South by Northwest

Discussion in 'Travelogues / Trip Reports' started by Seaboard92, Mar 11, 2019.

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  1. Mar 11, 2019 #1

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

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    Planning

    After the collapse of New River Train and all of my PV clients I had started applying for jobs. So I was invited out to Seattle to interview for Alaska Airlines. However they weren't providing transportation so I had to find my own way out there. Using my travel agency benefits I've acquired over the year I managed to get a good fare to fly to Seattle on Alaska. And then back on the Empire Builder, Capitol Limited, and Silver Star.

    I had no issues getting the Alaska Airlines travel agent rate however I had a lot of trouble with the Amtrak one because it took forever to get it approved.

    Day 1: Driving across the Piedmont

    I was up at nine AM to ride with my friend Ryan from the PV community from my home in the Columbia area to the Raleigh-Durham International Airport taking all backroads to get there because the flight wasn't till five that night. We drove up US 1 out of my town and followed the route of the Silver Star north.

    We retraced several of our former train chase locations this time without a rush because we weren't trying to keep up with the Star. We paused in Hamlet to walk around the beautifully restored station and to look at the restored Seaboard locomotive. Both Ryan and I were talking about our mutual love of the seaboard as both of us have grown up along its mainline several years after its demise.

    After departing the station we drove by the deadline of EMDs in the once busy yard at Hamlet. The hump shut down several years ago and the yard is fairly empty. And it's lost the majority of its trains. I remember the days when it sent 15 plus trains a day out in all directions.

    We then continued north looking at the mainline trying to locate the northbound or southbound CSX local freight out of Hamlet while reminiscing about our PV experiences. And our opinions of the demise of New River Train. We paused in Aberdeen to look at the local Aberdeen and Rockfish railroad before continuing north to Sanford.

    Both Ryan and I had seen a steam engine outside our windows on 91/92 so we decided to go look at it before continuing north. Along the way to Cary we followed old US 1 instead of the new four lane divided to stay closer to the Aberdeen sub and found a girder bridge with SEABOARD preserved on its side over the river. One day we will return to shoot this on our cameras.

    Onward we continued in a light rain and eventually we found two CSX locals out and about before we continued to Cary. We had lunch at the Shiny Diner at two pm. At this point we were rushing because we both wanted to see westbound Piedmont No. 77 at Cary. I had fried chicken and the area close to the skin was incredibly hot but the closer to the fore it got the colder it was. And at one place it felt like it was completely frozen, yet I continued to eat it.

    We made it in time to see the Piedmont and for some reasons both Ryan and I didn't decide to move to the other side of the station till it was about to leave but we managed it. With two 3,000 hp motors and a short four car train it picks up speed like a pocket rocket. Afterwards we drove over to the airport.

    I went to the ticket counter and purchased my travel agent ticket for the grand total of 60 dollars. It's a standby ticket so I proceeded to check my bag and head back to the gate. Alaska offers two flights per day from RDU and my flight had a strong chance of a seat so I wasn't too worried about getting seat.

    I watched the aircraft approach the gate on the apron and shortly after that they called my name for standby and I claimed my seat. I was given an entire row to myself at the rear of the aircraft. On the flight I managed to watch part of Caddyshack, and several Adam Sandler movies.

    What is nice about Alaska is the fact it has free texting. It was a very turbulent six hour flight. However the last hour and a half of the flight I felt sick. I was up four or five times to the bathroom dry heaving till I eventually threw up a bit I'm afraid. My first time ever getting air sick this badly.

    I texted my doctor I work for (sure she's a vet but she did pre med at MIT) and several nurses, a combat medic, and a vet tech. Of course I got a lecture about eating chicken that may or may not be cooked. And some tips on how to deal with the symptoms which more or less helped. I did enjoy the northerly approach over Seattle and saw all of the sights I visited when I was with Kathleen from the B737-900.

    We arrived at SEATAC early and I slowly took my time to go to the baggage claim so I wouldn't stress my already messed up system up and claimed my bag before boarding the Link. I texted Charlie (CHamilton here on AU) to let him know when I would be arriving. For the most part my system wasn't bad on the Link (maybe I just like trains better) and I enjoyed my hour long ride.

    I then caught the bus out to Charlie's apartment and him and I caught up on everything that had gone on in half a year. Which takes a long time because him and I have so many stories to share. We eventually settled down and went to bed.

    Day 2: Portland and Julia

    Charlie and I got up early to catch Cascades Train No. 501 to head south to my favorite American city of Portland for the day. Charlie had business with AORTA and I wanted to visit my best friend Julia. So we caught the bus outside his apartment to the Link to reach King Street Station.

    We made it down to the station with plenty of time to spare and were able to pre-board out Talgo the Mount Rainier in business class on the head end of the consist. We got settled in and kept catching up on PV issues and how the advocacy community can help.

    Honestly we talked about so much I honestly can't even summarize it because it was so interesting and hit so many topics. We had our breakfast in the former dining car section of the train. I had one of my favorite Schwartz Brothers cinnamon rolls as we ran alongside the Puget Sound.

    Honestly I hadn't planned on riding this scenic stretch of track before the new route opened but yet here I am. Our train arrived several minutes early and Charlie took me to meet his colleagues with AORTA on the second floor of Union Station. I can't imagine I've ever been in an elevator as old as that.

    The thing had a manual door which I've never seen before. After that I used a restroom that I believe is original to when the station opened before meeting his colleagues. After a few minutes Julia texted me to say she was in the station so I went back downstairs and we went into a beautiful day.

    It was so great to see Julia sitting in the station when I walked up. We decided we would go to a Chinese Tea Room inside this beautiful little gallery near the station. She bought our admission and I bought our lunch. We strolled around the gardens, and ponds in this unique gallery that were decorated for Chinese New Years. It was beautiful.

    We had a small lunch at the tea room where I proceeded to embarrass myself eating which chop sticks again. Again I employed my method of, "Is that Adam Sandler over there (Points to distract whomever and stuffs mouth full with other hand). It was rather funny she tried again in vain to teach me how to use chop sticks. My bet Dr Ng tells me she will teach me one day.

    After we left lunch we continued to walk around the gallery and tried our hand at the wishing tree it took her two times, I took me four times to land the coin in the tree. I think you guys know what I was wishing for. Afterwards we walked down to Portland State Universities campus so she could go to class.

    I was really impressed with her, and appalled at humanity at the same time when one of Portland's homeless approached us wanting money. She was willing to offer some food from her bag (fresh fruit) to the person. They snapped and yelled "Food doesn't pay the expletive expletive rent you expletive expletive." Which made her cry.

    Honestly I then went into full protective mode and rushed her out of the area instead of giving the homeless person a piece of my mind. I wanted to go and curse this person out but my job is to comfort her which I did. I managed to make a complete and utter fool of myself for a laugh to cheer her up.

    Luckily I am a very big idiot and I can make anyone laugh so before she went to class she was back in a good mood. I had three hours till she was out of class so I walked back downtown and had a burger because I needed some real food I could eat. Afterwards I walked over to look at the White Stag because I had never seen that.

    I didn't want to walk back to downtown from there because of the overwhelming amount of homeless camped out under the sign. So I walked across the Willamette and turned right down Dr MLK street to walk down to the rail museum to get a photo of the Coast Starlight departing under the Portland Skyline.

    I honestly didn't think I would make it in time to see the starlight because I didn't allow myself enough time but because 27 was late they held 11 a few minutes which helped me get into position. So I managed to get a good shot of the Starlight departing. Afterwards I walked to the Max stop and photographed the Portland and Western freight with a Santa Fe diesel leading.

    After about twenty minutes I was waiting on her campus to meet up again so we could go to Powels to shop for a friend's wedding and to cook dinner tonight. She was very kind and brought m a Lavender Doughnut and it was quite good. We took the max to Pioneer Square and then walked over to Powels where I bought a cookbook for my friends.

    And I bought a few paperbacks for myself and Julia did as well for herself. After that we walked back towards her apartment and stopped into an odd craft store to pick up supplies for her kindergarten class she volunteers with. Afterwards we went up to her apartment together and we cooked dinner for ourself.

    We made a shrimp stir fry with German style home fries and enjoyed a beautiful view of the Portland Skyline. Our friend Melissa came over and had dinner with us. After dinner we did dishes and they drove me over to Union Station to catch Cascades Train No. 508 back to Seattle.

    They began boarding the train before I even arrived. I hugged Julia at the station door and shuffled out to board the Mount Bachelor Talgo. Charlie and I continued to catch up on our ride north. He told me about four cars available at a great price that I have to say I'm interested in. Again we had a light meal in the area intended to be a dining car at one time on our way into Seattle.

    We detrained at King Street and were whisked away to his apartment by taxi cab instead of taking public transit because we both had early mornings the next day.
     
  2. Mar 11, 2019 #2

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

    Conductor

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    The Seaboard SDP35 at the Hamlet, NC station.

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    The Aberdeen & Rockfish shop in Aberdeen, NC.

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    The Atlantic & Western No. 12 at Sanford Union Station.

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    The modern day Atlantic & Western.

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    This odd little freight train in Sanford.

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    A CSX local somewhere in NC

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    Amtrak's Piedmont arriving into Cary.

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    The Piedmont departing Cary.

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    My Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-900 at RDU.
     
  3. Mar 11, 2019 #3

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

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    Joined:
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    Downtown Seattle in the pre dawn hour.

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    King Street Station

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    Cascades Train No. 501 preparing to board at King St.

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    Cascades Train No. 501 sitting under the Seattle skyline.

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    The Tacoma Narrows.

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    A Santa Fe SD40-2 in Centralia

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    Coming into Portland in the fog.

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    Cascades Train No. 501 at Portland.

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    The Chinese garden decorated for Chinese New Year.

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    Downtown Portland.

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    Portland State University where I dropped and picked Julia up.

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    Pioneer Square with the newest LRV trimet has.

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    Looking out over the Willamette.

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    The White Stag.

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    The Coast Starlight passing the Oregon Railroad Heritage Foundation.

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    The view from Julia's apartment.

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    Julia and I while we were cooking dinner.

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    Our lovely view while we ate dinner.

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    Go By Train at Portland Union Station.

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    The amount Bachelor Talgo resting as Train No. 508.
     
  4. Mar 11, 2019 #4

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

    Conductor

    Joined:
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    Day 3: Interviews and the Builder

    I awoke early again this morning because I had a job interview over at SEATAC. I brought my suitcase with me because the information on the interview said it might go on till five pm and my train is scheduled for 4:40 PM. So I was planning on leaving the interview at 3:00 PM to make sure I would make the train.

    So I took my suitcase down to the bus stop and took it to the link. Again I rode standing up the entire way to the SEATAC stop and enjoyed the urban northwest scenery that passes by the Windows. I arrived at the interview with time to spare and joined the other two people interviewing. As I sat in the room I was expecting more people to show but no one did.

    The initial presentation really wasn't that long so I was fairly confident that with three people it wouldn't take long to interview. We did our group introductions before they locked us out and came back to invite us to an individual interview. The individual one didn't last long and I didn't get the job. The interview started at eight and I was gone by 9:15 AM.

    I texted Charlie to see if he wanted to meet for lunch so I went back to his place by public transit. Still enjoying the view of the urban northwest. After arriving back and changing out of my suit we went to lunch at an Italian restaurant owned and operated by Bulgarians if I remember correctly. It was very good and I we continued catching up.

    I left Charlie's apartment at two and went down to King Street to have plenty of time to spare in case public transit had a meltdown to catch my train. It had no issues and I made it down there with plenty of time to spare. So I spent the next bit railfaning the various trains in the station area.

    I had thought about walking Ito downtown a bit but with a suitcase, in the Seattle Rain, with limited time I decided best to leave that for another day. I wanted to photograph my train pulling into the station so I waited on the overpass for it to pull in. The platform signs listed the train as boarding, then last call, and lastly departed even though the train never materialized. So I went back in to the head house to wait for the train partially as it was now dark, and I wanted to make sure they weren't bussing to Spokane.

    The waiting room was packed with passengers waiting on the Empire Builder, and a southbound Cascade to Eugene. After a long boring wait eventually the Empire Builder pulled up alongside the station and boarding was started promptly. I found room 8 on the upper level and settled into the room. We departed at 6:19 PM roughly an hour and forty minutes behind schedule.

    I wasn't super worried about making my connection because I figured there was plenty of padding at Spokane, Whitefish, Minot, Saint Paul, and Chicago. So I wasn't worried that I was going to miss the wedding I was going to. However I enjoyed the ride north out of King Street with my roomette on the engineer/city side of the train.

    I looked out over the Ballard Draw Bridge at the lochs where a few years prior Kathleen and I had strolled, and enjoyed a sunny June day. And I thought about how beautiful the world is that we can still occupy the same plane of existence just miles apart from each other and be oblivious to each other. Which is a great thing because I honestly never really care to see her again because of how bad things ended.

    They announced that 7:30 would be the time for anyone in the sleeping cars to have dinner so at that time I waltzed down to the dining car and took a table with a firemen/rescuer, and a retired couple. The entire table had steak which really isn't a surprise. I thought it was very good and we had a good conversation about private cars and the fate of many of them.

    I left the diner somewhere around Skykomish to return to my darkened room so I could see the scenery under the full moon. Even after dark it's a beautiful ride in a darkened roomette. The snow gleaming under the moonlight, and the headlight of the train visible rounding curves ahead. I stepped off at Wenatchee for the stretch stop before going back to my room. During this time I texted my travel agent and managed to get Julia accredited as well so go me. I stayed awake till the landscape flattened out.

    Day 4: Glacier National Park and White Out

    I set my alarm for sunrise because my favorite time on board any train is right around sunrise. And even though I'm not a morning person this time is very special to me. I went to breakfast shortly before we reached Libby at 7:43 AM. I ate most of the meal alone till an Amish or Mennonite (I can't really tell a difference) couple were sat with me. The pancakes were decent as always and the scenery was breathtaking.

    After eating breakfast I walked back to Train No. 28s lounge car and took a seat on the firemens side for the morning. The scenery in this part of Montana is beautiful and I'm glad we were late enough I was able to enjoy it. I stretched my legs in Whitefish to learn we had a BNSF engine leading the way. And it was a very cold morning with a temp of I want to say 7 degrees.

    The train then continued east into the area of Glacier National Park. I talked to a caterer from the St Louis area as we started climbing Marias Pass. The two of us had a lot in common because cooking on a PV or a charter train is very similar to cooking for weddings and special events. Elsewhere in the lounge there was a railfan playing Train Simulator on Marias Pass with the Empire Builder. Trying to keep up with our exact location which was different.

    Around each corner is another beautiful scenic vista. We were still passing the park when it was time for lunch so I went to lunch and had a hamburger. It was decent and the company was interesting to say the least. As we wrapped up lunch we left the park and we entered near white out conditions.

    I returned to the lounge car for the afternoon where I could see almost nothing. Every once in awhile we had a moment where you could see a house or a small town along the track. I stepped off the train in Shelby for our six minute long stretch stop where the step box was literally all but covered by snow. Before heading back to the lounge.

    We waited west of Havre for half an hour to let our westbound counterpart pass by before we arrived. I took a chilling stroll down the platform to look at the Great Northern Steam Engine on display before Reboarding in the snow. I took the first call for dinner which ended up being exactly eight people.

    Again I had the steak and had a nice conversation with the table mates about something that I can't remember. After dinner it had gotten dark so I retired to my room and played Roller Coaster Tycoon for a few hours as we crossed the prairies after dark. I waited up till we reached Williston so I could say I stood in North Dakota. Even though it wasn't a stretch stop I did accomplish my mission and promptly took a shower and went to bed afterwards. Temp 1 degree.

    Day 5: Ole Man River
    I again set my alarm to be up at sunrise and ended up waking as we were pulling into Fargo at 6:47 AM four hours and 29 minutes behind schedule. I relaxed in my bed till about eight because I didn't really want an early breakfast. I enjoyed looking at the scenery along the Northern Pacific mainline in Minnesnowta.

    I still thought we could make up time and I would make up my connection because there is an hour of padding in Saint Paul, and more going into Chicago. I went to breakfast and had it with a gym teacher from Yonkers which was a great conversation. We ended up talking most of the morning in the sightseer lounge.

    Again I had the pancakes and they were good as always as we streaked across the state. My long chat with the teacher ended as we were approaching St Paul. I photographed the 261 shop, and all of the other PVs in the area while we continued eastward. I stretched my legs at St Paul to find that we had lost the BNSF unit overnight at some point.

    We departed St Paul at 12:41 PM as a sold out train. At this point I learned by checking my email that my tickets had been updated to the next day's Capitol Limited. I had lunch at about 1:15 with a rather interesting individual where we talked about a charter a client of mine is running this June.

    After finishing my hamburger I went back to the lounge where I sat with a nice women from North Dakota who was looking for Eagles along Ole Man River. And thanks to her I managed to see quite a few. At a nearby table were some younger railfans playing a board game about owning railroads. The one explaining the rules to everyone else sounded like Sheldon from Big Bang Theory.

    What surprises me is an older railfan asked them if they were excited for the big boy restoration and none of them had even heard of a big boy? I spent my entire afternoon relaxing in the lounge and sending Julia pictures of how boring Wisconsin looks because she doesn't want to move there despite her boyfriend wanting to. Even though I find the state quite beautiful with the tall bluffs, rivers, and streams.

    Once the sun set I retired to my room to enjoy crossing dairy land after dark. After we had departed Milwaukee I called my friend the bride to tell her I couldn't make it to her wedding because we had missed a connection. I enjoyed seeing Chicago's skyline growing ever closer. And I made sure to take a peak at Western Avenue Yard which was my terminal on my first trip to Chicago.

    We arrived into Chicago alongside the Lake Shore Limited at 8:34 PM four hours and thirty nine minutes behind schedule. I grabbed my bag from my roomette and walked down the platform to the Passenger Services desk. I gave them my ticket and they gave me a package with my hotel, cab vouchers, and food vouchers that they had already prepared.

    After leaving that desk I walked over to the only open vendor for the food voucher McDonald's and made sure to use the entire ten dollar value on myself. Before leaving for the hotel. After a ten minute cab ride I had arrived at the Swissotel. An effortless check in and I was up to my room. I was astounded at how amazing my view was. I took several pictures of the view before I took a shower and passed out on the king sized bed. Amtrak paid $160 for the room.
     
  5. Mar 11, 2019 #5

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

    Conductor

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    Location:
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    IMG_8149.JPG
    The Link Lightrail in the transit tunnel.

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    The Sounder arriving into Seattle from the coach yard.

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    The BNSF operated Sounder waiting to depart for Tacoma under Seattle's Skyline.

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    A Cascades train arriving into Seattle behind a charger.

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    The last time I was photographing this unit at this location I had another NPCU in the picture..... My ex.

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    Smith Tower Seattle's first skyscraper while modern skyscrapers tower over it.

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    King Street Station.

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    A Sounder arriving from the yard.

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    The Empire Builder at Wenatchee, WA

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    Western Montana at daybreak.

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    It's a winter wonderland.

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    The Empire Builder literally cooling its heels at Whitefish, MT at 7 degrees.

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    Glacier National Park

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    Climbing east over Marias Pass

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    The Izzak Walton Inn behind a mountain of snow.

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    An abandoned tunnel on the pass.

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    Resting at Shelby, MT

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    The Stepbox at Shelby

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    The prairie of Montana.

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    A station scene in Havre, MT
     
  6. Mar 11, 2019 #6

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

    Conductor

    Joined:
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    IMG_8169.JPG
    A Great Northern Steam Engine at Havre, MT

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    A Burlington Northern locomotive poking out of the shops.

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    A Great Northern Steam Engine at Williston, ND.

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    Looking towards the head end at Williston.

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    A small town in Minnesnowta.

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    Looking out over the prairie.

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    Passing the 261 shop and their PVs.

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    Look at the snow piled up on that locomotive.

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    A Canadian Pacific freight in St Paul.

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    Downtown St Paul

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    The Empire Builder at Saint Paul, MN

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    Crossing Ole Man River.

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    Looking across to Wisconsin.

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    Crossing Ole Man River at La Crosse.

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    A Canadian Pacific Local at La Crosse.

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    Sunset over Dairyland.

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    The Charter Wire cars at Milwaukee

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    The Charter Wire cars at Milwaukee.

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    The view from the Swissotel.

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    My room at the swissotel.
     
  7. Mar 11, 2019 #7

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

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    Day 6: Misconnected in Chicago

    Today I decided to somewhat sleep in which my body definitely appreciated. Even though I was up by eight and checked out by eight thirty. I called the Chicago Carriage Cab to get a taxi back to the station but it never came. While I was waiting for the second cab I was trying to figure out where I was going to railfan.

    I was between West Chicago (UP, Metra, CN), Franklin Park (IHB, Metra, CN, CP), Downers Grove (Amtrak, BNSF, Metra), and Joliet (Amtrak, Metra, CN, Iowa Interstate, CSX, BNSF, UP). However looking at the schedule after the cab had arrived at Union Station I had just missed the Lincoln Service to Joliet, the next BNSF train was in an hour, UP west in an hour, with the next train being the MD West. So by the time I stored my bag in the lounge. And rushed to a ticket machine and bought my ticket.

    Then I ran out and caught the Milwaukee District West train with twenty seconds to spare and found a seat on the top of the gallery car. Thirty minutes later I was deposited at Franklin Park and I walked over to the diamond where the former Milwaukee Road and former Soo Line crossed. It was fairly cold being around 36 degrees with some snow on the ground.

    I downloaded the ventra app after remembering I needed a ticket to get back into the city and I checked the schedules of trains back to the city. After seeing three freight trains and a few Metra trains I decided I wanted to see the Industry Museum and that I should get lunch somewhere downtown.

    So I walked to the Franklin Park NCS station to take the North Central Service back into the city. Of all my trips to Chicago the NCS has been involved in 75 percent of them because it goes to ORD. Twenty minutes later and I was deposited at Union Station. I exited out of the north exit and walked down towards the Cloud Gate.

    I enjoyed my brisk walk in the loop and I found a nice pub for lunch. In and out in thirty minutes and I was off to wandering around Millennium Park because I was looking for Millennium Station. In order to find the mystery station I walked into a swanky looking steakhouse to ask the hostess how to find the station after wandering around looking on my map.

    She took me around to the back of the place and pointed at a stairwell. Sure enough I had found the station and I went into the depths of it. I bought my ticket on my phone and waited for them to post the track for the next southbound in fifteen minutes. After a moment of staring at the departure screen a track number was posted and down I went.

    I boarded the electric line gallery car and settled in for a twenty minute ride to the 55-56-57th street station. When the train departs the intercom lists all of the stations which was quite the impressive list. Ryan called me and we caught up for a bit. On the way I looked at the timetable and decided I would take a Blue Island Branch train south to Blue Island and take the Rock Island District back into the city.

    My reasoning for it was because I know the way from La Salle St to Union Station whereas I could barely find the electric station for the southbound. I had an entire hour between when I arrived at the station to departing on the blue island train. So I walked over to the museum and went down four flights of stairs to get to the entrance. The line to get in was fairly long so I attempted to buy the ticket on my phone.

    However I reached the front of the line before I could finish buying a ticket and because it was less than two hours to closing time it was half off. I then rapidly explored to find the three exhibits I wanted to see. After wandering around I eventually found the NYC 999 and the United 727. Nearby I walked around the Great American Railroad story which chronicles the BNSF line from Chicago to Seattle.

    After walking around the exhibit I hurried back down to the Pioneer Zephyr in the lobby of the museum. After walking around the exterior I took off back to the Metra Electric Line and made the Blue Island Branch train with ten minutes. I found a seat on top of the gallery car and settled in for a long ride.

    Before too long we arrived in Blue Island across from the Iowa Interstate's Rock Island heritage unit. I walked over and took a great picture of the unit in fantastic light before catching a Rock Island main line train to La Salle. When we arrived in Chicago I caught the Metra Rock Island heritage unit.

    After detraining I walked over to the Northwestern Terminal to look at the only private car on a commuter train in the country. After the Car 553 arrived in and I took several photos of the inside and outside before walking over to the Milwaukee District to hopefully see the Milwaukee heritage unit.

    Luckily I didn't have a long wait and out came the heritage unit. After watching a handful of trains departing I walked back to the lounge. Of course my phone died on the walk to the station and the met lounge attendant gave me trouble getting back into the crowded lounge. But after retrieving the paper ticket from my bag he had no issue.

    After taking several photos of the lounge for site research for my book it was time board the Capitol Limited. However it was disorganized because the Texas Eagle and the Capitol Limited were boarding from the lounge at the same time. And on the same platform. I settled into room 14 on the lower level and waited for the attendant to take my dinner order.

    The train left exactly on time and entered the Pennsylvania Railroad mainline. He took my order for pick up in the dining car. Then I relaxed in the room despite the night light refusing to turn off. I pulled the curtain over it and managed to darken the room so I could enjoy the industrial corner of Indiana.

    At 7:30 PM I walked the one car to the former dining car and ate the most disappointing meal I've ever eaten on board a train. I had the beef dish and it was the most bland I've ever had. The bread felt slimy, the potatoes tasted like rubber, but the dessert wasn't God awful for being slimy.

    After I finished eating my meal the best PV chef in the country walked in and we caught up for a bit. His opinions of the meals were harsher than mine. After I finished eating I went to the lounge car and bought a bag of potato chips so I would have something of decent quality. Before settling back in my room for the rest of the night. I went to sleep shortly after Elkhart.

    Day 7: The final day

    I awoke briefly at Cleveland during the stop before going back to bed. I set my alarm to be up at Pittsburgh so I could stretch my legs during the extended stop. It was cold so I shortened my time on the platform before relaxing in my room while we wound our way east on the Baltimore & Ohio line.

    Once the sun rose I went to the diner and picked up the only appetizing item Fruit Loops and I haven't had those since childhood. So I consumed it with apple juice in the former diner section before taking a seat in the actual lounge car. The closer we came to Sand Patch the more snow there was on the ground which made it a beautiful run.

    I ended up talking to Lawrence the PV chef for a fair amount of time which was really enjoyable. We talked about our industry and what the best hope for it could be. We both stretched our legs at Cumberland before settling in for the last three hour jaunt. We arrived into Washington at 1:58 PM fifty three minutes behind schedule.

    However instead of coming in on the lower level like usual we arrived on the upper level on the track the train customarily leaves from. I walked over to lost and found and dropped off a friends phone charger he lost at my house for a few months where he said he would pick it up the next day.

    After dropping that off I grabbed lunch at Gods Chicken as my coworker Peyton calls Chick Fil A before picking up Bojangles for the ride south. I grabbed the chicken went up to the lounge and went straight to the train. On the way down the escalator I noticed the Veterans sprinter and was able to photograph it.

    While walking down to my sleeper the westbound Capitol Limited backed into the lower level tracks. I boarded my Viewliner and went straight to room A. And I was really happy about the room because I haven't had a bedroom in forever.

    It was so big and airy compared to the roomettes on the past two trains. We departed on time while I set my computer up to play Roller Coaster Tycoon as we drifted south. Meanwhile my friend Ryan was driving our mutual ex (that's awkward still) to our mutual friends wedding I missed. So I think I had the better arrangement.

    I stepped off for fresh air in Richmond before sitting back down for dinner as we crossed the James River. Then I continued with my game all the way into Raleigh where I stepped onto the platform for fresh air at the new station. Afterwards I put the game up and focused on enjoying the Seaboard after dark.

    Of course south of Hamlet I was anticipating getting off at the next stop which is exactly when you have trouble staying awake. So I set my alarm and fell asleep for a short amount of time. And before you know it it was time to get off and I walked down the platform to my car and went home. And it was so great to sleep in my own bed after a week on the road.

    Even though this wasn't part of the trip later that day after arriving home I was walking to my grandmothers while it was 74 degrees. So in the course of three days I experienced a 73 degree difference in temperature.

    All in all it was a good trip and I made good memories.
     
    Bob Dylan likes this.
  8. Mar 11, 2019 #8

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

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    IMG_8189.JPG
    The view from the hotel in the morning.

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    Western Avenue Shops

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    A Canadian Pacific intermodal train at A5

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    A Metra Lakeliner at Franklin Park.

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    A Canadian Pacific freight at Franklin Park.

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    A Metra passing Franklin Park.

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    My Metra arriving at the other Franklin Park station.

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    Downtown Chicago.

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    Everyone seamed to be out for a nice day in Chicago.

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    The Cloud Gate.

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    The Metra Electric at Randolph Street Station.

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    The Museum of Science and Industry

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    Two of the displays I wanted to see the B727 and New York Central No. 999

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    New York Central No. 999

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    The Great American Railroad Story layout.

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    The model version of Seattle.

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    New York Central No. 999 from the second floor.

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    The Pioneer Zephyr a free exhibit.

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    Metra Electric heading into the city.
     
  9. Mar 11, 2019 #9

    flitcraft

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    flitcraft

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    Wonderful  trip report, and fantastic photos!
     
  10. Mar 11, 2019 #10

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

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    IMG_8208.JPG
    The Iowa Interstate Rock Island Heritage unit at Blue Island.

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    The Metra Rock Island Heritage Unit.

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    The El at la Salle street Terminal.

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    Three screamers at Northwestern Terminal.

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    C&NW 553 the only private car in commuter service.

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    They recently restored the C&NW paint to the car.

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    But they didn't do any work to the interior of the car.

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    The Metra Milwaukee Road Heritage Unit.

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    Two Metra trains departing Union Station.

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    Northwestern Terminal.

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    The Capitol Limited at Union Station-Chicago.

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    The unappetizing "meal"

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    The Cleveland skyline.

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    The Capitol Limited at Pittsburgh.

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    Rural Pennsylvania looks a lot like West Virginia.

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    Northwest Maryland.

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    Harper's Ferry, WV.

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    The Capitol Limited at Washington Union Station.
     
  11. Mar 11, 2019 #11

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

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    IMG_8226.JPG
    Two sprinters meet at Union Station-Washington.

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    The Veterans unit at Union Station-Washington.

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    The Westbound Capitol Limited at Union Station-Washington

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    One of the many views of rivers in northern Virginia.

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    The Silver Star at Richmond, VA.

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    The Raleigh skyline.

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    Home sweet home in Camden.
     
    Bob Dylan likes this.
  12. Mar 11, 2019 #12

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

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    Thank you. I just posted the rest of the photos.
     
  13. Mar 11, 2019 #13

    Dakota 400

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    Dakota 400

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    It's always a pleasure to read trip reports on AU.  But, your report is the most detailed and interesting on so many levels that I have read.  Your photos are excellent!  Thank you for the time and effort that you put into preparing this report for us!

    Your comments and photos of your Winter journey Eastbound on the Empire Builder brought back many good memories of my EB trip during the Winter.  One of my fondest travel memories is what you experienced traveling through the winter wonderland in my darkened Roomette at night.  Fresh fallen snow covered the landscape and I knew it was "Baby, it's cold outside", but I was warm and cozy in my Roomette' bed as the EB sped through the night.

    Just a great report!!!
     
  14. Mar 11, 2019 #14

    cpotisch

    cpotisch

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    Wow. Just wow. Absolutely fantastic writing and photos. Agree with Dakota that this is by far the best report I’ve read in a long time. I really need to take the Builder someday. Have you taken the Portland section?
     
  15. Mar 12, 2019 #15

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

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    Thank you for the kind words. Would it surprise anyone that one of my hobbies is writing? I'm more of a screenwriter but I did just finish my first book an hour ago.

    Usually I write a report out over a week or two actually. And I try to tell the entire story because any time rail travel is involved you meet a whole host of characters.

    I've not done the Portland Builder yet. Keyword is yet because it's very much on my todo list. Honestly I thought I was going to ride the Portland Builder before the Seattle one. If you do go to Portland don't hesitate to write me I can give you several pointers. And who knows I might be in town then.
     
  16. Mar 12, 2019 #16

    railiner

    railiner

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    Great, highly detailed report, and accompanying photo's...well done!   
     
  17. Mar 12, 2019 #17

    Dakota 400

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    That is one of the reasons that I enjoy traveling by train.  I have met many very interesting people including a member of our AU Forum.  Being a "people watcher", I have also observed a few fellow travelers whom I did not meet and was glad not to have done so!
     
  18. Mar 12, 2019 #18

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

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    Back in school I actually was a journalist so when I travel I have a tendency to get others to open up about themselves. And then the characters in my books/screenplays are oftentimes based in snippets of five people I've met on the train.

    People are way more social on board trains either amongst their small social group like the people I mentioned playing a board game. Or the teacher I met and still talk to.
     
  19. Mar 13, 2019 #19

    Dakota 400

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    Dakota 400

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    This is also true during cruises particularly those who are patrons of lounges and sit at the bar.
     
  20. Mar 14, 2019 #20

    Sauve850

    Sauve850

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    Now that's a trip report! Good stuff. Nice hotel view in Chicago. Ive been to Science and Industry a few times on my layovers. Great museum as are all of the ones in Chicago.
     
  21. Mar 14, 2019 #21

    Seaboard92

    Seaboard92

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    Thank you for the kind words again. It's a nice museum I'm glad I went. There are still many things in Chicago I've yet to experience. Hopefully I may again soon.
     
  22. Mar 14, 2019 #22

    OlympianHiawatha

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    OlympianHiawatha

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    Another great report with outstanding pics.  I always enjoy reading your reports and appreciate all the small details. 
     
    cpotisch likes this.

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