Steam across the Atlantic Planning Well as I'm sure plenty of you know that traveling is a bug that once it gets you it gets you hard so after arriving back from riding the Canadian I started planning my next trip. I had been wanting to go to Innotrans which as you might know is the greatest railroad trade fair in the modern era in Berlin. And my parents namely my mother and grandmother also want to go to Germany but a bit later towards October. I was pricing flights and found a good round trip on Lufthansa from New York to Frankfurt so we book it. But I also had a work trip I had to figure out in it. So I planned for my work trip to be from New York-Chicago with both of our cars to be on the Joliet Rocket and then the day after the Rocket catch Lufhansa's B747-8i service from ORD to meet them in Frankfurt. So I booked my flight to New York from Columbia and my flight back from New York after Europe to Columbia. Day -1 packing For the first time since I can remember going on a trip I had everything packed two days in advance of the trip which is cause to celebrate if you are me. Day 1: Derailments and Deadheads So I go to the airport for the 6:00 am flight to Dulles on a United CRJ100 aircraft. Connecting there to a CRJ700 for LGA. It is an uneventful trip to this point with a hurricane brewing far off in the Atlantic and nothing super major. When I'm waiting for boarding to began I get a text from Joe and Chris telling me there is a problem. Amtrak proceeded to put one of our two cars on the ground in Sunnyside Yard while adding it to the Lake Shore Limited. That is where I'm going to leave the details because I'm not sure what I should or should not say about the derailment. So I'll leave it at that. So I get on the flight which ends up being a very bumpy flight around Dulles because of some serious cloud cover. Get there and find out my connecting flight is delayed due to a late arriving inbound flight. So with an extra hour to kill I take the Budd built mobile lounge to another terminal to eat at the Wendy's over there before returning to my gate and boarding the aircraft. It's a very short flight in duration and we made up some time. I leave the airport fairly rapidly after claiming my bag catch the Q70SBS to the first stop with the 7 train and take it to Queensboro Plaza where I wait for Chris to come for us to get lunch. Instead we go into the yard. I throw my bag on to the Braddock Inn and we walk over to the Wheel shop where the 38 is resting after its eventful morning. After a bit one of the supervisors comes over and takes our car out of there as he wants to prove his theory that we the PV people are at fault for the derailment so he proceeds to reenact it for two hours while we stand in the cold rain and watch. Of course I forgot my rain jacket so I was just cold. Eventually they stop doing what they are doing and we transfer supplies for our week in Chicago from the 38 to the Braddock and it's decided Joe will stay with 38 and Chris and I will go on with the Braddock to Chicago on 49. So Chris and I bid Joe farewell and we departed Sunnyside at around 3:00 PM and were in the station by 3:20 for boarding. We had one passenger partaking in our $100 deadheads so I went up to the concourse to wait for him and guide him down, while Chris went and bought him and I lunch at KFC in the station. I waited up at the gate talking with the agents looking for my passenger whole Chris went back down with our food. He then texted me and told me he had shown up at the train by the LIRR level so I went down. I apologized profusely for how our car looked with suitcases open along the floor, and other things we didn't clean due to the morning excitement. So we just had our lunch in our office on the A end of the car nearest the kitchen and relaxed. I worked on our Albany Limited press release, Chris worked on New River projects and the passenger was mostly self entertained. I did talk to him for a bit but not a lot because we try not to be overwhelming. We arrived in Albany a bit early but our Boston section with our locomotives was running a bit late. So much so I had time to walk to the head end and back. We watched the Boston section arrive which is something I think Chris enjoyed as much as he talked about it for the next week. We talked to two railfans on the platform next to our cars. One I would have sold a ticket to ride to. And one that I wouldn't want on the car at all. So after a bit we departed from Albany and we didn't even realize we were going over a hundred when we decided to check our phone for something else. We started cooking our pasta dinner before we reached the next stop. While we ate our pasta dinner with potato chips we watched Olympus has Fallen on the duel TV screens on the B end of the car. After the movie was over Chris went to bed, and I spent time on our vestibule which was rear most. There was something unique about passing towns that are the size of mine at night like I do back home as well. Some quality that is just fantastic for some reason or another. Just the thought were rumbling by people's lives and it makes no real difference to them. They don't know us, we don't know them but we just share this amazing space. I went to bed after passing Buffalo Central Terminal. Day 2: Arriving in Chicago I had my alarm set for 5:30 because we did not know if anyone was taking us up on the Toledo-Chicago deadhead offer. I awoke right as we were pulling out of Sandusky and looking back I noticed a set of headlights. Turns out that was the Capitol Limited running about two hours behind schedule because we were an hour behind. We pulled into Toledo about forty minutes down and the Capitol Limited pulled up right behind us which I thought was really cool. And as we pulled out they pulled in. The two of us then started making breakfast somewhere near Bryan, OH and had our office ready to open at nine am eastern time. As everyone who does ticketing, and office work for New River Train was on the road the office travels with us. The table closest the kitchen on the firemans side is the office, complete with Mac, speakers, wifi router, printer, ticket printer, postage machine, and everything else. Every once in awhile I would have to pull an envelope that was on a table to exchange or cancel tickets. Of which can take some time because they aren't in alphabetical order. Somehow I was able to still get the last hour in the vestibule into Chicago which was rather enjoyable. I always find the eastern approach to Chicago via Northern Indiana especially fun because I love urban industrial decay. We eventually pulled into Union Station at the tail end of the platform ending our deadhead. Shortly after our arrival multiple other trains arrived from points east. All of whom were brought back to the yard before us. We didn't start the shove back to the hard until about one pm. Before the shove I did postage on 4,800 tickets. Which isn't overtly difficult just tedious. And I had to pull a handful for changes in the process. They backed us back onto the Burlington then pulled forward past CP Lumber before shoving us into track nine with the rest of the train. Eventually the came and moved us to track 11 with the rest of the private cars. Once we were in our final spot the two of us got off walked up the ramp and over to the White Palace Diner. The White Palace basically being the all purpose meal choice of PV people in Chicago because it's so close to the yard. I believe I had the fried chicken but in this journey to Chicago I really taste tested the entire menu. After lunch we went back to the car and continued to work. I decided if I had to pull envelopes with changes as often as I did it would be alphabetized. So I spent the next three hours alphabetizing the envelopes. After that we watched a movie on our cars and we're both in bed by about ten local time. Day 3: Sitting around the yard Well as the title says we really didn't do a lot. We both were up at eight am so we could open the office by nine eastern. And as usual phone calls always come in promptly at three minutes till opening time. We gathered up our laundry before lunch to take it to the local laundromat also a block away. We went back to lunch at the White Palace for lunch where I believe I had the steak that time. Which was good but nothing to write home about either. We then went back to the car for a few more hours to work till it was time to go up to the viaduct to watch our friends last arrival into Chicago. Afterwards we went back and relaxed in our car for a little bit. We then walked over to the inspection building to meet up with our friends on their cars as the Southwest Chief made a roll over it. We met them and all walked to eat at a local pub not the White Palace as a large group of ten or so. I sat with a corporate flight attendant and his significant other. As well as the now former owner of the Zephyr Fleet cars and I learned a lot of cool things. Like Al was some sort of mechanical engineer and he worked on the Apollo project and still has something he designed on the moon. As someone who has studied Apollo in textbooks it's really cool to meet someone who worked on it in person. We had a nice dinner and afterwards Al took us around his baggage car he was selling off as well which is an 89 foot Texas Zephyr car. Inside was every railcar part you could ever want, including an 85 foot piece of fluted stainless steel from the Budd plant which is incredibly cool. Afterwards we went for night caps with their crew for an hour in Solarium before going to bed in our car. Day 4: Some Hicks from West Virginia Again we woke up by eight to open our office for the day. Around nine local time I went outside and started cleaning our windows for the upcoming excursions. In order to do that I borrowed a ladder from the Silver Peak which was across the track from us. It took me roughly thirty minutes per side but none the less it was done. After I finished that I started taking on water for our car. After I filled our car I filled all of the Zephyr Fleet as well. Due to the hurricane the Cardinal Train No. 51 was being annulled so the Wisconsin came in from our shops two days early with our sous chef. The Wisconsin is a lightweight Milwaukee Road office car that was taking part in the AAPRCO convention. The car formerly had been stored in our shops in West Virginia and was taking advantage of its one time shop move seeing Mr. Gardner, and Mr. Anderson taking away our switch and killing our business. So after getting that car shut down from its trip the three of us went to the White Palace Diner and I forget what I had this time. Afterwards we picked up our laundry, and went back to the car. We sat around for a bit and my phone was flooded with messages from friends asking if I was alright with the hurricane coming. Which was super sweet of them. So around rush hour the three of us walked up to the Whole Foods and grabbed groceries for the week as we were told, "where they take you for the steam engine do not leave the yard you could be shot." So we grabbed hamburger meet, buns, bread, cereal, and several other dishes. After we got back we watched two different movies on the car. A Halloween slasher type movie, and then something about the zombie apocalypse. Our air conditioner was in full blast so after the second movie the three of us sat in the vestibule of our car because it felt better outside then it did inside. So the three of us just sat on our vestibule listening to music from a blue tooth speaker while we just hung out. Eventually one of the managers at the group that chartered us walked by and said. "I see you hicks are hanging out on the stoop" and proceeded to walk on down. Which offended both west Virginians in our little group, and me because I'm not that type of person. Eventually we went back inside and went to bed. Day 5: Mass Confusion Again I was up early today by eight so we could open the office but I don't really recall doing much. I believe I was sending out press releases for the Albany Limited. At one point we all took a tour of the new 261 cars Fox River Valley and Silver Palace. Afterwards we were leaving for lunch at 12:45 after Joe had arrived in from New York on 49 and set off for the White Palace. On our way out we asked Steve Sandberg of 261 if he knew what time we were being taken to metra and he said 2:00 pm keeping kn mind the guy the night before who called us hicks said 7:00pm. So we ran up to the diner and ate in record time. On the way out we decided to hit Whole Foods again to grab some steaks because we believe in eating well. So we get back to the yard and on track 12 our car is no longer there. But we saw it on the running track from the viaduct so we walked over there and for on our car at 1:55 for a 2:00 departure. Instead we saw the California Zephyr, Texas Eagle, Southwest Chief, Wolverines, Lincoln Service, the Hoosier State, and the Illini depart or arrive. Along with the evening parade of Metra Dinky commuter trains. We didn't end up departing for the Rocket Yard till 8:30 PM because they held us till rush hour was over. In the mean time we all congregated on our car with our generator running despite having a HEP equipped engine. Which ended up being all of the owners, and car workers congregating in our car while countless commuters passed by not even noticing us sitting around. We made hamburgers for our four man car personal on the way over the other yard which was really nice for us. We arrived at the other yard at 9:00 and their crew started running all over the place which could be compared to too many chiefs and not enough Indians. There was a near constant parade running by our car with no real clear order. At 10:30 we told the person we thought was in charge that were locking our car at 11:00 pm and if they needed to do anything with it to please get it done so that we can sleep. So they frantically serviced our car. At 11:00 on the dot we locked both ends of the car and we took our showers and went bed. Day 6: Joliet Rocket The group chartering wanted the car open at six am for their crew to come on and prepare it. So we had our car open exactly at six and we stowed our items. Our suitcases hit the luggage racks, our beds were de assembled and turned into tables again. Our bedding stored in the booths, the office de assembled and put in storage in the luggage rack. The first car host didn't come till 6:30 and walked thru our car and acted like they owned it which again annoyed all four of us. Eventually the one for our car showed up and she was fantastic. We set off for Joliet at 7:00 am on the deadhead down there. To which all four of us shared our vestibule with each other for the hour long deadhead. At Joliet the four of us went and grabbed a table in the back A end of our car because it wasn't full so we just spent time as a big happy family. Nothing really happened it was an uneventful trip. I got off in La Salle St Terminal to walk up by the locomotive but in reality to see what type of food was available from the catering company. This time unlike the times before they kept the entire train together instead of splitting us across two platforms. However first class used platform one and boarded off a foot crossing, and coach boarded on platform two. And instead of pulling the whole train into the station they cut the steam engine and tool car off and went further down the platform. Leaving only about four cars on the platform instead of the eight that would fit. All four of us thought that was kinda ridiculous. Especially because nine cars of twelve were off the platform. Some passengers with mobility issues did not even detrain when we could have just left four cars off the platform which would have been more doable for several passengers. But not our train so we mostly kept to ourselves. Afterwards we went back to Joliet for the afternoon trip the Car was full. So we all split up Joe randomly socialized amongst people, Chris, and heather sat in our kitchen, and I spent the time in our radio room. Our car is a former MARC car and the radio room is the former telephone booth. Which when you think about it is already a cramped space but with a full window. And I had a friend riding the car for the afternoon trip so he joined me in the radio room to chat which really took talent to get both of us in there. We had a lovely chat as always. He went and enjoyed the layover in La Salle St Terminal while I enjoyed talking to a vet tech at the clinic next to where our car stopped. Sure we were up a full story from the ground but we could still talk. Just loudly. On the way back I mostly just slept in the radio room which I was able to mostly block light from. By using my suit jacket on a hanger covering most of the window. Along with other things which made the room nice and dark to nod off. I stepped off in Joliet for a few minutes to say good bye to my friend on the platform and managed to get my meal cold because of that but food is food. Afterwards the four of us crammed into our vestibule and enjoyed a night time run with steam leading at seventy miles an hour into Chicago for thirty six miles. Afterwards we did the same type arrangement we had the night before. Night caps with the Zephyr Fleet owners Burt and Al on their next to last day owning a car. Day 6: Being forgotten We locked out car at midnight and woke up again at six to unlock the car and take our showers. Of corse the last person got colder water but oh well. We had breakfast before we started rolling to Joliet where this time it was mostly me in the vestibule. Being with the car and not a volunteer on this style trip is something I could get used to because it's lovely. On the morning run our friend John Of Ozark Mountain Railcar was on board and we had a really interesting discussion with him. To be honest it was mostly Joe talking to him and I believe I dozed off around Blue Island on the trip back to Joliet while he was talking. But of more interesting notes. When we were in La Salle St station my former partner Ryan (if any of you remember him) whom I had not been on good terms with for several years and not talked to) pulled me aside to tell me his opinion of this trip. Which I concurred with. Both of us apologized to each other for our behavior and now we're good friends again. On the second trip of the day again our car was fully sold out so again I hid out in the radio room basically bored. Nothing really to do, nowhere to go. I texted Julia to call me so I could talk about how I forgave Ryan. Which was an enjoyable phone call. We arrived back to Joliet and that's where the fun began. Ryan, and the four us cramming in our vestibule for a twilight open vestibule ride. Which was incredible. It felt like the old times when Ryan and I used to work together. And it felt like things were the way life should have been. So the train arrived back at the Rocket yard and we were told by the group we are taking you to Amtrak as soon as we finish the switching. So we get there and the HEP drops pretty much as we get there in preparation for switching. So we turned our generator on but in switching at some point our voltage regulator was messed up so the hvac unit wouldn't turn on. And that's an easy fix but we need to be still and blue flagged to do it. So we're switching and like oh well we can do it in an hour when we get to Amtrak. And it's a super easy switch move to do. Steps to do this switch fast and correct. 1. Cut the diesel off. 2. Shove into a track and set off the last two cars. 3. Pull forward and drop cars 6-12 off on the next track over. 4. Go back to the initial track and drop off the three NS coaches against the two Zephyr cars. 5. Bring the remaining two cars back over to the six car cut. Do an air test and leave for Amtrak. Instead they chose to make up the cars going with the steam engine first and it left at 9:30 to go over to the NS yard complete with its train. Meanwhile we sat. And once the steam engine was gone what would you know all of the leaders with the group who chartered us left, all the volunteers left. The only people now remaining in the yard was the two 261 guys, the four of us, Ryan (planning on using us to get to his hotel), and the owner of Stampede Pass. Everyone else had gone all of the Metra officials. So here we are thinking we're going to move to Amtrak and not moving. Eventually we start playing Cards Against Humanity on the car with them and just having a good night. But the temperature slowly keeps rising, we refuse to cook because we don't want to heat up the car more than necessary. So we just eat whatever snack food we can find on board which isn't healthy, but it at least dulls the hunger. It's midnight were all sweating and we all were really excited when we saw a switch engine pass by on he mainline thinking they were coming to get us. No they tied down and then went home. So I get off the car walk up to the office there is nobody there. So I walk to the main entrance where there is a lone security guy who didn't even realize we were still there. They completely forgot we all existed. So he called someone who then called a crew to take us in ninety minutes. So we go back to our game and in ninety minutes an engine shows up and we get moved over so they can put a road engine on us. Then we sit still with no HEP. So it's now like four AM and I have a flight in 12 hours so I just finally give up and go to bed. But the car is so hot were all sleeping on top of the covers. Day 7: Flying across the world So I woke up at about ten am to find we were in La Salle St station and not the Amtrak yard. So I go outside and find an employee and he's like your leaving here after rush hour. Which could be any minute. We're still running a generator despite having an engine up front with HEP capabilities. So we're all sweating. To catch my plane I need to take Metra Train No. 105 the 1:00 PM service to Antioch, IL with a stop at O'Hare Transfer. So i need to leave La Salle at minimum an hour before to go buy a ticket at Union Station, and walk over. So they come to move as us at 11:45 am to take us to Amtrak so I quickly detrained knowing that switch moves in Chicago can and will take much longer then expected. So I walk over to Union and easy short walk. After I arrive I quickly buy a ticket and go train side and board in one of the few Metra cars without a green window tint. It's an easy short ride to the airport. And this time the shuttle is right there at the station and it whisks me away to the terminal fairly rapidly. I go over to the Lufthansa Desk at the extreme end of terminal 1 check my bag, receive my boarding pass, and go behind security. After security I went over to the airport Chilis because I was starving as we had run out of breakfast food and snacks on Sunday and it was literally the closest place to the gate. So I had a nice lunch by myself and had someone chatty by themselves at the next table. So I enjoyed talking to them. I have to say I'm a really big fan of Midwestern hospitality. After eating at the airport Chilis I walked around the area by my gate because if I'm going to be sitting for five hours I would much rather be active before that. The 4 pm flight started boarding at 3:15 and around 3:25 I was on my first B747-8i and my first 747 derivative plane. I lucked out and didn't have a person in the middle seat, and I had the window. I chatted briefly with the women in the aisle seat again very nice Midwesterner from Iowa. Having the window seat I did enjoy taxiing and our accent into the clouds where I could get a feigning view of Lake Michigan. I watched Man From Uncle on the IFE monitor and thought about why a sequel hasn't been written yet. Afterwards I had whatever Lufthansa thought was passable for food and attempted to sleep. I'm fairly confident I didn't really sleep at all despite being incredibly tired from the car work. So I just watched reruns of the Goldbergs off ABC on the IFE Monitor. I would highly recommend that show but for me it reminds me of childhood. We landed in Europe shortly after a breakfast service and I was Enamored with the window again on decent at the ribbons of light that were the autobahns around the Rhine region. End of Part I: Photos from Part I next followed by part II.