I left you at home where I spent my New Years at home again. It felt funny being here but I needed a change in my life. It had been a great year for most things being for Santa Ana Unified School District Heninger Elementary School. I am truly blessed.
Most importantly everyone in the Guenzler family is doing well. I pray that God keeps the rest of us all going strong in 2019. My mother took a fall in July. While not hurting herself she ended up in the hospital and a series of rest homes. I did not break her out for a Chris cooked dinner on Christmas as she was not feeling well so Chris Parker joined me and we ate what I fixed and then took my mother a plate so she could have a fantastic holiday dinner in her rest home.
I roadee the Brian Salad and Rachel Flowers concert at the Oceanside Moose Lodge. Rock bands I saw this year were Carl Palmer Band at the Coach House, then Jeff Beck with support Paul Rogers, Ann Wilson and Deborah Bonham at the Five Points Irvine followed by 50 years of Jethro Tull at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. Next it was Deep Purple with support Judas Priest and the Temperance Movement at the Five Points Irvine and finally The Sweet support Eleventh Mourning at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano. I also saw the Penguins/Anaheim Ducks games last season. I still love my ice hockey.
I still belong to the Orange County Railroad Historical Society and present many shows of my trips for them, the National Railway Historical Society, whose convention I attended in Cumberland, MD and the Train Travel Group in Fullerton that meets the 4th Monday night of the month. Sometimes we take trips together. I have good friends in each of these groups and feel very lucky to be a member of each one of these groups. I produced my ninth railroad calendar "The Chris Guenzler 2019 Railroad Calendar" from Vista Print was the ninth calendar I have produced.
Now for my trips for the year! The first one came unexpectedly when the Great Dome was added to Pacific Surfliner 572. I bought a Business Class ticket and rode to Solana Beach calling it a trip aboard the last Amtrak Great Dome. Next the Trainriders Group rode the entire San Diego Trolley System. Then, Bill Compton and I took a trip to Cajon Pass to photograph trains. March was Winterail 2018. I flew to Portland and met Chris Parker at the Days Inn where I watched my Pittsburgh Penguins beat the New York Rangers. The next morning we took MAX out to Beaverton where Chris and I rode the Westside Express to Wilsonville and back. We then took the MAX back to the Days Inn and checked out and drove to Troutdale and found the Union Pacific station. Then we headed to Vancouver, Washington and had three good hours of train photography. Amtrak Cascades 518 took Chris to Tacoma and me to Tukwila. After a southbound BNSF freight passed, I boarded Amtrak Cascades 507 finding Elizabeth Alkire on board. Chris Parker joined in Tacoma and we all rode back to Vancouver. After leaving the train, we headed to the Econo Lodge in Milwaukie, Oregon for the night. The next morning, after breakfast we went to the Oregon City Southern Pacific station, saw Amtrak Cascades 500, then took a picture of the End of the Oregon Trail. We photographed Willamette Falls in Oregon City, as well as train stations in Aurora, Brownsville and Springfield all Southern Pacific stations. We drove to Eugene and found the Oregon Electric station, now a restaurant, visited the Eugene Southern Pacific station and photographed a Willamette and Pacific local switching across the highway on the way to Junction City where we caught the Amtrak Cascades 511 blasting through town. We arrived in Albany in time to see the Coast Starlight leaving with Norm Orfall on the platform of his Tioga Pass private car. From here, we headed to Corvallis where we checked into the Days Inn where my new memory card reader sent my pictures to oblivion. Elizabeth and I went to Elmer's for an early dinner where I had flat iron steak that put me in a good mood and we had a good laugh about the computer problems. We went to the Railfan Magazine Friday Night Pizza Party and Slide Show where I showed my A Year Of Trains In The Life of Chris Guenzler 2017. Most of these shows were excellent. Chris went to Albany to pick up Robin Bowers. We returned to the Days Inn for the night. The next day Robin received the railfan tour of Corvallis. Our first stop was the Oregon Electric depot which is now the Old Spaghetti Factory. Then we went to McDonald's for breakfast, which was followed by taking Robin down the street-running and over to the old Southern Pacific station with the two Spokane, Portland and Seattle passenger cars behind it. From here, we drove over to the Portland and Western yard where there was an engine to photograph. The Harris Covered Bridge for Chris and Robin to see then to the Ritner Creek Covered Bridge, which was new to all of us were our next two stops. We drove back to Winterail 2018 and had a good time at the swap meet. The shows were one of the best ever when it came to quality of programs. All them were really well done, were very entertaining and we thoroughly enjoying them. Plus, it was always good to see all our friends whom we only see once a year. The next morning we met at the rental car at 7:00 AM first, for gas then to McDonalds for breakfast. Driving north up 99 West, I remembered the Oregon Electric Substation in McCoy so for Chris Parker and Robin, we made the first stop of the morning. Our second stop for the guys was the McMinnville Southern Pacific station. The third stop for the guys was at the Southern Pacific Carlton station, now the Ken Wright Cellars Wi9nery Tasting Room. From here we drove to Banks for something for all of us, the Southern Pacific Banks station. Also in Banks there is a wig wag crossing signal on display. We drove to our next destination on US Highway 26 to Camp 18. Here we took pictures Wilson Lumber Company wooden caboose ex Southern Pacific 110 and Wilson Lumber Company bay window caboose ex Spokane Portland & Seattle 796. From here we drove to Astoria where we found Oregon Eastern Railroad wooden caboose 206 on display and the Astoria Spokane Portland & Seattle station. From here we drove to St. Helens for Portland Western GP-40-2 3006 and GP 39-2 2316 plus the St. Helens Spokane Portland & Seattle station. After that, we dropped Elizabeth off at Amtrak station in Vancouver, returned the car and flew home with Robin and I on a plane to Orange County and Chris Parker on a plane to LAX. It had been a fun Winterail trip this year.
In very late April I rode the Coast Starlight 14 Detour Trip. I rode in Business Class while4 Chris Parker rode the Tioga Pass. We stayed at the Jack London Inn in Oakland and were awakened at 3:32 AM by the sound of a glass bottle hitting the door frame and breaking then the sound of two girls' bodies slamming themselves against our door. Later in the morning we caught a UP stack train that came through the street after which Bob Jacoby, Chris and I walked over to the Buttercup Grill. I where I had French Toast and bacon which was excellent. Chris, Bob and I rode in Business Class south on the Coast Starlight 11 Detour Trip across Altamont and Tehachapi Passes which is always fun.
In May, I flew to Midway Airport in Chicago and rented a car driving south to Monticello, Illinois for the night photo session at the Monticello Railroad Museum which came out well. The next day we chased the Southern Railway 401 Steam Charter sponsored by the Museum. During the day there were 32 photo runbys which was a new record for me at any event that I had photographed. Afterwards, I drove back north to the Country Home and Suites in Monee for the night. The next morning I spent my time at the Homewood Railfan Viewing Platform taking pictures of CN freight trains, Metra Electric commuter trains, Amtrak Saluki 391 and Amtrak 58 the City of New Orleans. Next, I drove to the Fox River Trolley Museum where I photographed as much of their equipment that I could. They also gave me a ride on the track speeder CP Rail 7700-12 so I could get all of their track mileage. I drove back to Midway, returned the rental car then flew Southwest Airlines home via Las Vegas.
Two weeks later I flew Southwest Airlines to Love Field in Dallas, where I met Chris Parker. We checked into the Ramada Inn Dallas Love Field by Wyndham. The next morning we found cockroaches running around in the bath tub, not the way you want to start your day. We first drove out to Trinity Mills station in Carrolton and bought our Day Passes so we could ride all we wanted. The first trip was the Denton A-train out to Denton and back on their trains and it was alot of fun. Next we rode the DART Green Line. This whole line would be new mileage except through downtown Dallas where all the DART light rail trains share the same tracks. Except for a minor delay of changing trains at West Hills/Denton Road station we rode to the east end at the Buckner station before returning to downtown Dallas exiting at the St Paul station. We walked around a building to our next ride. On this trip before we rode the entire McKinney Avenue Streetcar line. We returned to St Paul, had lunch at a Subway, then rode the Red Line to Dallas Union Station where we walked over to the free Dallas Streetcar and rode the entire line to Bishop Arts station and back. The weather turned into a downpour as we returned back to Union Station. We went out to the Trolley Shelter were I crossed to the far platform for a Union Pacific freight train in the driving rain. Next our train for West End arrived and we boarded for the one stop ride. At West End we made a run to a canopy on the westbound track. We waited under cover for the next Green Line train to Trinity Mills but Chris went to the car to do some work while I rode to the north end of the line at Carrolton/Frankford station then joined him back at Trinity Mills. We drove I35E north to Main Street and took that road through Blue Mound to I 35W until traffic forced us onto surface streets to reach the Days Inn where we checked in for our two night stay. Next we would go to Saginaw for the 24 Hours at Saginaw event which was scheduled to start at 7:00 PM. We arrived at 5:40 PM. First Amtrak's Heartland Flyer 822 came through with Union Pacific 7339 North next. KCS 4693 South was the next train that came through after which we had a brief Operation Lifesaver talk. I met my good friend Skip Waters here. BNSF 6710 came through before the evening programs began. The first show was by Hayley Enoch, a Trains Magazine correspondent, called Rail Travel Experience and it was a very good show. Next up was Steven Allen Goen consisting of three subjects: A Day at the Snyder Depot, Frisco's Finest Hour and the Cisco Northwestern Railroad. I then presented my Friday Winterail Programs called Trains in the Life of Chris Guenzler 2017, 2012 and 2013. Once done we left to get a good night's sleep at the Days Inn. the next morning, Chris Parker and I got up and drove to McDonalds for my breakfast of hot cakes and sausage. We then drove to Carrolton for the first stop of the morning, the Carrollton Southern Pacific station. Across the street is the Dallas Garland & Northwestern Railroad shop area where we photographed locomotives. Now it was time to finish riding DART. We purchased our tickets and went up to track level. Our Green Line train arrived and we took it to the Bachman station. making a cross transfer platform to catch an Orange Line train to DFW Airport. We ran the rest of the way to the DFW Airport station and got off for pictures. I have now finished all of DART in its present day form. We returned to the Carrollton station and drove to the Saginaw train station for my second day of the 13th Annual 24 Hours of Saginaw Railfan Event. The first train of the day was a light power move with BNSF 4635. Next came BNSF 8386 South with NS C44-9W and DPU BNSF 8049. BNSF Saginaw Switcher 1227 and 3102 came by next followed by BNSF light power move 7362. After that, BNSF 9171 North with CP Rail AC4400CW passed, followed by Amtrak Heartland Flyer 821 heading to Fort Worth. I called the Lets Talk Train show which Skip Waters hosted. Union Pacific 6907 West came through next. Chris Parker and I crossed US 287 and walked to the Texas B-B-Q and had excellent barbecue chicken for our dinner about 2 PM. We then went back to the station where we heard a horn and went to get pictures. KCS SD70ACe 4046 led KCS AC4400CW 4639 and CP Rail AC4400CW 9546 out of Saginaw. KCS SD70ACe 4126 South and KCS SD70MACe 3927 came by next. Now it was time for the Great Locomotive Trivia Game. Skip Water moved the train from the roundhouse to the Texas and Pacific station and I was a judge while Sam Metzgar hosted and asked the questions. Winners were 1st Place the Milwaukee Road followed by Union Pacific in 2nd Place and the Daylight engine took 3rd Place. Then it was time for programs so Steve Grabman showed his The Saginaw Trifecta Railfanning the BNSF Wichita Falls & Fort Worth Sub which was excellent and Winterail quality. After that it was more time for trains. KCS ES44AC 4693 and SD70ACe KCS 4046 came through Saginaw. Next came Amtrak Heartland Flyer 822 followed by BNSF 4917 North which was the last train counted at Saginaw this year. BNSF 8479 South with NS SD60E 6953 then came through. I showed my Friday Winterail Programs called Trains in the Life of Chris Guenzler 2014, 2015 and 2016. We played Trivia for one little girl who has come to every year since she was born and loved my programs so her father and I coached her on the right answers so she would win her door prize. Skip gave her two things to take home. With that done there had been 58 trains in 24 Hours of Saginaw. I said goodbye to Skip and thanked him having me present this year. Chris Parker and I drove back to the Days Inn for our final night in Texas. 24 Hours of Saginaw was an excellent Railfan event to come to and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in trains. Chris Parker and I got up at the Days Inn and after loading the car we checked out and headed across US 287 to McDonalds where it was hot cakes and sausage. After a stop at a gas station. we went in search of some trains. BNSF 5073 North with CSX AC44CW 481 in the consist was at McLeroy Road in Saginaw. Next we moved north to North Bailey-Boswell Road. where we caught BNSF 5646 North, then BNSF 5060 South with NS C-40-9W 9023. We then drove north along Texas 156 and saw BNSF's Alliance Yard. Then came the surprise of this trip, the GE Fort Worth Locomotive Building where we made a U-turn and parked. Outside were brand new rebuilds, Canadian National E444AC 3806 and NS AC44CGM 4172. We spotted a headlight coming toward us at Krum, Texas so I made another u turn and parked on Hopkins Road setting up for pictures. After BNSF 5005 South passed our location we continued north to I35 which we took south then went onto I 35E which we took back to Mockingbird Lane then to Hertz and turned in the rental car. We caught the next shuttle then went through a slow security line with no problems. Chris Parker bought me lunch at Whataburger and then we parted ways as he went to Gate 8 and I went to Gate 12 at Love Field Dallas. My flight was all ready to board when they moved it to Gate 2. We left Dallas forty minutes late and I enjoyed the view from my window seat in the second row. Flight highlights were Abo Canyon and the Salton Sea. We arrived at 3:05 PM and I called my mother, letting her know that t I needed fifteen minutes to walk to where she picks me up. That gave me five minutes for biological needs and then eight minutes to walk there. She picked me up thus ending a fantastic trip to Texas.
Now it was time for my big trip of the year, the NRHS trip to Cumberland. It took over a year of planning but I came up with a great trip. Robin joined me for everything and Bob and Elizabeth joined us in Hagerstown. I would work the convention as a bus host. Robin and I left Santa Ana aboard a late running Pacific Surfliner 777 since we had a sleeper of train 4 on a standing room only train, At LAUPT, we sat on the floor for 50 minutes before a Red Cap took us to the elevator that took us to the Metropolitan Lounge, then later out to the Southwest Chief. This would be Robin's first trip on the Southwest Chief. We left LAUPT 35 minutes later. By Raton I wasn't feeling well so I took a long nap and by the next morning I was fine. We left Kansas City 5 hours late and I knew a bus was in our future. Robin really liked finally getting to see the La Plata Depot and that Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point as he had never been to La Plata before. The Conductor stopped by with our information about Train 50. We would be detraining in Galesburg and be bussed to Train 50. Not a perfect solution but one we were both happy with. We crossed the Mississippi and ran to Galesburg where we detrained. The bus was waiting and a total of seven passengers were aboard. We took Interstate 74 to Champaign where we gassed and had a dinner stop then back on Interstate 74 to Interstate 474 to Interstate 70 and then to Indianapolis Union Station, where the trip ended and we all happily debussed. The Cardinal 50 arrived after midnight and we took the elevator up to trackside and boarded the Viewliner Sleeper. I made the beds and we both went off to dreamland. The next morning right before the station stop of Huntington, West Virginia, I got dressed and took a few minutes of fresh air before I went to the Dinette for my breakfast on a rainy morning. I enjoyed Railroad French Toast and bacon with orange juice. I rode the table section of business class then took a shower while the room was being made. I took my blood pressure pills and got the camera and took some pictures while waiting for Robin to join me. After Charleston, the state capital of West Virginia, we followed the Kanawha River to the New River and that famous gorge Robin will get to see for his first time ever later this morning. Due to track work on the Hawk Nest Bridge on Track 1, we took the Track 2 route which is seldom done so both Robin and I got some pretty rare mileage today aboard the Cardinal. I was one happy railfan and train rider today. The train ran under New River Arch Bridge that crosses the New River Gorge. Later the train then climbed up to the Summit Tunnel then descended through Covington to our next station of Clifton Forge where after the station stop I saw the C&O Heritage Museum which we would be visiting in a few days. The train continued east to Staunton, the next stop on our route. On the way there I had a hot dog, Twix and ginger ale for lunch. The train arrived in Staunton twelve minutes early and during my fresh air break, it started to pour down rain. This was the first good rain of the trip and I expected more to come. The train was time at Charlottesville where I detrained during the train crew change for a picture. The train ran down the Buckingham Branch to Orange then onto the old Southern Railway mainline north to Culpepper, Manassas and then Alexandria with the rain following us most of the way north towards DC. After crossing the Potomac River and through the Potomac Tunnel we arrived at the final stop of the Cardinal. Washington DC Union Station, where Robin and I both detrained. We walked into Club Acela and checked to see if we could take an earlier train to New York City. They said to call Guest Rewards which we did and I used my points for Business Class on train 186. The women in Club Acela then printed our tickets and soon we were on our way out to the train on a rainy night. Once on the train and called the Hotel Pennsylvania to see if there was a room available for the night. Their answer was no! We got on Booking.com website where I came up with an idea. Why not Newark, New Jersey. We booked a room at the Hotel Rivera. The train left on time and made it through the night and all too soon we arrived in Newark, taking a taxi to the Hotel Rivera for the night.
I woke up today in the Hotel Riviera knowing that I would finishing the Amtrak System again tonight when I stepped off the train in Roanoke will be the moment. I was up by 6:30 AM and put the corrections in my story from Elizabeth and then uploaded it to the website. Everything works out if you let it seems to be the motto of this trip so far. All the icons on my laptop disappeared yesterday to be replaced by a cloud on the task bar. I managed to get through all that plus the trip to here proves that motto. We would take a taxi back to Newark Penn station and then take New Jersey Transit into New York City. We bought our New Jersey Transit tickets then found out that our train would come in on Track 2. We did a little photography while we waited for our train and shot eight different passenger trains, then boarded New Jersey Transit 3722 bound for New York City. We detrained and went to the Amtrak waiting area of the station. I left Robin with the bags while I went to Kmart and bought a new case then switched every thing out of it while Robin went to the Theater District and made his way to Times Square before he returned. We went into the hall and waited for the track announcement which was twelve. Going down the escalator I lost Robin but boarded car six of Northeast Regional 171.
The train left about fifteen minutes late and headed west into the Hudson River Tunnel on its way to Secaucus then Newark. My side of this car had no power so I would move after Philadelphia up and over one to the side of the train. We stopped at Newark Airport then headed to Trenton, crossing the Susquehanna River where it empties into Chesapeake Bay at Havre de Grace. The train stopped at Aberdeen and I had an early dinner, then we stopped in Baltimore before reaching BWI and New Carrollton. From here we went straight to Washington, D.C. for the switch from electric to diesel that always takes place here when go south of D.C. With no power aboard the train during the engine swap, the Internet went out and the cars heated up as they took their time during the engine change. At 5:22 PM the power was restored. We left Washington Union Station at 5:27 PM and headed into the Capitol Tunnel to the crossing of the Potomac River as we crossed into the state of Virginia to our next station of Alexandria. That was followed by Burke Centre. I put on my DVD of Railroad Tigers starring Jackie Chan. The train then made its stops at Manassas, Culpeper and Charlottesville before Lynchburg. We left there and once we got to the wye at Roanoke and went about four hundred feet west of it, I was on my final piece of new mileage to complete the Amtrak system again. I just rode peacefully through the night until I arrived at Roanoke. As the train slowed down to a stop I felt really proud of myself once again. This time I would get to enjoy it for about a week. The train came to a stop and Robin had detrained and had my camera ready to capture the event of stepping off the train after completing the Amtrak system. We started to leave when I saw the Hotel Roanoke van and we were driven to the Hotel Roanoke and checked in to this very nice hotel for the night.
I was up early and decided to go for a walk, taking pictures of the hotel before walking across the bridge over the tracks then took pictures of the Norfolk and Western station from both sides before awaking Robin and calling Enterprise. We rented a Ford Fiesta and drove to the first of two main stops in Roanoke, the Virginia Transportation Museum. This was Robin's first time here and he received a complete tour while I stayed with the guide for the train equipment since this was my second time here. After a great tour we drove across the track to the N&W station, home of the O. Winston Link Winston Museum and had a fantastic tour of this unique museum, since Robin and I were making our first visit. After that we left Roanoke and headed to Clifton Forge and the C&O Heritage Museum. This was Robin's first time and my second time here. After I photographed every piece of equipment, I rode a mile on their miniature train, then we drove to Covington for photograph Chesapeake and Ohio 2-8-0 701 at Main Street Park and the C&O Railroad freight house and passenger station. From here we drove along US 220 north to Hot Springs where we checked into the Rose Lou Motel. I worked on two stories from today and we went back down to Hot Springs for Subway and took our food to go.
The next morning we left the very nice hotel and drove to Dublin, West Virginia in just over an hour. I finally rode the Durbin Rocket with us both making our first trip aboard it. It was an excellent train trip. After filling the rental car, we headed south to White Sulphur Springs with a stop at Hardee's for lunch. From here we got on Interstate 64 to US 219 South where I had a hunch when I saw a parking lot down by the railroad and we found some unique items in Ronceverte, a C&O coaling tower and passenger station. Later we found a West Virginia covered bridge called Indian Creek Covered Bridge along US 219. From here we went to Princeton and our next stop was the replica train station. After the city tore down their original train station by mistake, it was then built. We then toured the Princeton Train Museum and found Virginian Railway caboose 308 on the grounds. We then drove into Bluefield and had a large surprise in the form of Norfolk Southern unit 9-1-1 honoring First Responders and a N&W coaling tower. We drove west along highway US 54 and after passing the Elkhorn Inn, we came upon a set of Norfolk Southern helpers returning west to help another train at Powhatan, so we went to a grade crossing at Kyla. We then drove to Iaeger. When we turned around we saw smoke from an eastbound train and headed to Twin Tunnels at Kimball. On the way there, we found a caboose then caught an eastbound Norfolk Southern freight train at the Twin Tunnels near Kimball. The westbound Norfolk Southern train came just as then eastbound had cleared. We chased him back to Eckman. before heading to the Elkhorn Inn for our first stay. We arrived and when I went inside she called me "Mr. Guenzler" and then showed me our room with twin beds, the patio with deck chairs and a table which told me about the Internet and I was all set. Robin had the great idea of a picnic on the deck which we did with a pair of Norfolk Southern trains for our dessert. It was a beautiful clear mountain evening and Robin and I plan to come back here for at least two nights next year. After dinner I talked with the owner for a bit then worked on stories. They brought the bill up since we were leaving early the next morning. I had a great night's sleep, awaking up at 5:30 AM. I had a shower then finished the story. Later Robin arose and we packed and left for the Tweetsie Railroad at 6:30 AM, ending our first stay at the Elkhorn Inn.
Today we left the Elkhorn Inn after a most wonderful one night's stay and drove US 52 to Interstate 77 to Hillsville where we gassed up the rental car. I got mini chocolate donuts for a moving breakfast and Robin called David Pressley who would meet us at the Tweetsie Railroad. We then made the trip on US 221 to Boone then a quick trip down US 321 and pulled into the upper parking lot. As soon as we started walking, here came my good friend David Pressley bearing gifts for Robin and I in the form of two Tweetsie plastic cups. We went inside the ticketing area and picked up our guest ticket then walked out to board the next train which was out on the railroad. The train crossed the only major trestle on this railroad which was the first stop on the Wild West Show they do on every trip. At this one the cowboys met the outlaw and then the fun begins for kids of all ages. Our next stop was the Fort Show. Once it was over, we walked straight back to the boarding area. David told me to get a picture from the platform then we set up on a porch out of the sun. Tweetsie Railroad 4-6-0 12 was pulling the trains around the park today. At this point we then walked out of the exit, I put our cups in our rental car then David drove Robin and I over to a vantage point to take pictures of the train crossing the high trestle. Tweetsie Railroad Park was a whole lot of fun. The next stop was also new for us, the Southeastern Narrow Gauge & Shortline Museum in Newton, North Carolina. David also visited this unique museum with us.From here Robin and I drove to Spencer to the North Carolina Transportation Museum my third visit and Robin's first. I acted as tour guide and we explored the newly opened back shop then went through the Roundhouse where an old friend, N&W 4-8-4 611, was here for shop work. I took Robin around the grounds so he could get photos of everything. Since it was well over 90 degrees for the first time on this trip, we had to open all the car doors before we could leave. Our air conditioning worked well and soon we were at the Super 8 in Salisbury for the night. We had a good dinner at Applebee's and then I worked on stories for the rest of the night.
Our next day we spent railfanning North Carolina. We left the motel and headed to the grade crossing just north of the Salisbury station. Amtrak Carolinian train 80 arrived to do its station work and then left thirty-one minutes late. We took Interstate 97 North to Interstate 75 south to the exit for Star, North Carolina and our next stop on this trip, the station which is the former offices of the Aberdeen, Carolina & Western Railroad. From here we drove next to Candor and first saw two units sitting on the mainline across from the Aberdeen Carolina & Western Railroad's new shop complex. With no safe place to park, we went down the road and found three more units on a train about to start switching. Later we found the Aberdeen Seaboard Air Line station plus two Aberdeen & Rockfish Railroad cabooses. At their shop in town we found Aberdeen & Rockfish Railroad GP-38 400 and CF-7 2486. From here we drove east to Raeford and photographed that town's Alma & Southbound Railroad station. From there, we drove into Fayetteville to our next stop the Seaboard Airline station then proceeded north to Selma and found Showa Line wide vision caboose No. 907 as well as the Atlantic Coast Line/Southern Railway station. We also found the other station in this town just to the west, the Mitchener station which is the oldest station in this state. From here we continued north to the Wilson and our next stop on this trip, the Wilson Atlantic Coast Line station. Next we went further north to our last stop in Rocky Mount for the Rocky Mount Atlantic Coast Line station. We drove to Raleigh but had to pass through the first heavy shower of the trip. We made it to the Knight Inn in Raleigh for our two-night stay and went to Wendy's for dinner before I wrote stories.
The next morning, I was up at 5:30 AM and worked on my story before we drove to the new Raleigh Union Station, parked and took a ticket. We took the elevator and walked across the street to the new building. We had a very short wait until the boarding announcement was made. We walked out to the train and started taking our pre-trip pictures. The train consisted of NCT F59PH 1810 City of Greensboro, Longleaf Pine coach, Sweet Potato coach, Plott Hound coach, Currituck Sound lounge with vending machines, free bottle of water, tea or coffee and NCT F59PH 1984 City of Kannapolis. We had our tickets scanned at the door then took seats in the Sweet Potato coach. We were on North Carolina Piedmont Service Raleigh to Charlotte and return with this being Robin's first trip aboard and my second. I would use this train and the return trip to get caught up on stories. We returned to Raleigh then drove over to the old Amtrak station and were saddened to see the old station in the process of being destroyed by city workers. From there we returned to the hotel, I walked over to Popeye's Chicken and took it back to the room where I finished the story, watched NCIS and called it a night. Tomorrow it was back to Ronoake.
We left the Knights Inn for good the next day and headed up US 1 to Interstate 85 north with a stop to gas the rental car for the final time and breakfast at MacDonald's in South Hills, Virginia. From here it was a short trip on the Interstate 85 to VI 46 to US 460 that took us to Crewe and the Crewe Railroad Museum where no one was waiting for us. So we took pictures through the fence. Next we drove to the Appomattox Court House National Park. We parked the car and toured the park extensively before driving back to Roanoke where we stopped at the Virginian Railway station before checking back into the Hotel Roanoke. We then returned the rental car and were given a ride back to the hotel. We crossed the bridge over the Norfolk Southern mainline and walked first to the Amtrak platform for Norfolk Southern 1004 West. After this train I saw an eastbound train coming so I went up to the Martin Luther King walkway over the Norfolk & Western. I beat that eastbound train to my photo spot which was Norfolk Southern 7529 East. We managed to get back inside the Hotel Roanoke just before the sky turned loose and I put up my last story on the website and then on Trainorders.com. I also put the pictures from today into the computer and named them before we went down to the Pine Room Lounge in the Hotel Roanoke where I had chicken wings and Robin enjoyed a Turkey Club House sandwich with bacon along with bread pudding with rum sauce for dessert. I returned to the room and worked on some of today's story.
We checked out of the Hotel Roanoke and walked back over to the Roanoke Amtrak station for the trip to Wilmington on Amtrak Regional 176. I worked on stories most of this trip. Ay Wilmington we got rental car 2, a Nissan Camry and once that was done we were on our way to our next local stop a Private Tour of the Amtrak Wilmington Shops. After that we made our way into New Jersey and statyed at Dayton at the Travelers Inn where we spent the night. We ate dinner at the Dayton Diner where I had a steak that really hit the spot. I worked on the story then called it a night.
The next morning we made our way to Princeton Junction for some Amtrak and New Jersey Transit action and we were not disappointed. We also rode the Princeton Dinky Train. From there we drove east to Allaire State Park and met our conductor who gave us an incredible tour of behind the scenes of the Pine Creek Railroad then rode the first train twice around the loop. We made a MacDonald's lunch stop and I had hot cakes and sausage. We then drove to Hagerstown through three of the worst thunderstorms of the entire trip. We checked into the Days Inn Hagerstown for the night. Bob and Elizabeth soon arrived and we went to Bob Evans for dinner, running in from another heavy rain shower. After a good meal, I put the pictures on my computer but Windows 10 ate my pictures and even through I tried for over three weeks, I was never able to retrieve them. This is the only time I have ever lost pictures in my computer. Thank God Robin let me use his pictures for this and the other story.
The next morning, we had the hotel's continental breakfast before we took off with the first stop being the Hagerstown Roundhouse Museum. After the four of us toured the equipment at the Hagerstown Roundhouse and some CSX power next door, we then drove over to the Hagerstown Railroad Park and shot through the fence again, seeing their prize collection piece, Western Maryland 4-6-2 202 on display at City Park. Bob and his rental car left us here and he headed for Baltimore where he would return the rental car then take the light rail to Penn Station and walk to the Baltimore Streetcar Museum where we would meet him later in the day. From here, the three drove back to Dual Highway and gassed up the rental car which would be the only time on this trip. We drove almost to Frederick before we turned south and followed excellent directions to Point of the Rocks which was our next destination. We just missed an eastbound CSX train as we arrived. We photographed the B&O station then went to the C&O Canal Park which the B&O Railroad basically put out of business. From here we drove to Walkersville and had plenty of time before the 11:00 train departed to look around at their equipment. We boarded the first covered open car and we were all making their first ride on the Walkersville and Southern Railroad. We left promptly at 11:00 AM and rode behind Walkersville and Southern EMD Model 40 101 down the southern end of this railroad.
After a great trip, we drove to the National Capital Trolley Museum which was new to all of us and after looking throughout their building, we rode Blackpool Transport Services Boat Car 606 English Electric, built in 1934 Blackpool, England. We then photographed their collection of trolleys before making our way to Interstate 95 north to our next stop in Baltimore, the B&O Railroad museum where I was tour guide for Elizabeth who was making her first trip here. She was really impressed. After that we drove the short distance to the Baltimore Streetcar Museum, which was new to both Elizabeth and Robin. We met Bob before we rode on the United Railways and Electric Company JG Brill "Peter Witt" car 6119 then we toured the car barn. Our second run was aboard the Baltimore Traction Company Brownell Car Company single truck open car 445 and then we toured their building. I bought a Coca-Cola on this warm humid afternoon. Next we rode the SEPTA PCC Car and after that, Bob had the opportunity to run this car. After two more runs, they taught Robin and he looked right at home operating the SEPTA 2168. We left the Baltimore Streetcar Museum and took Interstate 95 to Havre de Grace and went to Perryville. I had always wanted to take pictures here and now was my first chance to do it. We walked out onto the public pier and waited. Amtrak Silver Meteor train 98 was our first train, followed by Northeast Regional 149, Northeast Regional 135 and Northeast Regional 192. After all the fantastic action we drove to the MARC Perryville station then headed to Newark, Delaware, stopping at Subway to some dinner. We then drove to the Rodeway Inn in Newark for a two night stay.
The next morning we drove to the Newtown Square Railroad Museum and since we were now experts at shooting through fences, we did just that here. From here we made our way to McDonalds for breakfast then took US30 which we exited at Coatesville for a brief visit to the National Steel Museum where there is a small railroad display. Here we photographed Florida Paint and Turpentine 0-4-0ST 10 and steel factory train cars. From here we went to Kinzers to the grounds of the Rough and Tumble Steam Threshers. We looked for a gate but they were all locked when I noticed there was a steam engine in a car barn right along the fence line so we stopped and held our cameras over the fence to get pictures. Next we drove to Strasburg and dropped Bob off so he could enjoy a day at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania and the Strasburg Railroad while Robin, Elizabeth and I drove back to West Chester for our next train ride of the trip, the West Chester Railroad. The train pulled in to the station with West Chester GP38 7706 on the point and we boarded West Chester Coach 9117. It was all new for all of us and we enjoyed the trip very much. This trip was a Picnic Trip so we had more time at the eastern end point of the Glen Mills station. We returned to West Chester and drove back to Strasburg. There we toured the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania which was new to Robin and Elizabeth and my second visit. I acted as tour guide to Robin when we went out into the railyard. We visited the gift shop then walked across the street to wait for the Strasburg Railroad train to return for our 4:00 train. We went to the station and picked up our complimentary tickets. It was Robin and Elizabeth's first visit here and my third. It was a very nice late afternoon ride through the Amish countryside and we all enjoyed it. It is always great when you ride a Strasburg train. Bob then joined us and we went to the restaurant on the property and had dinner before we started heading back to Newark. We caught East Penn Railroad GP38 2179 and 2173 crossing the road in Avondale, Pennsylvania as well as Pennsylvania Railroad 0-6-0 60 and the Baltimore and Ohio station in Hockessin. We returned to the Rodeway Inn for our last night Delaware. Tomorrow we head for Cumberland.
The next morning, Monday, we took surface streets back to Wilmington and returned to rental car. We went into the station and found four seats together and waited for our Acela Express Train 2107. Elizabeth went and picked up her and Bob's Acela tickets while Robin waited. I visited the store in the station and bought some Coca-Cola for the trip Washington, DC and Cumberland later today. About 8:10 AM, we decided to walk up onto the platform and take some train action pictures. Our first train was SEPTA Train 2617 for Newark, followed by SEPTA Train 2610 for Philadelphia and Amtrak Regional Train 172. Finally our train arrived twenty-three minutes late. We boarded the train and walked through two cars until we found a table which was empty. We decided to take pictures of each other on the Acela Express, which was Robin's second time and Bob and Elizabeth's first experience with this my seventh trip on the Acela Express. I got online and decided to delete the old View-NiX program and re-install it, all while going 120 miles an hour. This worked and we were back to uploading stories again. I was very appreciative of Amtrak having such good internet on this train. The ride on the Acela Express is superior to the Amfleet cars. The overhead bins allowed us to fit our luggage in, the seats were very comfortable and the windows were extremely clean. So we rode all the way from Wilmington down to Washington, DC where we arrived seventeen minutes late but we did not mind. It had been a very good Acela Express trip. I went into the Club Acela using my Guest Rewards Select card which allows me access to any lounge on the Amtrak system.
After I checked in, I sat in the upper area proceeded to write the Capitol Trolley Museum story and the B&O Museum story as I enjoyed the atmosphere of the lounge. About 2:00, I took my luggage to the storage room and went to McDonalds and brought it back to Club Acela to eat. One of the maids in the building informed me that outside food was not allowed. To me this made no sense so I quickly finished my meal of hot cakes and sausage and everything was fine. About 3:45 PM, a Red Cap came and escorted me to the Capitol Limited train 29. I had lower level seating and found a seat before the section filled up and then Bob, Elizabeth and Robin joined me. Elizabeth sat with me and we worked on stories while Bob and Robin sat separately. When we walked out to the train, we noticed that Amtrak had three of their private cars on the rear of the train. Departure time came and went and we finally left twenty-five minutes late. I asked the conductor what the delays were and he responded "Those three cars on the back of the train". We worked on stories until I knew we were nearing Point of Rocks. Since I knew Elizabeth wanted to see Point of Rocks again, this time from the train, we went to the lounge car. We saw Point of Rocks and stayed until after Harpers Ferry when I went down and bought a hot dog. We continued to work on stories most of the way to Cumberland, which we arrived at an hour and eight minutes late.
We walked off the train, very glad to finally be here and then ran into John Goodman, Dan Meyer and Dawn Holmberg who kindly took our luggage to the hotel in their car while we walked. I was brave enough to take the underpass while the others waited for the Amtrak train to clear. So I checked in first then Bob and Elizabeth did so too. Our room was track side on the second floor so we would be able to see plenty of CSX action in Cumberland, while the Alkire's room was on the street side of the hotel. We then called it a fairly early night since we had a big day tomorrow.
This morning I was up as usual at 5:30 AM then went to MacDonald's. I called Enterprise to have them pick me up and the girl there said she would be there in a few minutes. Although the paperwork was done rather quickly, the girl left to gas up the car so that delayed us forty minutes. Once we got the car, a Nissan Altima, we picked up Bob and Elizabeth and headed toward Cass. This was a very interesting drive. It first started when I missed the turn to Highway 28 so Elizabeth got on her phone and guided me. This took us to a road that said toll bridge ahead. So we pulled up to the booth, the lady held a stick out with a cup on it and I told her to move it closer so I could put the dollar bill in that Elizabeth gave me. We then proceeded to the bridge and drove across it very slowly since I was not sure it would hold up. We made it across, much to our glee and delight, and continued down Highway 28, passing through such places as Moorefield, Petersburg, Seneca Rocks and finally Greenbank before we arrived at Cass at 11:26 AM.
Mapquest was completely correct saying it would take two hours and twenty-eight minutes to get there. We stopped by the engine since we had a few minutes to spare. We stopped at the depot immediately to pick up our tickets for the noon train. Elizabeth, Bob and Robin and I were assigned to Car G with a bathroom. At noon, the train started up the grade toward Bald Knob. Bob, Elizabeth and Robin are making their first trip on the Cass Scenic Railroad and this was my fourth trip. Cass Scenic Shay 2 was the power for trip today. We all enjoyed the climb and the sounds of the engine working extremely hard on the unique grades on the mountain. At Bald Knob we had time to look around then reboarded. Elizabeth came back and joined me and we rode down the mountain in a rain storm which made our trip even more memorable. We made it back down to Cass and the trip was really interesting and Bob, Elizabeth and Robin all loved it as much as I did. The good news is that we get to go from Cass to Old Spruce tomorrow and ride up the mountain again. We drove back via Elkins so they were able to see part of the route along the Shavers Fork of the Cheat River. We stopped at a Subway in Elkins and picked up dinner to go and returned to Cumberland at 8:50 PM. We picked up NRHS convention badges and goodie bags and then worked on stories.
Tuesday morning, Elizabeth and I were bus hosts for the trip down to Cass and then from Elkins later on in the day. We both got up at 5:30 AM and met John Goodman in Harrigan's Restaurant. After John gave us our vests we walked over to McDonald's where I had hot cakes and sausage. We then waited in front of the hotel with our clipboards of passenger rosters and waited for the buses to arrive. Of course, they arrived late and once we put the bottled water on the buses, the passengers could choose one of three buses for their ride to Cass. I had 35 of my usual riders on my bus. We left Cumberland and I taken my laptop so I could convert pictures on the trip to Cass and the return trip from Elkins. I worked for about an hour south and about an hour north to get four stories ready to be written later. That is when the FileZilla acted up and stopped us from uploading stories. So from that point on, I gave a running commentary of things to see, such as Seneca Rocks and explained Mountain Rail to everybody, told them that we were not going to ride the Durbin Rocket today and pointed out the Greenbank observatory dishes.
From here, it was a very short drive to the Town of Cass, our destination. Before they detrained, I discussed the bathroom situation on the train and to make sure everyone used the bathrooms in Cass before boarding. We all went to the Last Run Restaurant where I had the hot dog special for $3.00 which included chips and lemonade. During that, John Goodman told me that Cass had changed the plan and we would have to pass out tickets to all the passengers, who were all over Cass. Luckily I told my passengers to be back at the train at 11:40 so a third of them were taken care of. Elizabeth had done basically the same with her passengers. The others picked up their tickets also, which left us a few minutes to photograph the two steam engines that would be double-heading our trip today which were Cass Scenic Shay 4 and Cass Scenic Shay 2. We then boarded our assigned cars on the train. Robin, Bob and Elizabeth were in Car A and I was in Car D, which allowed a better chance to photograph the two engines working up the grade together. We retraced the climb to Old Spruce with everyone on the train enjoying the sounds of our two engine pushing us up the steep grades. There were plenty of photos taken by our NRHS members as the train climbed the grade.
All too soon we arrived at Old Spruce and I led the way to the Cheat Salamander to Elkins. This took longer than I would have expected as some of our members lingered about and did not do as directed. I was the first one on my coach and I saved a group of four seats, one for me and others for Elizabeth, Bob and Robin. When I saw them come close, I called out of the window to get their attention and did the same for Robin so he would know which car to go in. We took our seats and soon were on our way toward Elkins. Trying to shoot out or through the window was not going to work so Elizabeth and I made the decision to stand out on the back platform until my new mileage starts at the Twin Bridges and ends where I was dropped off on the New Tygart Flyer at Cheat Falls back in 2007. This was the best way to enjoy this piece of new rail mileage. After crossing the second Twin Bridge, my new mileage started and we were running through the Monongahela National Forest and along the Shavers Fork of the Cheat River. I kept an eye on the sky as we knew rain showers would be around us this early afternoon. We went through one after Cheat Bridge and had another during our photo runbys at Linan. We did a double photo runby both with rain but the sun came out during the second. The train consisted of Chesapeake & Ohio F7A 7094, Western Maryland BL2 82, West Virginia Central United States Mail Railway Post Office 706, West Virginia Central coach and Western Maryland coach 835. Once on the move again, later at Cheat Falls my new rail mileage ended. After the final crossing of the Shavers Fork of the Cheat River. I went to get some lunch and enjoyed a bag of potato chips, lemonade and six cookies. I returned to the rear platform and talked with Steve Barry, Elizabeth and our conductor before Robin finally came back. The train ran through the only tunnel on this railroad, a 1,735 foot affair and that meant we were almost to Elkins. We crossed all the major highways and streets before we backed around the northwest leg of the wye into the Elkins station. I was first off the train and headed to the engines.
With that, our first NRHS 2018 train trip came to an end. I started my bus host duties and passed out water to my passengers as they returned to the bus. We left Elkins at 5:30 PM and I worked on pictures for about an hour before just sitting back and relaxing the rest of the way back. From Keyser back to Cumberland we ran through a heavy thunderstorm and this made me think just how great our bus driver is doing his job. We returned to the Ramada Inn and I worked on stories the rest of the evening with Elizabeth before we called it a night.
The next morning, I got up at 5:30 AM as usual and worked on stories then went down to Harrigan's Restaurant at 6:00 AM where I had breakfast. Robin had arisen, had his breakfast and then did his laundry. I had done mine the night before. Elizabeth came to the room and we put up stories then started writing the next one and let her do that while I returned the rental car to Enterprise. The driver gave me a good tour of the other side of the tracks of the hotel to get around a freight train then got me back to the hotel. We all met at 10:15 AM and walked the five short blocks to the Western Maryland station. We then all went inside the waiting room to the ticket counter where I picked up Robin's and my complimentary tickets then Bob and Elizabeth bought theirs. With a very limited supply of extra large T-shirts, I had to buy onet I really did not like but I do support the tourist railroads I ride. I then walked out to the east end of the platform to get ready for the train to pull in from their yard. I heard a horn and knew the train was on its way, then walked to the ramp to board. Robin, Bob and Elizabeth were all making their first trip aboard this railroad and I was making my second trip; the first on was on 7/14/2006 and was pulled by Western Maryland Scenic Railroad 734. Elizabeth, the British Spy, and I went to the vestibule where we would ride the whole way to Frostburg. As soon as we left I photographed the entire route including the Narrows, Helmstetter's Curve, Brush Tunnel and Mountain View before we arrived at Frostburg. There I photographed Western Maryland GP30 501 turning on the Frostburg turntable from the top viewing point. We all went to the cafe at the north end of the complex in Frostburg where I had a hot dog and an ice cream bar and later a Coca-Cola. After that we walked back across the street to photograph the station. We then reboarded the train and a nice quiet trip back to Cumberland. From the station, we walked over to next attraction in town, the C&O Canal. I took pictures of some of the CSX action then returned to the hotel and worked on stories until about 6:15 PM and went to Roy Rogers where I had a two-piece chicken dinner which did not impress me very much. We returned to the room and finished two stories before we called it a night.
The next morning, I went to Harrigan's Restaurant to have breakfast and ate it with my friend Joe and went back upstairs to the room, awoke Robin and worked on stories. Elizabeth was supposed to come by but never made it. She got stuck in the elevator between floors with nine other people so the Cumberland Fire Department had to rescue them and everyone had to use the stairs to reach the buses this morning. Just goes to prove that every trip is an adventure! So once the fire department left the hotel, the buses arrived and once loaded, we made the short forty minute ride to the Potomac Eagle for the second trip of this convention. Once we all arrived and the train was opened, the First Class passengers went to the left and coach passengers went to the right. I led the way for the coach passengers and took my seat on the bench in the covered open air observation car and soon were joined by Robin and Elizabeth.
The open gondola car is only opened when the train goes through "The Trough" for great viewing of this unique passage. I pointed out all the main points to my friends as this was their first trip on this railroad and I was making my third trip aboard the Potomac Eagle. Steve Barry joined us and we all had a good time. They stopped the train then announced that the open air gondola car was now open. The passengers flocked to this unique car and would all have to ride in it all the way through "The Trough" which is always an incredible experience. We spotted three bald eagles and had the first one take off from a tree on our side of the river so you saw the bird's great wing span as it flew out of that tree. We crossed the Sycamore Bridge then stopped to let the passengers out of the gondola car then backed across the bridge for the first photo runby of the day. Steve and I led the way off the train. The sunny side offered too tight of a view for my liking so I went back to the other side of the bridge and was at the waterline of the South Branch of the Potomac River. I then switched to the higher location and caught photo runby 2 there. We reloaded the train and headed south, running through Morefield and beside the largest freight shipper, a large grain elevator before I had some lunch then good conversations with several groups of passengers. We ran to Petersburg where I had come to on the Virginia Rails 2010 train but kept going. We got to the end of track and you never know when you will get new rail mileage on a trip. They switched ends and Elizabeth and worked on the next story as we traveled north. We worked to Petersburg and north of town we stopped for the next photo runbys of the trip. We returned to Romney at 4:40 PM and everyone had an opportunity to visit the gift shop before the buses left at 5:30 PM and returned to the Ramada Inn. I had dinner of buffalo wings then worked on stories and Elizabeth took over while I packed my stuff up since we are leaving tomorrow night for home.
I woke up at 5:00 AM realizing that this was my final day of the 2018 NRHS convention. To me, it is always a sad day when this day comes because I will miss all my NHRS friends and family. So I worked on the Potomac Eagle story until 6:00 AM when I awoke Robin and went to McDonald's for hot cakes and sausage. I came back and got the story half done when it was time to take my luggage down to the storage room which we would reclaim later before the Amtrak train arrives. With that done, I officially checked out of the hotel then went out in front of the hotel to Bus No.2 which was already being loaded. I took over and forty-five people boarded for the one-hour bus ride, much to the amusement and happiness of my bus riders. I worked and finished the Potomac Eagle story from yesterday so I was officially now caught up, only having to write this current story before we depart tonight. The buses arrived up and all of my passengers, myself included, made a bee line for the gift shop but since I was leading the way, I had a picture to take before I went into the former Pennsylvania Railroad Hollidaysburg station, now the Everett Railroad gift shop.
I then bought the first of two Everett Railroad T-shirts and returned outside when I heard the steam engine beginning to head to the front of the train. I walked back across the tracks just in time to watch Everett Railroad 2-6-0 11 getting put on the front of our train. We all boarded and I took a seat in the back of coach 104 and was ready for an interesting trip on a piece of track I had never ridden. We left on time and started down my new mileage with Elizabeth and I on the back platform of our rear coach.. Bob Alkire was the winner of the first cab ride aboard Everett 11 today and really enjoyed his ride between Hollidaysburg and Kladder. This was the first time for all of us riding this railroad. Later we all detrained at Kladder for the photo runby with me also taking pictures. After that we all reboarded and continued east down the Everett Railroad. We then came to Brook which is the division with Claysburg heading to the right and Martinsburg, our destination, to the left. Rolling east to Rodman, we detrained for another runby with more photo line pictures taken and had a double runby. The train ran through Taylor Township and at Roaring Fork, we ran by the Roaring Springs Pennsylvania Railroad station and Pennsylvania Railroad caboose 477908 on display. After Milepost 18, the landscape changed and reminded us of Lancaster County where the Strasburg Railroad runs. We came to Martinsburg Junction which has a wye allowing the engine to be turned for the trip back to Hollidaysburg. This is as far as our train went. We would head back to Roaring Spring for a photo runby and lunch. I visited the combine car and bought three items for three dollars to have for lunch. Only the photographers were allowed to detrain for the runby at Roaring Spring. After the runby I asked everyone to line up for lunch and we were joined by the other coach passengers. We spent a good thirty minutes having them go through the food lines which included their boxed lunch, ice cream for dessert and a bottled water from the combine car. I gave a ten minute countdown and only reached four minutes when everyone was back on the train and when I said three, we closed up the train and left at 1:00 PM.
Elizabeth and I took the pictures out of the camera for this story and converted them to the correct size. We proofed the Potomac Eagle story and then returned to Hollidaysburg where I was first off and quickly walked back to my bus where my fifty-four passengers followed directions and we returned safely to Cumberland. I would like to thank all my bus riders for the last three trips who followed directions expertly and efficiently. In addition, I would like to thank the NRHS for the excellent convention here in Cumberland including John Goodman, Chairman, Skip Waters, Dan Meyer and Dawn Holmberg, Steve Siegrist, Steve Barry and Bob and Elizabeth for their excellent service and for making this convention a major success. Back at the hotel, my duties ended and unfortunately I had to turn in my vest, radio and my clipboard and take in the bottled water from the bottom of the bus. Elizabeth and I sat on the floor and wrote this story before we went to the Crabby Pig for dinner with me having a very large steak for dinner because we refused to eat the salt-filled food Amtrak is providing passengers on the Capitol Limited and we could not stay for the banquet. We walked back from the Crabby Pig and got our luggage out of storage.
I led the way and had to walk through the tunnel under the CSX mainline due to a CSX stack train blocking the grade crossing. At the station I met three other NRHS members, two going to Seattle and one going to Chicago to get home to Rockford. They took pictures of us before a CSX helper set came by us. The Capitol Limited arrived and the first stop was for the engineer change. The conductor scanned everyone's tickets who were waiting to board the train. The second stop was for the first sleeper. We all were on the third stop and we had roomette 4 and the Alkires had Bedroom D. Our sleeping car attendant was Leroy. We all met in the lounge car for the ride over Sand Patch and beyond. Leroy made up the room and I called it quits after Connellsville and retired to the upper bunk for the last time on this trip.
Early the next morning at 4:15 AM I was awoken to claps of thunder and a major light show of lightning along with loud pouring rain. I arose then rode the lounge car at a table for most of the rest of the trip to Chicago. I got an orange juice from the first class lounge attendant then at Toledo, took some fresh air then after they ate, Bob and Elizabeth joined me at my table with Robin arriving later. We rode together all the way to Comiskey Park in Chicago where we returned to our room and packed. We all detrained and made our way to the Metropolitan Lounge at Union Station. After that I took Elizabeth first on a tour of Chicago Union Station then the Food Court before I bought us weekend passes for METRA so we could ride out to Aurora on a beautiful day. But first we stopped at Gold Coast for a pair of Char Dogs which I ate on the train trip. This was Elizabeth's first time to ride the full length of this Metra route. We toured the Aurora Roundhouse and took photos of CB&Q caboose 13690. We returned to Chicago and in the Metropolitan Lounge I updated my rail mileage then packed everything. Bob and Robin returned from their train trip to Elburn and we all waited for them to call our last long distance train of the trip. At 2:25 PM they called train 3 and I said goodbye to Bob and Elizabeth before I walked out behind the red cap cart then passed him when he stopped at the coaches. I boarded the sleeper New Mexico for the two night journey to home. Robin joined me a short time later.
We had Roomette 3 with Mike as our sleeping car attendant for this trip aboard the Southwest Chief. We left Chicago on time and headed down the triple track speedway. We obtained a 6:15 PM dinner reservation and Robin was enjoying the new rail mileage to Galesburg that he did not get on the eastbound trip 19 days ago. We stopped in Naperville, Mendota and Princeton before rolling down the final miles for Robin to Galesburg where his new rail mileage ended. At 6:15 PM we were called to the dining car and I had the Signature Steak and chocolate cake for dessert. As the train rolled across northeast Missouri, I wondered if that would be my final trip aboard a through Southwest Chief. I hope Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson changes his mind about his bussing passengers from Dodge City to Albuquerque. The train did a double stop at La Plata and about Carrolton, I made up the room and we called it our second last night of this unique trip.
The last full day started at Garden City. I changed into fresh clothes then went to the dining car for a breakfast of pancakes and bacon. After that meal I went and shaved feeling like a new man. We ran over several miles of slow tracks on the way to Lamar where I called myself in sick for the first day of the new school year. I had planned this with my school in advance. Robin got up and he headed to the dining car for his breakfast. The train stopped in Lamar and I put on my DVD of Alice Cooper Brutally Planet Live that took me to our crew change point at La Junta and a fresh air break. At noon we went to the dining car and I had an Angus burger which was very good. I tried to find those missing pictures but had no luck. We neared Grants and the Internet started working for the first time on this trip. I played Solitaire all the way to Flagstaff and took a long fresh air break on a fantastic summer evening. I made up the room for the final night of the trip and climbed into bed, thinking what an incredible trip it had been.
I was up at 5:00 AM and went to the dining car for my final meal of the trip, pancakes and bacon, as the train stopped in Barstow. After breakfast I got into my work pants, dressed then shaved for the last time on this trip. The train stopped in Victorville then started the climb over Cajon Pass on a very beautiful early August morning. There were plenty of eastbound trains climbing Cajon Pass. The train stopped in San Bernardino then Riverside and made the final sprint to Fullerton where Robin and I detrained for the second to the last time.
First the North Elevator was not working so we had to drag our luggage up the stairs and then they were working on the south Metrolink machine but finished so we bought our tickets. Three minutes later we boarded the Metrolink train for home. I called a taxi to meet us at the station and it was a quick three stop trip to Santa Ana and we taxied home, ending a great 2018 NRHS Convention trip. That was until we reached the front door and the lock would not work. As I had been gone, I had locked up the house completely. With no way in and Robin's car keys inside, I had to call a locksmith and after about an hour's work we finally got in through the den door. He had to drill it out and replaced the lock with a key that I had. Robin then went home and I had to call in sick to work again. I ran some errands before finishing this story, ending this adventure.
I started back at Heninger Elementary, now working 5.75 hours a day with me taking afternoon train and weekend trips. Metrolink started using their new F125's and Amtrak acquired new Charger locomotives for their Pacific Surfliner fleet. Bill Compton and I made a Cajon Pass trip on Amtrak's Southwest Chief with Heritage unit 184 on the point and managed to capture four trains in one picture at Sullivan's Curve. After that, I took many trips to Oceanside, Fullerton and Laguna Niguel after work and on weekends to Oceanside, Los Angeles, Solana Beach and San Diego. It had been another fantastic year in my life.
All these stories can be found on my web site athttp://www.trainweb.org/chris/index.html.
My rail mileage was 1,513,012.3 on January 1, 2018 and on December 31, 2018 it was 1,560,286.3 with a grand total of 47,274.0. The year started with 8384 Days of Sobriety on January 1, 2018 and ended with 8748 on my 61st Birthday on December 31, 2018.
May each of you have the best holiday season ever and may next year be one of the best in your life. Take care of each and everyone of you, be safe and until next year, goodbye!
Chris Day 8748