Trip Development I heard the news that President Bush had died when I was watching House of Cards on Netflix late into the night and didn't think anything of it. Later that day because I didn't get the news till way after midnight I learned that there was to be a Funeral Train operated by the Union Pacific Railroad passenger fleet powered by UP 4141 painted in honor of President Bush. So I called my good friend Ryan and convinced him that we should go chase it because it was a piece of history. And for me it would also serve as a research trip to see how large scale trains for politicians work as I've been selected to help with a campaign train in 2020. So I booked Ryan and I on Spirit Airlines from Atlanta-Houston Intercontinental nonstop on Thursday the 6th. Total fare $150 a person. The next day I had the idea I should email my news media contacts and see if any would be interested in buying pictures/videos of the event. So CBS responded positively and assigned us a cameraman who would just ride in our chase vehicle instead of us submitting. So Day 0: Going to Hotlanta Seeing I was only planning on being away for two nights, and sleeping in an airport for both nights I didn't actually pack much. Just my camera bag, with odds and ends that I thought I would need. I left my house and drove to Ryan's so we could carpool In what we've nicknamed Hotel CRV. After we met he hadn't had dinner yet while I had so we went to a local pub in Columbia so he could eat before setting out on the road around nine. Most of the way we discussed various chase plans for the next day, the disbelief that we were being paid to do something we normally do for free, and sang Beatles songs off a playlist. We arrived at the Airport at Midnight and parked Hotel CRV before walking to the terminal. It took us about thirty minutes to figure out security was open because it didn't appear to be open at first. We rapidly passed by security and went to our gate E6 where our plane was already at the gate. And with the PlaneTrain running at reduced service we chose to walk from the domestic terminal to Concourse E. Along the way we made sarcastic comments about the artwork on display in true fashion to ourselves. We passed multiple gates that we're all devoid of life till we reached ours where there were two others also awaiting the flight five hours before boarding. So we both made ourselves comfortable and attempted to sleep next to the window. I believe I did manage to sleep some till I became too cold, and the annoying TV that just kept broadcasting. Day 1: The Funeral Train Chase So we eventually just gave up on sleep at five and prepared for boarding our A321-200 service to Houston. Boarding started on time at 0545 and we were on our way. Ryan was asleep before the safety demonstration, and I followed soon after take off. We landed a few minutes early which was all the better and met our friend Bill who rented a Mercedes SUV at the airport. So we went over to get breakfast with EHBowen from AU and we're almost late because we got sidetracked by seeing the train in the yard. And because finding parking in Historic Spring Texas is harder than one imagines. We had a lovely breakfast at Ellen's Cafe mostly talking about trains before we went out to find our Cameraman. We found him and then decided we would start our chase from further from civilization and close to a freeway Ramp. We were several hours early and made friends with a local road construction group who let us park in their closed lane. We hadron go back to get the camera mans rain gear right as the Pilot train went by. And later returned to our spot. We ended up in a large crowd of people who were way closer to the track than the distance the police let the professional media in which was a bit of a pain. But we met several cool people who had come from as far away as California, Washington (State), Kentucky, and all over Texas. The train was supposed to be doing 30 mph during its trip however it blasted by us doing full track speed at 60 mph. We quickly made it back to our car and got on the freeway. Unfortunately the road on this chase really wasn't parallel to the road and had one large bottleneck known as Magnolia, TX in the way. So we chose to go that way instead of heading straight for Navasota on the four lane divided road. We had a slowdown for a section of Road Work before we reached Pinehurst where the road started to parallel the track into Magnolia. Well the train beat us there and the resulting exodus of people created a traffic jam these roads had never seen before. So we got stuck and for whatever reason Bill chose to follow a secret service motorcade which the rest of us all disagreed with before we turned on a back country road. We trusted our GPS which took us into Magnolia where we managed to get stuck for an hour. So we basically gave up on the chase as there was no way but Bill wanted to see it in College Station. I was getting nauseated from eating a small breakfast, not using the restroom, dehydration, and lack of sleep by the time we reached a service station in College Station. So I had a bag of chips to tie me over as that was the only option. We went over to the train where Ryan and I rapidly ran around taking photos from a distance because of an excessively large security buffer zone. I handed my camera up to a guy on top of a traffic box who took photos of the train while the Air Force did a missing man formation over the train. Meanwhile Bill called to get us back because he had illegally parked. So Ryan and I ran back to the car where our CBS guy was mad at Bill for how unprofessional things were. Both Ryan and I apologized in texts to him about how bad it was. So we eventually make our way back to where the cameraman had left his car dropped him off and went back to the airport with less then an hour till Bill's plane took off. Bill had bought bottles of water for our chase that he attempted to hand out to anyone in the rent a car return who would take it. Ryan and I then had to pressure him into giving up so he would make his Spirit flight back to Detroit. We took the shuttle to the Terminal and checked Bill and ourselves in before we went to security. After security we rushed him to the gate to make sure he would arrive in Detroit and not spend the night in Houston. After he boarded Ryan and I went to an airport bar where we edited out photos some and submitted them to various publications. After that we boarded our flight to Atlanta which arrived at 12:20 AM the next day. Day 2: Shortlines of the Carolinas After we arrived at 12:20 AM Ryan and I decided instead of another night in the loud Atlanta Airport we would spend the night at the Clemson Amtrak Station so we drove from Atlanta on 85, and 985 to Gainesville before taking US 23 and 123 the rest of the way to Clemson. Clemson itself is a very special place for Ryan and I because of our shared memories, of the town. As many of you know I once got engaged on the Clemson Platform, used to watch trains with that girl the entire duration of our relationship at the Clemson Platform. And we would oftentimes camp out in her car or in a Tent at the end of the platform watching trains till one or two in the morning till going back to her apartment. After I broke up with her he dated her. Which is when him and I had a feud but we've since patched things up. And honestly things are better than before. So even though I was beyond tired at Toccoa seeing Clemson woke me up especially with the massive amount of development that has occurred since the breakup in 2016. Him and I just talked like brothers about passed relationships, current ones, and a bit of everything before sleeping in Hotel CRV in the parking lot. We awoke around eight AM and watched the Crescent Pass by At track speed from the now High Level platform. Wow how things change in two years. After that we drove down to Anderson, SC to check out the local Pickens Railroad company. Which operates on ex Southern Railway, Piedmont & Northern Railway, and Charleston & Western Carolina Railroad lines around Anderson, SC. We found the train at the industrial park on the furthest east section of the C&WC and chased it to Anderson across farmers fields, and past abandoned dilapidated textile mills. It was quite the congregation of people who came out to watch the five man switch crew do the interchange with Norfolk Southern. At 11:30 we went over to the Greenville & Western Railroad who doesn't always operate daily. But we ended up being lucky and managed to see a four car Train with a GP9 getting ready to depart. So we chased it all the way to the former mill town of Pelzer. With some unique shots taken by both of us on the way to Pelzer. We watched them have a headlight meet with CSX at Pelzer before heading for home. We followed US 25 and US 76 to my former college in Clinton, SC. We both are lunch at the McDonalds on the former site of the Clinton Hotel next to Clinton Connection between the former Columbia, Newberry & Laurens and the Seaboard Airline To Birmingham. After that we drove alongside the CN&L on US 76 the rest of the way into Columbia. Where I picked up my car at his house and battled rush hour traffic. I made it home by six thirty and I was in bed by seven and slept till ten am the next day. All in all it was a good trip. Ryan and I were able to bond some, we participated in history. And we worked on our little project that when the time is right I'll tell you guys. Was it our worst train chase definitely, but would I do it again. Most definitely. Photos in next post.