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Rail Travelogues by Robert Tabern
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It is really no surprise that Robert Tabern developed an enthusiasm for passenger train travel. After all, his father, Thomas, grew up in Bowling Green, Ohio along the Baltimore & Ohio main line; his mother, Rita, grew up along the busy Evanston Exprindex%20photos/CAM07888.jpgess CTA line in the northern suburbs of Chicago.

Robert was
born on August 28, 1979 in Skokie, Illinois, a suburb located about ten miles north of Chicago. He spent his early years living in the Chicagoland area, including both Morton Grove and Northbrook. While growing up, every summer included at least one long-distance Amtrak train trip for the Tabern family; some of Robert's fondest memories include getting his own small slumber coach sleeping car room when going to Florida or Washington, D.C. Often times, Robert would stay up half the night looking out his window at the small towns passing by in the darkness.
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While attending Glenbrook North High School, Robert decided to pursue a career in the broadcasting industry. In August 1997, Robert moved 500 miles south, becoming a freshman at Arkansas State University. While there, he worked on-air and behind-the-scenes at a few small radio stations, including KASU-FM (Jonesboro, AR), KDRS-FM (Paragould, AR), and KLQZ-FM (Paragould, AR). Robert also worked as a television news producer, including three years at KAIT-TV, the ABC station in Jonesboro, Arkansas. Shortly after moving to Arkansas, Robert and Kandace met one another; the two dated for about a year and shared an apartment  across from the Walnut Ridge, AR Amtrak station.

index%20photos/CAM07890.jpgAfter graduating from Arkansas State University in December 2001, Robert moved to Indiana and served as the morning news producer at WKJG-TV, the NBC affiliate in Fort Wayne. Hoping to move even closer to his family in the Chicagoland area, Robert picked up stakes again in February 2003 and headed for southeast Wisconsin. It was there he continued working in the broadcasting and communications fields for more than a decade, including time at WDJT-TV, the CBS News station in Milwaukee, the City of Oak Creek, Wisconsin, and WTMJ-TV, the NBC affiliate for Milwaukee. In late 2011, after not speaking for more than 13 years, Robert and Kandace came back into each others lives. Sometimes love is just meant to be!  After proposing in the dining car on Amtrak's Empire Builder on January 1, 2012, Robert and Kandace got married later that year; their "rolling" wedding reception was held aboard the Milwaukee Road Super Dome between St. Paul, MN and Chicago's Union Station.
 
Today, Robert and Kandace call Wadsworth, Illinois their home base. Robert and Kandace co-own "Outside the Rails", a business that specializes in railroad route guide books; Robert also works in the travel industry, managing group railroad and bus tours. Since July 2015, Robert and Kandace have served as the founders and Executive Directors of the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation's (APRHF) Rail Rangers program. As part of Rail Rangers, you can often find the two narrating on private rail car trips all across the Midwest. When not at work, the duo loves to take road trips, explore state parks and caves, and spend time in the great outdoors.


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Robert and Kandace co-own a company called "Outside the Rails"; it specializes in railroad route guide books. The idea behind the book series can be traced back to early 2007 when Robert began volunteering for a program called index%20photos/MSPbook.jpgTrails & Rails aboard Amtrak's Empire Builder. Trails & Rails is a partnership between the National Park Service and Amtrak; volunteer rangers are placed aboard trains and present educational programs to passengers. Robert noticed that the reference maual for the group was struggling, so he offered to help research the route more in-depth. After spending many weekends driving through Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, Robert had hundereds of pages of notes about the route. He decided to not only use them for Trails & Rails, but also to begin writing his own book about the train route. Even though the National Park Service decided to stop using Chicago-based volunteers on the Empire Builder route in September 2010, Robert continued his book-writing efforts. In March 2011, the original edition of "Outside the Rails: A Rail Route Guide from Chicago to St. Paul, MN" was published; it was 200 pages long. The following year, Robert released an expanded Second Edition of the book featuring 300 pages of content; it currently sells for $35.00, plus tax and shipping.

In December 2012, the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation (APRHF) reached an agreement with Amtrak and the National Park Service that established a new Trails & Rails program on Amtrak's Southwest Chief betweenindex%20photos/LAPbook.jpg Chicago and La Plata, Missouri. Robert and Kandace were appointed the organization's Coordinators. Both quickly realized the best way to recruit and train new volunteers would be to provide a top-notch reference manual book. After many weekends driving the route through Illinois, Iowa, and Missouri, it was decided to also publish their notes so that the traveling public could enjoy them too. The original edition of "Outside the Rails: A Rail Route Guide from Chicago to La Plata, MO" was published in March 2013. After two years of additional research, an expanded 350-page edition of the book was released in March 2015; it currently sells for $35.00, plus tax and shipping. During the same time, an abbreviated 40-page edition, that is more travel-friendly, was also released; it currently sells for $10.00, plus tax and shipping. The American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, receives a portion of the profits from each book sold. Robert and Kandace served as Chicago Coordinators of Trails & Rails through July 2015, when the National Park Service decided to terminate its partnership with the APRHF.

Besides the two main editions of "Outside the Rails", Robert and Kandace have written several smaller route guide books for rail excursions, including for the Friends of the 261, the Iowa Interstate Railroad, and the Zephyr Route. Kandace also has designed a children's train-themed activity book, which is quite popular. "Outside the Rails" has also teamed up with well-known railroad route guide author Eva Hoffman to offer her expanded selection of books on its website. Click on the banner below to check out the selection of railroad route guide books for sale.

The most recent editions of "Outside the Rails" have focused on Amtrak's various Illinois regional train routes. This includes a Chicago to Galesburg/Quincy, Illinois route guide book published in June 2015, a Chicago to Saint Louis, Missouri route guide book published in February 2016, and a Chicago to Milwaukee route guide book that was published in March 2016. Work on a new railroad route guide from Chicago to Carbondale, Illinois will be next, with an expected release date in early 2017.

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index%20photos/CAM0791.jpgRobert first became involved with the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation (APRHF) in late 2010 when he took a train-watching weekend to La Plata. It was there he met  Bob & Amy Cox, and reached an agreement to have his railroad photography work put on display at the old Silver Rails Gallery. Between December 2012 and July 2015, Robert and Kandace served as the Coordinators of the APRHF-sponsored Trails & Rails program on the Southwest Chief between Chicago and La Plata, MO. Since July 2015, they have served as the Executive Directors of the APRHF's Rail Rangers program. It was during this time, taking on more of a leadership role within the organization, that they became friends with Trainweb.com founders Steve Grande and Barbara Cepinko.  Knowing both had a passion for travel writing, Steve and Barbara asked Robert and Kandace to be featured writers for Trainweb. After training from Carl Morrison, both were off and running; their first article was published here in May 2014. Click on the boxes below to read about their rail-related travels.

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Besides being a featured author on Trainweb, Robert and Kandace are also featured writers on the main APRHF webpage. Between December 2012 and July 2015, they wrote promotional pieces about the APRHF-sponsored Trails & Rails program that formerly ran on the Southwest Chief between Chicago and La Plata, MO. Since July 2015, they write articles updating members about the new APRHF Rail Rangers program, which offers private rail car owners the chance to have on-board docents available to present educational programs. Use the link below to read articles written by the Taberns on the APRHF page about Trails & Rails and Rail Rangers.

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