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Railroad Bill

Buckeye Train Watcher
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2007
Messages
3,872
Location
Northern Ohio
After an enjoyable 9 days of riding Amtrak, Coasters, Sprinters, SD Trolleys and a multitude of Ambuses, I reached home in Ohio to find a note from my doctor to prepare for my heart ablation procedure on Tues Oct 18. As I recover from that ordeal, I wanted to write my trip report and perhaps add some photos of my Gathering 2022 Adventure. Enjoy
Amtrak Gathering 2022 San Diego, California

October 4-13, 2022

Trains: Lake Shore 49, Southwest Chief 3, Surfliner 770, Surfliner 785, Texas Eagle/Sunset Ltd 422, Capitol Ltd 30​


Tuesday Oct 4.

Began the journey with a drive up I-71 to the Cleveland Amtrak Station. A cool wet morning, but no fog as predicted. Arrived at CLE at 3:00am and sat in the car watching some freights pass. Decided to go into the station, took a nice photo of the new Amtrak sign in front of the building, to check on train status and use the facilities. Lots of Amish in the station waiting for the three trains yet to come.

30 had already passed and now 29 was running a bit late so 49 would arrive just a bit late at 4:05. My car attendant said he needed to make up my room and I could sit in the diner a few minutes until he was finished. My diner was named Tallahassee and our locos for the trip were P42, #90 and 129. After a short break I got into my room in the 4911 car, Roomette 1. Set up the Cpap and off to sleep.

Woke up near our stop in Waterloo Indiana and went down to the diner next door at 8. Had the special meals of omelet, potatoes, and milk. 50 minutes later we were in Elkhart, IN. 8:50am. We were moving along quite nicely and the Elkhart dispatcher was giving us a clear path to South Bend, IN 9:08. Passed a few NS freights along the way. Pass the Amtrak yards with several of the new Midwest Venture red coaches and switcher #504 and P42 #57 doing some work. Yards are full of coaches and a few locos coming in for repairs and safety checks.

We arrived at CUS around 10 and took the long walk from the rear of 49 to the station. Went directly to Metro Lounge and stored bags. Got my entry ticket from the agent and decided to walk around Chicago until boarding call for Train 3 at 2:30 CDT Lots of charter boats on the river. The Architecture Excursion, which we enjoyed a few years ago, and various other tourist craft were moving up and down the Chicago River. Walked a few blocks, thought about a pizza at Giardanos, but decided that might go beyond my hunger level. Some interesting police action at Jackson & Wacker Drive as over 50 officers and cars were stationed along the corner and several entered a high-rise building. No fire trucks so not sure if this was a training mission??

I kept walking. Decided to head to Potbellys on Adams St for a sub, drink and sit on the porch watching all the boats go by. A persistent seagull was eyeing my sandwich, but he eventually decided to head elsewhere. As the lunch crowds grew larger decided to walk back to the station, check the store for any new Amtrak items and then camp out in the lounge until boarding. Snacks were scarce on the counter as a hoard of travelers descended on the agent whenever new items were brought out. Managed to grab a bag of chips and some cookies and watched some TV.

At 2:30 our Train #3 was called and we walked to Track 26. My sleeper was in Car 330 Room 3 on the right side of the track. Always good views from that side. Our car attendant was Justin and he turned out to be one of the best in my Amtrak riding history. Always pleasant, kept restrooms and shower immaculate, always ready for bed turndowns and setups. Learned along the way he was an artist and also played in a rock band that toured Europe in his younger days. Our train was pulled by P42. #181 and #28 and we had 3 coaches, diner, lounge car, two sleepers (1 a dorm car)

Ordered supper for 5pm and then settled back for the nice sunny ride across central Illinois. Dinner was the steak, mashed potatoes and string beans. A nice piece of raspberry cheesecake topped off an excellent meal. Nice to see flowers on the table and a chef cooked meal after enduring the meals on eastern Amtrak trains.

Had a brief stop in Galesburg about 5:45. Not allowed to leave the train since we had lost a little time in the Chicago suburbs. An hour later, we were crossing the Mississippi River two level bridge and around the giant curve to Fort Madison, Iowa. I was here in April with my Ashland Model Train Club on a wild & crazy Amtrak trip, but excellent stay at the Kingsley Inn. I had called Claudia to see if she would watch the Virtual Railfan camera where I hoped to do a quick wave before we departed. New engineer changes here so there was time to step off. I was happy to learn that I was caught on camera, even a closeup with my Amtrak shirt and hat. Stardom for a brief moment.

Back on the train as dusk fell over the Des Moines River and we entered Missouri. I stayed up until we got to LaPlata, MO, another spot where our railroad club visited on our April tour. It was now 7:45 and except for a few Amish travelers, the station was dark. Some new repairs had been made to the station and hopefully the VR cameras will be reinstated soon. I ask Justin to put down my bed around 8pm as I was very tired after a long day. We had a long delay for freights after LaPlata and ended up being an hour late into KCY. Slept right through our stop in Kansas City and across much of Kansas.

 

Railroad Bill

Buckeye Train Watcher
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2007
Messages
3,872
Location
Northern Ohio
Amtrak Gathering 2022 San Diego, California

October 4-13, 2022

Trains: Lake Shore 49, Southwest Chief 3, Surfliner 770, Surfliner 785, Texas Eagle/Sunset Ltd 422, Capitol Ltd 30​





Wednesday October 5


Woke up around 6am as we passed Dodge City, KS and decided to hit the shower before the crowd came down. Our car was a Superliner 1 Refurbed with the glass shower door and more room in the changing area. Justin had plenty of towels available, soap box and bag to place used towels. Nice hot shower and felt revived and ready for a new day. We crossed into Lamar Colorado and changed our clocks back an hour to Mountain Time. Breakfast was at 6:30 and I enjoyed a real cheese omelet, potatoes, sausage, a biscuit milk. Ate with a gentleman who was a salesman for electronic equipment. Nice conversation about his travels.

At 8:30 MDT we arrived in La Junta, which is a crew change spot that gave us time to walk around and get some photos of the locos, the station, and surrounding mountains. Lots of BNSF traffic and shot some Pumpkins before time to reboard. Our new conductor was a young man, very personable and he & Justin had some interesting conversations. I decided I would try sitting in the Lounge car as we moved toward Trinidad CO, but the coughing and sneezing among the mask-less passengers soon sent me back to the room. We arrived in Trinidad around 9:50 and it began to rain so decided not to get off the train. Only a brief stop for a few passengers. We arrived at the Raton Tunnel around 10:30 and the rain continued. 15 minutes later we arrived in Raton, New Mexico and again decided to stay on the train. This is a very nice Spanish style station.

For the next four hours we traveled through some beautiful mountainous terrain and eventually pulled to a siding to let our counterpart Train 4 go by. Along the route I saw a herd of elk, several antelope grazing along the tracks and a herd of buffalo that may have been part of a farm.

I went to lunch at noon and had an Amburger and chips and another piece of that raspberry cheesecake…. Jeff was my dining mate. A salesman who had traveled far and wide in Europe and the United States. We were now running a bit behind, the rain continued and we now learned that the restrooms in both sleepers were not operating. The conductor announced that when we reached Albuquerque a mechanical crew would be available to work on the problem. Passengers were advised to use the coach restrooms that were working.

We arrived in Lamy, NM about 2:30 pm where a bus would transport passengers going to Santa Fe, a short ride away. There were several old railroad cars and some locomotives used by a former excursion railroad. We passed several native pueblos on the route. Although this was Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, the weather prohibited flying on this somewhat dreary day.

As we continued the rain let up and we eventually arrived in ABQ at 3:45. I decided to take advantage of the restrooms in the station since we would be here for a hour to fuel engines, change some crews and a chance to look over the native jewelry and souvenir booths always waiting on the platform. Took some photos of the Railrunner trains waiting for their next run. We have traveled the entire route south to Belen, NM and north to Santa Fe on our previous journeys. Very nice commuter trains with a nice Roadrunner logo to highlight the train.

I looked at the jewelry, much of which was high quality. But not having Claudia along to evaluate the pricing, I decided to pass this trip. Had a conversation with the conductor and Justin about our restroom status. The mechanics were able to repair the restrooms in the dorm car, but our 330 car vacuum system was shot and could not be repaired. Thus, we would need to use the facilities in that car for the remainder of the trip to LA. The car attendants did a nice job of keeping the restrooms in good condition for the double set of passengers, but it was still a hassle going to the other car downstairs.

We left ABQ around 4:30 and off across the desert we went. Had supper at 5 and again enjoyed an excellent steak and potatoes dinner. Couldn’t resist that cheesecake one more time. Had dinner with a woman who had traveled from LA to Connecticut to visit her daughter and was now returning home. Her trips were in bedrooms most of the round trip and she paid nearly $4000 for those rooms. It is very expensive to travel in bedrooms these days. Needless to say, she was very unhappy with Amtrak over her trip. First having to eat KFC and MCD on an eastern train when the food supply was apparently contaminated. Now no restrooms which she paid highly for a private bathroom and shower. Gave her information on contacting Customer Relations. Understand her [email protected]

At 7pm we stopped in Gallup NM as the sun began to set. We had a chance to stretch our legs and car attendants helped a gentleman in the H Room make the trip to the other car for restroom assistance. The Gallup station looks very nice from the outside, but not enough time to go inside. We only stayed about 15 minutes and off into the Arizona desert we went. I stayed up until Winslow, AZ and then had the bed readied. We were making up a little time and it was expected we might get into Los Angeles nearly on time. We also learned that our trip on the Surfliner would be disrupted with a bus transfer from Irvine to Oceanside due to track work on a landslide issue.

As the sunset ended, I was looking forward to a good sleep with a lack of train horns across the desert. Good night.
 
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Railroad Bill

Buckeye Train Watcher
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2007
Messages
3,872
Location
Northern Ohio
Thursday Oct 6

I awoke at Barstow, California around 4am and found myself still not adjusted to the time change since it was actually 7am back in Ohio. Breakfast would begin at 5:30 since our anticipated arrival in LA was usually around 7am. I had the cheese omelet, potatoes, and biscuit and milk and went back to my room to prepare for our disembarking. Soon we were stopping in Fullerton where a number of passengers left the train. We passed a heavy industrialized area and saw the famed Los Angeles River, a concrete canal where the massive graffiti on the walls had been covered by gray paint. Soon we reached Mission Tower where the tracks entering LA Union Station break off from the main line. A short move brought us to the large multi-track sheds controlled by Amtrak and Metrolink trains. After wishing Justin well, I departed down the ramp and into the long tunnel that leads to the main station area. I looked for the elevator that would take passengers to the LA Metro Lounge on the 2nd floor. This lounge only serves first class sleeper passengers, no longer a haven for Business Class. Luckily my roomette ticket on the SW Chief allowed entrance. After the desk agent unlocked the door and checked my tickets, she directed me to the baggage room where one can store bags. Although the lounge is rather small compared to eastern cities, there was adequate seating, nice snacks and beverages, orange juice, and clean restrooms. I asked about using a Red Cap to lessen my walk back to the trains later in the morning. Then headed downstairs for some photos of the station both inside and out. I remember much about LAUS from previous trips; the beautiful art deco hall and the picturesque design. Since my Surfliner was scheduled to leave at 10am, I made it back in time to secure a Red Cap ride out the back door of the lounge. A quicker and less stressful ride to my train.

Our trip to San Diego today would be in 3 parts. First, the Surfliner 770 for a one hour ride to Irvine, CA, then a bus ride for another hour on Bus 3770 to Oceanside, CA and then transfer back to Surfliner Train 1770 to complete the voyage to San Diego. Since I was carrying three bags, I chose to sit in the BC lower level rather than climb the stairs. Handicapped and Seniors are permitted on the lower floor. We did not receive the traditional snack box usually found in Business Class and when we arrived in Irvine it was a mad rush to find the multitude of buses that were waiting at the station. In a rather disorganized manner, we put our bags under the bus and then hoped we would ride that particular bus. Did get a seat by myself and after a uneventful ride, we again debarked the bus, found our luggage placed outside the bus and then waited for the next Surfliner to board. We did eventually receive our snack box with less than an hour before our 2nd train ride ended in downtown San Diego and the beautiful Santa Fe Depot.

After a few quick photos, I decided to walk to my hotel, Best Western Plus, Bayside on Ash Street. Claudia & I have stayed here twice on other San Diego trips and found the rooms large, clean and with some good views of the city, although some new high-rise condos have now blocked much of the bay view. The rate was quite reasonable since I booked back in November. With a large Twitch convention in town, the price of rooms had risen to $400 per night. I was able to check in early, store my luggage and go hunting for a 7=11 to get some snacks, milk for breakfast and some fresh bananas. Unfortunately, the hotel has not resumed its full breakfast after Covid, so the bag breakfast had many items that my personal diet did not agree. I returned to the room and waited for AU member Jim Hudson *Bob Dylan* to arrive from Austin on a SWA flight. Since Claudia chose not to go this year’s Gathering, I had a two-bed room to share. At 6:30 pm Jim arrived and we found an excellent Italian restaurant called Petrini’s, just a block from our hotel. This section of San Diego is known as Little Italy and has many exclusive eateries. I had the lasagna with fresh bread and a salad, Jim had the pasta with meat sauce. Both were excellent, good service. Highly recommend.

After a long day we watched some TV, caught up on all the news in our lives since our last meeting three years ago, and hit the hay. A long day of training and busing. A full day and meet up with other members of AU tomorrow.
 

Railroad Bill

Buckeye Train Watcher
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2007
Messages
3,872
Location
Northern Ohio
Friday October 7

After a quick breakfast, we decided to walk down to the bay to see all the changes that had taken place since our last visit. For Jim, who had been stationed here in the Navy in the 1960s, the changes were enormous. Many of those buildings and small stores were now replaced with high rise apartments, parks and cruise port docks instead of military berths. We saw a nice old time ship museum that had many examples of sailing ships, a submarine, and cargo ferry. The Royal Princess cruise ship was docked waiting to set sail later in the afternoon. The Midway aircraft carrier is now a museum that Claudia & I visited on a former visit. We decided to walk back toward the Santa Fe Depot to find a place for lunch since our meeting with AU travelers would not begin until 12:30. We stopped in a sub shop called Grab & Go, with a huge sub sandwich that we had to divide and take back to the hotel to eat later. We returned to the station to meet our fellow AUers for our rides on the Coaster and Sprinter commuter trains to the north. Everyone needed a Pronto Card to scan when entering and leaving the trains. Those with passes got a good deal on all day rides. We boarded our Coaster train at 12:30 and moved past Old Town, and into a mountain pass near Torrey Pines before emerging along the beaches of the Pacific Coast. There were many people enjoying an early weekend, a few surfers and picknickers. We rode to Oceanside and then transferred to the Sprinter train that was an hour-long ride to Escondido. Very nice trains with views of the California countryside and mountain areas away from the ocean. We returned to our Coaster train for a return trip to San Diego by 5:30. We planned to have dinner with Chris and Jishnu at Petrini’s, but the earliest reservation was 7:30, so Jim and I decided to walk down to the bay and observe more activities as the evening sunset brought bright lights and music to the area. A nice park where outdoor movies were being held for families, fine seafood restaurant on the boardwalk and hundreds of people enjoying the nightlife. We returned to Petrini’s to have dinner at 7:30. I enjoyed my lasagna dinner and others tried various pasta dishes.

Returned to the room to watch some ballgames on TV. Nice to see many old friends and some new riders including Peter from The Netherlands, Thully from Michigan, Jishnu from Florida, Saxman from Dallas, Chris from La Crosse, WI, Misty from St Louis, Piotr from New Jersey, Jim from Austin, Tx, Alice from California.
 

Railroad Bill

Buckeye Train Watcher
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2007
Messages
3,872
Location
Northern Ohio
Saturday October 8

This morning we would meet the AUers at Santa Fe Depot for our all-day rides on San Diego Trolleys. At 9:30 we met JebR from Minneapolis/St Paul, Long Train Running from New Jersey, Cal and his mother from California, San Diegan from California and other members who rode yesterday. Our first ride at 10am was to Isidro on the Blue Line to reach the Mexican border. Lots of activity in both autos and trucks, and land crossings from pedestrians. After a brief stop, we returned to downtown San Diego and continued north on the Blue Line. We saw many new buildings at the UCSD campus, a beautiful Mormon Tabernacle and arrived at Westfield Mission Valley Mall where we had dinner and shopped a while before boarding another Blue Line back to Santa Fe Depot. We then boarded the Green line east to Santee in the far eastern suburbs. We then boarded the Orange Line to downtown. We saw that Commercial St was the gathering place for homeless people who had been moved away from the tourist areas of downtown. A sad part of our current state of affairs in large cities.

A full day of covering the SD Trolleys. When we departed the Orange Line trolley, I had said goodbye to our members since I would be going to Balboa Park on Sunday to view an exclusive Impressionist art exhibit at the San Diego Museum of Art. Jim & I walked back to the hotel, ate the remainder of our subs from yesterday and watched some TV. The other AUers would be meeting downtown Sunday to ride the Silver Line old time trolley buses that followed a circular route near 12th & Imperial.

Sunday October 9

After breakfast I called a Lyft for my trip to Balboa Park. Since the art museum did not open until noon, I walked around this beautiful park, observing the magnificent buildings and architecture from the Panama Exposition held in 1915-1917 to commemorate the opening of the Panama Canal and San Diego’s part as a Pacific Coast port. Many of the original buildings remain and have been repurposed into museums and park grounds. At 12 the SDMA opened and I went to the main exhibit “Monet to Matisse” brought from France from a famed collector of European art.

There were several rooms full of great art from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I took photos and descriptions of most. Also looked at most of the other exhibition halls, some of which we had seen on previous visits. At 2 I called for a Lyft to ride back to our hotel. Both drivers were pleasant and prompt and I tipped appropriately. I arrived back to the hotel where Jim was waiting for our walk to Santa Fe Depot and our bustitution from San Diego to Irvine Ca. The hotel manager was very gracious in not charging us for the fourth night of our stay since we were forced to change our schedule due to Amtrak train issues. Highly recommend this hotel to those who wish to stay in downtown for a reasonable rate.

As it turned out, the Silver Line trolley was not operating this weekend, so our AU gang was disappointed and found other means to occupy their times in San Diego. Jim had a nice lunch with Alice before she returned home. Thanks to JebR, Chris (Saxman) and Jishnu for their work in planning the Gathering amid trying circumstances. We always remember that Amtrak and local transit are a real adventure these days.

Again, the Surfliners were cancelled due to track work. Our Amfleet bus boarded at 3 pm for the 2-hour ride to Irvine. Passed through Encinitas, Carlsbad, Oceanside and Camp Pendleton Marine Base, and arrived in Irvine around 5 pm. We had a long wait at the station until the Surfliner arrived for our trip to LAUS. We had to cross a bridge over the tracks using two elevators. Large crowd waiting on the platform, but most were riding regular coach, so our BC car had plenty of room on the lower floor. We did get a snack pack for the remainder of the trip.

Arrived at LAUS after 7 and stored our bags and headed up Alameda St for Philipp’s famous eatery a few blocks from the station. I had never eaten here and so another bucket list item was conquered. Although it was a Sunday night at 7:30, there was still a significant line waiting for the French dip sandwiches and deli items at the long counter. We sat in a room full of railroad memorabilia and observed many antique baseball, circus memorabilia, old phone booths and historic items. An interesting collection of materials. Many famous individuals have eaten here, especially for their sandwiches and breakfasts.

Took some night photos of LAUS and walked back through the Hispanic booths although most were closed. Walked around Plaza Park but it was time for the homeless to take over the area, so we returned to the station to board our Texas Eagle SS Ltd 422. Took a Red Cap cart to the train and observed that we had two private cars, a dome observation and a Pullman car behind our sleeper car. I was in Roomette #5 and Jim was in Room #6 so we could have some conversations; although the beds were down thanks to our SCA James and it was time to hook up my Cpap for a good nights sleep.

Unfortunately, about 11pm, our train came to a sudden stop after we hit a tree or some debris on the track. I heard gravel and thought that we may have derailed, but soon the conductors inspected the track and cars and determined that our part of the train was ok. But some damage had occurred to one of the private cars, making it necessary to back those cars onto a siding. By the time this process was completed we were now nearly two hours late. I returned to sleep as we passed Pomona and no more incidents took place as we entered Monday morning.
 

Railroad Bill

Buckeye Train Watcher
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2007
Messages
3,872
Location
Northern Ohio
Monday October 10.

I awoke around 6am, showered and went down to the diner for breakfast. The omelet hit the spot as Jim and I discussed the events of the previous evening. We had lost more time overnight and were now near three hours down. As we crossed the desert, we were now close to Maricopa AZ, the stop for those making a connection to Phoenix. The small station was unimpressive with just a small metal building, a fenced in outside waiting area and an old water tower left from days gone by. Due to the short platform we had to double spot for coaches and sleeping cars. There were a number of passengers waiting to board as we arrived around 8:45.

There is some padding in the schedule going to Tucson as we arrived at 10:15 but still 2 ½ hours late. A long stop as locos are fueled and many passengers debark and load. Jim & I decided to check out the station, which has some nice historic photos and artifacts and a railroad museum next door that has a nice steam locomotive outside near the platform. I was hoping to see the cats that hang out near the locomotive, but they generally hide when the trains come in. There is a Virtual Railfan camera that I attempted to wave at. Did reach my brother who saw us and our visit was recorded. We were given the all aboard at 10:55 and thus only made up about 15 minutes on our late train. Hopefully we might do better in El Paso.

As we left Tucson, the cactus laced desert provided some nice photos as we moved to Benson, AZ. Still 3 hours down and starting to get concerned over making our connection to San Antonio tomorrow morning. We continued on after lunch across New Mexico, passing Lordsburg & Deming and taking some railfan shots out our back window. We arrived in El Paso around 6:30 and were finishing our steak dinners as the sun began to set. We did not get off the train to meet the famed “Burrito Lady” because of our late arrival. The long journey across Texas was now beginning and since we did not yet know our fate for San Antonio, I decided to retire early. James put the bed down around 8:30 and I slept very well.



Tuesday October 11


I woke up around 6am CDT and talked to James about our morning schedule. It had been determined that we would not arrive in San Antonio until after 9am and the connecting Train 22 would be leaving at 7am on time. A bus would be brought to SAS station and we eventually be connected with our train somewhere in north central Texas. We were told to go to breakfast in the diner. One last cooked omelet, potatoes and biscuit was awaiting as we moved into San Antonio. Our conductor said one bus would take passengers to stops north to Fort Worth and that my bus would be an express.

But we now learned it would be a 6+ hour ride to Longview Texas. I loaded my large bag under the bus and we waited an hour while all passengers on the 422 cars were loaded on the 2 buses. I was fortunate to have a seat by myself in a very comfortable Amtrak bus. I said goodbye to Jim as he would be getting off his bus in Austin. We headed up I-35 at a fast pace and except for the loud movie playing on the bus screens, the trip was ok. The driver gave everyone a bag of Chees-Its and a bottle of water. After 3 hours of riding, we stopped at a Buc-ee’s store in Temple Texas. I had never been to any of these stores, but what an experience. A huge building with multiple food outlets selling their famous beef brisket, but many other sandwich choices. Drink stations that covered an entire wall. The largest restrooms I have ever seen. Hundreds of employees, each with a specific task to welcome customers and sell goods. A large gas filling station with over 50 tanks. I had the famed beef brisket and took it on the bus with some lemonade. The driver gave everyone 40 minutes to eat and use facilities before we took off further north to Waco and then the outskirts of Dallas. We moved to I-20 now and headed east for the ride to Longview. Nearly four hours from Temple. Talked with a couple from Seattle who had been on our 422 train and were going to St Louis. We finally arrived in Longview at 3:45 pm nearly seven hours from San Antonio. We were told our 22 Texas Eagle lost time to Fort Worth and Dallas and was now running nearly 2 hours late. Thus, we spent 3 hours at Longview, exploring the refurbished old station, watching passing Union Pacific freights and starting to get hungry. Talked with some interesting passengers, a friendly Amtrak agent and took lots of photos of our station grounds.

At 6:45 our train arrived and I boarded Room 5 and was met by a very friendly SCA Simon. He was very welcoming and understood our long journey from San Antonio. I went up to the diner, which was back to serving the new Eastern train meals, but that pasta and meatballs tasted pretty good with a salad and a new dessert cake that was very tasty. We moved to Marshall, Texas fine depot at 8:15 and I decided to have Simon put the bed down for the night. It had been a long day as we crossed into Arkansas.
 

Railroad Bill

Buckeye Train Watcher
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2007
Messages
3,872
Location
Northern Ohio
Wednesday Oct 12

Having started the night an hour late, I found our train had made up time across Arkansas and was now looking to be early into St Louis. The Mississippi River was running beside our train as dawn erupted and I chose to get a quick shower and grab breakfast before we reached St Louis at 7am. We had nearly 45 minutes to roam the station, get a photo of our P42 # 55 being fueled and a Missouri River Runner being prepared for its trip to Kansas City later this morning. Major train crew changes and a few Amtrak employees deadheading to Chicago. Went up to the station and took some photos out of the colored windows that cover the walkway across the tracks. Nice to get out and walk on a chilly morning.

As I looked at our schedule, I saw that I could change my train from Chicago from the Lake Shore 48 to the Capitol Ltd 30 and get home early to Cleveland. I was lucky that a roomette was available in the 3000 car and actually had a rebate of 1500 AGR points. Such a deal. We left St Louis around 8 am and made good time across Illinois after we crossed the Mississippi past the great Arch. Stops in Alton, Springfield and Lincoln were brief and except for a delay around Joliet, we made good time to CHI. We were offered a quick sandwich for a lunch at 11am.

We arrived in Chicago around 1:30, fifteen minutes early and after maneuvering through a crowded station, made it to the Metro Lounge, stored bags and took a brief walk around the city. It was a bit chilly, no boats on the river and so I decided to just eat some snacks in the lounge and watch TV until my CL 30 was called at 6pm. Had a nice talk with one of our bus riding friends heading for NY later on 48 and some other riders going to Pittsburgh. Our train was called and we marched to Track 26 and my room 5. Our SCA was Phil who seemed friendly and helpful at the beginning but proved to be a weak employee. I asked to have my dinner in the diner, but he brought all of our meals in bags and said throw away your trash when you are finished. Then I asked him to make up my bed at 9:30 after our stop in Elkhart. He never came, spending time somewhere on the train? The couple across the hall had also requested bed service and we both decided to make up our own beds and go to sleep. After I had retired at 10:30, he came around seemly surprised that we had already gone to bed. We made good time across Indiana. I awoke as we passed over the Sandusky Bay Bridge and wanted to check out the major derailment scene near the Sandusky depot from last week. Still some construction equipment around but most of the cleanup had finished. Our conductor was prompt in seeing that I was awake after Elyria and we arrived in Cleveland on time. It was raining pretty hard when we arrived, but my rain jacket was useful in keeping me dry. Luggage was a little wet but good to be back to my car and heading south to Ashland; an hour and half later I was home and ready for bed at 3:30am.

I enjoyed the train rides and most of the Amtrak staff, especially SCAs Justin, Simon,& Richard; Loretta, Robin and Robbie in the diner. Enjoyed all the time in San Diego, seeing old friends, riding the trolleys and new rides on the Coaster and Sprinter trains. A great art exhibit at the SDMA in Balboa Park. Great Italian meals in Little Italy. Finally got to see Philipp’s in LA and the Metro Lounge in LAUS. Enjoyed the time with old friend Jim Hudson. Did not enjoy the bus rides, especially the nearly 7- hour ride in Texas. But it all was a fun time and hope next year in the East will bring new adventures. We are off on the Auto Train to Florida next month and will be riding VIA Canadian in May, another bucket list train.
 

Railroad Bill

Buckeye Train Watcher
AU Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 28, 2007
Messages
3,872
Location
Northern Ohio
Some photos from my trip to Gathering 2022. Trip to Chicago from Cleveland
 

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Railroad Bill

Buckeye Train Watcher
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Messages
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Northern Ohio
Gathering Photos 2022 Across the American West
 

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Railroad Bill

Buckeye Train Watcher
AU Supporting Member
Joined
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Messages
3,872
Location
Northern Ohio
Gathering Photos 2022 ABQ-LAUS
 

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Railroad Bill

Buckeye Train Watcher
AU Supporting Member
Joined
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Messages
3,872
Location
Northern Ohio
Gathering Photos 2022 LAX to San Diego
 

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Railroad Bill

Buckeye Train Watcher
AU Supporting Member
Joined
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Messages
3,872
Location
Northern Ohio
Gathering 2022 San Diego
 

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Railroad Bill

Buckeye Train Watcher
AU Supporting Member
Joined
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Messages
3,872
Location
Northern Ohio
Gathering 2022 The AU Gang Riding Trains
 

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Railroad Bill

Buckeye Train Watcher
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Joined
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Messages
3,872
Location
Northern Ohio
Gathering 2022 AUers Riding Trains in SAN 220221008_143754 conv.jpeg
 

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Railroad Bill

Buckeye Train Watcher
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Joined
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Messages
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I spent part of Sunday attending a fine art exhibit of Impressionism & Modern Art at SD Museum of Art. A collection from France on its last day in the US. Spent 2 hours viewing over 300 works including a nice room full of Picasso art, pottery and drawings. Took a Lyft back to the hotel where Jim & I boarded a bus for LA. From Monet to Ambus. smiles.
 

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Railroad Bill

Buckeye Train Watcher
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Joined
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Messages
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LA to San Antonio. A grand voyage across the SW desert. A stop at Philipps for dinner and some night views of LAUS
 

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Railroad Bill

Buckeye Train Watcher
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Joined
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Messages
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Location
Northern Ohio
A nice stop in Tucson but a slow ride across Texas means another bus ride in San Antonio
 

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Railroad Bill

Buckeye Train Watcher
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Joined
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Messages
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Location
Northern Ohio
Gathering 2022 Longview TX to Chicago via St Louis
 

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Railroad Bill

Buckeye Train Watcher
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Joined
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Messages
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Location
Northern Ohio
Gathering 2022 Last Days
 

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Joined
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Messages
628
Location
East San Diego County
Although we’ve read and enjoyed many fine trip reports from AU members over the years, this one was especially effective in capturing the fun and excitement of traveling on long distance trains and in making the most of every minute of the trip.

If Amtrak could somehow make trip reports like this one available to the general public, it would certainly go a long way towards helping to increase ridership and counter some of the negative articles that have been written about Amtrak in recently years.
 
Joined
Jan 20, 2016
Messages
628
Location
East San Diego County
Saturday October 8

This morning we would meet the AUers at Santa Fe Depot for our all-day rides on San Diego Trolleys. At 9:30 we met JebR from Minneapolis/St Paul, Long Train Running from New Jersey, Cal and his mother from California, San Diegan from California and other members who rode yesterday. Our first ride at 10am was to Isidro on the Blue Line to reach the Mexican border. Lots of activity in both autos and trucks, and land crossings from pedestrians. After a brief stop, we returned to downtown San Diego and continued north on the Blue Line. We saw many new buildings at the UCSD campus, a beautiful Mormon Tabernacle and arrived at Westfield Mission Valley Mall where we had dinner and shopped a while before boarding another Blue Line back to Santa Fe Depot. We then boarded the Green line east to Santee in the far eastern suburbs. We then boarded the Orange Line to downtown. We saw that Commercial St was the gathering place for homeless people who had been moved away from the tourist areas of downtown. A sad part of our current state of affairs in large cities.

A full day of covering the SD Trolleys. When we departed the Orange Line trolley, I had said goodbye to our members since I would be going to Balboa Park on Sunday to view an exclusive Impressionist art exhibit at the San Diego Museum of Art. Jim & I walked back to the hotel, ate the remainder of our subs from yesterday and watched some TV. The other AUers would be meeting downtown Sunday to ride the Silver Line old time trolley buses that followed a circular route near 12th & Imperial.

Sunday October 9

After breakfast I called a Lyft for my trip to Balboa Park. Since the art museum did not open until noon, I walked around this beautiful park, observing the magnificent buildings and architecture from the Panama Exposition held in 1915-1917 to commemorate the opening of the Panama Canal and San Diego’s part as a Pacific Coast port. Many of the original buildings remain and have been repurposed into museums and park grounds. At 12 the SDMA opened and I went to the main exhibit “Monet to Matisse” brought from France from a famed collector of European art.

There were several rooms full of great art from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I took photos and descriptions of most. Also looked at most of the other exhibition halls, some of which we had seen on previous visits. At 2 I called for a Lyft to ride back to our hotel. Both drivers were pleasant and prompt and I tipped appropriately. I arrived back to the hotel where Jim was waiting for our walk to Santa Fe Depot and our bustitution from San Diego to Irvine Ca. The hotel manager was very gracious in not charging us for the fourth night of our stay since we were forced to change our schedule due to Amtrak train issues. Highly recommend this hotel to those who wish to stay in downtown for a reasonable rate.

As it turned out, the Silver Line trolley was not operating this weekend, so our AU gang was disappointed and found other means to occupy their times in San Diego. Jim had a nice lunch with Alice before she returned home. Thanks to JebR, Chris (Saxman) and Jishnu for their work in planning the Gathering amid trying circumstances. We always remember that Amtrak and local transit are a real adventure these days.

Again, the Surfliners were cancelled due to track work. Our Amfleet bus boarded at 3 pm for the 2-hour ride to Irvine. Passed through Encinitas, Carlsbad, Oceanside and Camp Pendleton Marine Base, and arrived in Irvine around 5 pm. We had a long wait at the station until the Surfliner arrived for our trip to LAUS. We had to cross a bridge over the tracks using two elevators. Large crowd waiting on the platform, but most were riding regular coach, so our BC car had plenty of room on the lower floor. We did get a snack pack for the remainder of the trip.

Arrived at LAUS after 7 and stored our bags and headed up Alameda St for Philipp’s famous eatery a few blocks from the station. I had never eaten here and so another bucket list item was conquered. Although it was a Sunday night at 7:30, there was still a significant line waiting for the French dip sandwiches and deli items at the long counter. We sat in a room full of railroad memorabilia and observed many antique baseball, circus memorabilia, old phone booths and historic items. An interesting collection of materials. Many famous individuals have eaten here, especially for their sandwiches and breakfasts.

Took some night photos of LAUS and walked back through the Hispanic booths although most were closed. Walked around Plaza Park but it was time for the homeless to take over the area, so we returned to the station to board our Texas Eagle SS Ltd 422. Took a Red Cap cart to the train and observed that we had two private cars, a dome observation and a Pullman car behind our sleeper car. I was in Roomette #5 and Jim was in Room #6 so we could have some conversations; although the beds were down thanks to our SCA James and it was time to hook up my Cpap for a good nights sleep.

Unfortunately, about 11pm, our train came to a sudden stop after we hit a tree or some debris on the track. I heard gravel and thought that we may have derailed, but soon the conductors inspected the track and cars and determined that our part of the train was ok. But some damage had occurred to one of the private cars, making it necessary to back those cars onto a siding. By the time this process was completed we were now nearly two hours late. I returned to sleep as we passed Pomona and no more incidents took place as we entered Monday morning.
At one time, Philipp’s was where the Paul Eagles Circus Luncheon Club would meet. This was a gathering of circus folk who were based in the LA area. (This is why there is a collection of circus items on display there.) At Christmas time, the luncheon club members would volunteer their services to put on a free circus for some local children's hospital.
 
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