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


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#41 mcropod

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Posted 02 May 2018 - 12:26 AM

Attached File  A751CFCB-FAA8-4670-984E-CDA41EA95C51.jpeg   155.25KB   19 downloads
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#42 cpotisch

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Posted 02 May 2018 - 05:38 PM

What's that of? Sorry if I missed something.


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


#43 mcropod

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Posted 02 May 2018 - 06:33 PM



(pic snipped)

What's that of? Sorry if I missed something.
It was more a composition - a detail of the driving mechanism of a huge loco. Me being arty :-)

The full pic of the loco is below.

It was a magnificent monster - an oil driven steam engine, with two sets of driving wheels operating out of the same cylinders, but so long as to be articulated.

And the design was clever as well. It was a forward cab, so the loco driver and fireman didnt suffer from obscured vision, nor get suffocated in the long tunnels on the line the loco was designed to work.Attached File  4358ACE1-96D0-42D4-987E-CFF4422297EA.jpeg   149.25KB   8 downloads

#44 cpotisch

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Posted 02 May 2018 - 06:37 PM

 

 


(pic snipped)
 

What's that of? Sorry if I missed something.
It was more a composition - a detail of the driving mechanism of a huge loco. Me being arty :-)

The full pic of the loco is below.

It was a magnificent monster - an oil driven steam engine, with two sets of driving wheels operating out of the same cylinders, but so long as to be articulated.

And the design was clever as well. It was a forward cab, so the loco driver and fireman didnt suffer from obscured vision, nor get suffocated in the long tunnels on the line the loco was designed to work.attachicon.gif4358ACE1-96D0-42D4-987E-CFF4422297EA.jpeg

 

Wow! That is one crazy looking (and beautiful) thing. Ah, the days when designers could run wild with the coolest design, and weren't bogged down with what was practical or aerodynamic...


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


#45 railiner

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Posted 04 May 2018 - 11:15 PM

I am very much enjoying your wit and superb commentary on your journey...please keep up the good work! :)


metroblue?

okay on the blue!

#46 mcropod

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Posted 05 May 2018 - 12:05 AM


SAC to CHI Train 6 (Part One) 4 May

After a little break in Sacramento having a sqizz at the city, with special attention to the magnificent Californian State Railway Museum and the Capitol, then a few days with my cousin in a small township near Stockton, it was time to recommence the travels.

My cousin had taken me to the small foothills settlement of Murphys where we visited a place which did tastings of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and wine. By chance, we had selected a winery begun by a Kiwi/Oz doctor. When Kaitlin, behind the bar, discovered I was an Aussie, what was a great welcome got even bigger. The samples came out, the tasting fees were waived, and we had a very conversational hour there.

The wines were exactly to my taste, as Kaitlin expected, being mostly Shiraz and Cab Sav, big-bodied, dark wines.

They were very good, already smooth despite being only a couple of years old. They would be fab in a few more years if you could discipline yourself not to crack them open.

The olive oils and balsamics were also marvellous and we had a good sampling of them.

My cousin had been taken by the Voignier, a while variety they grow, so I bought a couple of wines, and a bottle each of her preferred oil and balsamic to thank her for taking me there.

So it was with mixed feelings I headed towards the tracks again. Those wines were wonderful, and I could have stayed in Murphys for a while, no trouble.

Stockton’s STK station is in an unprepossessing part of town and had a scary reputation as far as my cuz was concerned, so I encouraged her just to drop me off and not hang about to wave me goodbye. She didn’t take much convincing.

That turned out to be doubly-good advice. The Thruway bus’s departure was delayed an hour because the 711 train from Bakersfield to the Bay area was delayed.

It gave me a chance to have a look around at this old Santa Fe station, which has clearly seen better days.

I got into a conversation with Ryan, a bloke in a wheelchair, who - like me - was enjoying the early morning sunshine. He told me he was originally from New Orleans, but had left as a child for LA and then to the Bay Area. He was returning there after spending a few days with his daughter in Stockton.

After I’d mentioned my Scottish origins, he told me he really liked the film Braveheart about William Wallace and the battles between the Scots and the English of that era. He asked me if the story was true, and I replied that William Wallace definitely was real, as were the many battles between the valiant Scots and the perfidious English.

I mentioned there’s a famous statue of and memorial to William Wallace you can see from every passing ScotRail train near Stirling, the site of one of the many battles of those times.

That cheered up Ryan, no end. And whenever I think of the Battle of Bannockburn, I am likewise cheered - no offence to my Sassenach friends :-)

During the extended delay, I was also able to observe the comings and goings of station business. One station official, a young woman, especially caught my attention because of the calm and values-free way she dealt with the range of passengers she dealt with. One was a young woman who was very unsteady on her feet as she deboarded a bus, and who initially made a plaintive request for help with her bags.

A short time later, I saw the woman lying on the ground complaining of being unwell. The station attendant was already with her, obviously on the phone to the emergency services, and calmly sitting by her, on the ground.

Once the first-aiders had arrived, she dealt with loads other people’s issues. Many of those she interacted with seemed to have health and/or comprehension issues. She responded with patience and solicitude, even when the same question was asked of her repeatedly.

I could imagine someone working at a station like this one and with the demographic it served, could well have developed a less caring attitude, but she managed each issue which arose with a high degree of compassion. I never once saw the slightest evidence of exasperation.

Good on her, I thought. When I was finally able to board the bus at 0940h, she was close by it, and I mentioned to her that I had seen the way she went about her work and wanted to let her know that I was very impressed. I reckon when you see good public service work being done, you mention it.

The bus arrived, four or five passengers boarded, and we were off to Sacramento.

I’d seen via transitdocs that Train #6 was also delayed a bit, so there was no rush upon arriving at the station. I reclaimed my stashed bag, ambled to the platform, and guessed where my sleeper car would be.

I was one car off, and soon was welcomed aboard by Dariel who introduced himself, said I was his guest, and that he was to be known as ‘D’.

I settled in, plugged in everything I wanted plugged in, then got ready for the ride.

Train #6 is being pulled by loco # (I have to find out) led by loco #11.
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#47 mcropod

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Posted 05 May 2018 - 12:12 AM

Stockdale Station (STK) platform entrance Attached File  C5905426-5BB3-4CD7-9BC1-E4F1B3E6A91D.jpeg   111.81KB   7 downloads

Stockdale Starion (STK) street entrance Attached File  5FEC49A7-6FEB-4F25-8083-24278F7807CC.jpeg   116.67KB   7 downloads

Sacramento Station from the distant platforms Attached File  8CEA0509-1C6D-4012-9344-A31AEFEADF2A.jpeg   82.45KB   7 downloads

I know its an honour to have something named after you, but if you want to name something after me, please dont make it a passageway Attached File  6B57B836-91F9-4E3F-8007-BD3F57F0A4C4.jpeg   91.92KB   7 downloads

Lead Loco #11 leads Train #6 (4) into Sacramento Station Attached File  AEA44DBA-2399-4EDE-BB88-F5DDAE0AEEA1.jpeg   105.07KB   7 downloads
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#48 mcropod

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Posted 05 May 2018 - 12:13 AM

I am very much enjoying your wit and superb commentary on your journey...please keep up the good work! :)


Thankyou very much railiner. I have today’s almost ready to go, but it’s late, and connectivity has been poor.

This post and the last two are courtesy of the fine folk of Elco :-)
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#49 mcropod

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Posted 05 May 2018 - 01:07 AM

SAC to CHI Train #6 (Part 2) 4 May

Settled aboard, and a table issue sorted with the assistance of SCA D, I decided Id have another go of the mussels.

The dining car was right next door, so it was a very short run compared to my last days on the Texas Eagle.

I found myself seated with two other solos: Justin from the Bay Area, and Andrei, originally from Russia, but on his way to a new job in Reno after working for a few years at You Tube in the Bay Area.

We entered Colfax during our meal, then reversed out of Colfax, before returning again. Colfax - the town so good you enter it twice.

I didnt have my ears in, so I couldnt benefit from the comms which would explain things, but I let them get on with it anyway.

Justin was on his way to meet up with family members in New York.

Both he and Andrei were new to Amtrak dining procedures, so - old hand that I am - I guided them through the process. And I recommended the mussels and the raspberry tart.

Andrei went for the mussles, Justin for the tart, so I thought my job was complete.

We clinked our drinks in Russian (nastrovy) from memory, and Gaelic (slainte), in honour of our tables multicultural background.

Justin and I shared an interest in politics, and properly funding public services like trains, so we did well. We pulled Andreis leg about his electoral interference, and he went along with things, taking out his mobile and pretending to call Mr Putin.

Andrei had a PhD in mathematics. He was on his way to start an academic job in a Uni in Reno. So he was a bright fellow, and it would have been good to broaden my maths skills were he to have been on board for longer.

After a short restorative period back in roomette 6, I headed to the SSC for the view of the climb up the Donner Pass.

I asked a woman sitting in one of the notorious bank of six seats in 1-2-2-1 layout whether one of those in the nearby double was free, and she said yes, but her travelling partner would be back shortly.

So for the first section of the ascent I gazed out at the wonderful scenery before me. Im not that keen on viewing life through a small screen, so I didnt look at much it other than through my wide-angle eyes.

After a while, the womans companion arrived, and as the adjacent double-seater was vacant, I moved across.

There was a passenger in the single so I asked if those seats were taken and he replied they were free.

From that short exchange it was clear he was an Aussie, so I asked about what brought him here.

I generally dont seek out the company of other Aussies on my travels, and my accent is mixed-up enough not to be easily pinged as one myself, so its not that hard to go incognito if I feel like it. After all, Im surrounded by 25 million of them at home, so I feel little need to seek them out abroad :-)

I was well rewarded by blowing my cover. His name was Andrew. He now lives in Truckee, and he was returning home after a few days away at a conference in New Orleans. He is in the new media IT industry and can do his work remotely from Truckee, where he and his partner are bringing up their two young kids - one Aussie-born, the other in the USA.

He said its an ideal place to bring up his kids and it was obvious why.

He was originally from sheep country in western Victoria, not far from where I currently live. So its easy to see why his natural preference is for the country, rather than the city.

Although much of western Victorias flock is merino, for its fine wool, his familys farm was for the coarser and harder-wearing wool used in carpets, and for fat lambs: meat production.

He was returning from the airport on the train rather than driving as he usually did, and was very taken by it, even although he was tired. He was an excellent guide to what we were seeing, and so I pulled out my speed and altitude app, and the transitdocs site to help him orient himself. The transitdocs site also let him know how timekeeping was going, so he was able to call his partner and update her as to his likely arrival time.

We rode through tunnels, around tight curves, and well above the Highway 80 alignment for much of the ride.

He asked about the sleepers, so I described them and their various categories, and explained their layouts. He thought it would be a good family experience to go on an overnight train, and I think I bigged it up enough for him to convince him that itd be an excellent thing to do.

As we dropped into Truckee, we made our farewells, and he gave me his business card to keep in touch.

I then got into converstation with the occupants of the other side of the six. It was a couple, Ken and Carol. They were from Harrisburg, not far from where Id started my journey in Philadelphia.

They were making a long-desired trip now Ken had retired from his job. They started it by train from Harrisburg eventually to the Empire Builder west, then the south-bound Coastal Starlight, and now east on the California Zephyr.

He and Carol were entranced by what they were seeing, and proud they lived in a country with such landscape. So they should be, and long should it remain so.

We were soon in Reno, and then - in the blink of an eye - we were in the desert.

What had been mountains covered in tall conifers, with deep valleys, and patches of remaining snow, was now sand, dotted with short bunches of grass and bubbles of scrub. Not much looked higher than waist level, mostly it was knee height or lower. The farther east I went, the shorter it got.

A few kilometres back, it was country which - back in the day - would have taken days on foot to make progress of a few kilometres. You would have little idea which would be the best path because of the denseness of the forest, and steepness of the terrain. Now you could have travelled at trotting pace astride a horse with the whole landscape laid out before you, and navigation easy as a result.

And if I had to be a railway labourer in the 1860s, I think Id rather be assigned here than farther west.

Highway 80 was out my left-side window, and Fed Ex now did its best to make me feel at home, with several three-trailer trucks heading in the other direction, bringing to mind the road-trains which ply the desert runs across to Perth and up to Darwin in Oz.

Fellow road-users here have the benefit of a four-lane, dual-carriageway highway for ease of passing or overtaking. Overtaking one (or even having one pass by in the opposite direction) is a fraught matter on the single-carriageway undivided two-lane Stuart Highway or over the Nullabor in Oz.

I had a spot of R&R in my cabin, enjoying the passing scenery, and wondering when Id next get a nibble from my connectivity supplier. I gave it away after a while and conventrated on making some sense of my photos.

Around 1930h, I thought Id catch the last hour of the evening meal service. The car was full, and I was directed to the Lounge to await a call. I sat at a table at which another bloke was already sitting at and introduced myself. He said he was Mike.

Mile too was awaiting a table. We got to talking, and once he discovered I was a foreigner, asked me what an outsider made of the current USA political environment.

As a guest in anyones country, I never initiate such a discussion, or give a gratuitous assessment about how that country is run, or should be run. But I am always interested in having an open and invited discussion on just about anything. So Mike and I got to talking.

I havent yet had someone offer themselves as an out-and-out supporter of the current administration. Mike was from California and had an engineering background. The engineers Ive met are calm analysts, driven by facts over emotion, and I prefer to operate that way as well. So our conversation was quite wide-ranging, and of mutual interest, so we agreed that when called, wed go in as a pair to be sure wed be seated together to continue solving the worlds problems.

Mike was on his way to Salt Lake City. He wanted a break, and he wanted to hear a choir singing, but couldnt remember which choir it was. I asked if he was referring to The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and he said he thought that was the one he was hoping to hear.

When we were called, things had quietened down. There were plenty of tables and we were seated together without asking. After a while, we were joined by Nora.

I have a friend in Melbourne who was Chilean-born, so a native Spanish speaker, but who is also deaf. The manner of Noras speaking reminded me of my Melbourne friend. Nora didnt make any specific reference to it, nor asked us to make any special considerations, but she had the facial animation and hand gestures of my friend, which I know is a feature of those who are hearing-impaired and who sign.

She moved her head to get as much a front-on view of our faces when we were speaking which I know can be unsettling if you dont know why. I figured she was supplementing her hearing by trying to lipread.

I know lip reading someone speaking with a different accent can be difficult. I met a profoundly deaf woman at an event I was at in Melbourne and just by lipreading she was able to work out I was not speaking with a traditional Aussie accent.

Nora was also going to Salt Lake City. She joined in the conversation when she worked out we were discussing international and political history. It was wideranging and direct, as we Aussies like it. There was no skirting around the issues, as Mike mentioned hed like to hear my view of how I think the USA is thought of in internationally. Mike was also interested to provide his take as a USA citizen about what he thinks the USAs attitude to the ROTW is and why.

It was a rancour-free and open discussion, one which we both enjoyed. As neither of us felt personally affronted by unvarnished accounts, we kept at it until the Dining Car crew eventually threw us out. Mike was a coach traveller, so I ordered a raspberry tart and two forks, and we repaired to the Lounge Car to knock it off.

Before we knew it, it was 2130h and time to call it a day. It was also early afternoon in Oz, and I wanted to find out if I had connectivity and check in with Niki.

Not until we neared Elco was this possible, so in the meantime I asked SCA D to assist me make the bed, and ventured into the shower.

This shower was in the best condition of all the Amtrak showers Id been in. There were only a few towels in the space, just enough for the next couple of users rather than a store-room of them, the seat was clear, the powerpoint was visible (until then, I didnt know there was a powerpoint in the shower), and the place was very tidy.

When I emerged, I saw D in the lower level and I mentioned that he kept the cleanest most useable shower of all Id seen. He thanked me for commenting, and appreciated that Id noticed he kept it well.

It was time to call it a day.

Edited by mcropod, 05 May 2018 - 01:08 AM.

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#50 mcropod

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Posted 05 May 2018 - 07:03 AM

Overlooking Hwy 80 approaching Truckee Attached File  86CEBB50-16B1-483B-9AF3-20AC6C6C64BE.jpeg   149.51KB   7 downloads

Still skiing near Truckee Attached File  E606B0D0-F5AA-48C5-96AF-B8E8F1215323.jpeg   206.65KB   7 downloads

Small wetlands in an otherwise dry plateau east of Reno Attached File  C19C8555-8E45-4F4A-97A1-CC9FC7E96D29.jpeg   135.07KB   7 downloads
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#51 mcropod

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Posted 05 May 2018 - 07:12 AM

I had connectivity difficulties last night, so couldn’t attach the pix until this morning.

I’ve just awoken to find me somewhere south-east of Provo in Utah.

And then when I got on line, I had an email from home to tell me Melbourne Victory was 1 - 0 up in the Grand Final game after an eighth minute goal. I checked and saw the game was now in its final minutes, and then got the news that the match was over with the score unchanged. Melbourne Victory is the proud owner of the Toilet Seat!

Woo-Hoo goes the horn in celebration.

A great start to my Saturday.
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#52 mcropod

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Posted 06 May 2018 - 05:14 AM

SAC to CHI Train #6 (Part Three) 5 May

A Good Start

At Saturday awake time I discovered I was stationary near Provo. The sun was yet to appear, but there was some light in the sky.

I remembered that it was A-League Grand Final day in Oz, and checked to see if I could obtain a connection. I saw I had an email and guessed it might be from Niki.

My previous post detailed what it was all about, and why it gave me a great start to the day.

I checked my GPS and saw we were at 2257m and climbing. We came around a tight horseshoe bend snaking left, and I was able to look down and see the part of the track we had previously been on, well below us.

Shortly after, we came to a small flat section into which they had packed a number of sidings and cross-overs, presumably to help marshall traffic awaiting the descent or finishing the climb.

Just after Colton a small stream appeared to the left of the train, heading in our direction, as clear a sign as you’d ever have that we were now on the descent.

Breakfast, and Morning in the SSC

I met Jim and Gina at the breakfast table. They were from Sacramento and on their way to Colorado. I mentioned how much I enjoyed their city during my short stay there and we chatted for a while, although, because they were finishing as I joined them, our table-time was brief.

I caught up with Carol in the SSC and she told me she’d had a long career in the social work field, both as a practitioner and as a policy-maker. Our conversation covered a wide range of issues relating to social disadvantage, and what policy-settings might work to alleviate it.

We celebrated the pioneering work of Andrew Young, the progressive religious bodies, and their peers in Australia such as Charlie Perkins. We celebrated Gandhi for showing the way, and I mentioned those behind the Eureka Rebellion in my new home town of Ballarat whose protests led to universal (male) sufferage in Victoria in the 1860s.

Participating in a democracy is the best way to ensure that the democracy is strong. But any challenge to unearnt privilege has to have a political arm as well as a militant one. Neither succeeds without the other, we agreed. Privilege is never ceded without a fight.

Carol was concerned that Ken had not yet surfaced, so she went out in search. I can save your worries by skipping ahead an hour or so to let you know I saw them both in the dining car around midday, and Ken was in rude good health. Ken later told me he was just having a lie-in.

Once Carol had vacated her seat, Kevin occupied it. He had boarded as I was asleep at Salt Lake City. He worked in the ski industry, including as a Kasborer driver, shunting snow and grooming runs.

He was making his way to Ohio.

When he realised I was from Oz, he mentioned that he’d worked at Perisher, in NSW, and had lived in Jindabyn, a lovely ski town in the Snowy Mountains.

Justin was close by and then had two Kiwis, Robin and Keith, join him. They were from New Plymouth in EnZed’s North Island. They were retired and travelling.

The Colorado River and the First Offload

Glenwood Springs came into view and we started alongside the Colorado River rapids and recreation area. There were kayakers, rafters, cyclists, and walkers all in view, making the most of their beautiful surroundings and pleasant sunny weather. We started another climb at about 1800m, well above the altitude of the Oz ski-fields.

We were holding, in a siding, awaiting the arrival of the west-bound Zephyr, Train #5, but when it arrived, it pulled up alongside us. Again, I did not have my spy ears in, so was not aware until later that we had transferred a sick passenger for conveyance to medical attention back in Glenwood Springs.

Once we recommenced, we snaked along the river, with Highway 70 on the other bank for several kilometres, climbing steadily at 45kph, and soon beyond 1900m.

An Identification Mystery Solved

We had good commentry over the speaker system from one of the conductors. When he ceased his commentry and climbed up to the top level of the SSC, I button-holed him to ask about the loco numbers. I knew we were being pulled by loco #11 as lead, but I wasn’t sure about the second loco. I thought it was #187, but didn’t feel I could report this as fact until I had obtained corroboration from a reliable source.

I got confirmation from a highly reliable source in the form of the conductor, who checked his device, and so I can now safely report accordingly. I am now ready for a slot on Anderson Cooper 360.

Midday with a Long-Distance Trucker and a Pair of Eagles

I decided I should sample the mussels again, and headed for the diner. I was solo until joined by John of South Carolina. John was returning home to Raleigh after meeting up with a friend at Davis. His plan was to fly home from Chicago.

He had been a long-distance truck driver, so was happy to experience the train ride as a spectator. We swapped stories about trucking in our respective countries, and he told me of the travails of working in adult learning and moving between being a practitioner to a trainer.

I returned to my roomette to catch up with a few things and recharge my personal batteries. After a short while, the conductor alerted us that an eagles’ nest was approaching on the left, on the other side of the river, near Burns. As we neared, it became apparent it was occupied by an adult. Then, as if on cue, as we passed by, another adult glided in to land.

How lucky were we to have caught that!

Climbing past a Shooting Range

The Colorado gorge narrowed until the sides seemed to close in on us, the river, turbulent, below us. As the track curved left and right, through short tunnels here and there, we steadily gained altitude again, topping out on a plateau about 2250m.

It was spectacular country. Oh, to have a cab view! People would pay money to sit up front through this section, without doubt.

And then, a bit of an unsettling sight for an Aussie. Out my window to the left was an extensive shooting range, in active use as we passed. The firing positions to the targets were pointing away from the train, but within a cricket-pitch length only, with nothing between the train and the shooters.

There’s a military firing range by the side of the trainline I take between Ballarat and Melbourne, on the Ballarat side of Bacchus Marsh. It was likely designed for WWII purposes, and may now not even be in use. There’s a huge earth berm between the range and the train line, and the train line is sunken a little as it passes. It would not be possible for an errant shot to hit the train as a result.

It’s strange what causes discomfort across cultures. I suspect for most on the train it would scarcely even be noticed. But it was jarring for me.

I later found it unsettled another passenger, Connie, from California, who I met for the evening meal, so it wasn’t just me.

Fresh Air in Fraser Winter National Park?

We were soon in Ganby, then a short time later in Fraser Winter Park for a fresh air stop at the highest station on the line. I don’t often have the chance to breathe 2600m air, given Australia’s highest mountain - Mt Kozsciosko - tops out at a mere 2226m, and our skifields are no higher than 1600m.

It was warmer than I thought it’d be, and so I hung around outside until boarding call. I didn’t get a decent shot at experiencing 2600m air because of all the tobacco junkies puffing away and polluting the atmosphere. Why would you go to such a place you will not often experience, and fill your lungs with soot? It always beats me.

After that stop, we were still on the climb past a fly fisherman chancing his luck thigh-deep in the Fraser River near Tabernash, then it was announced we were approaching the Moffat Tunnel with its nine minute traverse.

To the Other Side and the Second Offload

The conductor requested that we not travel between cars through the tunnel, to minimise fumes intake, and there was a bit of a scramble by some to take their positions. We soon emerged, at 2817m, and immediately commenced the long descent into Denver.

For the first time in a long time, we were travelling in the direction of the rivers, not against them. We were over the divide.

Fore-advised by AU contributors, I remained in my left-side roomette for the run down into Denver. It was a spectacular descent, with wide arcs, and a beautiful and elegant series of left and right sweeps as we neared the level of the plains, the train almost doubling back on itself as it lost altitude over a short distance.

We reversed into Denver. My spy-ears told me that a passenger was going to be offloaded into the capable hands of the local constabulary for unbecoming behaviour - specifically that another passenger had said that the to-be-detrained passenger had threatened to kill her.

I reckon that would result in an interest from the local coppers, so I was given advance warning that there would be platform welcoming party before I jumped off to have a look at the remodelled Denver station.

I passed by the various parties’ discussion as I walked to the station building, and it was still going on as I returned.

Evening with Three Californians

My time for the evening meal began before the Denver departure time, so I was seated in a stationary train, subsequently joined by Russ and Connie, who boarded at Martinez, and were travelling to Omaha.

Simon joined our trio a short time later.

Simon was on a work trip from silicon valley to Ann Arbor via Chicago. He makes the trip regularly as he prefers not to fly. He works in cyber-security. He was unable to secure a roomette from Emeryville, but had nabbed one from Denver. His first night was a sleepless one in coach.

Russ and Connie had been burnt out of their Santa Rosa home in the fires of last year, and were still to rebuild. I mentioned my fire involvement with the Victorian State Government regional and rural public land fire-fighting organisation, and so I had an insight into their circumstances.

As in many catastrophic wildfires, they had lost everything, although had escaped with their lives, one vehicle, and their two dogs.

That’s a story, sadly, more common than we think, especially in fire-prone areas like mine in SE Australia, and those of the NW corner of the USA, and western Canada. Our specialist fire-fighters are often exchanged between us in our respective off-seasons for such catastrophic events, and Connie remembered she’d heard of an Aussie contingent at the Santa Rosa fires.

I’d been engaged during our fire season as an additional resource in the Victorian State Emergency Coordination Centre for a number of those extended fire operations over the years. Many departmental employees whose normal jobs were elsewhere, like mkne, were rostered on to assist when there was a big fire on. You never once forget there are lives at stake, and the consequences of a badly-judged strategy can be deadly, to the public and to fire-fighters.

We toasted our good fortunes that we had survived, even although possessions had been lost.

It was then time to put an end to another day, to fall asleep in one state and wake up in another - something I’ve often done in a figurative sense, but now rejoice in the fact that I am currently doing it in a geographic sense as well.
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#53 mcropod

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Posted 06 May 2018 - 05:24 AM

Not the Rio Grande - early morning near Provo Attached File  9A585D02-CFF0-4AAC-894B-8D7D5CB7A0A8.jpeg   84.77KB   7 downloads

Early morning sun on a cliff face in Utah Attached File  0E9A9599-EA39-4F59-A480-06D36EA9C6E5.jpeg   85.24KB   7 downloads

Agricultural land with a stunning backdrop Attached File  6089F905-4487-42AB-A14D-457C136086F4.jpeg   130.75KB   7 downloads

Racing along the Green River Attached File  7E74BD49-728D-4309-88C5-89949B736890.jpeg   183.56KB   7 downloads
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#54 mcropod

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Posted 06 May 2018 - 05:39 AM

Moonless Kayaking on the Colorado RiverAttached File  296B0844-1FBB-413B-B55F-DAD2F534C8CC.jpeg   156.5KB   7 downloads

Waving to the Train after a day on the slopes at Fraser Winter National Park Attached File  8E2071F0-60D8-4F03-86B3-F2976A1A1DCF.jpeg   145.23KB   7 downloads

On the ascent along Beaver Creek to cross the Continental Divide (for scale, there is a wrecked car pictured here which failed to take the bend on the road at the top of the pic) Attached File  DE7F70ED-B1E7-4AFD-AD39-F7EC61D5AE38.jpeg   360.37KB   7 downloads

Denver station, repurposed Attached File  C72167D3-2744-4721-8BE8-2DE677ECADA4.jpeg   119.56KB   7 downloads

New train driver joins to take us east from Denver Attached File  09A8CB75-DE91-43A7-A033-383454609E1A.jpeg   73.99KB   7 downloads
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#55 mcropod

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Posted 06 May 2018 - 05:43 AM

One for cpotisch :-)Attached File  424041CD-6C8E-4013-9C2C-D637E0631A17.jpeg   91.81KB   7 downloads

(The bogies of a superliner sleeper)
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#56 railiner

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Posted 06 May 2018 - 09:23 AM

More great commentary, and photo's!  It is fascinating, listening to your description of everyone's 'life-story' you have met while dining.   Where else, but a long-distance train journey, do people open up so freely, to total stranger's?   Sadly, that era may be coming to an end, under the current reduction in full dining car service going on...

 

Looking forward to your next 'installment'.... :)


metroblue?

okay on the blue!

#57 mcropod

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Posted 06 May 2018 - 05:48 PM

SAC to CHI Train #6 (Part Four) 6 May

Day Last

I awoke just before sunrise to a still train. I checked my gadgets and saw were were just out of Omaha. I had almost slept through all of Nebraska.

I posted my last report as I saw we had connectivity again, and then the pix. I was about to make contact with gome as it was early evening there, but suddenly found I again had no service.

Before rising, I thought I would sort through some photos, and hope I would be back in a service area soon. But it was not to be, even when we passed by some settlements along the way which surely would have provided a connection.

It then dawned on me - what if there was a signal, but I was not being connected because I had used up all my bandwidth. If that were so, and the last of it had been my pix to the forum, rather than a discussion with Niki, I would likely have some splainin to do once I reached Chicago.

The more we travelled east, and the more towns we went through, the more certain it was that this was the explanation. I started to practice my apologetic face.

(Spoiler alert: connectivity was re-established near Ottumwa, and I had plenty of BW left, so it was just reception issues. I did not need to attempt the apology face, which was good, because it has never been convincing anyway, especially to Niki.)

The trees were in an earlier stage of emergence from winter, bare of bud and only becoming slightly leafier as we got closer to Chicago.

There were patches of mist on the newly-tilled fields waiting to be burnt off by the new day. We were now in grain country.

Our altitude had dropped to 360m and would fall throughout the day.


Poor Natalie

I encountered my first dud table at breakfast. I was the third and last seated at a table already occupied by two people, sitting opposite each other, so going by the Amtrak seating protocols, they were not a pair.

I introduced myself and met Natalie, a young woman of university age and demeanour, and Tony, a bloke likely older than me, and dressed in farmers clothes.

Tony scarcely engaged, and showed no curiosity about Natalies or my stories. Rather, he went into monologue territory, with poor Natalie, sitting opposite, his captive audience. He barely looked at me, or registered my presence.

It transpired that Tony was a decades years-of-service truck driver. Perhaps his discussion style was a relief valve for all that time with just himself for company behind the wheel. No matter the topic, you are always endlessly interesting to yourself in your own cab.

Poor Natalie, who for sure had interesting tales to tell of her own, and views worthy of being exchanged, was relegated to being just a cipher. In her polite north American ways, which I often see exhibited by women here, she was disinclined to tell Tony to put a sock in it.

Her defensive mechanism was to insert a Gosh!, or Wow! at various times in Tonys bar-room philosophic meanderings, perhaps in an attempt to stave off wanting to stab herself in her ears with a fork.

Like many young woman, she had already worked out how to politely go along with a bore, whilst all the time surrupticiously searching for the handiest exit.

Tony was not interested in finding anything out about either of us, preferring instead to give us the wisdom of his cynical views about anyone who does, or thinks, differently to himself.

I decided to remain at the table - linger even - as a social experiment. Would Tony diverge from himself as a discussion topic? Would Tony show any interest in what the full-of-life young woman sitting opposite him thought of anything? What she planned on doing? Where she was travelling to?

You would be astonished to know the answers were all in the negative, and as I had already taken an age to down three pancakes, two cups of tea, and one of apple-juice, I could tarry no longer, and left Natalie to look after her own defence.

We were now past Osceola, eighty minutes behind, and it was time to get my bags ready.

Oh Yeah, I Still am Connected.

As mentioned above, I returned to the digital globe just before Ottumwa and celebrated by having a short walk trainside during the brief stop there. It was already warm.

I bumped into Martha again and had a wee chat. She was being taught by a fellow passenger how to use her phone as a camera, and seemed mighty impressed by the opportunities now available to her. As I reboarded, I thought there is a life-experienced woman who would have told Tony where to get off, and who could have built up Natalies skills in that regard.

Crossing the Mississipi and the Home Run

I repaired to my cabin upon reboarding at Ottumw and checked where we were. Not too far from re-crossing the Mississippi I discovered, this time by daylight at Burlington, so I thought Id be a fair chance to catch it on video.

But first there were the wide flat fields of eastern Iowa to cover, in their quiet Sunday guise. Small towns here and there, many enormous silos by the tracks and on the farms, small roads, and little activity given the day it was. Peaceful, neat, and pretty at least from my perspective on the train, passing by.

And then the mighty river. We waited for despatch approval, the slowly crossed, before another wait on the Illinois side for further radio instruction, which seemingly included advice that a hand signal needed to be used. We were on a high levee and rolling at a mere 27kph for some time after the crossing.

A large coal train was waiting on an adjacent track and it was not until we passed it that we sped up to our earlier cruising speed of 125kph.

By now, we had dropped to 160m altitude. A part-consumed water-bottle, which I had last opened at Denver the previous evening, was now crushed a little. I unscrewed the top to let in some air and allow it to resume its normal shape - science in action.

The Racing The Southwest Chief (Train 4) to Chicago

At the junction just south-west of Galesburg station, we pulled up alongside Train #4, also headed to Chicago, but starting at Los Angeles. Which would be given first priority for the track home?

Sadly for us, it was they, so we waited a bit longer, looking out over the bare fields for our signal to progress into the now free Galesburg platform the Southwest Chief had just departed.

We went past Sunday kids baseball, golfers, and bikers on the way in through the Chicago hinterland and suburbs, before the grimier and industrial areas signalled we were about to do the reverse in to the station.

Not long after 1500h, only a little after its scheduled arrival time, we pulled in to platform 16, and another leg was over.

Ten and a half thousand kilometres done, and eight and a half thou more to go.

Off a Train, On Another Train

I left some bags at the station, in the legit overnight storage area this time rather than the Metro Lounge, and headed for my hotel.

I thought I should have a go at the el, so worked out how to buy a 24 hour ticket, and jumped on one at a nearby station. I did a loop, and then another one, until I found an Orange Line to get me to the Chicago Legs, and called it a day.

Edited by mcropod, 06 May 2018 - 06:43 PM.

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#58 mcropod

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Posted 06 May 2018 - 05:54 PM

Early morning Iowa farmland Attached File  C11E3316-7FCE-4809-A97E-98A26F8C3E8A.jpeg   33.84KB   5 downloads

Quiet fields
Attached File  052045EB-B636-403E-A42B-E24ACD6EC468.jpeg   127.34KB   5 downloads

Crossing the Mississippi from Burlington east

https://m.youtube.co...h?v=KnQkx3nYZrQ

Edited by mcropod, 06 May 2018 - 05:59 PM.

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#59 AmtrakBlue

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Posted 06 May 2018 - 06:28 PM

 

 

But first there were the wide flat fields of eastern Ohio to cover, in their quiet Sunday guise. Small towns here and there, many enormous silos by the tracks and on the farms, small roads, and little activity given the day it was. Peaceful, neat, and pretty at least from my perspective on the train, passing by.

4 letter state is right, but it's Iowa, not Ohio.  ;)



#60 mcropod

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Posted 06 May 2018 - 06:38 PM

 
 
But first there were the wide flat fields of eastern Ohio to cover, in their quiet Sunday guise. Small towns here and there, many enormous silos by the tracks and on the farms, small roads, and little activity given the day it was. Peaceful, neat, and pretty at least from my perspective on the train, passing by.

4 letter state is right, but it's Iowa, not Ohio.  ;)

It looks like I did that quite a bit - my apologies. I caught myself in the pics’ captions, but obviously not the text.

Many thanks quality-control editor :-) I am much obliged and I’ll make the changes, even although it’ll cause all the possessive and abbreviation apostophes to drop out.




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