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Sandusky, OH To Chicago, IL On Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited
  Around 1:50am, I woke up, though I'll admit trying to force myself to sleep during hours I'm normally awake (yes I am normally awake at 2:00am most days!) was no easy task and not fun! I got everything together around 2:30am, checked out of the hotel and drove the rental car back to Enterprise and dropped the keys in the safe. Now the weather this whole weekend in North Central Ohio was actually very cold and windy and this became somewhat of an issue when I was driving back as the Tire Pressure Monitor light went on in the rental car. Having no tire gauge (who packs a tire gauge when you go on vacation???), I was only able to do a "visual check" of the tires and none of them looked under-inflated. I left a note in the car and would find out later after a call to Enterprise that this was purely due to the sudden drop in air temperature causing the air in the tires to contract, this can happen in any car with a similar system for monitoring tire pressure! Add to that, the "Maintenance" light went on in the car also meaning it was time for an oil change, oh well! After dropping the keys in the safe, I walked my luggage down the street to a nearby Quality Inn and had the taxi pick me up from there. Now why did I do this? Very simple actually, by doing things this way, I had use of the rental car up until it was time for me to leave town and it also afforded me to not have to pay for an additional cab fare back to the hotel if I had dropped off the car at an earlier hour and would have needed a ride back.
  Shortly after 3:00am, my taxi arrived and brought me to the Sandusky Amtrak Station. There was already one passenger waiting in the station so I didn't have to call the police this year to get the station opened (this is the normal procedure, you call the non-emergency number to the Sandusky Police Department and they send an officer to the station to unlock the door for you). Sandusky is not a staffed station so there is no ticket agent or even a caretaker. The station building is owned by the City of Sandusky and is located within the same building that houses the Sandusky Transit System. Inside the station, there is a heated waiting room with train information and two bathrooms. There is also a vending machine which was new for this year (it even accepts credit cards for payment)! The other passenger there was waiting for Train #48 - The Lake Shore Limited bound for New York, and was heading to New York City. He was a disc jockey who worked for "iheartradio" and so myself being a DJ on the side, we had some interesting conversations about the music industry in general. There was also one other person waiting in the station as his wife was on Train #48 and he was waiting to pick her up. I kept checking the status of Train #49 - The Lake Shore Limited bound for Chicago, and it just kept getting later and later! So far, I was now the only passenger who was waiting for Train #49! The first Amtrak train that arrived in Sandusky was Train #29 - The Capitol Limited which ended up departing on time at 4:02am. Another passenger arrived for Train #48 who was heading to Utica after running a marathon in Columbus, OH, and she actually recognized me from last Friday morning on Train #49 coming into Sandusky. Train #48 arrived late and departed at 5:07am, 55 minutes late.
  I would end up having a conversation with an employee from the Sandusky Transit System who was waiting to get into his end of the building for work, but so far, I was still the only passenger waiting for Train #49 which still just kept getting later! In 2013, I rode this train out of Sandusky at sunrise since it was so late! I was beginning to wonder if the same thing was gonna happen this year, but I kept tabs on the train's progress and it had made it out of Cleveland and was now out of Elyria. About 10 minutes before it was set to arrive in Sandusky, I walked outside with my two bags and waited on the platform, and nearly froze to death doing so! The temperature outside was 35 degrees with a rather stiff wind! Being from Buffalo, I should be used to this but three shirts on under a hoodie still wasn't enough! At 6:42am, running 1 hour and 47 minutes late, Train #49 arrived in Sandusky, OH, before sunrise. The consist for today's train is shown below:
77 P42DC   Power
93 P42DC   Power
61009 Viewliner II Baggage Car   Baggage Car
62005 Viewliner I Sleeping Car Cape View Sleeping Car 4920
62043 Viewliner I Sleeping Car Sunset View Sleeping Car 4912
62018 Viewliner I Sleeping Car Meadow View Sleeping Car 4911
8530 Heritage Dining Car   Dining Car
28016 Amfleet II Cafe/Lounge Car   Cafe/Lounge Car
25078 Amfleet II Coach   Coach (My Car)
25058 Amfleet II Coach   Coach
25074 Amfleet II Coach   Coach
25063 Amfleet II Coach   Coach
25047 Amfleet II Coach   Coach
SPECIAL NOTE: Viewliner I Sleeping Cars no longer display their original names on the sides of the cars. Eventually, all Viewliner I Sleeping Cars will be renamed into a "River" series to go along with the names that will eventually apply to Viewliner II Sleepers under construction at CAF USA in Elmira Heights, NY. For example, Sleeper #62005, originally named "Cape View", is slated to be renamed "Calumet River".
  The Lake Shore Limited was still operating with no Boston Section this year (same as on my ride to Sandusky last week) because of a significant amount of trackwork that is going on at the Albany-Rensselaer Station where a 4th track is being installed at the station and part of the mainline that connects to this station is having additional track put in so the Boston Section is running as a "stub train" from Boston to Albany and passengers make a cross-platform transfer to the regular train for the rest of the run to Chicago. The Boston Sleeper is still in the consist (it just operates out of New York like the other two sleepers) giving this train its normal three sleeping cars. This arrangement as of the time this travelogue was written was scheduled to be in place until sometime in November 2015 (though that date would be pushed out much further). At 6:45am, running one hour and 50 minutes late, Train #49 departed Sandusky, OH. I walked the rest of the train to take down car number and then headed for the cafe car and ended up having a nice chat with a friend of mine who is an Amtrak conductor who was deadheading back to Toledo which would be the next stop for the train.
  I glanced outside the window in the Cafe Car and noticed the first light of the morning in the eastern sky as the train made its way across the Sandusky Bay Bridge with Cedar Point in the background! Although it was too dark to take any photos from a moving train, it was a beautiful site! I would chat with my friend until our arrival at our next stop of Toledo, OH where we arrived at 7:44am, just before sunrise. I would also chat with the Cafe Car LSA who was really cool as well. He told me the Dining Car had been open since 6:00am! Toledo is a crew change point for this train for both conductors and the engineer. The conductor who brought this train from Buffalo was one that I've rode with before and we both knew each other. I stepped off the train and took a few pictures while the crew change was done. Once I reboarded the train, our coach attendant walked through the car and advised of the services that were offered in the Diner and Lounge cars. At 8:03am, we departed Toledo, OH, running 1 hour and 52 minutes late.
  Out of Toledo, it was now time for breakfast! I would have the Railroad French Toast with pork sausage patties and a Diet Pepsi. The total cost for breakfast was $14.75 and the food was excellent! The passenger I sat with was from Poughkeepsie, NY and we discussed a lot about train travel in general. While at breakfast, we sat for about 15 minutes just west of the Toledo station for unknown reasons before continuing on. The lateness of the train was not an issue for me so far as my connecting train wasn't scheduled to leave Chicago until 3:00pm central time so I knew I'd have some time between trains. We made our next station stop at Bryan, OH at 9:11am, and quickly departed at 9:13am, running 2 hours and 8 minutes late, having lost some more time. I would spend my time now at my coach seat (that of which I had no passenger sitting next to me) and would take photos every so often and sometimes doze off briefly since I didn't get the best of sleep the night before either. We made our next stop at Waterloo, IN at 9:44am and would do two stops there, one for someone railroad-connected to ride in the cab, then the regular passenger stop. I heard somewhere that eventually, the Waterloo station stop will be redone having the historic Waterloo train depot moved up to near where the current station platform is located, which right now consists of parking spaces and a bus shelter on the platform! This station is the closest one to Fort Wayne, IN so that's likely whey they stop here since there is no more "Broadway Limited" that used to run through Fort Wayne. I noticed some nice fall colors on the trees here in northern Indiana and the weather outside was bright and sunny. Our next stop coming up was Elkhart, IN which is home to the National New York Central Railroad Museum, a place I visited last May and is definitely a place to see if you're a fan of the Central (I am!). We would have to stop shortly before the Elkhart Station to get permission from the NS Chicago East Dispatcher to pass a stop sign in the area. At 10:34am, we arrived at Elkhart. The station building is used by Amtrak but is owned by the New York Central museum across the tracks and that group maintains the building which is in excellent shape and is a former Lake Shore & Michigan Southern passenger station. At 10:35am, we departed Elkhart, now down 2 hours and 10 minutes.
  We made our next stop at South Bend, IN at 10:53am on Track #2 which was rather unusual as this station is located on the side of the mainline closest to Track #1. There would be no smoking break at South Bend due to our lateness and at 10:56am, we departed there running 2 hours and 7 minutes late. An announcement was made notifying passengers that we were now in the Central Time Zone and such to set our watches back one hour. My phone did this automatically so I just adjusted my watch. I generally don't change my computer or camera's clocks. We now paralleled the Chicago, South Shore & South Bend Railway once out of South Bend. We eventually would pass by Chesterton, IN where a popular webcam along this mainline is located (along with what I read is an awesome railroad-themed Bed & Breakfast). We would later pass CP-482 in Porter, IN where the Amtrak Michigan Line merges with this mainline. I noticed in the Burns Harbor, IN area that there was a lot of newly graded right-of-way next to us which would indicate that Norfolk Southern is adding capacity in the area which is always a good thing. We would eventually pass the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and then the steel mills in Gary as well as East Chicago, IN. I would see plenty of Norfolk Southern power in the various yards along with a train from the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern in the Gary, IN area.
  I could see near CP-506 where the original New York Central mainline diverged away from today's active mainline which the rest of the way is old Pennsylvania Railroad tracks. We were now only miles from Chicago Union Station and had to call a road foremen so as to get permission to pass his territory just after Milepost 515. Eventually, we would cross the Chicago River and then ride through Amtrak's Chicago Yard and Shops before arriving at Chicago Union Station at 11:34am, which would be 1 hour and 49 minutes late thanks to schedule padding. I grabbed my bags and walked towards the station and were on Track #28 when we arrived. Just before heading inside, I got a quick photo of the train and headed straight for the Metropolitan Lounge as I would be riding out of here today in a Sleeping Car on the Southwest Chief. After checking in and being given a pass so as to get back into the lounge, I checked my two bags for the time I would be in Chicago, then made the walk out to Roosevelt Road, my favorite place to railfan in the Windy City. This visit would have to be a short one due to the lateness of the train but I still got a lot of good photos of Amtrak and Metra trains along with the Iowa Pacific version of the "Hoosier State" train as well. Check out the link below to see some photos taken from this leg of the trip, then let's head out to Roosevelt Road to go railfanning in the Windy City!!!