- Jun 28, 2007
[SIZE=14pt]Amtrak Autumn New England Weekend 2013[/SIZE]
[SIZE=14pt]September 27-30, 2013[/SIZE][SIZE=12pt]Friday September 27[/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] After a long spring and summer of health issues, we decided to try a weekend Amtrak excursion to New England. Our original plans called for a weekend in New York City, an Acela ride to Boston and a Lakeshore trip home to Cleveland. But last minute electrical problems in the Northeast Corridor shut down the Acelas and made travel on Metro North virtually impossible for a few days.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] So it was time to improvise and find another itinerary. Since neither of us had ridden the Vermonter or Adirondack, I decided to develop a plan to ride the Lake Shore to Springfield, MA, stay a night there and then ride the Vermonter to Burlington, VT the next day. Talked to Amtrak and modified our LSL 48 from CLE-NYP to CLE-ALB and then bought coach tickets from Albany to Springfield. There were no roomettes available that day on 448 but we did get a voucher for $15 and a $28 special on the ALB-SPG trip. [/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] Then had to modify our BOS-CLE trip to read PRK-CLE after a trip across Lake Champlain on the ferry from Burlington. The agent was able to do that and get us a roomette on 49. Considering all of the nasty calls that Amtrak was probably receiving from irate passengers on the NE Corridor, she was very nice and said she appreciated working with our new plans.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] And of course, our plan to ride some regionals and shuttles out of Springfield was also disrupted by the electrical outages so we scrapped that plan. [/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] So after multitudes of cancelled Amtrak E tickets, we left home on Friday morning around 3:30am for our hour long drive to CLE. Always nice to drive into town with no traffic at that time of the morning. Had called Julie and she verified that Lake Shore 48 was on time into Toledo. Since both Capitol Ltd.s and westbound Lake Shore had already arrived earlier in the morning, there were just a few people in the waiting room when we arrived. [/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] The long Lakeshore arrived just a few minutes late at 6am and I recorded our P-42s #171 and #161 as they passed our position on the platform. The New York section of this train is at the rear so we walked down to our car #4812 and met Kevin, our SCA. He was wide awake and very congenial and said our Room 6 was ready for us. We were the only people getting on NY sleepers so he surmised we were the right couple. I was glad he had not put the beds down since it was nearly time for breakfast and we did not want to sleep any more at that time. Got settled in the room and Kevin came down again to ask if we had any questions and that breakfast would be served starting at 6:30am.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] We mentioned to Kevin that we would need to change sections of the train at Albany since we were now headed to Springfield, MA. He said that would be no problem and he would personally escort us through the train after we left Schenectady and help find us coach seats in the Boston section. Kevin is a very personable young man who is a credit to Amtrak. (we will send along a note to Amtrak to go into his file).[/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] We headed down to the diner at 6:30 and the crew was ready to serve. Very limited seating space compared to the Superliner diners and the seats were like buckets, not giving a lot of space between them. A few other passengers started to drift in and we were joined by Earl from Houston, TX. At first he seemed unhappy about sharing the table but in a few minutes he warmed up and we had some great conversations. He was a retired TV newsman from stations in New York and New Jersey. He talked about how things had changed in TV news (not for the better in his opinion) and his life living in New Jersey. He had lived in Houston for many years since his retirement and loves it there. He was born in Houston and says it is the only place in Texas he would want to live. He was returning to New Jersey to visit old friends. Earl had the pancakes and Claudia and I opted for the omelets, bacon and croissant. Our servers were efficient and generally friendly as light came through the windows and we enjoyed the voyage through the vineyards along Lake Erie. Although an announcement had been made that reservations would be taken for lunch, our LSA asked where we were getting off and when we said Albany, she told us to be in the diner at 12 noon and she would get us lunch at the early sitting. That was good news.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] We returned to the room and found there were several bedrooms and roomettes unoccupied in the New York sleepers. Our room was on the north side of the train so we were able to get brief glimpses of the lake as we moved toward Erie, Pa. The couple across the hall were concerned about where the next smoke stop would be and Kevin said it would be in Buffalo. (Hoped they could make it since the last smoke stop was in Cleveland—smile).[/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] It was a partly cloudy day as we passed into New York and closer to Buffalo. Lots of CSX freight traffic along the route and seemed like we passed a train in every block. Also some areas of track work which slowed us down and started to result in late arrivals. We saw the majestic looking Buffalo station with its large clocks on the tower and hoped that it could be saved. But it will certainly take a lot of money to do so. [/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] We arrived into Buffalo/Depew station at 9:30 about a half hour down. This stop is mostly just a long platform and shelter and is a long distance from downtown Buffalo. Several passengers boarding here and a crew change here as well. Plenty of time for a smoke stop and a walk up to take some photos. [/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] In just a few minutes we were off again and heading for Rochester, NY. More CSX trains and track work and we lost more time, being 50 minutes late into ROC. The old Kodak building sits idle, a memory of what this company once meant to Rochester. Digital cameras sort of put an end to that. [/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] At noon we made our way to the diner and we were seated with Bob and Carol who were returning to their home near New York City. They had once lived in Cleveland Heights and were familiar with northern Ohio. Bob had gone to Ohio University and was a former professor. We talked about riding Amtrak and they said they had ridden on a few trains in the West. We all had the Angus Burger and we were only offered two dessert choices, cheesecake with strawberry topping and a large strawberry on the side and gelato. We opted for the cheesecake and it was excellent.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] The sun started to come out and it turned out to be a nice day on the rails. We passed through our next stops at Syracuse (very nice modern station here) and Utica (home of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad), still maintaining our 45 minute down time frame. The conductors now were on the intercom letting us know about delays and that they expected to get back on time by Albany.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] Kevin came by to remind us to be ready to move after Schenectady, so we organized our gear for the long trek to the front of the train. We made a brief stop in SDY. Not much left of the original station (we will comment on this station later on our return trip). As the train pulled out Kevin grabbed one of our bags and we followed him throughout the train. We sped through the 4911 car and into the empty diner, through 3 New York coaches and the empty café car (they were on break also) and into the first Boston coach. The car attendant was a nice lady wearing a black leather jacket over her Amtrak shirt. The cars were nearly full and there were no seats together available. She and Kevin rousted some people to move their belongings off the open seats. We were able to find seats near the front of the car and not too far from each other. The car attendant said there would be a lot of people getting off in Albany and we could sit together after that. That was fine and we settled in for the quick ride to Albany. My seat mate was a young man who didn’t feel well and was trying to sleep. I kept quiet and enjoyed the scenery out the window. Unfortunately, Claudia had a young girl who was a pain in the kabushka. She made it known she did not want to sit with anyone, refused to move her luggage from the floor in front of my wife and then threw her empty beverage container on the floor. She sat with her earphones in and blasting music. A child who has yet to grow up!!![/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] When we arrived at the Albany shops, the conductors informed everyone it would be approximately fifteen minutes for the two sections of the trains to separate and then we would move on into Rensselaer. The power shut off and it was amazingly quiet for several minutes. Then it was determined that our front engine #171 was having problems and they would need to take it off our train. More minutes waiting and some were getting restless, especially those who were getting off at the Albany station. All of a sudden a loud cell phone rang and a man with a loud voice (and a notable Boston accent) started talking about the delay and that it was all those people in the New York section to blame (some chuckles ensued) and that “why would anyone want to go to New York anyway??”. My seatmate laughed and I broke the ice by commenting that he must be a Red Sox fan. We did talk a little after that. He had gotten on in Syracuse and generally did not like trains. He said he would go nuts if he had to ride in coach across the country. Something that some of his friends had done. Didn’t think I could sell him on a long distance Amtrak ride so we left the conversation there..smile..[/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] After another fifteen minute wait they finally got our power on and we were off for the Albany station. A nice ride across the Hudson River and a beautiful station on the Rensselaer side. Glad we had switched sections early because we didn’t stay that long at the station and we left before the New York section arrived. Claudia and I were able to find two seats together after about 20 people left the train. The new conductor came in to scan our ALB-SPG tickets and off into the Berkshire Mts we went. We were 30 minutes late leaving Albany thanks to the mechanical problems. We are hoping to get into Springfield before dark so we can walk to our hotel instead of taking a cab.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] The ride through the mountains is not as scenic as one would expect since the trees have grown up along the right of way and there are only a few places where breaks allow a view of a stream or vista. We arrived into Pittsfield about 40 minutes down. Lots of students boarding here. According to the route guide, there are several famous actors and professionals who have a home in the Pittsfield area (Robin Williams among them) and it is also the home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra in the summer. There is another brief delay as we lose power for a few minutes. We move out of the station quickly and are now headed for Springfield. We gradually pass out of the mountain terrain and into the Connecticut River valley, past several railroad sidings and yards and eventually cross the river and into the station complex. It is now 6:30pm, a long 12+ hours on the train and we are ready to head out for the Marriott Hotel. It is only about a half mile to the hotel, but pulling our luggage along the street on a Friday evening made it seem longer. Springfield seems to suffer from a declining downtown area with lots of questionable characters hanging out at the local watering holes or outside the quick cash establishments. But it seemed safe enough for this short walk and we arrived at the Marriott in due time.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] The staff at the Marriott was excellent and our room had first quality beds and amenities. Security was excellent since you had to slide your key to utilize the elevator. Unfortunately, they do not have free WIFI ($12 if you want to pay) or a free breakfast. Except for a few wayward children running the hall for a few minutes, it was quiet and inviting. The Marriott is part of a mall-like complex known as Monarch Place. We had supper at the Champions Sports Bar next door and were able to eat breakfast at the Dunkin Donuts in the morning and secure some new batteries at the CVS Pharmacy, also in the mall complex. Overall, an enjoyable day of train riding, meeting new people, excellent Amtrak staff.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt]Saturday September 28[/SIZE][SIZE=12pt].[/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] After checking the status of the NE Regional trains and the Vermonter, we determined that riding the shuttle trains to New Haven and taking the northbound Vermonter would not be in the cards this trip. The agent at SPG said the Vermonter was running over an hour late and that no one could guarantee what time it would make it to Springfield that day. So we opted for another plan and decided to rent a car and drive through Vermont up to Burlington where we had a hotel reserved for Saturday night. Budget Rental car seemed to have the best one way rates and they were giving quadruple Amtrak points so I walked over to their offices at 9am and secured a Hundai Sonata. Although it is considered a full size car, it was still rather small for my liking and my 6’6” frame. Since I am used to driving a mini-van, it was a bit cramped but I managed to crawl in and head over to the hotel to pick up my wife and luggage. [/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] We were on the road after a brief stop at the Springfield Amtrak station for a photo shoot. [/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt]Unfortunately there were no trains on the platform so I took some photos of the platform, inside the station and checked with the agent, who verified that trains were still running late that morning. So off we went on I-91 north towards Vermont. Traffic was a bit heavy until we left Springfield and then it became a pleasurable drive on a beautiful sunny morning. Trees were starting to change color, but it would still be another week or so before reaching maximum autumn colors. [/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] We stopped at the Vermont Welcome Center, which was a nice complex with helpful agents and plenty of room to walk around and enjoy people watching. They even had an unusual art work of a blue cat statue that attracted our eye.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] We stopped at several towns along the way, wanting to check out some of the Amtrak stations we would miss by not taking the Vermonter today. We stopped at Brattleboro and found that station was in a downstairs section of an original old station. Just a platform for passengers to wait. None of the stations north of Springfield have agents or Quik Trak machines so you must already have your tickets or buy them from the conductor on board. Took some photos of the area. Brattleboro seems like a lively town full of interesting shops and little cafes, but we must move on up the road. [/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] Our next stop was White River Junction, which is also the home of the little excursion railroad White River Flyer, which is part of the Green Mountain RR system. We just missed the noon trip and there were plenty of cars in the parking lot to indicate a successful run today. They have a nice railroad museum and the old station has been refurbished with lots of memorabilia. An old Boston & Maine 4-4-0 locomotive built in 1892 was a fine example of early transportation and its restoration still ongoing. There were a couple of road switchers in the sidings, one decorated in bright red for the Vermont Railway, the other, a former UP unit still in need of new paint. More photos taken and checked out the old Coolidge Hotel where we stayed back in 1996 while taking a railroad & bus excursion to New England.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] Our next stop after moving over to Interstate 89 was the Vermont Antique Mall near Quechee Gorge, VT. A large complex of businesses designed for the tourist trade. A neat little garden railroad line hauling kids around the complex and an engineer who shouted with great enthusiasm as he maneuvered the rails. Saw some interesting railroad memorabilia amongst the collectibles and Claudia found a nice art book. But we must be going as we had a few more stops to make before Burlington.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] Our next visit was to Montpelier and the state capitol building with its granite construction and gold dome on top. What a beautiful small town to have for a state capital. Several weddings taking place on this sunny Saturday afternoon. A stretch limo pulled up in front of the capitol building and the bride, groom and wedding party got out for some interesting wedding photos. After a quick ride through the streets of the town we headed to Montpelier Junction and the Amtrak station. This must be one of the more isolated stations to serve a state capital. We traveled several miles out of town on an old road next to a granite quarry and a refinery of some sort. A nice little building and several cars sitting in the lot. Not sure if I would leave my car out there for any length of time? Got some nice photos of the Amtrak station and then we moved on northwest to Burlington. Beautiful scenery as we followed the Winooski River for nearly the entire route. Moose and Bear Crossing signs were abundant, but did not see any today.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] We arrived in Burlington around 4pm and found our hotel at the Hampton Inn in the suburb of Colchester. The hotel staff was friendly but the smell of fresh paint was an indicator that some major refurbishing was going on. Lots of wall paper being stripped, new spackling of the walls and an overall atmosphere not necessarily conducive to esthetic grandeur. **smile**. We decided to freshen up and head downtown for dinner. [/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] Burlington is a bustling place on Saturday night with the University of Vermont campus just up the street and thousands of students, tourists, locals, etc, heading downtown for the festivities. Church Street has many restaurants and shops along its four block range with outdoor seating at a premium this evening. We eventually found Ken’s Pizza and Pub which specialized in Italian dishes and had a couple of seats available inside. We opted for lasagna and eggplant parmesan as we watched several NCAA football games on the numerous screens around the room. Business was good and service a bit slow, but the meal was delicious. Some of the better lasagna I have tried. After enjoying a nice dinner and Oklahoma beating Notre Dame, we strolled back to our car and returned to the hotel. Ohio State vs. Wisconsin was on at 8pm and that proved to be an exciting game and another victory for the Buckeyes. Very tired after a long day of Vermont tourism.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt]Sunday September 30[/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] We started our Sunday morning with a good breakfast in the Hampton Inn and then prepared to drop our rental car off at the Burlington International Airport. It was only a short drive to the rental car area where all the major companies share a parking garage. Unfortunately, there were no open spaces for Budget cars so I found an empty Avis spot and headed for the terminal to turn in the keys. We usually do not rent from airports so this was a new experience. The agent was friendly and said no problem leaving the car where I did. I guess they send someone out to check the car later and verify the mileage, etc.[/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] We waited at the taxi stand, but there were no taxis there so an attendant called a company that said they would be there in 15 minutes. First time I have been to an airport where there no taxis waiting. After waiting for 20 minutes and concerned we would not get to the ferry dock in time, I mentioned that a recently arrived taxi was waiting with no customers. The attendant said I could use this one and off we went. The driver was from Somalia and had been in Boston and Minneapolis before arriving in Burlington. His English was decent and he was a personable guy who drove us straight to the dock. Cost was $17 + tip, so not a bad deal. [/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] We chose to take the early ferry to Port Kent so as not to miss our Adirondack #68 if the later ferry would run late. The ferry attendant seemed to think it was better to take the 8:30 trip. We waited for about a half hour and then the crew of the Valcour opened the gates and let walking passengers board, followed by about 20 cars, trailers and motorcycles. Claudia and I found a bench near the front of the ferry and then I went downstairs looking for souvenirs, etc. When I returned upstairs, she said the people in the mini-van next to us mentioned they were from the Mansfield, Ohio area. I looked inside and saw that it was a family I had known from Loudonville, Ohio in my early teaching days. I had both of their children at the high school and we all laughed about the coincidence of us meeting on this particular ferry on this day. Spent the remainder of the trip reminiscing about times 30 years ago, how the “kids” were doing and life in general. They had been driving around New England and were heading for Lake Placid before returning to Ohio. [/SIZE]
[SIZE=12pt] We arrived on the Port Kent side around 10am and had several hours to kill. The snack shop at the dock was almost out of all supplies as this was the last day of operation for the ferry until next May. Had some neat tee-shirts, but no extra larges left. We had some cookies and Mountain Dew and spent much of the time observing the sailboats on the lake and talking to the proprietor, who was quite the railroad fan and knew much about the former D&H line on the hill. The track is now owned by Canadian Pacific and they usually run some freight on the line, but more likely at night or early morning to avoid conflicts with the Amtrak trains. He said the dome car should be on the Adirondack today and that was exciting news. At around 12 we decided to walk up the hill to the Port Kent station/platform.[/SIZE]
They have done a lot of nice work in building a shelter, landscaping and putting in new concrete platforms. No freight traffic on this line during the day so we spent an hour talking with three people waiting for the train as well. One of the gentlemen had lived along Lake Champlain in his early years and had some neat stories to tell about that experience. I called Julie and at that time the train was on time. But as it turned out, Adirondack #68 was about a half hour late. But the best news was that Engine #823 was followed by the Ocean View 10031 dome car, which was the car just ahead of our coach.
We boarded the train and found two seats together on the east side of our coach. We were both pretty hungry so I went up to the café car to grab some food. The attendant was the ultimate in efficiency, friendly and able to move the long line rather quickly. The Kosher hot dogs were pretty good too. The train was nearly full so we proceeded up to the dome. There were a half dozen empty seats and even one near the back of the car, which provided a better view than the front, which was too close to the engine to see well. Unfortunately, the back and front windows were very dirty and didn't provide as nice a viewing as I had expected. But the side windows were clean and we enjoyed a beautiful sunny day along Lake Champlain.
At about 2 pm we pulled to a passing siding to allow the northbound Adirondack to pass. Got some nice shots of the passing event. We arrived in West Port about 2:15 and then proceeded to Port Henry around 2:40 where we picked up two Rails to Trails park service people who gave a nice talk on the history of the area. Bill, especially was very well versed in the railroad history and he and I talked through a good bit of the last half of the trip to SDY about the local rail lines, model railroading, and industries served by rail along this route.
There are so many well preserved old stations along this route and of course a view of Fort Ticonderoga and the canals that linked the lake to the Hudson-Mohawk Valley. At around 3 pm we passed Whitehall, NY which had a huge mansion on the side of the hill that once belonged to a prominent Supreme Court judge. Built in 1874, it later had an interesting story of a man who failed to bury his wealthy wife in order to continue to receive money from her family’s estate.
Around 4 pm the train came to a sudden halt and the power went down. The two conductors were seen walking the train, but soon after the power came back on and I saw them hop on one of the back coaches. Turns out we hit Bambi and they wanted to check on any damage to the train. Glad there were no children in the dome car that day.
As we moved closer to Saratoga Springs, we decided to return to our coach seats, check our WiFi, and then watch as a hoard of people boarded at the station. The conductors were able to get everyone to free up the extra seats and by the time we left, the train was apparently sold out. We left around 4:30 almost an hour behind schedule. But that was fine with us since we would have a shorter wait in SDY. There was a good deal of padding and we arrived in Schenectady around 5pm. All in all a most wonderful Amtrak riding experience and so happy to finally get to ride in the dome.
We walked down the stairway to the Amtrak SDY lobby and there were numerous people waiting for other trains, including Rutland, Empire Service, etc. We wanted to find a quick bite to eat across the street at the Burger King and asked the agent if we could store our bags in the baggage room for a few minutes. He said that would be fine but retrieve them by 7:15 since he would be closing down the room to take baggage upstairs for other trains. No charge.
We grabbed a sandwich at BK and walked a few blocks to get some exercise. Downtown SDY is having similar problems with urban renewal that seem to be typical for other eastern cities. There was evidence that progress is being made with new curbing, sidewalks and some buildings being rehabbed. A neat old barbershop with four chairs and all the classic tonics, etc on the shelf. A very nice pub next door to the station called Katie O’Byrne’s that was doing a decent business for a Sunday evening. Returned to the station and began reading some of the historic plaques and displays about the history of the station. Too bad they tore down the classic station back in the 70s. It looked like it was a nice place back in the day. The station agent was a personable guy who seemed to take pride in the station, coming out to check the trash containers, sweeping the floor, etc.
When the Rutland came in, I went upstairs to get some shots before dark. Lots of riders getting on. A little later a Canadian Pacific freight came to the station on the passing track and waited for a signal to clear before heading north on the Adirondack/Rutland track.
Our Lake Shore Ltd #49 arrived on time at 7:30pm and we boarded Car 4911 Room 3 under the supervision of Melanie. She showed us to our room and said we should head to the diner if we wanted dinner. We stored our luggage and headed next door. The diner had several seats available and we were instructed to take an empty any empty one . The dining car staff seemed a bit tired and probably were not that happy they still had some work to do with those of us boarding at SDY. Our server took our orders-I went for the half chicken, Claudia had the pasta. A few minutes later an older gentleman came into the diner and was seated across from us. He then spent the next 10 minutes berating Amtrak, the staff and anyone else standing around. He could not find his wife and had been sitting in the café car waiting for her and his dinner. That staff must have told him to move to the diner which, of course, is a long walk from the Boston sleeper they were occupying. Unlike those of us Amtrak Unlimited travelers, he did not know the consist organization of the LSL and was totally shocked he would have to walk much of the train to get dinner. His wife did show up a short time later and she was not happy either.
We settled in for what we thought would be a disaster dinner. They could not remember their room or car numbers and I tried to help them out since the server acted totally disinterested in their plight. No one explained to them how to fill out the menu card and I stopped them before they started checking items on the menu. They finally were able to order, but did not treat the staff well after that. He basically complained about Amtrak through the early part of our meal and that he would never ride a train again. I tried to explain some of the idiosyncrasies of riding and how we really enjoyed most of our trips. He and his wife did get a really good steak, which mellowed him out a bit. We did talk about his life in Minneapolis and his children and the rest of the dinner went o.k. I think the dining car staff was ready to throw him off the train, but I believe they could have been a bit more understanding of the situation. We ended the evening on a brighter note and said our goodbyes. I hope their Empire Builder home from Chicago on Monday was close to being on time, but that would be asking a lot—smile..
By this time it was nearly 9pm and we had Melanie put down our beds around 9:30. Melanie had a nice personality-business like and to the point, but friendly. She said she would wake us up before Cleveland and we tried to get some rest. We have our opinions on Viewliner roomettes. I very much like the extra room and windows on the top bunk. Like the extra storage above the door to keep bags away from the seats. But we do not care for the bathrooms in the room. Would be o.k. for one person traveling, but not two. On our eastbound trip there were several rooms unoccupied where one of us could wait, but all the rooms on the westbound were full. Will be glad when the new cars are finished and the bathrooms move to the hallway.
We awoke around Erie, Pa and were ready to go when Melanie knocked on the door around Collinwood Yards on Cleveland’s east side. We were only about a half hour late. It had been raining but was dry when we disembarked. Gave Melanie a tip as we left the car and said our goodbyes. We walked to our car when I heard a female voice yelling “you left your camera in the room”. Duh! Thought I had everything. She handed it to the baggage man who had a load from the NY Bag car and he brought it across the tracks to the station. I yelled out thanks. She waved as the train pulled out for Chicago.
After an uneventful, but rainy drive down I-71 we reached home around 5am to meet our little cat coming down the hall. It was a good trip and enjoyed getting back on the train again. Looking forward to two more Amtrak adventures in the next few weeks.