New River Train 2018 As I'm sure many of you know I do a lot of work with New River and frequently galavant around the country on the cars from New River. I was planning to go both weeks of New River but because my mother had a stroke I was unable to make the first weekend. But I still wanted to go and played the second weekend out by ear in case she recovered enough to where I could get away. So luckily it was a very minor stroke and I was able to get away so I rapidly made arrangements to go up to Huntington. My plan was to drive with my former best friend and partner on rail related ventures Ryan up to Washington then take the cardinal. Day 1: driving up I95 As usual I hadn't really packed before the trip but only six days on the road I didn't really need much. And packing took place on my three hour lunch break. Normally I don't go home on my lunch break opting to save gas and money by staying at work. When I arrived at work I realized I forgot to pack a rain jacket so I drove home and back to get one. I left my car at work and got in Hotel CRV as we call his car. Honestly I was a bit nervous about riding with him because after my breakup with Ainsley when he started dating her our once great friendship turned to ashes. And we had spent years hating each other and only recently reconnected. The car is a little more noisy than before but I'm sure I'm part of that from our old journeys. It turns out it was perfectly normal it actually felt more like old days than anything else before things went south. We talked about everything that happened in the time we weren't friends. Mostly my messy breakup with Kathleen, his messy breakup with someone else, and it felt normal. After awhile we put on a driving playlist and just sang across Virginia. Traffic wasn't bad and we made the run fairly rapidly. We passed my old apartment in DC and arrived at Malcolm's apartment around one am. The two of us crashed in his apartment and that was the end of the night. Day 1: the Cardinal Ryan got up early and moved his car to a MARC station to park it cheaper and I slept in a bit. After awhile Malcolm and I walked down to Union Station where we had breakfast. I'm so happy they put a Chick Fil A in that's going to make the Field Trip charters so much nicer for me. After Malcolm left to go to a meeting I went to cvs and bought a cheap memory card seeing all of mine were full. And then Ryan and I boarded the Cardinal. It was a fairly uneventful ride we lost some time in Charlottesville and took an hour hit in western Virginia to allow a coal train to pass on the CSX. Enroute around Covington we passed a CSX derailment. After that it was a fairly uneventful ride down to Huntington but arrived late none the less. The car owner we were staying with sent his manager over to pick us up seeing it was raining. And my German Missourian friend Brian was also at the station to meet up. He is from Münster but was born in Missouri. So we all talk for a bit get our report for duty time and I make our room up. Day 2: New River Train Well I didn't really sleep much because there were plenty of passing freights rumbling by, a new bed, and The guy in the room next to us snored all night long. So I got up and took a shower and had difficulty getting the water the temperature I wanted it was either scalding or cold so after a minute of attempting I just settled on a cold shower because water is a commodity you can't waste it. I walk down to my office in the Moultree dining car which is an ex Atlantic Coastline Pullman Standard diner two cars away at 0510. I then greet the rest of the crew and we start loading supplies on board. We had a refrigerated truck parked next to the two dining cars with kitchens and we provisioned everything out. Before loading items we made sure to count how many passengers we had so we would carry just enough to make it past the day. Remember trains have limited storage space so carrying just enough to have a little extra but not a lot is crucial. So we get it all loaded out within thirty minutes. Afterwards we start making sandwiches for the tour groups that ride the train while the others work on our actual passengers breakfast. We have 96 box lunch sandwiches to make each one having a croissant, two slices of ham, a slice of cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onion, a bag of chips, a cookie, and some fruit salad. It took us about two hours to have all of the sandwiches prepped and delivered to the proper groups. During this time our excess trash we make can be quickly taken care of by throwing it into the nearby dumpster. Which becomes a game of who can hit the dumpster. We finally have our lunches and passenger breakfast under control fifteen minutes prior to departure and all of us pile out of the car and stand next to it till its time to depart. After we clear the platform we begin to have cars arriving to get their breakfasts for their cars so we have to quickly load up all of their supplies and send them in their way. Once the breakfast items are done we need to start counting out items for our next service which is dinner. Dinner both days is prime rib of chicken with green beans and mashed potatoes. As well as a handful of vegetarian pastas. All served with a dinner roll and a cheese cake for dessert. So we started counting out cheese cakes, and sorting boxes based on what each car needed. So we rapidly took care of the cheese cakes in about twenty or so minutes. I had just finished the cheese cake count when I noticed we were fastly approaching Charleston so I stood in the open dining car door for the platform and waved at the railfans. After that we had to count out the salads ingredients by car. Each salad had two cucumbers and two cherry tomatoes so times that by the number of passengers. By about ten AM we finally had a chance to get a break and we went and had our breakfast for fifteen minutes. After that I started counting dinner rolls to portion out to each car. Once that was done we started preparing our dinner service by filling our oven with prime rib. And boiling water for mashed potatoes and green beans. Which took plenty of time. Once each was ready we would put it in a foil tray and into a box to keep it warm and just keep making them. We arrived in Hinton more or less on time and we were told be back at 210 to start up again on dinner service so all of us piled out of our diner door and took off for the carnival. I walked over to the bridge over the river and saw our engines run around then went back to the carnival. On my way back to the car I talked to a super nice couple riding the train and had a great discussion. Afterwards I climbed into my diner and went back to work preparing dinner. As passengers reboarded various cars would come to us for their supplies and we would give it. We broke three can openers in the process of the green beans making it a long day. We depart Hinton and go about half a mile when we have a brake issue and have to wait half an hour to do something. But the service goes on regardless of the delay. So we keep on going on. First seating in our diner comes and we go to plating dishes. So the servers come to us and bring us the order and then we rapidly filed each order. Somehow we managed to all but run out of green beans despite starting out with a shear ton of it. So we threw our last bag in and prepared it to plate it. After the services were completed cars brought their excess supply to us and we had more green beans than we ever wanted. The group of us then if our dishes and cleaned our kitchen as we were passing by a rainy charleston. Once that was done we just sat and talked in the kitchen. After arriving back in Huntington on the second spot we throw off our trash. Take inventory on what we still have left in storage. Then promptly start adding the next day's provisions to the train. Once were done it's about 11 pm and we're all tired, groggy, and ragged. Yet Brian still finds energy to go visit a local bar. While I go make the beds down and turn down for the night. Day 3: More New River Again we wake up at five am to be on duty at 515 for a passenger train that departs at 830 am. We go to our kitchen re take inventory and go back outside for more cheesecakes. Everything is more or less loaded and stored by 545. Without a tour group on board there is significantly less to do so we just work on our actual passengers breakfast. We have that running smoothly and by seven we basically just wait for departure. Today as opposed to Saturday the sun came out so most of us just stood next to the train till it was time to climb on for departure. Before departure we had all of our dinner inventory counted out minus the dinner rolls so we mostly relaxed after departure. With just plating the meals in our diner as our only real task. All of us took turns standing in the open door as we rocketed towards Charleston. After charleston a group of five of us counted out the dinner rolls in the diner next to ours before returning to ours for another joyous hour of shooting the breeze. At Prince we started preparing our dinner service and had a fair amount completed before our arrival into Hinton. On the trash bomb run someone's bag dropped too close to the train and busted open so on the first spot I had to climb out and help clean up the right of way with several others. On the second spot we all climbed out of our car and went to explore the town in the sun light till 215. I didn't leave just yet as I helped relieve the crew lunches from the local Kroger. Afterwards I went and explored the town a bit. The locomotive wasn't back from the run around move yet so we all had an extra long break. Shortly after we reboarded it began to rain in Hinton while we went to work finishing dinner. Each car would come and pick up their exact provisions with no real incident except for one car who kept griping we gave them the wrong amount. Of note we triple checked everything leaving the kitchen. So his mashed potatoes were written on the package in a foreign language mostly to see if he would gripe. Everyone in the kitchen found it hysterical. After departure I was assigned to the Birken table car to plate dishes for both seatings. Which was ok nothing really complex about it. I returned to my car about fifty miles out from Huntington where we rapidly cleaned our kitchen and then just spent time hanging out prior to arrival. Once we arrived in our final position we had the long task of unloading two weeks worth of supplies into various places. Cooking supplies, utensils, drinks, and other things that could be re used later in the year go to a trailer to the office, expiring foods go to a local food pantry, and some goes to various crew members either for the deadhead or the holidays. So we unloaded everything before the van arrived for the food pantry in the bucket brigade style. Except we did it a bit different with some variant of monkey in the middle being played. As any group of people working in a tight space we bonded so no surprise we played monkey in the middle with stuff coming off the train. Our car was fully unloaded within twenty minutes. And fully sent on its way in an hours time. However our neighboring car the 448 had even more to be disposed of so we went over and started unloading from its vestibule (yes a diner with a vestibule) which took roughly forty five minutes because of the shear amount of things coming off it and the Birken. We had stuff stacked all over that area to the point we ran out of space to place things. It took roughly two hours to get everything loaded into the trailer properly. Initially we only loaded the part by the door which would have been a large mess. However we accomplished that then everyone went to Waffle House because at midnight what other place do train crews go to. Country Roads by John Denver came on so everyone ended up singing along to that and I do mean everyone. Afterwards we all went to the Septic View I mean Scenic View and continued our night. I turned down at 1:30 am and went to bed where Brian was already sleeping. Day 4: Huntington I woke up around ten AM and slowly woke up I texted a friend to see if he wanted to meet up for lunch to which he wanted to. So I got dressed and then went to lunch literally a hundred feet from my room at a German Restaurant which was fairly good. Bill and I talked about our upcoming venture were getting into and then I returned back to the train. Grabbed my things and didn't see Brian so I left to go with the crew to their lunch. I was told switching was about to start and I didn't want to get stuck on that so I walked over and went to lunch with them. I didn't eat anything with them at the BBQ restaurant but it was good company. Afterwards I went to the office where everyone still in town was hanging around. After sitting and talking for awhile our Canadian couple Brett and Mona(I think that was her name) decided they wanted to go for a walk. To which all the locals looked at them like that isn't safe. So they asked for volunteers to go with them for safety in numbers and I'm like I'll go. So I went with them and Christy who's dad owns some railcars in California. So we were originally going to go to a small park on the south side of Huntington near the office and back. On the way we saw a gelato place we stopped in because Brett spilled coffee on his girlfriend's jacket so they wanted to dry it off Keep in mind this is on a street the locals told us to avoid so we go down. I notice that my favorite flavor of Gelato is at this place. I spend years looking for it in the US and have only found it in DC, Seattle, and now Huntington where in Europe it's common. So I happily enjoy my gelato. Afterwards we decide let's go to the Ohio River instead so that's where we set off for. The four of us have great conversations as we walk to the river. Somehow I end up volunteering to cook for Christy and the gang on this walk. So along we go we stop into some interesting stores and end up on the river. Where all four of us millennials end up playing on the swing set. After that we walk by a steam locomotive on display at the former B&O station and make our way looking for a grocery store till we give up. Then we walk back I the train Brett and Mona go to take a quick nap while Christy and I walk back to the office. Where everyone just sorta sits and waits till dinner. At the Outback in Barboursville we are hosting a retirement party for one of our Amtrak crew with all twenty of us in a side room. I end up sitting with the 261 guys AJ and Mike and the Canadians. It's incredibly awkward when you're the first to arrive and have to chose a seat. The food was good, the fellowship even better. After three or so hours we arrive back to the train where I go to my car I've been spending the night on which is now further away from the platform after switching. Four of the five occupants of the car including me have a sing a long in the lounge before Joe who manages the New River Train texted m at one am it's time to go to Walmart to get the supplies for the deadhead. So Christy, Julius, and I go to the Barboursville Walmart and I pick up eight pounds of pork, four pounds of potatoes, bread crumbs, six eggs, vegetable oil, a bag of flour, and last but not least cinnamon and two pineapples for dessert. We arrive back at the train at two am and I go to bed. Day 5: Deadheading in Daylight I wake up at eight AM fifteen minutes prior to the official schedule of the deadhead and await departure. We depart at 8:21 six minutes behind schedule which for a special move isn't really that bad. I buttoned up all of the traps as we slowly gathered speed which I always find somewhat enjoyable. I couldn't make it down the whole train due to a locked IPH door however. So I just enjoy the morning ride in the vestibule of Morris County parlor car with Ryan. The colors on this part of the Ohio River Valley are far better than the New River Gorge and we plod along last small town Kentucky that the Cardinal normally passes after dark. We stop for thirty minutes in Russel to take fuel for the P42s on the head end before resuming our journey. What I found quite surprising is the number of beautiful suspension bridges crossing the Ohio in these small towns no one has ever heard of before. After awhile Joe led a parade of our fellow crew members down from breakfast in the Dearing to the end of the train in Tioga Pass. Where we all promptly stood on the rear end platform and just spent the time hanging out. After a few minutes we retired to the Silver Palace dome car to watch the Ohio River Valley from up above. The closer we got to Cincinnati the more spectacular the fall foliage became. As we approached the area the door on one car jammed so we spent half an hour fixing it. So half the passenfers I had planned on cooking for went to the Dearing while the other half stayed in the Tioga Pass. I was on the platform as we took the long curved viaduct up and over the Ohio River at Cincinnati. As soon as we were off the viaduct I went to the Super Dome kitchen and started making lunch. I didn't have a kitchen mallet so I pounded the meat with an ice cream scoop. And because I didn't know how to turn on their oven and neither did the car riders the fries came a full twenty minutes after the main course of Schweiner Schnitzel. None the less the ten people who ate loved the meal which definitely made me happy. I didn't eat until the fries, and the warm cinnamon pineapple were completed. We actually ate in the dining room of Tioga Pass which was a good eight car walk away from where the food was prepared but that was alright. The rest of the early evening hours I spent pretending to be a politician waving to people from the open rear platform of the Tioga Pass. Enjoying the nice warm fall day across Indiana's Hoosier Heartland on the former B&O. After awhile we arrived in Indianapolis Union Station or should I say the head end arrived there. We were a long way out of the station and where we could watch the local streetscape of the city. After about an hour long stop and being passed by a long local freight we took off for Chicago. I stood on the platform as we watched Indy slowly shrink in size on the horizon till it was gone. We took a decent hit waiting for a freight train ahead of us to enter the Ex NYC Avon Yard west of town before proceeding later. I went back cleaned the kitchen of the Super Dome and went back to Norm's car on the rear. We had several interesting discussions with the conductor who was in the observation sitting room of the car. I would occasionally pop out on the platform for a town seeing it was now after dark. However it was a lovely evening and I probably spent a full hour out there after dark. As we approached Chicago we encountered a fairly decent size hail storm. Shortly before arrival at CP Lumber I walked back to my car knowing they were going to separate the train on the Running track to make sure I was on the right section. I rode the last few miles into Chicago in the vestibule of the Colonial Crafts before we arrived in Chicago around 1:30 in the morning. We were scheduled in at 7 pm but special moves do get held up. They split us up on the Running track and we went to track 12 in the yard while I popped vestibules open to aid the switch crews in switching the train before I turned down for the night in rainy Chicago. Day 6 flying home I woke up at about eleven local time in Chicago well before anyone else in the car did and made myself a small breakfast. After everyone woke up I had to take the tools back to Super Dome where the manager borrowed them from. So I took off walking over to the Running Track to hand them up. Of course by the time I got over there they were starting to move so I had to follow them on foot in the yard. I did see a lot of really cool heritage cars still in operation while walking to the Super Domes new location. After about thirty minutes I returned the tools and went back to the crafts. Ryan and I said goodbye to Brian who took the Texas Eagle to St Louis and then we went to clean up the Septic View. At about 1230 the switch crew came to add us to the rear of the Lake Shore Limited with all of the other cars bound for New York which was completed at 1:30. Afterwards I walked over to Union Station had Broasted Chicken on Metra and went out to ORD on the three pm train. No shuttle bus met the train this time at the station and I had to walk a bit to get to the bus stop. I thought I was really touch and go arriving at the airport at about 4:10 for my 4:58 flight. The shuttle bus took forever to drop us off because people were parked in the stop location but eventually I made it off. Made it by security fast. Ran to my gate and right as I got there they started boarding my American flight to Charlotte on an A321. I was given the middle seat in the exit row but for a streak of good luck no one else on the row. And one of those seats had nothing but the jump seat ahead of it. So obviously I moved. I had a great discussion with the flight attendant the entire flight because of turbulence they weren't able to do a service. Which also delayed us by about twenty minutes. After arriving at the gate I ran with just my carry on and camera bag, but forgot my jacket in the overhead. My connection to the last flight of the night was only thirty minutes and we landed twenty minutes behind. So naturally I ran from concourse B to E. I reached the gate five minutes after the boardings door had been shut and rebooked on the first flight of the next day. So I called my dad and he drove the hour and a half to come get me. So I figured ok I have a delay might as well get a nice airport dinner. But due to Halloween everything closed at eight so I literally had nothing but a drink from a store who also gave me all of their Halloween trick or treater leftovers. Didn't leave the airport until ten thirty. On the way home stopped at a cookout fast food joint in Rock Hill having a small dinner. And arrived home at one in the morning. All in all a fun productive work trip.