comparing the two silverservices north bound MIa/NYP

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Phil S

OBS Chief
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Aug 20, 2011
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707
Any thoughts/opinions on which makes a more interesting trip.I'm retired. a biologist, ecologist, geolgist and am most interested in natiural landscapes and vegetation in relation topohraphy and geology. Trains are the best way to see this because youre'frequemtly routed away from populated areas.and the trees/road cuts are only a couple of dozen ft away, and you don;t have to focus on driving!!! Planes are great onvce you know whay you're looking at it. They give you the big picture, something you can't possibly get from a train. But you have to be able to reate what you see from 38k ft to what you''ve seen from the train. It's often not easy. The best way is to alternate between train and plane. And evrn throw in a road trip on occasion - thjat allows you to get out an dig soil pits and indentify plants, get bitten by rattlesnakes and mosquitos - ah the joy of the outdoors.

So. thoughts on the two silver services? Yes, I''ll be in a rommette. Probably mid- November, MIA to NYP.

Thanks. I'd love to hear from any other scientists who have have thought about whether trains help them understand the way the world is put together. -- Dr. Phil
 
H

HeadingNorth

Guest
I'd say your biggest constraint will be daylight that time of year--and which areas you'd like to see. The Meteor would give you a good sense of Florida but likely little else (maybe some in the Northeast), while the Star would give a good chunk of VA and some NC. Of course, the Star is a far slower train, but that's not always a negative!
 

p&sr

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I'd love to hear from any other scientists who have have thought about whether trains help them understand the way the world is put together. -- Dr. Phil
Yes, absolutely.

When you get the chance, you'll want to take the long-distance lines west of Chicago. For example, Chicago to Emeryville, California (Bay Area) over the Rockies and the Wasatch Range and the Sierra Nevada, then Coast Starlight to Los Angeles and connecting to San Diego. Then return trip Surfliner from San Diego right along the Beaches to Los Angeles then Southwest Chief to Chicago... through the Santa Ana Canyon then over Cajon Pass, next morning the high Ponderosa Forest of Northern Arizona, then across the Painted Desert with views of distant Mesas, across great Lava Flows into the Rio Grande Rift Valley at Albuquerque, then climbing up the narrow canyons of the Sangre de Christo Range onto the Great Prairies, then over Raton Pass into Colorado.

From the East Coast, a good way to catch this route would be NYP (Lakeshore Limited) up the Hudson River to Albany and Chicago... returning via Capitol Limited over the Appalachians of Western Pennsylvania then down the Potomac through Maryland and West Virginia to Washington DC.

Back to your original question about Florida, I took the first Northbound Train from Miami, to get maximum daylight in Florida. The section from Orlando (actually Sanford) to Jacksonville is quite wonderful, along the wide estuaries of the St. John River with rich tropical foliage (mostly Kudzu). The rest of the Florida route included lots of flat land covered with scrub palms.

Enjoy your trip! And do travel out west (by long daylight) when you get the chance. May is nice... only a few weeks before the Solstice, yet before any of the tourist crowds!

-- Dr. P&SR
 
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Ocala Mike

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Sep 27, 2011
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Ocala, FL
From the "scientific" point of view (mainly astronomy), you get to experience "retrograde motion" with a N/B trip on the Star. I'm referring, of course, to the side trip west to Tampa followed by a retracement of the same route east to hook back up to where you left for the rest of your N/B journey.

Ocala Mike
 
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zepherdude

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Sep 9, 2008
Messages
564
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Redding California
This is a little off topic, but, I always wondered if Amtrak reverses the engines in Tampa and the rear of the train becomes the front and so on. I have never taken the train to Florida before.
 

zepherdude

OBS Chief
Joined
Sep 9, 2008
Messages
564
Location
Redding California
Any thoughts/opinions on which makes a more interesting trip.I'm retired. a biologist, ecologist, geolgist and am most interested in natiural landscapes and vegetation in relation topohraphy and geology. Trains are the best way to see this because youre'frequemtly routed away from populated areas.and the trees/road cuts are only a couple of dozen ft away, and you don;t have to focus on driving!!! Planes are great onvce you know whay you're looking at it. They give you the big picture, something you can't possibly get from a train. But you have to be able to reate what you see from 38k ft to what you''ve seen from the train. It's often not easy. The best way is to alternate between train and plane. And evrn throw in a road trip on occasion - thjat allows you to get out an dig soil pits and indentify plants, get bitten by rattlesnakes and mosquitos - ah the joy of the outdoors.

So. thoughts on the two silver services? Yes, I''ll be in a rommette. Probably mid- November, MIA to NYP.

Thanks. I'd love to hear from any other scientists who have have thought about whether trains help them understand the way the world is put together. -- Dr. Phil
To me, one can see the underside of some cities by riding a train. Not always are the sights so pure and close to nature, thatch palms and Bougainvillea. The train (Lake Shore Limited, for example) passes through Buffalo-Depew and some old, has been factories, many abandoned warehouses and what I might think were munitions factories, but have no real clue. Same way with most major cities, trains do not always travel in the better parts of the city. One gets a feeling of the city and how is was or is. Not all is pristine and wide open spaces. Many routes are shrouded in trees and overgrowth so one can not see the country or landscape. In 1970, a guy by the name of Steve Goodman was on the Illinois Central "City of Of New Orleans". His description pretty much holds up today with exceptions, of course. His song was famous and still is "Ridin on the City of New Orleans."

"All along the southbound odyssey the train pulls out of Kankakee

Rolls along past houses, farms & fields

Passin' graves that have no name, freight yards full of old black men

And the graveyards of rusted automobiles"

The day of the Hobo is gone and we have "homeless" now, the freight yards are off limits, mostly and rusted automobiles are now almost everywhere. This is how Steve saw the trip as he wrote the lyrics. As a young dude, I started riding the train, City of Miami and Seminole (Illinois Central) in the late 1950s to Miami from St. Louis and Union Station, changing trains in Carbondale. His memory is how I remember the trip to Miami. Steve is gone and so is the Illinois Central, but the Odyssey of train travel continues for guyz like us Phil. We see life passing on the rails, good or bad, downtown or bartertown. It is America and who we are.
 
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gatelouse

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Joined
Jun 25, 2011
Messages
524
Concur with the opinions above. If you've already seen the Northeast Corridor by rail, then the Silver Meteor will give you more of Florida in daylight, allowing you to view contrasts as you travel through the state. If you've never ridden between Richmond and New York, you might consider the Silver Star, which will offer interesting daylight views of Virginia and the rail tunnels and river crossings along the WAS-NYP NEC.
 

TCRT

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Aug 19, 2011
Messages
270
Location
Cambridge, MA
This is a little off topic, but, I always wondered if Amtrak reverses the engines in Tampa and the rear of the train becomes the front and so on. I have never taken the train to Florida before.
The train uses a wye to back into Tampa Union Station.
This in fact requires the Star to run backwards for something like two miles through Tampa, with the conductor "whistling" for grade crossings with the air hose (video).
 

NETrainfan

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
May 5, 2009
Messages
353
Location
Maine
We've enjoyed the Silver Meteor many times -round trip to Ft. Lauderdale, Orlando, or Jacksonville. Being from New England we appreciate the landscape contrasts in the South. Have a fine trip, whatever your choice.

Not a scientist, but a nature lover who has experienced much of the U.S. by train. Have seen much wildlife from the California Zephyr and the Southwest Chief. Still awed by these train trips and the terrain of the still "wild" West.
 

Phil S

OBS Chief
Joined
Aug 20, 2011
Messages
707
Let's see:

p&sr : Actually I've ridden most of the western trains except the Chief, including some that no longer exist. Also all of the western Canadian trains as of the 1970s (including the Rupert Rocket and the Calgary/Edmonton rail car), But except for NEC and the Cardinal I've never been on the eastern trains. So either one of the Silvers would be new to me.

zephyrdude: Yup, I actually enjoy some of the city backside scenery. But once you get out of town (which rules out much, but not all, of NEC) I think we're getting a pretty good dose of "nature", especially compared with what I can see from the interstates.

Decision time is nowhere near but I think I'll fly into Miami the day before and take the early train north. -- Phil
 

xyzzy

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Sep 20, 2011
Messages
1,147
Location
NC
The Silver Meteor operates entirely over the coastal plain with a maximum elevation of about 200 feet above MSL. Through parts of South Carolina and North Carolina, the Silver Star traverses the eastern edge of the Piedmont with a maximum elevation of about 500 feet. Thus you'll get more visual diversity on the Star route, but in November you'll be constrained by the available daylight.
 
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