The Winter 2001 Trip I was going to take no matter what was happening in my life. I needed a break and a train trip is always a great escape from the reality of daily life. I booked my trip east on the Southwest Chief then on the Three Rivers to Philadelphia for a two night stay. I wanted to ride SEPTA and this trip would be my chance to sample their service. Now I wanted also to ride the Acela again but going north I would do Business Class to experience riding there. Now for the book, if and when I do get the project started I would need some pictures of Electric Trains moving, so I decided to go south to Wilmington before heading north giving me two hours to shoot pictures of anything that would come through. Now December 31st is my birthday so if the Maine Service started I would take it, if not I would ride "T" commuter trains. The train for Maine had been a major project for some thirteen years and in November they finally announced that they would start The Downeaster on December 15th, 2001. The day they went on sale I called and purchased a Business Class roundtrip adding it to my See America Trip and was the first person the reservation agent in that office had booked on an Amtrak train to Maine. I would then take Acela First Class to Washington, DC for a night, then ride the Capitol Limited back to Chicago and the Southwest Chief back home. I had reserved all of the hotels so all I had to do was live my life to Christmas Day, coach JV Boys Basketball at McFadden and write stories for this web site which I am proud that I have done as many as I have, in fact all of them since my last trip in June.Surfliner 581 12/25/2001
Once again, I was standing on the platform at Santa Ana on Christmas Day but this year I was battling a cold waiting for my northbound train to Los Angeles. The Surfliner pulled in right on time and with the start of the motion of the train I was off to Maine. As we headed north, I was treated to a glorious sunset, one of the best California sunsets that I had ever witnessed in my life. After Fullerton we traveled west in the dark through Pico Rivera where the homes were really into the spirit of the season with Christmas lights. As we climbed over the flyover across the Los Angeles River and the Alameda Corridor Project, the entire skyline of the City of the Angels came into view with the city hall building of Los Angeles illuminated. The train arrived into Los Angeles Union Station eight minutes early and I waited for my train to Chicago.Southwest Chief 4 12/25/2001
I walked down into the station and stood in front of Gate F. Woody Lambrith my four night a week conductor stopped by to wish me a safe trip. Moments later, they turned the sleeping car passengers lose and I caught up with Woody as he walked the long tunnel to his train. I walked up to Track 12 and found my sleeping car Iowa along with Ken who had come down to see me off on my trip and we visited. My attendant did not do a thing. He did not introduce himself on the platform or help me with my bags. On the train later he told me what time he would make up the room not asking me what time I wanted the room made. I settled into my room and we pulled out on time before we backed down onto our mail and express cars. We headed east as I walked back to the lounge car to enjoy our leaving Los Angeles. I met our assistant conductor Joe Nappe and thank God he was on the train on that night. I enjoyed a Turkey Dinner with people who had travelled by ocean freighter and other exotic transportation means. One of the woman blasted Amtrak for fifteen minutes something I did not need to be hearing at the start of a trip. When I went into my pocket to leave a tip a problem was found. I had taken my car keys which were needed at home to move my car off of the street so my car would not get ticketed on street sweeping day. Thinking quickly. I found Joe and we placed the keys in an envelope with SNA on it with our home phone number on the outside of it. Joe would take them to Kingman and return to Los Angeles with them where he would pass the envelope to Chris Nay who would drop it off at Santa Ana who would call my mother on Thursday if everything worked out right. It was another case of everything works out if you let it along with a little help from my friends. Funny, a Cheap Trick song title along with a Beatles song title. Well, Cheap Trick did sound a little bit like the Beatles in their harmonies. I made up my room at Riverside and slept well into Arizona.
12/26/2001 Waking up just west of Winslow in a sleeping car is quite a change from waking up in coach west of Williams and I went to have breakfast. I had Pancakes and Sausage with guests from West Covina and San Clemente and discussions about the growth of Southern California, flying and trains. The next two days would be of rest as I was just going to put my feet up and watch to world go by outside my window. We left the high desert of Arizona for the red mesas of New Mexico crossing the continental divide at Thoreau before starting the long descent to the Rio Grande River. It was an absolutely beautiful clear morning with Mt Taylor standing guard to the north. Richard the phantom car attendant has done nothing in the car as passengers are having to sit on their beds as I had folded mine back. I napped from Grants to Albuquerque where we arrived an hour early. I asked Richard to make up my room before we arrived but every time I saw him he was talking on his cell phone. It would be nice if he did his job as I had never had a room made up after nine in the morning in all of my travels. I bought post cards and sun tanned for the hour and returned to the room where nothing had been done. After we were twenty minutes north of Albuquerque Richard finally made the room up at 1:15 P.M. We headed north to Lamy, Apache Canyon and Glorieta Pass. Our crew had to hand throw the switch at Chapple and we lost twenty minutes waiting on the westbound Southwest Chief.
After Las Vegas to Wagon Mound was where the sunset took place and I had Prime Rib for dinner. Mental note: no more Amtrak Prime Rib. I sat in my room with the lights out listening to U2's "Unforgettable Fire" as we climbed and descended Raton Pass. Once we pulled into Trinidad and feeling a long night of rest might help my cold I made my bed and climbed into it for the night.
12/27/2001 I woke up in De Soto, Kansas as they were finishing up the 1,000 mile inspection and adding a road railer. I went to the dining car feeling much better and repeated yesterday's breakfast though this time I had the Kansas River outside my window. I showered as the train passed through BNSF's Argentine Yard and shaved as we were being refueled. At Kansas City I saw the Kansas City Southern Christmas Train and the passengers going to St Louis got in early enough to take the morning train the Anne Rutledge there instead of having to spend half a day in Kansas City. I enjoyed the flyover through Kansas City and the trip across Missouri into Iowa. We crossed the Mississippi River and at Galesburg the train stopped right at the rear of Burlington 3006 a 4-6-4 which was worth a picture as we pulled out thirty four minutes late. At Mendota there was another Burlington which was CB&Q 4758 sitting on display. Near Chicago Richard finally started doing his job and became a little friendly. Too bad it took over 2,200 miles for him to kick in. Our LSA and three different conductors during the trip told me to make sure I called Service Guaranteed people about Richard. We backed into Chicago Union Station thirty five minutes early on one of the most relaxing trips that I had ever taken.Chicago 1 12/27/2001
I walked off the train and went straight to the ticket counter to check on sleeping car space on train 40 with no luck and called home with no luck with the keys yet. My mom misses me as I do her but I will truly miss her with all of my heart when she and my wonderful niece Stephanie go to New Zealand, Tasmania and Australia three days after I get back. I had a pair of Char Dogs and bought John Grisham's "A Painted House". Bad luck on outbound trains as first the Texas Eagle was delayed for two hours, the Twilight Limited by equipment servicing problems and now the Lakeshore Limited is added to the delayed list. The Kentucky Cardinal had no sleeping car tonight. Even the Capitol Limited was taking a delay but at least it was boarding and left twenty minutes late. My Three Rivers was late in getting to the station but since the mail and express cars were already attached, we would be on time by the time we reached our first station stop of Hammond-Whiting.The Three Rivers 40 12/27/2001
I would not have thought it to be possible in the last days of 2001 to board Amfleet coach 25090 with the original God orange off colored seats that they were delivered with. After riding all of these cars with the blue seats I had thought they had all been redone. I found a large right hand side window seat as the car filled up before we left Chicago and when I curled up to fall asleep at Hammond-Whiting the Three Rivers was right on time.
12/28/2001 I awoke as the train was running along the Monongahela River on a dark overcast morning with a good ground snow cover. We passed a waterfall and the industries along the shoreline as we made our way towards Pittsburgh. We arrived at Pittsburgh and I stepped off for a few pictures. Leaving town in a light snowfall we had made great time over the CSX last night and now we would get to see how Norfolk Southern handles the train. I spent my morning reading "A Painted House" as we were heading east down the NS Pittsburgh to Philadelphia mainline through Greensburg, Latrobe and Johnstown. It was a time to just sit back and enjoy the train kicking up the snow as we climbed Gallitzan Summit of the Alleghenies. We went through the New Portage Tunnel as we started our descent down the eastbound grade. We rounded the Horseshoe Curve with me taking pictures out the window.
I really enjoyed my trip around the famous curve. We ran down to Altoona and I spent the trip along the Junita River reading "A Painted House" while we traveled east stopping at Tyronne, Huntington and Lewistown. We followed the Junita River all the way down to the junction with the Susquehanna River which we crossed on the world's largest and widest stone arch bridge made out of forty eight arches of Pennsylvania White Sandstone before we arrived at Harrisburg. We headed east passing the cooling towers of the Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant before running through Lancaster and Paola prior to arriving at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia ten minutes early.Philadelphia 12/28/2001
I walked straight to the SEPTA ticket window to get my Trail Pass for my weekend SEPTA riding and all of the E-mail they had sent me had been wrong, I could not purchase a Trail Pass because they only sell them through Wednesday. A nice and understanding ticket agent then arranged for me to ride over to Suburban Station on my first ever SEPTA trip and was sent to customer services. There I met the station manager of Suburban Station, Donna L. Hayes who solved my problem in a most friendly and efficient manner. I hopped on the next train to Market East Station then walked through Chinatown to the Clarion Suite on Race Street. I checked in, dropped off my luggage and returned to the Market East Station to take the weekday only R6 line out to Cynwyd. I took SEPTA train 0659 out to Cynwyd and out of the window of the brightly lit cars I could see the skyline of the City of Brotherly Love and the outside of 30th Street Station. At Cynwyd I called home with no sign of the keys before I took 7662 back to Suburban Station and the next movement east to Market Street East Station. I picked up some KFC for dinner before returning to my hotel for the night.12/29/2001 SEPTA riding
Up early for R1 train 1107 out to the airport to get that line done and out of the way. We ran out to the airport and even at 7:00 A.M. all the airlines already had long lines. It was one of those times in my life I was truly glad to be a train rider. The train that I had rode out on turned to become an R3 train to West Trenton 4308. The airport line has four terminals and SEPTA is a very efficient way to get from downtown to the plane. On my return trip it started to get light so I began to see the countryside. We passed through all three downtown stations and once again I was riding on new trackage. We returned to daylight at Temple University. Out to Fern Rock it was row houses, after that single family homes. I will ride out to West Trenton but on my return I will hop off at Jenkintown saving me having to backtrack into downtown after my first three trips. I looked for the waterfall at Neshaminy Falls and east of the station to the north of the tracks I spotted a small waterfall. We crossed the Delaware River into New Jersey before coming to a stop at West Trenton.
As I stepped off the train, I was greeted to a parade of a reenactment of the March to the Battle of Trenton after the crossing of the Delaware River on Christmas Eve 1776. As usual I lucked into seeing something special. I boarded SEPTA R3 4121 back to Jenkintown.
Detraining at Jenkintown and after crossing below the tracks, ten minutes later I boarded the R5 train 1530 for Doylestown and sat back enjoying the ride. We headed out through rolling hills with the train passing through many cuts along the way. The reason I am doing these rides beside the new mileage is to see more of the Philadelphia area and SEPTA is the perfect means of seeing it all. We arrived at Doylestown with me visiting a Boston Market for the first time and I tried to assist a deaf woman make a phone call with no luck. I took R5 1351 back to Jenkintown to connect with a train to Warminister and to use the bathroom in the station there. Under the tracks through the tunnel and up onto the platform and here came R2 train 1126 which I rode out to the end of the line at Warminister. The R2 line from Glenside to Warminister I named the "Back Yard Line" and runs along a slope of a hill overlooking a valley below. I shot pictures of various SEPTA equipment before calling home. During my layover here, I planned my next trip which would be on the R8 line. I would ride back to Market East relaxing. On the train back into town I finished reading "A Painted House" as it was another excellent John Grisham book. I really love his style of writing. Looking at all of my schedules I made a decision not to try to finish all of the SEPTA lines up on this trip as I will leave the R6 to Norristown and R3 to Elwyn for a future trip here. I rode back into Market East, found a bathroom before going down to track 3B for the R8 1837. We left on time but got held at Zoo Tower for a late running Crescent making the final sprint to New York City. This gave me a really good chance to enjoy both of the Zoos, the tower and the Philadelphia Zoo next door. This line runs out 6.6 miles from North Philadelphia on the Northeast Corridor to Chestnut Hills West showing Philadelphia from urban decay to nice large single family homes. After a few pictures at the end of the line, I reboarded the same equipment now train 1844 back through downtown out to Fox Chase. We went east the same way as I rode this morning out to Newtown Jct where we turned off northeastward running out to Fox Chase. After a few pictures, I visited a CVC Pharmacy telling the Pharmacist my symptoms with her recommending Robitussion CF as I was still fighting this cold. I reboarded train 1489 and relaxed all the way back to East Market Street. I boarded my final SEPTA roundtrip of the day, the R7 1726 to Chestnut Hills East. Back over the same route I was just on until Wayne Junction where we veered off to the northwest. It was funny that the trip through the tunnel was quicker or at least seemed like it and in no time we were at the Temple University stop. Looking out at night you really can not get the same feel for the place like Germantown as you could in daylight. I had my headphones on and made this roundtrip listening to music. I detrained briefly at Chestnut Hills East before returning to Market East Station on train R7 2727 ending an interesting day of riding most of the SEPTA commuter rail system. I will have to make a trip back here soon to finish off SEPTA. I detrained at Market East found some dinner before returning to the hotel for the night. This Clarion Suite located a short five block walk in Chinatown was an excellent hotel and I would recommend staying there in the future.
12/30/2001 Wake up call, shower and a check out finished my stay at the Clarion Suite before I walked back to Market East through the deserted streets of Chinatown. There in complete silence, I waited for the R1 2017 to take me back to 30th Street Station and my connection with Amtrak. SEPTA provided me with excellent service and was an educational experience. There is so much I had ridden yet besides the two R lines. There is the streetcar lines and high speed lines plus PATCO. I will definitely be coming back to Philadelphia in the future. We arrived at 30th Street Station and I took the elevator with my luggage cart into the station. Having everything on wheels has made these last few trips easier to travel but does take a little bit of planning. I had my usual Hot Cakes and Sausage breakfast, watched the station information board flip and looked at the new Amtrak Northeast Timetable effective January 28th noting all of the new Acela Express trains plus the Maine Service that I would be riding tomorrow as I waited for my next train.The Carolinian 79 12/30/2001
The one station ride is a positioning move to allow me to take some pictures in Wilmington and to board the Acela Express there. It was a quick trip to Wilmington with the Delaware River looking very beautiful on this Sunday morning. I detrained using the elevator before paying to store my bags for a couple of hours while I shot pictures of passing trains on platform 1.
I shot four southbound trains: one Acela Express 2201, Acela Regionals 131,153 and the Fast Mail 12. Northbound which I shot in much better light was Metroliner 204, The Vermonter and Acela Regional 152. The wind was really blowing strong and cold but I was protected by the station's wall. After I reclaimed my bags and went back up to the platform for track 2, I really met that cold wind face to face. I braved it and won by getting a picture of my Acela Express 2250 as it arrived at Wilmington.Acela Express 2250 12/30/2001
Once on board, I walked four cars before I finally found an aisle seat on this sold out train. I decided to take this seat even though the guy sitting by the window who was reading a book never once looked up and out the window until Newark. I put on my headphones on with the music I had planned for this trip and decided to read another John Grisham novel I picked up called "Skipping Christmas". I read the book until Newark and riding an aisle seat on the Acela Express in Business Class was interesting as I could see out of both sides of the train through the Acela's large windows. Riding across the New Jersey Meadowlands, I got my first look at the New York City skyline since the September 11th, 2001 events. I felt sadness as if I had lost two of my best friends who I had first met back in 1971 on my very first trip to the Big Apple in the camper. We plunged into the Hudson River Tunnel with me being able to move to a large right hand window seat as people were about to detrain at New York's Penn Station. At Penn Station I got off for a quick picture of the train and got caught up on the writing of this story. We left New York City fifteen minutes late straight into the East River Tunnel. The approach to the Hells Gate Bridge gave a much better view of the altered New York City skyline with sadness hitting me once more. My twin friends are forever gone. We poked down the tracks of Metro North until west of New Haven where a sensor in the pantograph thought that it was going to cause damage to the catenary so it lowered itself. The crew inspected the situation before the rear pantograph was raised and off we went. Al from Boston was sitting next to me since New York and we talked until about halfway to Boston. The shoreline running was extremely beautiful with the bright sunlight accenting nature's beauty at best. The bridges at New London brought the Acela Express to a crawl before the engineer opened it up through Rhode Island to 150 MPH and was the train ever so smooth at that speed. We paused at Providence, stopped at Route 128 to let Al and his lady guest off before we arrived at Back Bay only ten minutes late. I detrained and hung around about ten minutes to shoot outbound Acela Express 2259 before walking to the Chandler Inn for my two night stay. I watched the Raiders lose another close game and at half time I walked to a deli four blocks away for some chicken wings before I watched a little more television. I called home finding out the keys had finally arrived there and called it a night.MTBA "T" 151/162 12/31/2001
To start my 44th birthday, I was up at 5:00 A.M. to walk over to Back Bay Station to take the Orange Subway Line to North Station adjacent to the Fleet Center where the Boston Bruins and Celtics play. This building replaced the old Boston Gardens. I waited for the ticket office to open before I purchased a roundtrip to Newburyport before I visited a Dunkin' Donuts prior to walking out to the waiting train T 151. The train left on time with five passengers abroad and I headed out onto ex Boston and Maine trackage. We crossed the Charles River before passing the maintenance shops prior to curving off to the northeast. We passed the industries before the Mystic River appeared in the east looking beautiful in the twilight before we crossed over it. We ran through Chelsea before crossing the Pines River, passed the Bear Creek Wildlife Sanctuary and the Sagus River. We ran through Lynn, Swampcott and passed through a tunnel under Salem before passing through that town. We crossed over Salem Inlet, went through Beverly after which the line to Rockport takes off to the east. We crossed a headland which extends east to Cape May to reach Hamilton. We crossed the Ipswich River and went into the siding to meet inbound train 158 before stopping at Ipswich. We crossed the Parker River before the train passed through the lowlands and unspoiled forest to the train's final stop at Newburyport. I detrained out into a very cold perfectly clear and very windy morning for a few quick pictures before returning to the warmth of the now T 162 where I found a Boston Globe reading it all as the train made all eleven stops on the way to North Station on the return trip.The Downeaster 681 12/31/2001
As I walked into North Station I was met by William who was in a full conductor uniform and his grandmother Bary who was along for the ride. I had been contacted by William via Trainorders.com. We boarded Coastal Club Class and was greeted by an attendant who brought me a cup of tea. There was a USA Today on my seat but I would read that on the return trip. We left Boston's North Station on time and crossed the Charles River and went by the MTBA maintenance base. We crossed a much smaller Mystic River as we left Boston on the MTBA's Lowell Line before we cut off onto the Wild Cat Branch to the Haverhill Line. This routing is due to the crowding of MTBA trains on the Haverhill Line and the single track at Reading which causes that condition. We joined the Haverhill Line a few minutes later. One nice thing about The Downeaster's cafe is that it is stocked with Coca-Cola. Now other than the Via operated portion of the Maple Leaf, when was the last time I had Coca-Cola on a regular Amtrak train? Answer: About seven years ago right after I had quit drinking. We ran along the Merrimack River through Bradford before we crossed the Merrinack River on a high bridge and arrived at Haverhill where we met Downeaster 682. We left Haverhill by going past the old freight house before we entered New Hampshire. I sat back and enjoyed the forest along with the homes within before we arrived at Exeter. We ran along the Squamscott River which emptied into the Great Bay and passed through Durham, a Friday, Saturday and Sunday stop. We crossed the inflow into Little Bay before we arrived at Dover. I met Frank sitting in front of me who was going to the Seashore Trolley Museum for a week and was pointing out landmarks for me. We crossed the Salmon River and entered Maine. We passed through more forest before we arrived at Wells where they are in the process of building a new station building. The forest reminds me of New Brunswick which would make sense as it is just above the state of Maine. We bridged the Mouseun River before passing through Kennebuck. We spanned the Kennebuck River before crossing the road which leads to the Seashore Trolley Museum. We ran through Biddeford then ran across the Saco River before passing through Saco. We ran through Old Orchard with views of the Atlantic Ocean seen to the east.
We traveled along several bays and marshes, passed the Rigby Yard and went by the town's cemetery before crossing an arm of Portland Bay. We turned onto the old Mountain District of the old Maine Central ran along Back Bay into the new Portland Amtrak Station arriving twelve minutes early.Portland, Maine 12/31/2001
I was met by Bob of Maine as he is known on Trainorders.com who offered to show me around Portland with his friend Jason doing the driving today. They showed me around railroad related activities in Portland. We went to the site of the former Portland Union Station where only one of the towers still remains. We drove over to Rigby Yard where I shot pictures of various Guilford locomotives and snow plows. They next drove me over to a Boston & Maine steel milk car built in 1952. We crossed over the Harbor Bridge went past a Grand Trunk building and visited the Narrow Gauge Museum which we toured. We circled back by going along the harbor to near the old drawbridge before we cut over the hill back to the station stopping off at the Convention Center to look at a mural of the old Union Station. I thanked Bob for his taking me around Portland by giving him a Southwest Chief coffee mug. That left me with fifteen minutes for a few pictures of my train before I reboarded, read the USA Today and waited for the start of my return trip to Boston. A special thank you to Bob and Jason for the great tour of Portland, Maine.The Downeaster 684 12/31/2001
I settled into my Atlantic Coastal Club seat and the train left Portland on time. I put on my musical selections for the trip back to Boston as I enjoyed another Coca Cola as we travelled through the forest of the state of Maine. Just dawned on me that Amtrak serves forty six states now. We made a quick trip through New Hampshire as William and I talked back into Massachusetts where as we neared Boston we said our goodbyes to each other. Once back into North Station I was off onto the Orange Line to Back Bay where I walked across the street to Copley Mall to get some postcards. Oops! I forgot to get post cards in Maine. I walked over to Elimio's, a really great deli three blocks to the south of the hotel. I returned to the hotel and spent a peaceful New Year's Eve 2001 and 44th birthday. At 7:00 P.M. the sky to the northeast was filled with fireworks before my mother called to wish me a happy birthday before I called it a night.Club Acela 1/1/2002
I did my morning ritual before checking out and walking to Back Bay Station to do the Orange line to the Red Line thing to get to South Station. There I went into Club Acela, the new lounge program for first class passengers. The Boston South Station was the first station on the Amtrak system to be redone and they did an outstanding job of remodeling. You have the original clock with the artwork around it along with a fantastic looking ceiling with the unique light fixtures. The place has a really warm feeling to it and from where I was sitting having the place to myself on this morning I overlooked the station concourse below. I was really glad to be starting my new year off relaxing in Club Acela with my shoes off and drinking Orange Juice reading a People Magazine. I also got the chance to go on line, check my e-mail, send Jeff one and look at my web page for a few minutes. Club Acela is truly a useful place and I can add it to the list of First Class Lounges which I have been in during my travels.Acela Express 2251 1/1/2002
I took a few pictures of the Acela Express and an MTBA security guard offered to take a picture of me with the train. I boarded and was the only passenger in First Class out of South Station. We pulled out of South Station on time and at Back Bay I was joined by five other passengers. After eating a whole grained pancake breakfast with chicken sausage, I went to the conductor's office where TJ, our conductor let me sit and watch the speedometer. Today we only hit 144 mph but watching the speed rise and fall with all of the lines curves was really interesting. The line with all of the inlets was spent with me taking pictures as the train sped nonstop from Providence to New Haven where we arrived fifteen minutes early on track 2. This allowed for me to walk down and under to track three for a picture of the Acela Express in absolutely beautiful light of the spectacular looking train. Walking back to the train I stopped by a Coca Cola machine so I could have the perfect drink on Amtrak's greatest train. We made our way to Penn Station in New York after a much slower ride over the tracks of Metro North. We arrived at Penn Station early where I ran upstairs to buy some large New York post cards. Bigger is always better in everything, right? We left Penn Station at noon on another perfectly clear day and headed south. Since nothing on the first class menu appealed to me, I rode from Newark to Metropark where I was in line getting a hot dog and chips. We sped to Philadelphia arriving there early. I enjoyed my first class high speed dash down the entire Northeast Corridor as we headed to Wilmington and Baltimore before slowing for the B&P Tunnel the slowest trek on the whole Northeast Corridor. We stopped at BWI and New Carrolton before arriving early into Washington Union Station early.
I picked up some MARC and Virginia Rail Express timetables before I took the Washington Metro subway for the first time and was very impressed with it. I took it to a transfer station for the line out to Crystal City, Virginia. I found the Embassy Suite followed by the nearby Virginia Rail Express Station before eating at a Chili's for the first time. I returned to the hotel called home and to my brother Bruce while watching the movie "Dave" before calling it a night and sleeping in on the only morning of the trip where I could.Washington, DC Crystal City 1/1/2002
By sleeping in I forgo riding the MARC Camden Line to Baltimore. Following check out of the excellent Embassy Suite they offered me a ride to the Metro Station where I retraced my way to Union Station. I found the daily storage area for bags before going to the Amtrak Self Service Ticketing Machine so I could ride MARC this morning. I bought a ticket to Bowie and Baltimore. I shot some pictures in the Grand Hall of the ceiling and statues with a security guard telling me as I was switching film that for security reasons I could only shoot pictures of the two things that I had already.MARC Riding 1/2/2002
I walked out to track 20 and boarded Marc train 408 to Bowie Station in coach 7702. It was a quick trip to Bowie where I detrained into a sunny thirty degree air and shot eleven passenger trains over the next two hours.
The first one traveling at 125 mph surprised me but it allowed me to get used to the high speed and to know to be ready at all times. The MARC trains were easy to shoot as they stopped at Bowie and the Silver Palm was easy as it was pulled by a diesel at a much lower rate of speed. I boarded MARC train 410 for Baltimore and just as I sat down in the bi-level car, the Acela Express that I had been waiting for flew by on the next track. North of Odeton the southbound Acela Express train I had been waiting for sped by running late. We arrived at Baltimore where I finally got my chance to go into Penn Station. The waiting room is over the tracks and I enjoyed a pretzel, picked up some post cards and more stuff for my Orange County Railroad Historical Society brethren. I returned to Washington DC on the lower level on MARC train 427 and I claimed my bags from storage. I was going to relax before my next train ride or at least so I thought. About 3:05 P.M. lights flashed and over the PA system came "You are to leave the station building via ramps or doors!" Everyone did this but it was chaotic and unorganized. We all stood out in front of the Washington Union Station waiting for an all clear. Once that happened all the MARC and Amtrak passengers as well as all of the building's workers returned back inside the station as now my wait for my next train was very short.Capitol Limited 29 1/2/2002
We departed Washington Union Station only fifteen minutes late right after the Silver Star pulled in from New York. Believe this or not but this is my first westbound trip over this route and at this point of this trip I was very glad to be heading home. We passed the Ivy City Virginia Rail Express shops before heading west on the old B&O. We left the metro DC area very quickly and by Point of Rocks it was already dark. I went to the lounge car to get some tea and learned that smoke was seen in the basement of the station and was the reason they cleared Union Station. I had the chicken for dinner with a 7th grade math teacher from Dearborn with two children who were the most wild that I had ever eaten with. As the Capitol Limited headed west into the night, I finished "Skipping Christmas" that John Grisham book I had bought in Philadelphia. I worked some word fill in puzzles before calling it a night.1/3/2002 After a good night of rest, I was woken to a PA series of announcements of: "Dining car is now open but will close at South Bend. All pillows will be picked up. Lounge Car will only be open for the next hour". We expect to arrive into Chicago early thanks to the CSX and Northfolk Southern." That prompted me to get up, get a cup of tea with chocolate chip cookies before preparing myself for arrival into Chicago. The steel mills in Gary looked very nice in the low light with the Sears Tower standing out above the low laying fog over Lake Michigan which looked beautiful in the post sunrise light. We wyed into Chicago to cut off the mail and express cars and then sat as the Metra commuter fleet passed by twice going into Union Station then again going to the yard. We sat for twenty eight minutes until the Lake Cities for Detroit left giving us a station track to come in on and arrived at Chicago Union Station forty seven minutes early.Chicago 2 CTA Riding 1/3/2002
I stored my bags at the baggage pick up area for no charge since I was a connecting Amtrak passenger and left for the CTA Clinton Blue Line station where I rode the missing line to Cermack where the last few miles were at grade level which surprised me. I rode back to La Salle and walked the block to the Loop taking the Purple Line out to Linden as an express from Belmont to Howard. Cab car 2580 which I was riding had cab signal problems and the operator called the control center. Right before Bryn Mawr he fixed the problem and we were off towards Linden. I doubled back to Belmont where I took the Yellow Line, the Skokie Swift to and from Skokie. This line starts out as third rail but switches about halfway out to overhead wire and the train switches on the fly. This route was part of the old North Shore Route to Milwaukee so I got to live out a little history on this trip. I rode back to Howard then a red line train to Belmont before I rode the Brown Line out to Kimbell which was at ground level from Rockwell onward.
I returned to Chicago on a Brown Line train doing "The Loop" before I transferred to another Brown Line train at Chicago which took me to Quincy. My walk back to Union Station was through an icy cold wind but when I arrived there I was warmed by a pair of Char Dogs. I stopped by Connie's Pizza to get the phone number so one of my favorite LSA's Bruce Telfer could order from California along with cooking instructions. I retrieved my bags before I waited for my next train.Southwest Chief 3 1/3/2002
I was joined at my seat by the very attractive Katie from Washington, DC who was returning to school at USC. We left Chicago Union Station on time and after doing the ritual mail and express car thing we headed west out into the sunset. Shirley Robinson was our LSA in the lounge car so it was good to see an old friend. Kieran, another wonderful Amtrak worker was on the train but sadly was out of service as he was under the weather. After watching Legally Blonde I went to the dining car for dinner finding Joe Lara was our dining car steward and had the Pork Chops. I watched the next movie, Cats and Dogs prior to calling it a night.
1/4/2002 I awoke east of Dodge City and went to the lounge car for a cup of tea and a cinnamon roll before listening to music as Kansas turned into Colorado with a beautiful reddish sunrise. West of Lamar, they announced the John Martin Reservoir on the Arkansas River so they could wake everyone up to the fact that we were now on Mountain Time. Katie who was still trying to sleep awoke not in Colorado but in the State of Shock! We arrived in La Junta over an hour early so I got a good stroll around town getting Colorado post cards, donuts, pictures of the train and a copy of the Denver Post. We left La Junta across the snowy landscape with the peaks of the Front Range of the Rockies hidden by the layers of clouds. We stopped briefly at Trinidad before we climbed Raton Pass where I shot pictures of the old Santa Fe Railroad Raton Pass sign and the state line marker of Colorado/New Mexico. At Raton the wind was really blowing our new passengers around on the platform prior to their boarding. The New Mexico sky was really interesting and after we met our eastbound counterpart at Rowe, I enjoyed my first stormy weather over Glorieta Pass ever.
I finally shot some pictures as the train passed through Apache Canyon before we arrived at Lamy. We headed to Albuquerque where we arrived there over an hour early with servicing of the train, removal of a road railer and a visit to the train by the DEA. We headed west into the last night of the trip with me having a rather bland dinner which was nothing to write home about before I listened to some music and called it a night.
1/5/2002 I woke up at 3:00 A.M. just east of Ludlow, dressed and rode in the empty lounge car. I had pancakes and sausage going down Cajon Pass. At Esperanza after rounding the horseshoe bend as we passed an eastbound BNSF freight which signaled me to pack up. I said my goodbyes to Katie before we pulled into Fullerton on time.
After a few last pictures of the Southwest Chief it departed for Los Angeles and I waited for Surfliner 568 to take me home to Santa Ana where my mother was waiting to pick me up ending another relaxing Amtrak adventure.