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SUMMER 1997 AMTRAK TRAVELOGUE

PART I

by Carol Larsen

Summer is my primary time for Amtrak travel. I'm employed in the high school office of the school district where I live and have vacations that correspond with school vacations. That gives me 2-1/2 months of potential travel time in the summer. Here is my itinerary as it stood when I began my trip:

         CITY       TIME      DAY  DATE   CARRIER            SVC. CLASS

DEPART:  MILWAUKEE  12:35 PM  SAT  06-14  HIAWATHA           UNRESERVED
ARRIVE:  CHICAGO     2:07 PM  SAT  06-14
         AUNT COMING FROM CALIFORNIA
         DRAKE HOTEL
         140 E. WALTON PLACE
         CHICAGO, IL 60610

DEPART:  CHICAGO     1:20 PM  THU  06-19  EMPIRE BUILDER     STD BEDRM
ARRIVE:  PORTLAND    8:55 AM  SAT  06-21                      2730-07

DEPART:  PORTLAND    2:30 PM  SAT  06-21  COAST STARLIGHT    STD BEDRM
ARRIVE:  SACRAMENTO  6:10 AM  SUN  06-22                      1132-03
         REVISIT CALIFORNIA STATE RR MUSEUM

DEPART:  SACRAMENTO  1:20 PM  SUN  06-22  CALIFORNIA ZEPHYR  COACH
ARRIVE:  SALT LAKE   4:50 AM  MON  06-23
         NATIONAL RAILWAY HISTORICAL SOCIETY CONVENTION
         LITTLE AMERICA HOTEL & TOWERS
         500 S. MAIN STREET
         SALT LAKE CITY, UT 84101

DEPART:  SALT LAKE   1:05 AM  SUN  06-29  CALIFORNIA ZEPHYR  STD BEDRM
ARRIVE:  EMERYVILLE  4:55 PM  SUN  06-29                      0533-05

DEPART:  EMERYVILLE  5:10 PM  SUN  06-29  THRUWAY BUS
ARRIVE:  SAN FRAN.   6:00 PM  SUN  06-29
         WESTIN ST. FRANCIS HOTEL
         335 POWELL STREET
         SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94102

BEGIN:   SAN FRAN.   8:15 AM  MON  06-30  GLOBUS TOURS - CALIFORNIA
END:     SAN DIEGO   BRKFAST  SUN  07-06    COAST VACATION
                                            TOUR # AD0628

DEPART:  SAN DIEGO  10:20 AM  SUN  07-06  SAN DIEGANS        UNRESERVED
ARRIVE:  OCEANSIDE  11:15 AM  SUN  07-06
         VISIT AUNT AT HER HOME

DEPART:  OCEANSIDE   6:09 PM  SUN  07-06  SAN DIEGANS        UNRESERVED
ARRIVE:  FULLERTON   7:33 PM  SUN  07-06

DEPART:  FULLERTON   9:15 PM  SUN  07-06  SOUTHWEST CHIEF    STD BEDRM
ARRIVE:  CHICAGO     3:15 PM  TUE  07-08                      0430-10

DEPART:  CHICAGO     5:08 PM  TUE  07-08  HIAWATHA           UNRESERVED
ARRIVE:  MILWAUKEE   6:45 PM  TUE  07-08

This isn't quite the itinerary I had originally planned. Upon leaving the convention, I intended to take one of Steve Grande's suggestions and stay overnight on the 4th floor of the Jack London Inn before riding the Coast Starlight to Oceanside the next day. I was to spend almost two weeks with my aunt at her home, but it developed that she would be too busy for company then. I was already psyched for some time in California, hence the motor coach tour. Before my trip ended, I was to experience a few additional changes.

I live approximately 160 miles from the closest Amtrak station, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which poses an access problem. On my first Amtrak trip, I decided that a 2-1/2 to 3 hour drive was even less desirable at the end of a vacation than it was at the beginning. Consequently, I pay one of the bus drivers from my school district to drive me to and from Milwaukee in his car. This time my usual driver, Orlan, was in a car accident (not his fault) about a month before the end of the school year. He was off work for two weeks, returned too soon, and was off again the last week of school. Since I was leaving that Saturday, I made arrangements with another driver, Gary.

AMTRAK HIAWATHA

SATURDAY, JUNE 14, 1997

Gary arrived at my house at 9:00 AM. We made good time enroute, arriving at the Milwaukee Amtrak Station at 5th and St. Paul at 11:35 AM. I enjoy watching other passengers arrive, which I spent the next 45 minutes doing. The Flexliner was operating on the Hiawatha during part of the month of June, but it wasn't on this particular run. I was slightly disappointed, but it had seemed too good to be true that I might be able to experience the equipment trial on this remote segment of Amtrak country! The Hiawatha consist normally includes single-level passenger cars with an F40PH engine in push/pull mode. There weren't the crowds to which I have previously become accustomed when boarding the Hiawatha in the summer. Perhaps they opted for the Flexliner runs.

The conductor, R. W. Jones, helped me board with my 26" rolling upright suitcase, which I wheeled in at the facing seats that were the first inside the car. I eagerly dropped my purse, shoulder tote, and overflow Eddie Bauer tote bag. There were plenty of available seats in the car, so it wasn't a problem that I was occupying four seats. I like to travel light, but everything hadn't fit into my suitcase as it should have. Before I left Chicago, I would have to UPS some clothes home that I wouldn't need for the rest of the trip.

The Hiawatha left on time at 12:35 PM. From my previous trips, I recognized the conductor who came through the car to take tickets. His name wasn't displayed on his jacket lapel, and I was remembering only my own name at that moment. He flipped through the array of ticket stock that I handed him and commented, "Oh boy, you're a traveling fool, aren't you!" "I sure am," I replied.

The relatively short trip to Chicago went uneventfully, while I amused myself listening to rail communications on 160.77 on my broad coverage Amateur Radio 2-meter handheld unit. After Conductor Jones made his P.A. announcement about arriving in Chicago and collecting your belongings, he entered the car and asked me if I had heard the announcement. I took my earphone out of my ear when I answered him. He then made some excuse about wondering if the P.A. was working in our car. While I was putting my radio away, it occurred to me that perhaps he thought only I might not have heard the announcement. I had kept my radio out of sight in my tote with the earphone wire leading to my ear. Could he have seen the earphone earlier and thought it was a hearing aid?

We arrived on time into Chicago's Union Station at 2:07 PM. I caught a cab at the Canal Street entrance to take me to the Drake Hotel where I would be staying with my aunt until the following Thursday. The cab driver said something about a bridge being up, causing me to envision an enormous cab fare. Instead, we went all the way to Walton Place off Michigan Boulevard for only $6.60.

I arrived at the hotel a couple of hours before my aunt, who was flying in from California and had a ride from O'Hare Field. This gave me a chance to settle into the room and explore the hotel before she arrived. We are both originally from Chicago and would be spending the next several days attending a variety of functions and visiting familiar places.

Copyright © 1997 by Carol Larsen

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