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Andy Anderson Amtrak Journey: Texas Eagle
Leg Two - September 30th: Texas Eagle
Andy Anderson train web texas eagle
The Texas Eagle ploughs through the snow on a cold morning outside of Chicago

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Chicago Downtown Marriott

The next morning, I rise at 4:45a, and hit the gym. After exercising for about an hour, I head back to my room, take a shower, and proceed downstairs for breakfast. Today, the concierge lounge has scrambled eggs, fruit, and toast. I tuck into breakfast, and make some mental plans for the journey to the station. I just love it when a plan comes together... don't you?

A stop at the concierge desk confirms that my route to Chicago Union Station is the best one to take. I'm going to walk down Michigan Avenue, and then follow the Chicago River around to my destination. The sky is blue and the temperature is 62f. What could be finer than a walk by the river on a beautiful Autumn day. I'm also informed that the journey will take about 45 minutes. Now, I don't know what's wrong with these city folks, but it doesn't take me 45 minutes to walk 1.8 miles.

The Texas Eagle doesn't leave Union Station until 1:45p. I want to get there early enough, to do a walk-about the station, and take some photos; however, I have plenty of time to relax, and get ready. I check with Julie (the automated Amtrak service), and my train is running on time. I plan to check out of the hotel at 11:00AM, and begin my trek through the inner-city of Chicago.

Author's Note: Although Chicago Union Station does have WiFi, I've found it to be spotty at best. And once I'm on the Texas Eagle, my chances of downloading the journal will depend on the stops we make and the accessibility of WiFi at the stations. It is possible that you might not hear from me for a few days, but we'll see.

Chicago Union Station

The walk is pleasant and the weather cool and sunny (a typical Fall day), twenty minutes later, I'm hitting the escalators deep into the bowels of Chicago Union Station.

As usual there is a large population of homeless milling about, and waiting for a handout. I'll give food; however, I don't give money. Sad to say, most of the homeless use donations of money for booze and/or cigarettes, and I'm not going to support their habits. Today, they seem a bit more aggressive, and it's a problem just to walk down the station corridors. It must be the mushy economy... it's even hitting the homeless. Everyone that confronts me, I respond with the following: I will buy them a meal... . And without exception, they all say no thank you. Several say that they are not hungry right now; however, they will use the money I give them to buy food later... I heard that same story the last time I was here, and my response is the same... If you see me later and you're hungry, then I will buy you a meal... I hope that doesn't sound too terrible.

I'm really not a bad person, and I do care for those less fortunate; however, when someone comes up to you and asks for money for food, and then refuses if you buy them a meal, you've got to wonder what's going on.

I head to one of the many Amtrak Quick-Trak self service kiosks and get my boarding pass to the Texas Eagle. It's easier than going through the service line, and since I've already purchased a deluxe bedroom, there's no need (like the airlines) to fuss about an upgrade.

Anyway, with ticket in hand, I head for the relative security of the Amtrak first-class lounge. Last year, when I was here the lounge was standing room only. Today, it's pretty full, but there are plenty of seats for weary travelers. I'm reasonably sure that the reduction in people is because everyone who travels by train read my last travelogue and how I complained about the crowded lounge... Yeah, right.

I check at the front desk, and the Texas Eagle is on time. That gives me about an hour before the Red Cap boards first class. I put my luggage in the secure holding area, and head out into the station for a little photo shoot.

I'm pretty brave... last year I went out with my camera, and almost got arrested for taking some pictures of the station. This time I get stares from the Amtrak personnel, but no one challenges me. After thirty minutes, I satisfy my need for taking photos, head back to the security of the lounge, do some updating of this journal, and wait for the boarding announcement.

Chicago Union Station is unique in that it's mostly underground. Sometimes when I'm walking around I get the impression that I'm in an old bus station with a bunch of folks sitting around waiting to hear the boarding call for their respective bus. When you get into the first-class lounge things are a bit different. For one thing, you won't find any of the homeless, asking for money. And, being a lounge it's a bit more maintained than some other parts of the station. That's not to say that there aren't any nice places... The Great hall is a monument to marble and bronze; however, the station, over all, could use a bit of work. Unfortunately, money is not in big supply right now. With that said, I'll be glad to be on the train. And if everything goes according to plan, we should be getting the boarding call in less than 20 minutes.

I'll upload this portion, and then hope for a WiFi connection on the journey.

All Aboard the Texas Eagle

Fifteen minutes later, a Red Cap announces that she's ready to board the Texas Eagle. The lounge is only for first class passengers, so we get in line, and walk down the underground tracks toward the Texas Eagle. As usual, some of the passengers try to worm their way to the front of the Que. I really don't understand why they do that. After all, we're on the same train... and we all have our own separate accommodations. There's no need to push to the front . However, people will be people. Heck, I'm just happy to be invited to the party.

It's a dismal walk, punctuated with the smell of diesel fuel, and the sound of Amtrak Genesis engines warming up for their respective journeys. With Chicago Union Station being a hub for Amtrak there are a lot of trains on the tracks all going off to destinations unknown to this writer. I mentioned that the walk was dismal; however, that's just a writer's way of trying to capture the scene. In truth, the walk to the Texas Eagle was a bit dark, but not all that dismal. After all, you are under the streets of Chicago and you're in a tunnel; what do you expect?. With that said, it was actually quite interesting to see all the trains, and imagine of all the places that they are traveling.

As we approach the Texas Eagle, I feel a sense of excitement. After a year of planning, the trip is about to begin. As I have mentioned before, travel aboard Amtrak is the reward. I don't travel on Amtrak to get to a specific destination... My travels aboard the train are the reward.

Andy's Tip: Planning a trip a year in advance may seem a bit eccentric. Oh heck, let's go ahead and admit it... it's totally wacko; however, if it's Amtrak, and you're traveling in a deluxe bedroom, the additional time is almost a necessity. Amtrak allows for booking reservations about eleven months in advance. I've attempted to book a deluxe bedroom on a specific date, and found them sold (a year out). Certain dates seem to be almost always booked way in advance... Especially, around the Fall season.

Case in point, I checked on the Amtrak site six months before this trip and found that on two of the three legs of this journey the deluxe bedrooms were already sold out. Made me glad that I booked early. The good news is that if your travel plans change, you can always cancel the trip without penalty; however, you will have to purchase the tickets up front.

Andy's Thought: To be honest with you, I would travel more by train, if I could. However, as an international speaker, I travel to the far-flung parts of this country, and beyond. To travel by train to my speaking engagements would not be practical. My travels aboard the rails are my vacations... my chance to relax, and refresh.

After our walk through the the tunnels, we spy the Texas Eagle, and board in our respective cars. I've always been amazed at the transition between the dark tunnels of Chicago Union Station, to the bright interior of the Superliner Sleeper car. The underground loading areas are dark; however, as I step onto the train, the bright lights, and clean interior of my sleeper car are a welcome site.

I tell my car attendant (Tim), that I'm an old hand at travel on Amtrak's Superliner Sleepers and he doesn't need to escort me to my room; that is, if he doesn't want to. He smiles and says he'll stop by before we depart, and see if I've settled in... Amtrak sleeper car attendants are the best.

I put the piece of luggage that holds my cloths in the lower-level storage area, and then navigate up the stairs to my bedroom. This trip, and on the entire journey I will be in the E sleeper. Deluxe sleepers on all Amtrak trains are designated A – E. I will admit that I lucked out on getting an E sleeper for the entire trip. That's my favorite room... Followed by D. I'm not a fan of A or B, and C is iffy.

Andy's Advice: In my opinion, the E deluxe sleeper is the quietest of the five available rooms. On one side, you have another sleeper (D), and the other side is an open area with the stairs that lead to the lower level. In addition, you're right next to the snack area. Even if you had noisy neighbors, they would only be on one side. Some people claim that you get noise from people going up and down the stairway; however, in all my travels, I have never had a problem. In my option, E is the way to go.

Another nice thing about traveling in first class is that you get to board about a half hour before the train departs the station. I begin by unpacking some of my stuff for the three-day journey. After about twenty minutes, I've got my computer, cameras, and writing materials out and ready to go. Housekeeping chores complete, I stop, and go out to the first class service area. Tim already has some ice on hand... Along with some assorted juices and fresh coffee. I grab a cup, proceed to fill it with ice, and head back to my room.

Twenty seconds digging about my luggage produces one of my Snapple teas, and I proceed to pour some into the glass. It crackles as the warm liquid hits the cold ice. Then, ice tea in hand, I sit down by the window, and watch as the other passenger's board... Life is good.

The coach cars are located further down the train, so I get to see all the varied passengers as they pass by my window. I wonder how many of them are going all the way to Los Angeles. Coach on an Amtrak train is actually quite roomy; however, I don't really think that I would like to spend three whole days sitting in one seat. The good news is that you're not confined to your seat (like on the airlines); you can get up anytime you please, and go anywhere on the train. The only restriction to the coach passengers is that they are not allowed in the sleeper cars.

A normal consist for an Amtrak long-distance train is the sleeper cars up front, the dining car next, followed by the sightseer/lounge car, and finally the coach cars. There might be other cars involved, like: mail, cargo, employee sleeper, or just about anything else.

Whatever the particular arrangement, in my experience, the diner car always seems to be the car that separates coach from first class. And on more than one occasion, I've seen the staff of the diner car challenge someone that's headed toward the sleepers. It's easy to get turned about in the diner. Both sides look much the same, and there have been several times where I think that I'm headed to the sleeper cars, and wind up in the sightseer/lounge car. The cool thing is that it's almost impossible to get lost. If you find yourself traveling in the wrong direction, just turn around and walk the other way. I do, however, remember this one time on the Coast Starlight, heading up the California coast, where a fellow sleeper car passenger was so drunk, that he actually could not find his room, and I wound up escorting him home. The Pacific Parlour Lounge car attendant was so grateful to me, that when I got back, he gave me a free glass of wine. Woo Haa.

Waiting for Departure

There is something about train travel that I love. First of all, my parents liked to travel by train, and I can remember riding the rails when I was just a kidding. That's probably one of the reasons that I feel so relaxed. We live in a world where every second something is vying for our attention: wars, economy, environment; everything is constantly tugging and pulling for our attention. While I'm on the train, I try to shut out the world... if only for a few days, and attempt to recharge my mental batteries. Personally, 2010 has been a stressful year, and I'm looking forward to just kicking back and letting the world pass me by. And that's exactly what you should do...

When traveling on a long-distance train, don't expect less than excellent service, great food, wonderful traveling companions, and a relaxing journey. It's possible that you might be late getting into your destination (or you could be a bit early). Don't let that bother you... Take it easy, and enjoy the journey. Who cares if you're a few hours late. Did you really take a three-day journey on the Texas Eagle/Sunset Limited to be exactly on time? You can get from Chicago to LA in less than three hours on an airplane. You ride the train to decompress, and to see this great country... take it easy, and enjoy.

As I'm checking out the other passengers from the relative comfort of my chair, Tim our sleeper car attendant comes by and says hello. He brings me a couple of extra bottles of water, and informs me that because of a freight train blocking the track, we'll be about twenty minutes late out of the gate.

One thing I really appreciate about Amtrak is that when they say it's going to be twenty minutes, it's usually twenty minutes... or less. I can't tell you how many times I've been at the airport and the announcement comes over the loudspeaker that the flight has been delayed by ten minutes... Then ten turns to twenty... to thirty... or more. It's like the airlines do not want to give us the bad news all at once, so they dole it out in dribs and drabs. Not Amtrak. In my experience, they try to tell it like it is. I'm not saying they have never said one thing and did another; I'm just saying that I have never had this happen to me...

Thanks Amtrak, keep up the excellent work.

Andy's Note: Don't think that I'm against the airlines... I've traveled over two-millions miles in the air. I just love travel on the train. When I need to get somewhere quick, I'm on an airplane. When I want to relax and enjoy the journey... It's Amtrak.

Meanwhile Back on the Train

One of the major problems with Amtrak's on-time performance wasn't with Amtrak; it was with the people that own the rails. For example, if a freight train needed the rails, Amtrak would be sidelined. What that managed to do to Amtrak's on-time arrival record was to totally trash it. It was a standing joke that if you wanted to arrive at your destination late, just take the train.

The good news is that Amtrak's record of late arrivals is slowly becoming a distant memory. From what I can discover there are several reasons for this turnaround. In response to the revival of Amtrak as a passenger carrier (the percentage of passengers traveling by train is going up), and they are opening up old rail lines that had been closed for decades. Another reason is that Amtrak is getting more priority on the rails owned by the freight haulers, and finally, everyone is communicating with each other. That means the freight haulers and Amtrak are more coordinated, and that means less conflicts.

To prove that point in the last two years I've been riding the Texas Eagle from Chicago to Los Angeles, we have never been late. As a matter of fact, we've been a few minutes early... every time. Only a few short years ago, it wasn't unusual to arrive into Los Angeles hours late (my personal record was eighteen hours ).

I know that I come across sounding like an apologist for Amtrak, but that's not the case. Some people have had negative experiences, and some people choose to just to dwell on the negative. On some of the sites that cater to the negative Amtrak experience, I notice that everything seems to have gone wrong. There was not a single happy Amtrak employee, nothing went right, the toilets were blocked and the other passengers were drunk and disorderly. You almost get the feeling that you're reading the script to the next big-budget disaster movie.

In one instance, our trip on the Coast Starlight was cancelled because of mudslides in Portland. If you want to see how Amtrak came through with flying colors on that trip, click here. I've had bad experiences traveling by bus, by car, by plane, and by train, but I don't throw the baby out with the bath water. As someone so eloquently put it... Stuff happens (they didn't use the word stuff). As corny as this sounds, you choose to be happy, or you choose to be mad. The trouble is that with all the other frustrations going on around us, it's so easy to go to the dark side. Don't ignore the problems, but don't make the whole journey about the problems. Enjoy life... it's a precious commodity. Okay, enough of the speech.

And They're Off

At 2:00PM, fifteen minutes behind schedule, I hear the distant Alllll Aboooaarrd from the conductor, and with a slight jolt we are on our way. I'm really not that concerned about the delay... After all, the journey to Los Angeles takes three days, so what's fifteen minutes. If we make up the time, that will be great; however, if we don't... who cares. When I go on an Amtrak journey with connections, I always make the connection for the next day. We are supposed to get into Los Angeles around 9:45AM, and my connection (The Coast Starlight) leaves at 10:15AM. I suppose that I could take the chance that the train will arrive on time, and then make the mad dash to my connection, but why would I put myself through that kind of stress. Instead, I have a reservation at a Marriott property within walking distance of the station, and I'll catch the Coast Starlight the following day. So, even if the train were twenty-four hours late, I would still make my connection. Besides it's Los Angeles... And there will be plenty to do and see. My plan (let's see if it happens) is to decant the train in Los Angeles, and then walk over to Philippe's Original. It's a famous restaurant near the Los Angeles Union station. I plan to have breakfast there, and then later in the afternoon (after I've settled into my hotel room), go back and have a roast beef sandwich.

For several years that has been the plan; however, circumstances have always prevented me from trying their famous roast beef. If you read any of the other travel journals from other writers; when they stop at Los Angeles Union Station, they always have a roast beef sandwich at Philippe's Original. Anyway, Los Angeles is three days away, so we'll see what happen, when we get there.

Life on the Texas Eagle

On this part of the journey we have one Genesis engine pulling two first-class sleepers, a diner/lounge care, sightseer car, and three coach cars.

It doesn't take us long to emerge from the tunnels of Chicago's Union Station, and out into the bright sunlight of a picture-perfect Midwest Autumn afternoon. Our train glides along its iron rails; headed in a leisurely southwest direction. The pace of the train lets me know that we're in no hurry, and that's fine with me. When I travel on Amtrak, I want to enjoy the ride.

It's going to be a bit of time before we get out of the confines of the city, so I break away from the window and finish unpacking. Since this portion of the journey will occupy three whole days, I don't want to be living out of my suitcase. I unpack a few articles of clothing and hang them in the closet. The closet is only about twelve inches wide; however, it's enough for my rain jacket, two shirts, and a pair of pants. I get my razor, toothpaste and soap out of my kit, and put them on the sink. Again, I'm reminded of why I chose to get a deluxe bedroom... It's the only accommodation on the train that has its own private sink, toilet, and shower. On a three-day journey, you learn to appreciate things like that. And another reason to book early is that there are only five bedrooms per sleeper car.

The Journey Continues

Last year on this part of the journey, we were hit with wind and thunderstorms; however, this year it's blue skies and the tracks are fast. Over the last few years, Amtrak has been doing a better job of coordinating their trains with the freight carriers. In truth, Amtrak doesn't own very much of the track; they rent it from the haulers of freight and cargo. In the past, the haulers were the ones that got priority, and Amtrak was continually shoved over onto a sidetrack while they passed. I can't tell you how many times I sat by my bedroom window watching as freight car after freight car passed by our train. While that can still happen, Amtrak now gets more priority. In addition (as I mentioned before), the government has opened up old rail lines that had been closed down for years... even decades. The results are impressive. In the past I could always count on getting into Los Angles late... sometimes by several hours. However, the last few times I have taken the Texas Eagle, we have been on time, or even a bit early. Way to go Amtrak.

Moving out of the Windy City

As we move though the city, we pass the empty shells of old buildings. Some have boarded up windows; while others have broken glass and dark empty interiors. They seem to be staring back at me... wondering what I'm doing in their neighborhood. They represent old Chicago. When I was growing up in the city, we had the stockyards, and a lot of manufacturing going on. In fact, a poet once called Chicago the hog butcher of the world. Well, heavy taxes soon drove out the stockyards, and modernization, retooling, and shifting a lot of jobs overseas took care of the rest. All that's left are the lonely, staring buildings. I wonder if they will ever be occupied again and hear the sounds of people and laughter, or if they will just be torn down... only to be replaced by some new and improved structure... only time will tell.

We've been moving slowly as we wind our way through the city; now as the Texas Eagle approaches the suburbs, the engineer opens up the throttle and we move from fifty miles-per-hour to around sixty-five. The tall buildings that define the great city of Chicago... king of the mid-west... slowly recede into the distance. Slowly we move into the suburbs and then the more rural areas of Chicago. When I was just a lad, we lived on the south side of the city in a place called Hometown. It's was all about white-picket fences, and laundry on the lines every Tuesday. As we pass through some of these areas, it's as if time has stopped... Or more correctly, time has moved back to when I was a lad.

I see family homes... Not with six-foot security fences around the backyard, but the white-picket fences of my youth. Young children play on front lawns, while others ride their bikes in the afternoon sunlight. On some of the porches I see pumpkins, and decorations of the season.

I remember the days of Autumn...

Each day was shorter, and we rode our bikes until the setting sun forced our mothers to yell out our names... I always waited until the third yell. As I gaze out of my window, I can almost hear an echo of the past, and my mother calling me home. All the mothers did that... As the light began to fade, they would go out onto the porch and call their children home for supper. I really miss those simple days... I really do.

I also love this part of the journey because I believe that this is the heart of this great country. All countries have a heart... Not the right or left wingers... The fanatics. Just plain folks with parents that work hard, and love their families. That's the heart of any country. That's the strength of any country. That's the future of any country.

As many times as I've passed through this part of the country... On this very same train... I feel a pull at the past, and the memories of my youth. The young children riding their bikes as the sun sets, all have smiles on their faces, and I can almost hear their laughter through the glass barrier of my window.

Sometimes I close my eyes and wish I could return to those days, when all that mattered was having fun, and riding my bike. Growing up does things to you... Everything from Santa Claus to the Easter Bunny... It all changes. I guess that's what growing up is all about.

Eventually, the rural areas move past our speeding train. They're replaced by the rolling farmlands to the south of the city. As we move further away from the Chicago suburbs, my brush with the past recedes from memory, like waking from a dream.

The engineer kicks up our speed to 80mph. As we move ever southward the familiar clackity clack, clackity clack, of the wheels of rails beats out a tune in rhythm to my own hear beat. It will be that sound and the mournful wail of the train's whistle that will lull me to sleep each evening and wake me for breakfast the following morning.

We're still about 10 minutes behind schedule as we pull into Bloomington to pick up a few passengers. That means the engineer has already picked up 5 minutes of our delay in Chicago. As we pull out of the station, we make a slight shift and begin traveling in a southwest direction. I know that because I am using a GPS to record this trip. If you want the current stats: We've been traveling for 2 hours, and 32 minutes, our average speed is 57.1mph, and our top speed was 84.1mph. Of the time we've been traveling we have been stopped for 19 minutes and 32 seconds. WOW... Now those are the kind of stats that the train geeks love to read about.

As I'm writing, the dining car steward comes by, and enquires about dinner. I take a 6:00p reservation. On this portion of the trip, the Texas Eagle is carrying two dining/snack cars. When we transfer to the Sunset Limited in San Antonio, and finish the trip to Los Angeles, those cars will be replaced with a standard full-service dining car.

We continue to move in a southwesterly direction, and this places the setting sun directly into my windows. Unfortunately the glare off the windows makes photography impossible. So I put down the camera, and continue to write in this journal. We pass through several more small towns that remind me of my childhood; however, at 80mph they are gone in a flash. As the sun hits the trees I can almost see the beginnings of Autumn colors. In truth, I just think that's wishful thinking on my part. Although the country is beginning to get some color changes up north, down here, the color green is still predominant. I'm hoping to see a bit of Fall color when I get on the Empire Builder.


My reservation is at 6:00p... at 5:55p Roger, the dinning room attendant calls my name, and I head out. The dining room car is the first car behind mine, so the walk is a short one. I' m seated with a nice older lady who has been traveling around the country visiting her children and grandchildren, and she's been doing it for the last four months. She was finally traveling back home to California; where she lives in Desert Springs. And according to her, she not only lives in the desert, she lives way out in the desert. To each his or her own... That's what I say.

I order the strip steak; which, by the way, was huge. I'm not a really big dessert fan; however, if I have room, I will usually get some. Tonight, the meal is so big I don't have room for dessert.

Andy's Advice: Tipping is a usual part of a meal. Some first-class passengers don't tip, or they just leave a dollar per meal. Their thoughts on this is that the meals are included in the price of their ticket. That's correct, however, the tip isn't. You should tip the same way that you would at any eating establishment. Fifteen percent for normal service; more if the service is excellent. You can get the prices for your meals from the menu and then do the math. Normally, a two dollar tip for breakfast and lunch are considered normal, and a three-dollar tip at dinner works great.

I leave a tip, say good-bye to Susan, and then head back to my room. I work a bit on my journal, and then watch as the diminishing light slowly turns my window into a dark black slate. We must be traveling through desolate area because not even the light of a farmhouse or streetlight breaks through the perfect blackness... Well, no more photographs today. As the night wears on, I work on my computer. Occasionally, a small town passes by my window. It's a quick flash of streetlights and cars stopped at the crossing gates... Then it's over and the blackness returns. Around midnight I shut down, and hit the sack. Tomorrow is another day of opportunity.

Texas Eagle: Day 2

When I get up at 5:00a, my window to the world is still a black slate. I wash up, grab a cup of coffee from the first-class service area, and get back to work. Breakfast begins at 6:30a, and I decide to see how many people are up that early.

No announcement is made over the PA system because it's too early. Amtrak has a quiet period from 10:00p to 7:00a. During that time, no announcements are made. I know by experience that breakfast starts at 6:30a, so I get up and travel to the dining car.


Well, it's a ghost town; even the service personnel are surprised to see me. I order scrambled eggs, with sausage and toast, and eat by myself... Poor Andy. Twenty minutes later I depart the diner car and head to my room. At 7:00a the announcement is made for breakfast, and I see a lot of people move by my door, all headed for the diner car. I make a mental note that 6:30a is the time for me to eat breakfast.

In the Great State of Texas

We're currently stopped in Marshal, Texas. So, since departing yesterday, we've passed through Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, and now we will spend today, and part of tomorrow, going through Texas. Oh, by the way, I slept though Arkansas. While in Marshal, we picked up a whole bunch of coach people. An announcement was made that if you were in coach you could no longer spread out. In fact, the announcer said that there wouldn't be any free seats left. I'm not sure how many bodies got on the train in coach, but we got here at 7:34a, and we didn't leave until 8:07a. I'm glad that Amtrak is filling up their trains, and I'm also glad that I'm not in coach.

We arrive into Dallas at 11:20a, and depart at 11:50a, spot on time. During our Dallas stop, we picked up and decanted a lot of people. Dallas is a big hub for Amtrak... Unlike Newton, Kansas. When I pick up the train in Newton, I'm lucky to see four or five other warm bodies. Of course, the train gets into Newton at 3:00a.

I get off the train to stretch my legs and to take some photos. I'm greeted by a blue sky and cool breeze. Autumn is definitely in the air; however, the plants and trees haven't got the message quite yet. My urge to take photos satisfied, I step onto the train, and five minutes later, we're off.

When you're traveling through Texas, you are reminded of how big and vast this great country of ours really is. As we move out of the cities and into more rural areas the towns get smaller and the undeveloped areas get larger.

The remainder of the journey to San Antonio is rather uneventful. I spend time working on this journal, and a few other projects that I have going. Case in point, I have this pesky client in Chicago that I doing a seminar that seem to know everything (not sure why she hired me)... Anyway, I've been working on her "stuff" even while I'm on this trip. Everything that I suggest, she has her own way of wanting it done. If I hear the phrase, I like this way better, one more time, I'm going to tell her to get another designer. Enough of my problems. I came on this journey to leave those problems behind.

San Antonio, Texas

The Texas Eagle glides into San Antonio, Texas and comes to a stop at 9:08p. After all the delays of this part of the trip, we're here about 20 minutes early. Not to shabby. We now have about an 8 hour layover.

The Texas Eagle travels from Chicago to San Antonio; however, some of the passengers (myself included) are going on further West. Later in the evening the Sunset Limited arrives from Los Angeles and the cars that are going west, are taken off the Texas Eagle and added to the Sunset Limited. That means that we don't have to get off the train.

Many of the passengers head out to the Riverwalk, and pick up a few drinks and a good late-evening meal. I, being the bore that I am, prefer to stay in my room, and putter about. At midnight, I call it quits, shut down my computer, and hit the sack.

At about 1:00a, I feel a few jolts and jars as our car is added to the Sunset Limited consist. That puts our first-class sleeper at the very back of the train. When you go to the back door, instead of entering another car, you can see the tracks we've just traveled on. That also means that to get to the dining car, I'll have to go through our first-class sleeper, three coach cars, and one sightseer/lounge car... I'm hoping the long walk will help to build my appetite.

The Mighty Texas Eagle Stats

Depart Chicago 09/30 at 2:00p Arrive San Antonio 10/01 at 9:08p
Total Miles Covered 1304.7
Overall Average Speed 41.7mph
Moving Average Speed 49.9mph
Maximum Speed 84.2mph
Total Travel Time 31h 17m
Total Time Moving 28h 08m
Total Time Stopped 5h 09m

Well, there's not much more to say. The trip was fine, and even with a few delays waiting for freight haulers to pass us by, we still managed to get into San Antonio ahead of schedule.

There was this one dude that I saw in the diner car (a coach passenger) with tatoos all over his face. I think he just got out of prison... Or, he got really, really drunk one night with his friends... passed out, and the next day, and woke up looking like that. Either way, he didn't look like a happy camper; however, since he didn't sit with me, I don't know the rest of the story.

Speaking of stories... This one ends here, and the next starts tomorrow morning... Click here



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Keep the faith... And keep traveling
Andy Anderson