KB   10 downloads

#24 mcropod

mcropod

    Lead Service Attendant

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 143 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Oz

Posted 29 April 2018 - 10:18 AM

CHI to LAX Train #421 (Part Three) 28 and 29 April

Dallas yesterday was a very short stop, we being so far behind schedule. We were just minutes at the platform before off again.

After the news of earlier that morning, I had a little smile when we passed through the Dallas suburban railway station of Victory almost immediately after getting underway again.

Fort Worth was scheduled to be a longer stop, and it was confirmed was still going to be long enough to be a smoke stop. I thought I’d get some air and check out the temperature.

It was a nice warm sunny day and I had a conversation with Toya who told me she was a little too warm in her uniform, and as a Chicago native, not so used to such heat. In response to another passenger’s query about how much longer we’d be at the station, Toya replied likely minutes only.

I’d spotted we were without our two locos, so I mentioned that to Toya, who expressed surprise as she’d not noticed them being removed. She had been dealing with another passenger matter and it had completely escaped her attention.

If we were going to catch up time, it wasn’t going to be at the Fort Worth stop.

Eventually two locos appeared farther up our track. Loco #151 was still our lead, but it seemed loco #18 had been withdrawn and replaced by loco #131.

While all this was happening, Toya assured me the shower had been checked and was operational, so I should be fine this evening.

When we got underway again, we were still ninety-five minutes behind schedule.

I farewelled Kathy as she disembarked at Cleburne, from where she said she’d drive to her small town a short drive west of there.

Some parts of the world have very regionally-specific domestic farm animals. If you see them, you couldn’t really be somewhere else. Scotland’s Highland Cattle, locally known as ‘hairy coos’, are an example. So it was with happy surprise when I saw what I recognised as my first observed Texas Longhorn near Morgan. I spotted only a couple more farther on, but I was glad to have caught them in 3D.

At evening meal time I was seated the first of four, joined shortly afterwards by Bobby from Maryland, and mother and daughter Dianne and Abby from San Diego.

Once my foreignness had been established, Bobby said she’d been to Australia. By her description, that was a bit on an understatement - she’d travelled extensively through all the states and territories except for Western Australia. She’d been to Tassie, the Barossa wine region near Adelaide, up the centre to Alice Springs and Uluru (the preferred name for what once was known as Ayers Rock).

She’d been across to the Daintree Forest in far north Queensland, seen Sydney, Melbourne, and travelled on Victoria’s Great Ocean Road.

Bobby was familiar with much of our native wildlife, which reminded me that I still had some Oz coins in my wallet, each of which has a native animal on the reverse side, so I brought them out to the table for a pass-around.

The smallest denomination coin, the five cent piece, has an echidna on the reverse. That’s the animal which introduces me on this forum. Echidnas are regular visitors to my home, and the one in my pic climbed its way to my front door, up the steps in pursuit of ants, then had difficulty getting down.

All attempts to handle it resulted in the echidna going into defensive posture, rolling itself into a tight ball in the corner, and leaving only lifted spikes as its surface.

The only way we managed to return it to its bush gully opposite the house was to lay a blanket on the landing, await it unrolling itself and confident enough to walk across the blanket, before raising the blanket off the ground by each corner. The now entrapped echidna, supported from below, was quickly taken to the gully, and allowed to walk off the blanket at its own pace, calmly back to its bush home.

It is a regular visitor, but never before to the front door.

Dianne and ten year old daughter were keen to see the coins and hear of the animals, and I promised to show them a little video on my ipad of the echidna on an earlier successful ant-eating exploit.

Dianne is a vet in San Diego, returning home after a reunion of her Penn State classmates. She’d been in the ROTC and had subsequently served in units across the USA during her four year’s service.

Dianne was a seasoned rail traveller and took an annual LD trip.

I’d mentioned the fine folk at AU had provided advice about the upcoming San Antonio stop and the ability to experience the Riverwalk, and Dianne said she too would like to do it, so we agreed we’d do so as a trio.

After passing by the huge airport right next to the train track, and crawling into San Antonio at not much more than walking pace for several kilometres, we finally reached the station still behind schedule, but not so much as to make a visit unfeasible.

We’d been advised by new SCA Armando that we’d need to be back by midnight, or be shut out of the train until formal re-boarding at about 0200h. We later discovered this wasn’t quote right, but operated on that basis and kept our visit short.

There was clearly a sizeable fiesta going on, but winding down. There were cop cars and officers all over the road in as we walked, halting cars and giving pedestrians preference. This was marvellous - we were being directed to jaywalk by smiling, welcoming, officers of the law!

We easily reached the Riverwalk, by now likely much less crowded than only an hour before by the looks of things, and had a good meander around. I was the appointed photographer for mother and daughter pix, and they subsequently picked up some souveniers from one of the outlets.

That same outlet also sold boomerangs, much to my surprise. I suppose the patent Australia’s Indigenous population had taken out 40,000 years ago had expired and it was now in the public domain.

We made it back, with the kind assistance of the police-initiated compulsory jaywalk, by midnight, to find our sleeper nowhere in view. Another Amtrak officer told us the earlier advice was not correct, but that we could board the lounge car an await the return of our sleeper.

So we did, and after an hour, I went to see if it was on, walking through three coach cars each containing passengers in various forms of horizonticalty, to find our sleeper now attached.

I made the three-car return journey through the jumble of legs and passed on the good news, whereupon we three went in procession through the snores of the comatose and the bleary stares of the half-awake back to our rooms.

Toya was right - the shower was fully operational, so I did the deed then went horizontal myself. I don’t remember the train moving off.

I awoke at 0815h, looked out the window, and saw the scenery had dramatically changed. We were unquestionably in desert country. I was now on the south side of the train because the locos were pulling us in the opposite direction to our arrival. The bad aspect was I’d have the sun in my face much of the way, so not so good for photography.

The good aspect was I’d have Mexico in view.
  • oregon pioneer and Tony in Ann Arbor like this

#25 mcropod

mcropod

    Lead Service Attendant

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 143 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Oz

Posted 29 April 2018 - 10:46 AM

Near Marathon Attached File  E64AA088-3DA4-4957-A79E-7C16A185682D.jpeg   56.16KB   8 downloads

Attached File  F250F35A-F0C0-4187-8BE2-FED99E333350.jpeg   133.44KB   8 downloads
  • oregon pioneer and MARC Rider like this

#26 Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 17,445 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Austin Texas
  • Interests:Passenger Trains/Travel/Sports/Gov't/ Politics/History/Reading/
    Movies/Music/Space-Ancient Aliens

Posted 29 April 2018 - 12:46 PM

More good stuff as you roll through Texas!
Did you get off in my hometown of Austin, or was the stop too brief?

Looking forward to the next Chapter as you roll across the Desert along the Mexican Border!
"There's Something About a Train! It's Magic!"-- 1970s Amtrak Ad
 "..My heart is warm with the friends I make,and better friends I'll not be knowing,
Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,No matter where its going!.." -Edna St. Vincent Millay

#27 mcropod

mcropod

    Lead Service Attendant

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 143 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Oz

Posted 29 April 2018 - 02:51 PM

More good stuff as you roll through Texas!
Did you get off in my hometown of Austin, or was the stop too brief?
Looking forward to the next Chapter as you roll across the Desert along the Mexican Border!


We were so far behind schedule that the Austin stop was super short. I would have liked to stand on your soil, but it wasn’t to be :-(

I don’t even know if they slowed to a stop - they might have exchanged the passengers on the go like the old-style mail trains :-)
  • oregon pioneer likes this

#28 oregon pioneer

oregon pioneer

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,916 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:near Seneca, Oregon
  • Interests:Cross-country skiing, forestry, botany, solar power, gardening and food!

Posted 29 April 2018 - 02:57 PM

Oooh, Mexico! Best shot is several minutes AFTER you leave El Paso, so don't relax thinking it's over. You will go out of El Paso looking over a freeway and the Rio Grande River, with the Mexican side seemingly a long way off (good views if you have a long lens and a clear window). Then you will cross the Rio Grande (which is at that point the boundary between Texas and New Mexico), and a big hill will be on your left. Sometimes there are border agents in official vehicles parked or driving alongside. After the hill, you'll get a real close-up of a small neighborhood across the fence. It will only last a minute, but it is the best close-up view.

 

Attached File  1-dectrip_19.jpg   66.83KB   8 downloads

 

Attached File  1-dectrip_20.jpg   45.51KB   8 downloads

 

These photos are five years old, but I am sure it hasn't changed.


  • mcropod likes this

Jennifer

 

I'm a "little Old Lady in Tennis Shoes" (LOLITS) from Eastern Oregon. I love to travel by train, though I live way out in the toolies, far from the nearest Amtrak station (Chemult). My station would have been Baker City, but they cancelled the Oregon Pioneer just before I took my first long-distance train trip as an adult. I've taken most trains in the West, but I'm still exploring new routes in the east.


#29 mcropod

mcropod

    Lead Service Attendant

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 143 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Oz

Posted 29 April 2018 - 04:57 PM

Oooh, Mexico! Best shot is several minutes AFTER you leave El Paso, so don't relax thinking it's over. You will go out of El Paso looking over a freeway and the Rio Grande River, with the Mexican side seemingly a long way off (good views if you have a long lens and a clear window). Then you will cross the Rio Grande (which is at that point the boundary between Texas and New Mexico), and a big hill will be on your left. Sometimes there are border agents in official vehicles parked or driving alongside. After the hill, you'll get a real close-up of a small neighborhood across the fence. It will only last a minute, but it is the best close-up view.
 
(fab pix snipped - thankyou for them!)
 
These photos are five years old, but I am sure it hasn't changed.


Stand by!

It was a fascinating area. My photo gear is not even basic as I really prefer to look through the wide angle of my eyes, but I caught something in my camera, no worries!
  • oregon pioneer likes this

#30 mcropod

mcropod

    Lead Service Attendant

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 143 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Oz

Posted 29 April 2018 - 05:05 PM

CHI to LAX Train 421 (Part Four) 29 April

I discovered mid-morning that Dianne was really Dianna. We’d met up again with daughter Abby and in the course of our conversation I’d mentioned that I had connectivity.

She was surprised because she hadn’t and was trying to re-arrange an Amtrak booking. I asked he what her carrier was and she replied Verizon. Hah!, I thought, I was forewarned through this forum that Verizon wouldn’t have the coverage that I had with the forum-recommended carrier I was with, so I offered to lend her my tablet enabling her to sort things out.

Then she couldn’t work how to log out from the app, and nor could I, so rather than have her details remain on my machine, I said I’d delete the app there and then in front of her, and reinstall it when I’m in the LA station courtesy of Amtrak’s bandwidth.

As we were doing this, we passed through Marfa, the setting of one of controversial director Ken Park’s films about disaffected and disengaged youth. It’s a great movie and I was super pleased when I saw where we were. I can imagine a young person’s life there and why it might have been the basis of the fictional story in the film Marfa Girl.

SCA Armando had arranged bookings for midday and evening mealtimes and I asked him if they were for the same clock-times as we were currently observing. He told me they would be.

Not long after, a catering announcement was made that the dining car was observing the next time-zone already, even though we were not formally to enter it for some many kilometres yet.

So it meant that I had a wee bit longer to contemplate how good the mussels might be.

We passed through country which was quite familiar to me. A fair bit of central Australia looks similar. If you exclude geo-specific infrastructure like power poles and the like, you could be transported from one place to the other and not note much difference, save for the shade of the soil. We are a bit more red, you are a bit more light-brown.

You have a twin in parts of South Australia, north of Port Augusta.

When it was mussels time, I went to the diner to see the familiar figure of James sitting solo, and LSA Debbie motioned for me to sit with him. Shortly afterwards we were joined by Nancy and then Ray. We four were all travelling solo.

James was more conversational this time. It would have been hard for him not to be because Nancy, Ray, and I could all talk the back leg off a horse. James had slept through the San Antonio car-switching and so not left the train. He was a bit miffed when he heard about the chance to experience the fiesta and Riverwalk.

Nancy was returning home to Tuscon after spending time with rellos in Corpus Christie. She is retired but still active as a volunteer with Weight Watchers although she herself was well within recommended BMI levels. I only mention this because she rold me that WW has a policy of only accepting as colunteers those who have themselves gone through the program, and she had at one point been well over recommended weight.

She was travelling coach, unlike her three table companions who were obviously made of weaker stuff than she.

She also provided some context to the big event the previous evening in San Antonio. She said she thinks it was something to do with the Alamo.

I’d bumped into Ray just a short time before as he passed by me heading to the shower. We’d introduced each other and it was clear he’d be an entertaining fellow to dine with, so I was pleased when he appeared at the doorway and Debbie directed him to complete our table.

Ray was an ex-military flyer and had boarded the train at Del Rio at stupid o’clock. He’d been a navigator, and had served in a couple of air bases in Oz: one near Perth in WA, the other in Queensland.

Ray was heading to LA to fly to Singapore, and then to Japan, so he had the better part of his journey in front of him.

We had a pretty decent cross-table discussion over our meals, and Debbie was commendably on the ball, cheerful and efficient, despite this being the fifth day of her six-day roster.

As the only member of the paid workforce represented at the table, we each thanked James for earning the income to pay the taxes which would keep us in the style to which we had become accustomed. He took it in good spirits, but was out of there as soon as he’d knocked off his dessert.

Nancy, Ray, and I continued our gas-bagging a wee while longer before we arrived in El Paso. It was then time to have a good look around this fascinating border region, cameras cocked and ready.

The El Paso stop was relatively brief, and I decided to go to the observation sight-seer car for the next section of the trip. I’d not sampled that before, thinking that it might be a bit hard to get a seat, and my roomette provided a decent enough view for me. But the re-configured train from its San Antonio stop had our sleeper at the rear, and required us to travel through the SSC to the diner.

It was on that journey I’d seen that the SSC was only sparsely occupied, so I decided to give it a burl.

It was very good.

I think I’ll do it again.

We crossed the Rio Grande (I’m confident I correctly identified this river) into New Mexico and followed the snaking border fence for a few kilometres as we climbed to the plateau.

Then an astonishing bit of railway infrastructure - no sooner had we reached the flat, the tracks opened out to be about ten across, with well-marked pathways between, and massive fuel and water feeding stations at their start and finish. It went for what seemed like three kms or so, beautifully neat and clean, and laid out as if I were running a fiddle yard for a model railway - dead straight parallel tracks, closely aligned - just a beautiful piece of functional design.

We crept through it, so there was plenty of time to rubber-neck.

I think this was at Strauss in eastern New Mexico.

There’s an Australian artist whose work is based around such industrial and infrastructre architecture - Jeffrey Smart - and I really enjoy his pictures. In fact, I have a print of one which depicts some wagons in a mixed-goods cargo train. It hangs above my computer in my study at home. I flashed to that without thinking, and it brought me up with a start.

If you have a chance, check out his work. You’ll either really like it, or it will leave you unmoved and scratching your head as to why he or anyone else finds art in that.

It’s mid-afternoon, and I’m going to wrap it up here with an evening and a night to go, and catch up the remainder of this trip once I’m in Sacramento after a ride on part of the Coastal Starlight’s run tomorrow.
  • Tony in Ann Arbor likes this

#31 mcropod

mcropod

    Lead Service Attendant

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 143 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Oz

Posted 29 April 2018 - 05:16 PM

Marfa Girl https://www.imdb.com...4/?ref_=nv_sr_1

Jeffrey Smart https://en.m.wikiped...i/Jeffrey_Smart

If you search for Jeffrey Smart then select Images, youll get a good sample

A Sunday football game across the border at El Paso Attached File  7A7AD813-4D6F-425D-9132-240B43E4A603.jpeg   107.13KB   6 downloads

Crossing the Rio Grande Attached File  9F9521C6-F81D-49EA-BE61-24D9D944B223.jpeg   122.12KB   6 downloads

The snaking border fence (with a bit of a gap) Attached File  6E3C650C-82EC-4590-8B4F-845BAD0541B7.jpeg   57.71KB   6 downloads

The Strauss refuelling area (west end) Attached File  D332581F-B1B7-4B70-99CE-4ADCD1BC61F9.jpeg   129.52KB   7 downloads
  • oregon pioneer likes this

#32 oregon pioneer

oregon pioneer

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 1,916 posts
  • Gender:Female
  • Location:near Seneca, Oregon
  • Interests:Cross-country skiing, forestry, botany, solar power, gardening and food!

Posted 30 April 2018 - 02:57 PM

Nice photos. Well, they have changed the border fence a bit -- it looks like they built the ground up so the fence sits higher, and you don't get as good a view of Mexico as before. I am sure they have motion sensors trained on that gap...


Jennifer

 

I'm a "little Old Lady in Tennis Shoes" (LOLITS) from Eastern Oregon. I love to travel by train, though I live way out in the toolies, far from the nearest Amtrak station (Chemult). My station would have been Baker City, but they cancelled the Oregon Pioneer just before I took my first long-distance train trip as an adult. I've taken most trains in the West, but I'm still exploring new routes in the east.


#33 cpotisch

cpotisch

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 4,106 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Brooklyn, NY
  • Interests:Planes, Trains, Cooking, Politics

Posted 30 April 2018 - 07:34 PM

Glad you seem to be having a great trip!

 

Ahh, the real deal - an overnighter! And with a diner, although who knows for how much longer. As AU had forewarned me of this perfidy, I was unsurprised when later that day, LSA Nathan approached our table at the end of our meal to tell us of the possibility of the diner being removed, and exhorting us to join the campaign to save it.

The removal of the diner on the Capitol Limited has (sadly) been confirmed, with some extensive discussion about it here.

 

Some important bullet points are that the diner will be removed on June 1, replaced by cold, prepackaged and ready to eat meals, served in what was once a dining car, but is now a "sleeper lounge". Enjoy the diners while you can.


Routes Traveled: Silver Meteor, Silver Star, CrescentLake Shore LimitedCalifornia Zephyr, Sunset Limited, Texas EagleEthan Allen Express, Empire Service, Maple Leaf, AdirondackAcela Express, Northeast RegionalKeystone Service, Downeaster w/ Great Dome
 
Wish List: Auto Train, Cardinal, CONO, Empire Builder, Southwest Chief, Crescent (overnight), Adirondack w/ Great Dome


#34 mcropod

mcropod

    Lead Service Attendant

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 143 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Oz

Posted 01 May 2018 - 12:31 PM

It is now breakfast, wake-up, and head to work time in Sacamento on Tuesday morning 1 May.

I’ll have my May Day march as a solo venture around Sacramento today, but first I have to bring us from where I left us somewhere in New Mexico.

CHI to LAX Train 421(Part Four) 30 April

Monday 30 April was going to a bit of a long one, as I had booked myself for the 14 hour run LAX to SAC on the Coastal Starlight, so factored in to how I thought I should best manage things for the rest of Sunday 29 April.

I also considered the possibility I could rearrange some of my packing, leave a bag at the SAC station baggage-area and so not have the 500 metre walk after midnight through the unfamiliar streets of Sacramento from the station to my digs as an obvious solo traveller. I did that to keep options open, aiming that if I did so, I’d reclaim the stored bags in daylight business hours when there were likely more bods around, and I could walk like I knew I was going.

In the afternoon of that penultimate day we were in Arizona and passed through some lovely meandering track as the train made its way through some deep eroded gullies east of Benson. Some old track alignments came into view periodically, and I reckon the surveyors and engineers would have enjoyed the mental tussle of how to get the track properly set.

Diana (I finally got the spelling right) had told me that she’d seen her first saguaro cactus of the trip, something she was happy about as she’d spent some time in Arizona. I’d mentioned I’d noticed a tall plant with small red flowers at the tips and asked if she could identify it. She said they were ocotillo. I’d spotted them at the tops of the gullies, rather than in the more sheltered and wetter gullies, so they must be quite hardy.

They caught my eye because they are similar at first glance to the (mostly) WA Kangaroo Paw dry country plant.

We were also on the lookout for the aeroplane graveyard around here which Diana mentioned she’d often see from her car, but it proved to be in a slightly different part of the state. There was one small one which we could see out the north side of the train which was good enough as a proxy.

We arrived at Tuscon and I went for a bit of a wander up the front to check whether we were still attached to locos #151 leading #131, or whether things had changed at San Antonio.

There was a refuelling operation going on, and I was able to identify that the engines had been changed as I suspected, and that our power was now coming from locos #165 led by #192.

Ray and I had synchronised watches to catch up at a table again for an evening meal and then he ducked downstairs to wash up just as we were about to set off on the forwards journey to the diner, and then not reappear.

After a brief moment, I decided I’d slowly walk to the dining car. Our sleeper was now the last carriage, so the journey took a time, but Ray still did not reappear behind me and I thought there’s a chance we’d therefore be separately seated, given the seat-lotto regime in place in the diner. The walk was easy, as we were still stationary at Tuscon.

I opened the diner door, and there he was, already seated solo. It then dawned on me that he’d left the sleeper and walked along the platform for a fresh-air pre-prandial amble.

I wish I’d thought of it myself.

Anyway, we were soon joined by Shirley, who was making her way back home to Bakersfield, to join he 80+ yo mum after spending the previous seven years in Plano in Texas as a care-giver. She said it was time, as her husband had died recently, and she thought it was good to be around for her mum.

I asked if she thought it appropriate that we toast her spouse’s memory when our drinks arrived. She was taken with the idea and quickly agreed, a little touched I think.

So we did. I reckon it’s always a good thing for mates to celebrate the memory of a good friend gone, not in a maudlin way, but with gratefulness that we were able to share good and/or tough times together, celebrate the miracle of that, and be the better for it, despite missing their presence.

Shirley presumed Ray and I were old friends of many years’ acquaintance, such was the relationship and conversation between us. Ray replied that we’d only met about twelve hours before, but I told Shirley that Ray was pulling her leg and that we’d been mates for at least ten years.

I then asked Shirley to decide who was telling her fibs, Ray or me, and suggested we should each make our case and let Shirley work out the truth.

Ray rold the truth: that we had just met on the train, that he had boarded at Del Rio and had never before clapped eyes on me.

I spun a yarn about how we had met a decade before, had worked together since then, and as evidence of the legitimacy of my claims, told Shirley a little of Ray’s back story, all based on what Ray had told me at previous meal-times.

We then asked Shirley’s decision.

She said my story was real and that it was clear we had been long-time acquaintances.

Which only goes to show that lies are usually much more convincing than the truth - a view I’ve held about politics and the commercial world for about fifty years. When it’s done for fun, it’s a hoot. When it’s done for real, it’s a very bad thing.

Our table trio got on so well, and I ate at the pace of an Aussie, negating their more north American plate-clearing skills, and our cross-table conversation was so expansive, that eventually Debbie turfed us out and we called it a night.

Ray kindly invited me to share some smuggled wine in his cabin, but I politely declined, as tomorrow was a horribly early start, and then I had another fourteen hours on wheels ahead of that. I also mentioned I wanted to rearrange my worldy travel possessions to give me the widest options for the post-Sacramento section. Were it any other night, I’d have been in like Flynn.

Packing sorted, shower had, zen wind-down protocol in place, I got horizontal for the last time on the Texas Eagle, in preparation for de-boarding at silly-o’clock.

I awoke just before the knock at the door from Armando, around 0315h, just before Pomona, and saw that we were now well ahead of schedule. I commandeered the vacant roomette opposite as my dressing room and luggage-staging area, then awaited arrival and disgorgement, rather in the manner of an 18th century French nobleman with the guillotine in prospect.

We pulled up at the platform about 0430h, then I along with Ray and Diana (with Abby as a new recruit), reclaimed our radical youth and staged a sit-in on the train until the lounge opened at 0500h.

That accomplished, our bags stashed, a farewell made to Ray on his way to Japan by way of Singapore, Diana, Abby, and I braved the cool morning air in search of Philippe’s.

Philippe’s found, breakast ordered and consumed, I said my goodbyes to Diana and Abby, then went off for an explore in the work-day awakening LA downtown, hoping to be able successfully to navigate myself back to the station in a couple of hours for my next ride.
  • oregon pioneer and Tony in Ann Arbor like this

#35 mcropod

mcropod

    Lead Service Attendant

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 143 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Oz

Posted 01 May 2018 - 12:41 PM

Refuelling at Tuscon
Attached File  BACAA8A1-337E-450B-B84A-BBA29786E205.jpeg   80.02KB   7 downloads

High walking between the cars Attached File  BF1BC410-C0A4-4E89-9EFB-1D332D800B6F.jpeg   212.78KB   7 downloads

At LAX Union Station, loco #456 awaits its next assignment Attached File  A4E8D7E0-58F1-442E-AB3C-6E3AD41AAAF8.jpeg   88.57KB   7 downloads

Early morning in LA Attached File  D59A66D3-182A-4E32-8FF1-8CF534940D56.jpeg   163.8KB   7 downloads
  • oregon pioneer and Tony in Ann Arbor like this

#36 Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan

    Engineer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 17,445 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Austin Texas
  • Interests:Passenger Trains/Travel/Sports/Gov't/ Politics/History/Reading/
    Movies/Music/Space-Ancient Aliens

Posted 01 May 2018 - 02:59 PM

Another nice chapter and pics of your journey, thanks for sharing!

And FYI, it's OK to consume your own Adult Beverages in your Room in the Sleepers, but only Alcohol bought on the Train can be consumed in Coaches, Lounges and the Diner.
  • oregon pioneer and cpotisch like this
"There's Something About a Train! It's Magic!"-- 1970s Amtrak Ad
 "..My heart is warm with the friends I make,and better friends I'll not be knowing,
Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,No matter where its going!.." -Edna St. Vincent Millay

#37 mcropod

mcropod

    Lead Service Attendant

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 143 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Oz

Posted 01 May 2018 - 08:39 PM

Another nice chapter and pics of your journey, thanks for sharing!
And FYI, it's OK to consume your own Adult Beverages in your Room in the Sleepers, but only Alcohol bought on the Train can be consumed in Coaches, Lounges and the Diner.


I have now made a note of that :-)

#38 mcropod

mcropod

    Lead Service Attendant

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 143 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Oz

Posted 01 May 2018 - 11:08 PM

Train #14 Monday 30 April

After a great walk around parts of LA city at workday wake-up time, during which time I picked up some items for the backpack, I made it back to the station in time to board the Coastal Starlight for the 14hr run to Sacramento.

I have a sorta decent sense of direction, and when exploring a new area on foot I always operate on the basis that one can never be lost if one is not trying to go somewhere in particular. I was just on the wander, with a sorta idea about which direction I needed to go to get back to the station.

It was the start of a working day, so I did felt neither conspicuous nor vulnerable, while on my exploration.

But one thing always catches me out when I leave my half of the world. For me, living south of the Tropic of Capricorn, the sun is always in the northern sky. For all residents of the USA (except for those in Hawaii) the sun is always in the southern sky.

I’ve found myself heading in exactly the opposite direction because of this, so have to think and rethink which direction I’m walking in when I do definitely want to head somewhere particular.

But I successfully made it back with enough time to attend to some ablutions in the Lounge, collect my bags, and roll to the relevant platform in time to board and find a suitable seat.

I had a different strategy today than on the previous trains. To counteract the overeating I’d subjected myself to on the previous rides, despite dropping one of the three meals each day, I decided Philippe’s breakfast was going to do me for the day.

Additionally, because of the unpleasant time of de-boarding at SAC, I was not going to be looking for fellow passengers to have a natter with, and intended mostly to zen out in my seat. I was also not going to deploy my gadgets, using only a tablet and a little camera.

I had a west-facing seat, and in the first row, so in exchange for not having an unneeded table, I had no chair in front to obscure the two windows available to me. I thought I that was a good deal.

Luggage stowed, USA to Oz power-plug deployed, I hunkered down and took the mindset of taking an international flight, but without the flight attendants bringing me things to eat and drink.

I enjoyed the climb out of LA through the twists and turns and tunnels of the climb to Simi Valley station.

The USA side of the Pacific Ocean appeared after a little while, so I Iooked across in the direction of home and my non-traveller partner Niki. The view was a bit hazy, and the islands off the coast were barely visible. There were a number of oil rigs in the distance, at one point, a line of seven of them.

Shortly afterwards, I had cause to thank the citizens of California for being excellent hosts and making me feel at home by populating the landscape with Eucalypts. There were two species I recognised: the Blue Gum, and the Stringybark. If possible, I would have liked to have a sniff, and perhaps crush a couple of leaves for a smell of home.

[An aside: a long time ago, I was on a mixture of private time and work time on an eight-month break from Oz, during which time I went around the world. One of the organised work times was when I spent a couple of days in Spain’s Donana National Park (there’s a tilde above the first n in Donana of course, but I can’t work out how to find it on this keypad). I was being driven around by one of the Rangers when suddenly we came upon a stand of Eucalypts and she was kind enough to let me to bring a bunch of leaves into the vehicle to stave of homesickness.]

The appearance of the gums animated me a touch, so I went in search of the rearmost carriage in an attempt to see the front of the train on some of the sharp curves we were undertaking, and to find out if the rear window was clean enough for some pix.

It was then I discovered that we had a private car attached. There was an Amtrak official in the last seat of the last car, and she spotted I was taking pix in the space behind the back row and engaged with me. I asked about the private car and she confirmed it was, and she said it was the Zephyr private car. It was a domed vehicle, and there were pax taking in the view from there.

I decided to risk the sight-seeing car and got prepared to get out of my bubble a bit. I saw a party of three in a central six-seats section and asked if the single was free. It ceartainly looked as if it were. The bloke of the party waved his hands, and in one of the Slavic languages I couldn’t further identify, indicated that his party was not complete and that the seat was actually occupied by someone temporarily absent.

I said “No worries, when your fourth, fifth, and sixth members turn up, I will happily vacate it”, and sat down. He shrugged his shoulders, likely in recognition that his bluff had been called.

I spotted we had now climbed to the top of the rise, and to the train’s west there appeared to be an abandoned isolated air force or other military base. I suspect it was of WWII vintage. It had various rail lines running in and out of it, now in obvious disrepair. There were the type of bunkers here and there which looked like the type of structure in which armaments or explosives are held. I can imagine it would have been a hive of isolated activity when operational, but seems now to sit idle.

Shortly afterwards, there was a large sulphur-producing plant on view, still functioning.

Two of my Slavic-speaking neighbours gave it away, leaving just the bloke who sought to wave me away holding fort in valiant defence of his six-seat balliwick. Not long afterwards, even he gave up holding the territory as a lost cause.

My recollection is that we hit our first serious agricultural area not long after that as we lost altitude to the San Luis Obispo station where there was a shirt break. I decided to head up along the platform to the power end to check our loco numbers. On the way, I saw some train staff unloading what appeared to be a wrecked crossing barrier from the baggage car to a small platform vehicle. I thought there had to be a story behind that.

I successfully got my loco shots and returned to my seat in the SSL, ready for the climb from there to Paso Robles and the ensuing twists and turns as it gained altitude over a short distance.

Two women, who told me they were headed to San Jose on a trip they would otherwise take by car, then occupied a couple of the seats. They pointed out the Highway 101 well below us which they’d have been on, and described how its earlier and narrower version was locally known as Dead Man’s Pass, such was its traffic risk.

The pair left and then a bloke I’d heard in conversation with some others behind me took one of the seats in that group of six. I’d already come to the conclusion that he was a good conversationalist and so introduced myself. His name was Scott and he was on a long holiday by train to a rainforest in Oregon after travelling from his home south of Chicago to LA on the SWC, and thence to Oregon on the CS.

He was a worker in the John Deere plant and he had the ability to take a long period of absence annually around this time of year which he filled in by travelling and engaging in other more active pursuits. These two train trips were his first, and he was enjoying things on rails.

As we were then in serious, industrial-strength, agricultural farmlands, we took the opportunity to go John Deere spotting. Their green and yellow colour-scheme makes them easily visible, and he saluted each one for keeping him in employment.

As I was reviewing the shots I took at SLO, I saw that I had captured a woman, clearly and identifiably, who I saw was also now our companion in the group of six seats. Scott agreed it was she. I approached her to show her what I had captured, indicated I would delete it if she sought it, but that now I had the opportunity to ask her, wanted to request her permission to keep it. She asked me if I intended to publish it, and after hearing I would do so, but likely only on my social media, she gave me approval.

I took my leave from the party, and made my way back to my seat which I intended to remain in for the balance of the trip.

By now, the sky was darkening, and we were approaching San Jose. I took a short moment out of the train to capture the station name. I saw, as we slowed into the station, that many platforms had the station name and track number displayed and hoped I could then run a visual joke based on Dionne Warwick’s famous song and the track number on the LP on which it appeared.

Alas! The station name and track number displays were for the suburban service, and we had pulled in on a numberless and nameless track right by the station building. I now formally hand over responsibility to capture and publish that visual joke to another AU member with access to the station, and the LP.

As darkness fell, we crossed into the Oakland and Emeryville stations with the huge docklands between, before leaving the city lights and the last stretch.

The car attendant tapped me on the shoulder as we neared Sacramento, not too far behind time, and I gathered my possessions and departed the train.

I decided I would walk all my belongings to my new digs - it wasn’t a great distance and I figured I could easily navigate myself.

I arrived unscathed, and soon went horizontal again.

Train #14 was pulled by loco #79 and led by loco #171.
  • oregon pioneer and Tony in Ann Arbor like this

#39 mcropod

mcropod

    Lead Service Attendant

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 143 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Oz

Posted 01 May 2018 - 11:33 PM

Niki is across this water Attached File  0AABEACD-ED14-43E8-8408-64E2348961DF.jpeg   64.73KB   8 downloads

The private car attached to the CS identified as the Zephyr by the Amtrak official on the train Attached File  3828A9A6-DDD5-46C6-AEA8-A6B150537792.jpeg   89.26KB   7 downloads

Awaiting the train at SLO. OK, she wasnt awaiting the train, she was ON the train, its just the name of my composition :-) Attached File  986C61E6-214A-4BC7-97B1-52C5D310F000.jpeg   89.7KB   7 downloads

The locos take a break at SLO Attached File  F29A0DA2-23AE-40F0-86FE-63468A4CB128.jpeg   123.49KB   7 downloads

Whats the story? Attached File  80E68568-42E7-4496-BABB-B9552659B336.jpeg   147.26KB   7 downloads

Looking down on Hwy 101 Attached File  70DE5D38-5278-4C62-9CCE-85E7C9BAD2A4.jpeg   141.6KB   7 downloads

Ag lands abuts forest, including a stand of Eucalypts Attached File  84C01D2E-E683-47A5-9A50-F35E01333822.jpeg   81.97KB   7 downloads

Loco #171 has had a tough life Attached File  879F1F8B-F092-4E9E-B0DB-7B1B7DA5049A.jpeg   138.61KB   7 downloads
  • oregon pioneer, MARC Rider and Tony in Ann Arbor like this

#40 mcropod

mcropod

    Lead Service Attendant

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 143 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Oz

Posted 02 May 2018 - 12:15 AM

Many thanks to the fab suggestioneers on SU who proposed that Sacramento visitors head to the Califonian Railway Museum.

I did precisely that today, International Day of the Worker, and spent a few hours having a good look at things. I had a go on the driver simulation, but pulled up a foot short. The bloke managing things said I’d get hired on that showing.

I then made a quick trip to the Capitol Building in time to take a one-hour tour as it gave me the opportunity to see close up your system of government and compare it to the one I have as a Victorian. Thankyou Clem.

After that, I dropped in to the Amtrak station to sort out the best way I can get to and from Stockton, as part of the way to see another rello for a couple of days. The station agent was right on the ball, and issued me with something right on the money to get me back to SAC in time to catch Train #6 on Friday.

In response to my query, he also advised me I could leave a bag in his tender care to save me schlepping it to and from Stockton as long as it contained no electrical items or other dangerous gear, for a mere ten dollars. That seemed like a fair deal.

The Rail Museum ticket-seller had earlier advised me I could re-enter same day with my original purchase, so I had time to return there for a look at some bits I’d not seen on visit one.

I caught the very interesting film, but have a little comment about two sections of it which occur so close together I could not escape them.

In a scene showing how the railway brought news quickly across the world and into peoples’ homes, a bunch of newspapers was seen being thrown off a train and into the hands of the recipient. Then we close in on the headline. It reads “Britons Thwarted at Gallipoli”.

There are thousands of Australians and Kiwi dead buried there as a result of this failed WWI misadventure, and thousands more who brought their injuries back with them. I also have sympathy for my Irish friends’ likely chagrin at this, although, to be fair, the Irish had not yet won their legal independence.

It’s not the museum’s fault. It’s not the Railway’s fault. It’s not the newspaper’s fault. It’s the film producers’ as that shot was surely not taken from footage of the era.

But it’s grating never the less.

Only a few seconds later, again to illustrate how well the railways manage the distribution of goods, a single sulphur-crested cockatoo, a magnificent member of the parrot family which lives for more than eighty years, and in flocks of hundreds, gregarious beasts that they are, is passed over in a tiny cage that likely will be its home for the next several decades, to a smiling woman.

I cheered myself up by going to the model railway exhibits, and having a look at the narow-gauge train displayed on the top floor.

But caging cockies? And so far from home? Grrrrrrrrr!

I’ll next post in relation to my trip on the Californian Zephyr, which starts on Friday morning. So likely sometime Saturday 5 May.
  • oregon pioneer likes this




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users