When 16-year old Henry announced that he “never wanted to go on vacation with his parents again”, we happily took him up on his offer. He’ll be spending the next four weeks staying with his friends (and going to school), while we’ll be spending a week each at three places in New England, using our accumulated time-share vacation weeks, and getting there and back on Amtrak
Henry has gone over to the Gieselmans’ house for the next four weeks. After dinner, we take a taxi over to the Pasadena station (the former Santa Fe station where Hollywood stars used to take the Super Chief, or arrive from the east on that train). We’re heading east on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief, when it stops in Pasadena after the stiff climb up from Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal. We check our luggage through to Boston, then wait outside in the balmy darkness for our train. When it arrives, we board our sleeper and find our Economy Bedroom on the upper level of the Superliner sleeping car. After settling into the room, saying goodbye to the cats as we pass below Sierra Madre in the center of the 210 freeway, we head to the upper level of the Lounge Car, where we remain until the train reaches the summit of Cajon Pass. We’re in bed by the time the train leaves Barstow.
The Santa Fe Route is divided into the following subdivisions:
· Pasadena Subdivision from Pasadena to San Bernardino (mileposts from Barstow)
· Cajon Subdivision from San Bernardino to Barstow (mileposts from Barstow)
· Needles Subdivision from Barstow to Needles (mileposts from Albuquerque)
· Seligman Subdivision from Needles to East Winslow
· Gallup Subdivision from East Winslow to Dalies (and Belen Junction)
· Glorieta Subdivision from Dalies to Las Vegas (mileposts from Atchison, KS)
· Raton Subdivision from Las Vegas to La Junta
· La Junta Subdivision from La Junta to Newton
· Newton Subdivision from Newton to Ellinor
· Emporia Subdivision from (Wellington and) Ellinor to N.R. Junction
· Topeka Subdivision from N.R. Junction to Holliday
· Emporia Subdivision from Holliday to Kansas City (Santa Fe Junction)
· Kansas City Terminal from Santa Fe Junction to Sheffield
· Marceline Subdivision from Kansas City (Sheffield) to Fort Madison (mp Chicago)
· Chillicothe Subdivision from Fort Madison to (Cameron and) Chicago
The Southwest Chief travels between Los Angeles and San Bernardino via the Pasadena subdivision, which includes a 600 ft. climb in the ten miles between Los Angeles and Pasadena (an average grade of greater than 1%, with a ruling grade of over 2%), through the urban areas of Highland Park and South Pasadena, then a series of gentle dips and climbs over the remaining 45 miles to San Bernardino, 200 ft. Higher than Pasadena, through urban areas gradually decreasing to citrus orchards and farmland, with a steel-making plant thrown in for good measure.
North of San Bernardino, the line traverses Cajon Pass, with a summit 2400 ft. higher than San Bernardino, then drops gently to Victorville and Barstow. On the West slope of Cajon Pass, the line crosses the San Andreas Fault at ‘Blue Cut’. From San Bernardino to ‘Frost’, the traditional ‘current of traffic’ directions are reversed, in favor of left-hand running, to take advantage of favorable grades. The steepest grade on the former South Track (now simply Track 2) is 3%, while that on the former North Track (Track 1) is only 2.2%. Both tracks are now signaled for bi-directional running. The ex-Santa Fe mainline is at least double track all the way from Los Angeles to near Albuquerque, where the passenger main separates from the two-main-track freight main.
Barstow has a large freight yard, where trains to/from both Los Angeles and the San Francisco area are, in many cases, re-sorted from/to trains connecting to points East of Belen (near Albuquerque), such as Alliance Yard in Fort Worth, Argentine Yard West of Kansas City, Willow Springs Intermodal Yard or Corwith Yard in Chicago, or direct connections with Eastern railroads in Illinois.
The westward trip across the Mojave starts from the banks of the Colorado River at Needles and climbs the stiff grade (1.4%) northwestward towards Goffs. At Goffs, the line turns southwestward and descends to Essex and Cadiz, where the junction with the Arizona and California is made. Then, the track climbs Ash Hill (with the dual main tracks separated for ease of grades, 1.4% upgrade westbound), reaches Ludlow and heads due West for Barstow. All of this is across rolling terrain, populated only by scrub and desert animals, between numerous ranges of treeless mountains. At Daggett, the Union Pacific line from Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, formerly used by the Desert Wind before that train’s cancellation in 1995, joins from the North.
East of Needles (which is at only 250 feet altitude), the line climbs over 7000 ft to the Arizona Divide, West of Flagstaff. In the lower altitudes, the terrain is desert, just like the Mojave, as the line passes through Kingman canyon, and then further canyon running between Kingman and Seligman. Between Seligman and Williams, the line now runs on an alignment newly engineered in the 1950s, known as the 'Crookton line change', to avoid the curving descent to, and climb from, Ash Fork. At Williams, the line crosses the Grand Canyon railway and joins with the old line to/from Ash Fork, which still operates as part of the line to Phoenix. Between Williams and Flagstaff, the terrain changes with the line running through pine trees at an altitude of over 7000 ft. across the Arizona Divide to Flagstaff. Adding to the spectacle of the magnificent scenery are the San Francisco Mountains, the remnants of the rim around an ancient volcanic caldera, to the North of the line, visible from West of Williams to well to the East of Flagstaff. East of Flagstaff, the terrain alongside the track is once again empty and ever more uninviting than to the West of Williams, as the line descends 1500 ft. or so to Winslow. The land is scarred by a number of usually-dry gullies, one of which, Canyon Diablo, is spanned by a spectacular and justly famous bridge.
We awake when the train stops in Winslow. There’s coffee and juice available in the car, so neither of us feels like getting breakfast.
East of Winslow, the line is accompanied by the Little Colorado "river", between various sets of brightly-colored cliffs, as it rises slowly to Gallup, and then to the continental divide. On this route, the latter is not only an anti-climax, it’s almost unnoticeable, being almost level, and at a much lower altitude than summits on either side. Further east, ‘mesas’, some of which have Indian villages atop them (for reasons of defense), replace the cliffs. As the line starts to descend into the Rio Grande valley, the freight and passenger mains separate, and the passenger line head northeastward to Albuquerque.
From Albuquerque, the line runs first due north along the Rio Grande, and then due East to Lamy, where the branch to Santa Fe itself cuts off. (This is now run by a shortline called the Santa Fe Southern.) East of Lamy, the line passes through Glorieta Pass, including a section of canyon so narrow that the train is only a few feet away from rocky walls on both sides at once, and into the Pecos River Valley. The track continues eastward until the Pecos is crossed, then turns northward through Las Vegas, NM and heads across the high plains of New Mexico to Raton, passing along the way such features as the double horseshoe curves at Ribera and Wagon Mound, the geological feature that the early settlers thought looked like a Conestoga wagon. North of Raton, the line climbs sharply to Raton Pass, the highest point on the former Santa Fe railroad system, then descend equally steeply to Trinidad, Colorado. Trinidad is on the western edge of the Great Plains that climb gradually all the way from the Missouri River.
The high plains of Colorado are largely arid, useful only for livestock grazing and dry farming. Further east, in western Kansas, farmers can handle both more livestock and less hardy crops, but irrigation is still required for the cropland, at least. Somewhere between the 95th and the 100th meridian, as the plains climb so slowly from the 400 ft. altitude of the Missouri River at Kansas City to the 5000 or 6000 ft. altitude at the base of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, an isoclime is passed at which the land becomes perceptibly drier, less able to handle crops without irrigation (and better able to handle wheat rather than corn), and can handle cattle better than sheep for livestock farming. Today, this isoclime tends to mark the western boundary of widespread settlement of the plains. Major settlements West of here tend to be nestled at the base of the Front Range of the Rockies.
On Train 4, eastbound, darkness falls between Trinidad and La Junta (if not earlier), and the light level is high enough to watch the passing landscape again just to the West Of Topeka, Kansas. For the traveler, this means that the break between the mid-Western farming styles seen in Illinois, Missouri, and eastern Kansas, and the high plains farming styles, takes place overnight. The result is a distinctly visible change between the evening and morning scenery.
(A similar substantial break occurs overnight on the trains between Chicago and New York City or Washington DC, between the mid-Western farmland and the "rust belt" of the industrial East and/or the Appalachian mountains, depending on which route is taken and the exact eastern boundary of darkness. The result for the transcontinental rider is a perception of quite distinct segments of countryside for East Coast, mid-West, mountain West, and the land bordering the Pacific Ocean (but the distinction of this last can be blurred by the perception that the mountains near the Pacific coast differ only slightly from those seen on the next day eastward.)
In the mid-West, from eastern Kansas to Indiana and western Ohio, farms tend to be of the picture postcard variety, each possessing a "red" barn and a "red" or aluminum silo or two. (The large agribusiness farms have more, of course, but these tend to be distributed around the farm, so the perception is the same.) From eastern Colorado eastward, every town has at least one large grain silo standing next to the tracks. The appearance of these tends to differ with age (time of building), but not by location. It is the appearance of the countryside itself that shows the difference in the rainfall levels, and thus the crop and livestock types.
In eastern Kansas, stops are made at the Kansas State capital, Topeka, and at Lawrence. Both trains 3 and 4 take fuel at on-line fuel racks adjacent to the large freight yard at Argentine, Kansas. For Train 4, this means that the fuel stop (20 minutes or so) comes before the train's arrival in Kansas City, and could be perceived as inappropriately placed if passengers are thereby unable to make connections to the morning eastbound train from Kansas City to St. Louis. The KC stop is adjacent to, but not in, the stately Kansas City Union Station, now a museum. The KC area, at least as it is visible from the train, is a typical older mid-Western city, with decaying industries in the areas near downtown, surrounding the gleaming new high-rise building in downtown itself. Both the river bottoms and the downtown are to the north of the train as it passes through the KC station area.
We awake as the train starts to leave Kansas City for the run to Chicago. There is a Santa Fe intermodal train running right alongside of us, on the north track. At first, it passes us as we accelerate from a standstill, but eventually we start to pass it in return and by the time the east end of the Kansas City terminal is reached, we’re safely ahead.
East of Kansas City, the train traverses the Missouri farming country, including crossing the Missouri River at Sibley, stopping at La Plata, and passing through Walt Disney's boyhood home town of Marceline. One stretch of the line has three shared tracks, two of them belonging to the former Santa Fe main, and the third the former Wabash (then Norfolk & Western, now Norfolk Southern) line to Kansas City. Where the three tracks are adjacent, they are operated as a single railroad dispatched by a single Dispatcher. Between the eastern edge of Missouri and the Mississippi River, the line passes through a corner of Iowa, including a stop at Fort Madison. In Illinois, the look of the countryside is much the same as in Missouri. The next stop to the east of the river is in Galesburg.
East of Galesburg, the Southwest Chief uses the former Santa Fe line across Edelstein Hill and through Chillicothe, Streator and Joliet, thence along the North side of the Sanitary Canal past Willow Springs intermodal yard and the turnoff to Corwith Yard, then turning onto the line into Chicago Union Station at the South end of the 16th Street bridge across the Chicago River, where the Santa Fe tracks used to continue straight ahead to Dearborn Station.
In Chicago, we put the carry-on bags into a luggage locker, and cross the Chicago River to the Sears Tower, where we purchase tickets for the viewing deck and take the high-speed elevator upward to that level. There is a viewing terrace all the way around the building (glassed in against the weather) that provides excellent views reaching many miles around Chicago. It is particularly fascinating to be able to look directly down, on the south side of the building, at the area where Dearborn and Grand Central Stations used to be, LaSalle Street station still is, and the St. Charles Airline can be seen crossing from east to west as the former PRR heads due south, the Santa Fe and former GM&O head southwest, and the former Burlington heads almost due west. The west face overlooks both Union Station and North Western Station, while the east face overlooks the Illinois Central along the lake.
Returning to Union Station, we reclaim our carryon bags and board the heritage sleeper that will carry us to Boston on the Lakeshore Limited. We have dinner as the train threads the eastern industrial area, and are in bed between South Bend and Elkhart. The first 40-50 miles East of Chicago, covering up to an hour and a half of travel time, pass through heavily industrialized built-up areas, along with old and very poor housing neighborhoods. East of the Indiana state line is devoted largely to large steel mills along the southern shore of Lake Michigan, along with many rail yards devoted to serving these industries. In Illinois, the track East of the Dan Ryan expressway is the site of the former parallel double trackage of the Pennsylvania and New York Central railroads, where their nightly expresses for New York City used to 'race' on leaving Englewood Union Station. The site of that station is now just a debris pile, and the tracks have been reduced, during the Conrail regime, to just a single pair, which weaves back and forth between being on the former Pennsy and former NYC right-of-way. At each waterway, only one of the former pair of lifting bridges remains in service. On the Lakeshore Limited, the industrialized area extends as far as East as Porter Junction, outside Michigan City.
East of the industrialized area, the remainder of Indiana and into western Ohio is farmland that, while very similar to that West of Chicago, in Illinois, is also subtly different in ways that I can't quite put my finger on. Eastbound trains pass though this area in darkness, with only portions of the industrialized zone seen in daylight. Within Indiana are South Bend, where Notre Dame University is located, and Elkhart, home of musical instrument manufacturers and a large freight yard. Between Toledo and Buffalo, the line runs along the south edge of Lake Erie, with lake ports at Toledo, Sandusky, Cleveland, Ashtabula, Erie, and Buffalo.
A substantial break in environment occurs overnight on the trains between Chicago and New York City or Boston, between the mid-Western farmland and the "rust belt" of the industrial East. On an eastbound train, daylight begins along the upper tier of upstate New York, along the former New York Central's "Water-level Route", in the vicinity of Rochester, NY. From this vicinity to Albany, the tracks follow closely the route of the Erie Canal, which at times is right alongside the rails, and the Mohawk river, through the industrial cities of Syracuse (where the line goes around the town to the North), Utica, Schenectady (where the General Electric plant is close by on the South side of the line) and Albany (New York State's capital), where the station is actually in Rensselaer on the other side of the Hudson river.
Albany is the point at which the Boston and New York City sections of the train split (going East) or join (going West). The Boston section comprises the Chicago locomotives and about a third of the train, plus an added cafe car. The New York City section comprises the remaining two-thirds of the train, including lounge and diner, with electro-diesel locomotives that can take the train through the tunnels in Manhattan.
The Boston section (train 448) runs across the former Boston & Albany segment of the New York Central between Boston and Albany (!). East of Albany, the lines passes through hilly territory (New England folks may consider these to be mountains, but those of us from the far West know better) through Chatham, NY and Pittsfield, MA (an old factory town), then over the Berkshires and across the Connecticut River to Springfield (another old factory town, important in the furniture industry). It continues through undulating landscapes to Palmer (crossing of the Central Vermont) and Worcester (intersecting with today's Providence & Worcester), then travels through the leafy suburbs in MBTA commuter territory to the inner city of Boston itself, past Fenway Park, Back Bay station (under a high rise office building), and into South Station. We arrive in Boston at 3:30 pm. 45 minutes early (entirely due to the padding in the schedule), and reclaim our checked baggage.
We take a taxi through the tunnel under the Charles River and over to Logan Airport, where we rent a car for the next three weeks. We leave the airport headed northeast on route 1A to Revere, then take route 60 over to reach US highway 1 which we take northward through Saugus to Interstate 95 in Peabody. We continue on the latter into New Hampshire and across the narrow coastal part of the state to Portsmouth. Here, we take state route 4 continuing north just to the west of the Maine state line through Dover and around Rochester, then north to Center-Ossipee and curving northeast into Conway. By now, darkness has fallen as we follow the instructions to find the turnoff to the Forest Glen Inn, among all the factory outlets lining the highway. Along here, somewhere, we stop to get something to eat for dinner.
Finding the Forest Glen Inn, east of North Conway, passing under a bridge carrying the embargoed Main Central line coming up from Portland, ME, we check in for the week, and unpack in our room. After three nights of disturbed sleep on the train, we’re ready for a good night’s sleep.
It’s after noon when we wake! We dress and head out looking for somewhere to have lunch. In Intervale, just north of North Conway, we find a roadside inn named the Scottish Lion, which provides a wonderful lunch. We spend the rest of the day walking the vicinity of the Forest Glen Inn, and having dinner in another local restaurant.
Today, we arise mid morning, find there is still coffee and juice available in the breakfast room at the Inn, then head out to drive around some of the local scenery, specifically the White Mountains to the north Heading out to the north, past the Scottish Lion, we take the north fork at Glen and continue along the east side of Mount Washington, past the entrance to the road leading to the summit, to Gorham. Here, we turn west, but take a few minutes to examine and photograph the Canadian National (Grand Trunk) depot and some historic railroad equipment on display there. Heading west from Gorham, we’re following the route of the Boston & Maine line in the area, but see no traffic on that line today. Along this route, Mount Washington is still to our left. We have the car radio on, and are listening to St. Paul Sunday Morning, with Bill McGlothlin, just as if we were at home!
At Jefferson Highlands, we turn northwest to reach the Connecticut River at Lancaster, then follow the river bank north to Groveton where we turn east and cross the White Mountains again to reach Berlin, NH where we have lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch we head south again, soon reaching Gorham and following our previous route back to North Conway. We stop at the ornate depot of the Conway Scenic Railroad, intending to take the last train of the day. We are able to do this, but are a little disconcerted to discover that although the steam locomotive has run the earlier trips on this Sunday, she is now being put away for the day and we will be riding behind diesels. WE do get pictures of the steamer on the turntable, however.
The Conway Scenic runs along several miles of former Boston & Maine track (the line north from Dover to meet the Maine Central line at Intervale) between the towns of North Conway and Conway, with a depot only in the former. The line runs south through scenic countryside, partly alongside a bucolic stream, with vistas of the hills to the west, then crosses the main highway in Conway, where the locomotives run around for the return trip to North Conway. Dinner is again at a local restaurant, as it will be all week.
This morning, we drive south through Conway and take the highway west over Kancamagus Pass to Lincoln, a most scenic route with trees showing the beginnings of autumn colors. After lunch in Lincoln, we turn north on the old highway (not the parallel Interstate 93) through Franconia Notch. In the latter passage through the White Mountains, we walk a lovely scenic trail down to a waterfall and back, then a little further north take the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway to the top of the eponymous mountain, which affords good vistas of the rest of the White Mountains, including the brooding Mount Washington, somewhat distant to the east.
From the tramway, we drive northeast to Two Mountain, east to Bretton Woods, where there is a large hotel that was the site of a famous international monetary-policy conference in the aftermath of WWII (when the World Bank and International Monetary Fund were set up), and south across Crawford Notch to Bartlett and back into North Conway.
Today’s weather looks good for our trip to Mount Washington, so we head back across Crawford Notch to Bretton Woods, where we take the road east o the base station of the Mount Washington Cog Railway, which we reach about 10:15 am. We get in line to buy tickets (not having made advance reservations), and to our surprise receive a pair of tickets for the train at 11 am. (Others around us, in larger groups, were getting tickets for 1 pm and after.) We decide not to question the time on the tickets, but just go ahead and use them. When we board our train, it appears that a tour group must have taken all but these two tickets for this particular train.
The Mount Washington Cog Railway is a Swiss-style mountain railroad that, unlike its cousin on Pike’s Peak in Colorado, is still operated by steam locomotives. These little 0-4-0 tank engines are inclined so that the gradient of the track up the mountain will not uncover vital parts of the boiler and firebox as the water level angles with the slope during the climb and descent. As with all mountain cog railways, the locomotive is at the downhill end of the car or two it pushes up the side of the mountain. We manage to get seats at the front of the car/train, so that we have a clear view up the track and of descending trains that have been moved off onto sidetracks to permit us to pass on the way up.
The ascent takes about an hour. At the 6,288 ft. elevation summit there is a restaurant that provides fast food to visitors who have come up on the train or on the motor road. The temperature up here is 34°F., with icicles hanging from the eaves of the buildings showing evidence of much lower temperatures overnight. We walk around and take pictures of the excellent vistas in all directions, then take the train back down to the base station. At the latter, we eat lunch in the restaurant and patronize the gift shop before heading back to our lodgings, well satisfied with the way this day has gone.
With only two more days in this area, we decide to drive over to the Maine Coast, today. Taking the east fork at Redstone, between North Conway and Conway, we cross the state line into Maine and pass through Fryeburg on US highway 302 (the same highway that runs through Crawford Notch). At Bridgton, the heretofore-eastward highway takes a turn to the south, passing through Naples and Raymond, then along the east shore of Sebago Lake to North Windham. From the western outskirts of Portland, we take Interstate 95 south to Kennebunk, then head east to the Atlantic Ocean at Kennebunkport. At the latter, we take time to observe the Bush family compound, then drive north along the coast to Bideford Pool, around the inlet through Saco, and back to the coast at Old Orchard Beach. Since the date is late September, the latter is almost closed up for the season, with just a few places still open (as had been the case when I visited it much earlier in September, back in 1967). However, we do find a restaurant at which to eat a good lunch.
Then we continue north through West Scarborough to the coast again at Prouts Neck and Cape Elizabeth, where we take the time to walk out to the lighthouse and along the beach, before reaching Portland. Here, we drive along the shore to Falmouth, then leave the coast to head inland, north on the Maine Turnpike to Gray, then north on Maine route 26 rto bethel, where we turn west on US highway 2 along the Androscoggin River to Gorham, from which we follow our route of the previous Sunday back to North Conway
Today, we look around the area local to the Conways, including the road along the west side of the Saco valley, photograph a Conway Scenic train in Conway, and then drive west along the Swift River to look at some covered bridges and some scenic rapids along the river. Then we head a little further west along the Kancamagus Highway, but turn north on a by road through Bear Notch and over to Bartlett on the Crawford Notch road and back to Intervale, where we stop again at the Scottish Lion for lunch. We spend the rest of the day getting ready to leave for our next week’s lodging.
Today, we drive from North Conway, NH, to Westbrook, CT, via Vermont and the Berkshire Mountains. We start out by driving north across Crawford Notch again, then head west onto Interstate 93 to the Connecticut River at Lower Waterford and Interstate 91 just south of St. Johnsbury, Vermont. We head south on the latter highway, following the course of the Connecticut River through Barnet (where we stoop for morning coffee that turns into brunch), Bradford, White River Junction and Rockingham to Brattleboro. Here, we leave the Interstate to head west across the Green Mountains to Bennington, then south into Massachusetts through Williamstown to Pittsfield. Here, we pass over the railroad route that we had taken into Boston a week previously. We continue south through Stockbridge, where we travel alongside of and then pass over the Housatonic (River) at Stockbridge, immortalized in a Charles Ives orchestral score. Further south, we pass by the depot and see the coaching stock of the Housatonic Scenic railroad, but cannot take a ride because the railroad only operates on weekends (at least at this time of year).
We enter Connecticut at Canaan, the continue south past the west side of Torrington, then turn east to pass through Bristol and New Britain before turning south again through Middletown (alongside the Connecticut River again) to reach the shore of Long island Sound at Old Saybrook. Here, we turn west on Interstate 95 for a few miles before exiting south into Westbrook, CT. We’re staying at the Water’s Edge in Westbrook for the next week. After checking in and walking around the resort, we unpack in our suite and go elsewhere for our dinner. This is Friday night, so the restaurants in this are are packed, but we nonetheless find something good to eat.
This morning, we drive over to Old Saybrook to look around the place and have lunch. This is a fine sunny weekend on Long Island Sound and the Connecticut River, so the boaters and other weekenders are out in force. After a good seafood lunch, we decide not to compete for road or attraction space with those who are out for the weekend, and return to our suite where we watch college football on television, going out late for dinner.
Consistent with our decision the day before, we choose to go nowhere except for meals, today. Walking on the beach in front of the resort, we espy a particularly large seagull that we promptly name the “big old fat bird”, whom we see several more times during our stay. We spend much of the day watching the NFL on television in our suite.
Today, we decide to drive west into New York State to visit the Franklin Delano Roosevelt mansion and museum in Hyde Park. We drive west on Interstate 95 to new Haven, then state highway 34 to Newtown and westward on Interstate 84, through Danbury and into New York State. At Brewster, NY, we continue northwest on I-84, then west again to reach the Hudson at Fishkill. Here we turn north along the river on route 9D and then US 9 through Poughkeepsie to the Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site. We take a guided tour of the mansion, and walk the grounds by ourselves, then go around the adjacent museum. As we finish up the latter, I keep nudging Chris to move along so we can do other things, but she’s adamant that she must look at just one more thing, and then another.
Leaving the FDR site, we head north through Hyde Park and Rhinebeck, crossing the Hudson on the suspension bridge over to Kingston, and then heading south on US 9W. Somewhere along the way, we stop for a late lunch, and again I have trouble getting Chris started after lunch. Continuing south through Newburgh, we reach West Point just in time to see the last guided tour of the day leave the visitors’ center at the US Military Academy there. Sigh! WE can at least loom around the outside of a few buildings in the Academy, look at the hotel where Douglas Macarthur’s mother stayed for the entire time he was at the Academy, and visit a few scenic overlooks alongside the Hudson before heading back for our lodgings.
We head south to Nyack, across the Tappanzee bridge to Tarrytown, and east on Interstate 287 to White Plains, where we take the Merritt Parkway, a 1930s highway-building and beautification project that provides an alternative limited-access highway across southern Connecticut all the way to the east side of the Housatonic River at Devon, before forcing us out onto I-95 for the rest of the way back to Westbrook.
East along the Connecticut shore is the old harbor at Mystic, where a museum of sailing ship days has been established for many years. We drive east on I-95, across the Connecticut River and then across the Thames River at New London to reach Mystic Seaport. Here we spend several interesting hours taking guided tours of a three-masted sailing ship, the museum, and the repair and restoration shops, as well as having lunch at the adjacent inn. In late afternoon, we return westward, using the coastal road from Mystic to Groton before taking I-95 back to our lodgings.
There’s a steam-operated tourist railroad operating on the old New Haven line along the Connecticut River north of Essex, CT. Today, this is called the Valley Railroad, and runs (in toto) from a junction at Old Saybrook to the end of the line south of Chester. The tourist trains only run between Essex and Chester.
We drive north from Westbrook to Essex, and buy tickets for the 11 am train (train only, eschewing the riverboat option). We have plenty of time before the train arrives back from its earlier excursion to visit and patronize the gift shop, and walk around the yard looking at all the old passenger and freight cars, and an old steam locomotive, apparently awaiting restoration. When the train arrives, it comprises some more old passenger cars, but is hauled by a modern steam locomotive, a recently Chinese-built 2-8-2. The excursion runs north from Essex to the end of the line, then returns to Deep River where many passengers leave for their riverboat excursion. The train then continues the rest of the way back to Essex.
We eat a late lunch at an old Inn in Essex, then return to our lodgings.
The narration on the Valley Railroad excursion had alerted us to the existence of Gillette’s Castle on the east bank of the Connecticut River, across from Chester. We drive north from Westbrook to the river across from the castle, then take the small car ferry across to the castle, which is located at the top of a bluff adjacent to the river. Gillette’s Castle is an eclectic house built by a late nineteenth century actor (named Gillette) over a span of many years. It has wonderful stained glass windows in some of the fascinatingly decorated and interestingly furnished rooms. We take a guided tour of the entire house and grounds., then round out the day by driving east on route 82 and then south through North Lyme back to the shore at Old Lyme, then following the shore from Old Saybrook through Saybrook Point and Fenwick on our way back to Westbrook. Here, we pack for our departure and take a last walk on the beach to visit the “big old fat bird” before dinner. (We’ve bought some food at a local grocery store and have been eating in the suite for most of the week.)
After checking out of the resort, we drive east on I-95 into Rhode Island, then south through Westerly to the shore of Block island Sound, and east again trough Charlestown to Narragansett Pier and Scarborough State beach on Rhode Island Sound. We then head across Narragansett Bay into Newport, RI, where we have lunch and then drive around Brenton Point State Park to the fabulous mansions on the east side of Newport, above bailey’s beach. We stop for long enough to take a guided tour of one of the mansions before heading north through Portsmouth to Fall River, Massachusetts, where we turn east on Interstate 195 (and then 495) through the old whaling town of New Bedford and around the shore of Buzzards Bay to reach the Cape Cod Canal at the town of Buzzards Bay.
We head northeast along the north side of the canal to US 6, then cross onto cape Code and drive east, through Hyannis to our resort, The Cove at Yarmouth, on the west side of South Yarmouth, just east of Hyannis. Again we will stay here fore the next week. We eat dinner at the resort’s restaurant this evening, and then stock up on groceries to eat in our suite for the week.
This is another fine autumn weekend, so the roads are packed with those down (or up) from the city for the weekend, visiting their second homes or their boats (or both). Since the roads here are even less tolerant of traffic overloads than those on the Connecticut shore, we elect not even to go out looking for likely restaurants, but to stay around the resort all weekend. In spite of appearances on a road map, the resort is not located directly on Nantucket Sound but is at the rear of a marshy inlet off Lewis Bay.
There is some kind of parade in South Yarmouth, today, so after driving along the coastal road just east of the resort, we circle back and then have lunch where the parade will pass us.
One of the activities offered by the resort is whale watching, and we have signed up for a trip to do just that, today. The whale-watching cruise leaves from Barnstable on the north side of Cape Cod, so we start out by driving across the narrow strip of land. The boat is a modern high-speed cruiser, with plenty of accommodations both inside and out. It sets out through the narrow harbor entrance and then sets course directly north across Cape Cod Bay, passing to the west of the end of the cape at Provincetown about half an hour after departure. After about another 15-20 minutes in the open Atlantic Ocean, the first whale is spotted and the boat circles around it so all passengers can get a good look as it spouts water high in the air, then dives sharply with its massive tail the last thing we see.
Over the course of the next few hours we see quite a number of whales—humpback, minke and finback varieties—as individuals and in groups of two or three. In Mid-afternoon, we set off southward for the quick trip back to Barnstable. After leaving the boat, we drive back across the Cape to our lodgings.
We start out this day by driving to the railroad depot in Hyannis, where we board a diesel-powered train of vintage coaches for our trip on the Cape Cod Railroad. This tourist line runs over the one-time New Haven Railroad track of the Bay Colony Railroad between Hyannis and a point between Sagamore and Bourne along the Cape Cod Canal. The line starts out heading north to a junction at Yarmouth, then turns west through Barnstable and Sandwich to the canal at Sagamore, where it turns southwest. The turnaround point is alongside the canal, at a siding where the diesel locomotive can run around the train for the return trip to Hyannis. A major feature of the lineside is the expanse of cranberry bogs, filled with cranberries ready for harvest in time for the Thanksgiving holiday in late November.
Back in Hyannis, we drive down to the harbor and take a harbor cruise, since that is the only way we can get anywhere near the Kennedy Compound. The narbor tour is interesting by itself, but the views into the Kennedy Compound from out in the bay add spice to the event.
We then drive southwest from Hyannis to Falmouth, where we have lunch, and Woods Hole, where we take the ferry (but not the car) over to Vineyard Haven on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. The ferry voyage provides vistas of the Cape Cod coast in the Falmouth heights area as well as the north side of the island. With no time for a tour of the island (it takes several hours), we return to the mainland on the next ferry and rive back to Hyannis and South Yarmouth, largely by the same route on which we had come.
Another activity provided by the resort is a ‘guided’ trip up to Boston. This takes place on the Wednesday of our visit. Although we will be driving up to Boston on Friday as we depart, we will have no time for a visit to Boston, so this seems an ideal way to spend some time in that city. We board a minibus right at the resort, and head off for Boston. “Ah, travels with Jeff!” says our driver/guide as he heads out onto the street in front of the resort. We travel up to Boston on the main highway (route 3) to the west of Plymouth, reaching I-93 in Braintree and continuing through Quincy and Milton into Boston.
At Morrissey Boulevard, we leave the main highway and drive around the shores of Dorchester Bay to the John F. Kennedy Museum and Library. We spend a couple of hours going through the museum devoted to the life of the 36th President of the United States, which we find quite interesting. Then, we drive on into Boston, parking not far from Fanieul Hall. That hall is closed for renovation, so we don’t get to visit it, but we eat lunch in the adjacent Quincy Market. Our guide and his other customers are going to visit Boston Common and the shops around Copley Square, but Chris and I elect to visit the historic sites in the North End instead.
Passing under the elevated highway blocking the views of the historic waterfront, we walk up Commercial Street and across Richmond Street to reach the Paul Revere House on North Street. We spend and hour or so on a guided tour of the house and its contents, and then continue further into North End to reach Old North Church. We spend another hour or so taking a guided tour of this prime example of old New England-style religious interiors, with its boxed private pews, all richly decorated, as well as the places of significance to the American Revolutionary War. Walking along Commercial Street alongside the Charles River, we realize that we have insufficient time to cross the Charlestown Bridge to visit the U.S. Frigate ‘Constitution’ (Old Ironsides), so we turn down Washington Street and return to the place where the minibus is parked.
The others return soon afterwards, and we drive back to the resort the way we came (except for a more direct route out of Boston center).
So far, we haven’t been any further out on the Cape than South Yarmouth. Today, we intend to rectify that omission. WE drive directly across the cape (but not the same way as we took to get to Barnstable) to Yarmouth Port, then turn east through Dennis and Brewster to Orleans, where we turn north. We stop to visit part of the Cape Cod National Seashore near Eastham, and the site of the original Marconi transmitter on the top of the east-facing cliffs at South Wellfleet. Then we continue along through Truro to the north-facing dunes of the Province Lands area near the very tip of the Cape.
After a walk on the beach, we continue around the end, past Herring Cove Beach to Provincetown. Here, I make use of the handicapped-parking permit that I have because of my deteriorating left hip to park close to the town center, incurring strong glares from some local residents when I nonetheless walk away from the car. We eat lunch in Provincetown before driving back south. In Orleans, we diverge from our earlier route to head directly south toe Chatham on the southeast corner of the Cape, where we again take a walk along the shore before heading back west through Harwich Port and Dennis Port to our resort in South Yarmouth.
This morning, we checkout of the resort and drive up to Boston following the same route we had taken with the guide on Wednesday. In Boston, we drive through the Callahan Tunnel to Logan Airport, where we return the rented car. Then, we take a taxi back through the Sumner Tunnel to South Station. We check our luggage through to Los Angeles, except for what we will need on the way, and when our train is announced board an Amfleet coach for the trip on train 175, the Minute Man, to new York City’s Pennsylvania Station.
The route is divided into the following subdivisions:
The NorthEast Corridor (NEC) is a heavy-duty passenger railroad running from Washington DC to Boston, via Philadelphia and New York City. Much of the route has four tracks, and is electrified with overhead catenary. However, the section from New Haven to Boston is not electrified, has only two tracks, and is operated with diesel locomotives. Amtrak owns most of the NEC, with some segments owned by the local commuter operator (such as Metro-North Railroad). From Washington through to New Rochelle, NY, the route was build and electrified by the Pennsylvania Railroad. From New Rochelle to Boston, the route was build by the New Haven Railroad, which also electrified the section as far as New Haven.
From New Haven east, the line travels along the double track known as "Shoreline East" to Old Saybrook and New London, then starts on the twisting and curving section onward to Boston, passing through Mystic, CT, Westerley and Providence, RI, the suburban Boston 'Route 128' station, and then Back Bay and South Station in Boston itself. We run this segment in reverse. In New Haven, all trains switch from electric to diesel haulage (or vice versa, as we do). Between New haven and New Rochelle, we join the original New Haven route from Grand Central, pass through several stations served only by Metro-North stoppers, as well as Amtrak-served Stamford, before turning off onto the Amtrak-owned route to Penn Station. To the east of New York (Pennsylvania Station), the line passes through the East River Tunnels, shared with the Long Island Railroad, out of the East River tunnel onto Long Island, past Sunnyside Yard where Amtrak makes up all the long distance trains starting from New York City, then over Hell Gate Bridge onto the mainland again.
In New York City, we take a taxi from Penn. Station to the Mayflower Hotel on central Park West, where we check in and have an early dinner in our room. We have tickets for this evening’s performance of Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov at the nearby Metropolitan Opera. Our tickets are on the Family Circle, which is on the third-level (not quite as high as the seating levels go), almost in the center. We have a good view of the stage, although we’re too far away to see facial expressions on the singers. The sound is good, as is the performance. (We know the music, but have never seen a staging of the opera before.) After the performance, we dodge the rain as we walk the two blocks back to our hotel.
Although there are still rain showers, this is our day for touring New York City, and tour it we will. (I have done this twice before, but Chris has never been here until now.) After our included continental breakfast, we walk south on Seventh Avenue to a bus tour starting office a few blocks south, dodging the showers as we go. While waiting for the all-day tour to start, we read the newspaper that we found outside our room when we opened the door. In the New York Times, this morning, we read that Leonard Bernstein has canceled all of his future concert appearances, but intends to keep his recording commitments.
The tour bus heads north on Seventh Avenue and Central Park West, past our hotel, past the Natural History Museum and the apartment building where John Lennon was killed a decade ago, then west to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, the Anglican Cathedral in New York City. We spend an hour or so touring this magnificent building, dating largely from the late 19th-century. Then, we continue north past Columbia University, east across 125th Street in Harlem, south on Fifth Avenue past the museums along Central Park and then past Rockefeller Center, then south through Greenwich Village to the financial district. Here, we exit the bus next to Battery Park and take the boat ride over to Liberty Island. After this ride, which provides great views of lower Manhattan now that the rain seems to have stopped, we grab lunch on the island and take the elevator up to the viewing level in the statue’s head. We take time to look at the vistas in all directions from the statue, then return to ground level. The boat takes us back to Manhattan, and the bus takes us through the lower East Side and up to Midtown, dropping some people off at the Empire State Building. Passing through Times Square and by Carnegie Hall, we return to our starting point.
We walk back to the hotel by way of the southwest corner of Central Park, in spite of Chris’ concerns about entering the park. In the evening, we eat at a sidewalk restaurant on Broadway near Lincoln Center, and then shop at Tower Records, expecting there to be many Classical CDs that we can’t find in Southern California. In the event, while we find a number of items on my list, there aren’t as many rarities as I might have expected.
We’re up quite early this morning, since our train departs a little after 9 am, we want to check our luggage, and we have no idea how long it will take to get to the station and check the bags. We skimp on the included breakfast at the hotel (coffee and a bran muffin), checkout of the hotel and grab a taxi to Penn Station, where we check the suitcases. Then we sit down to wait for our train to be called. Of course, the latter is late. I spend some of the time going to the Long Island Railroad and New Jersey Transit concourses to pick up pocket schedules for the commuter trains that run from those areas.
Once on board the train, the Cardinal, and settled into our heritage fleet bedroom, a call is made for breakfast. This time, we decide we’re ready to eat, and go to the diner (in the next car). The steward proves to be a very no-nonsense old-style railroader, with a tightly run dining car. Breakfast is good, as (later on) are lunch and dinner in this car.
The route is divided into the following subdivisions:
· Amtrak NorthEast Corridor Mainline (Philadelphia to New York City)
· Amtrak NorthEast Corridor Mainline (Washington DC to Philadelphia)
· CSX RF&P subdivision from RF&P Junction (AF Tower) to Washington DC
· NS Piedmont Division (Washington and Lynchburg) from Orange to AF Tower
· CSX North Mountain subdivision from E. Charlottesville to Orange
· CSX Alleghany subdivision from MX Cabin to E. Charlottesville
· CSX New River subdivision from Montgomery to MX Cabin (Hinton)
· CSX Kanawha subdivision from RU Cabin to Montgomery
· CSX Russell subdivision from RJ Cabin to RU Cabin (Russell)
· CSX Northern subdivision from NJ Cabin to RJ Cabin (Russell)
· CSX Cincinnati subdivision from Melbourne to NJ Cabin
· CSX Cincinnati Terminal subdivision from CT Junction to Melbourne (KY)
· CSX Cincinnati Terminal subdivision from MP 19.9 to CT Junction
· CSX Toledo subdivision from Hamilton to Cincinnati (MP 19.9)
· CSX Hamilton subdivision from Indianapolis (Washington Street) to Hamilton
· ConRail Indianapolis Line from Amtrak to Washington Street
· ConRail St. Louis Line from CP-IJ to Indianapolis Amtrak station
· ConRail Crawfordsville Branch from Ames to Indianapolis (CP-IJ)
· CSX Monon subdivision from Airline Junction to Ames
· Conrail ?? from Bernice to Airline Junction
· Conrail ?? from Colehour Junction to Bernice
· Conrail Chicago Line (Dearborn Division) from Chicago to Hammond
East of 30th Street Station, Philadelphia, the NEC passes through urban Philadelphia and across the Delaware into Trenton. It passes through Princeton Junction, Newark, crosses the New Jersey meadowlands and dives into the Hudson River tunnel to reach Pennsylvania Station, New York City, This line is electrified, four track territory, heavy with commuter trains.
In the southwest suburbs of Philadelphia, the line passes Eddystone, site of the Baldwin Locomotive Works, and then the Philadelphia Airport, before reaching 30th Street Station. East of Baltimore, the line runs along Chesapeake Bay (although not along the shoreline), crossing the Susquehanna River at Havre de Grace, the passing through Newark and Wilmington, Delaware before reaching Philadelphia. Between Washington and Baltimore, the NEC heads to the northeast (!), through suburban Maryland and past the Baltimore Airport, then dives into the tunnels leading to Baltimore station. The NEC and the former B&O line to Cumberland and Pittsburgh diverge immediately North of Washington Union Station.
For the whole of the way from Washington, DC to Cincinnati, the route uses former C&O tracks now owned by CSX, with a small portion of trackage on which CSX has trackage rights over NS (the former Southern railway main line). The C&O had trackage rights over the Southern into Washington DC, over a route now shared by Amtrak's Southern Crescent and Cardinal. The former C&O track diverges from the C&O main to Richmond and Newport News, and curves north to join the Southern main some ten miles further north. In Charlottesville, we pass by Thomas Jefferson's original buildings at the University of Virginia campus, and cross the former Southern Railway (now NS) main line at the point where there are station platforms on both tracks. The line climbs over the Blue Ridge into Charlottesville, capital of Virginia, and drops down into the upper reaches of the Shenandoah valley before climbing, once again, this time to reach Hinton, WV. East of Hinton, the line passes through a number of resort communities once served by, and in some cases owned by, the C&O railroad, crosses the state line into West Virginia and the summit of the line. Today, the train is late and darkness has fallen by the time we cross the summit and start the westbound descent.
We eat dinner with a couple from Naperville, Illinois (on the ex-CB&Q commuter line to the west of Chicago), who have spent the weekend at the Cass Scenic Railroad’s Photographer’s Weekend, just north of this line in the West Virginia mountains. They had come east on Friday’s train from Chicago, and will be back home on Monday in time for a mid-morning arrival at work. He works for AT&T as an electronics engineer, and has great knowledge of the way these heritage fleet cars work. Rather than go into Chicago, they had driven over to Dyer, IN, and will leave the train there tomorrow to collect their car.
East of Thurmond is Prince, where the depot and platform canopy are in streamline moderne style, and the image of Chessie the kitten is tiled as a mosaic in the floor. Thurmond, WV, is a very small town that was developed purely to service the railroad and the coal traffic. Today, it belongs to the National Park Service, and is being preserved in its historical state, so far as is consistent with safety. It has been the primary location for shooting a number of movies with an Appalachian coal mining focus, including the one dealing with the battles between Mines and Unions at Matewan (which is actually on the next railroad south, the former N&W, along the Pocahontas river). There isn't much left at Thurmond, except for the main street frontage right along the tracks, and some of the old steam locomotive servicing facilities. The hills on both sides of the river are full of deep coal mines, still operating after over a hundred years of exploitation, and the former C&O main line on which we're traveling carries hundreds of coal trains a year, with loads going out in both directions. This is Sunday, go the coal trains we see are all parked in sidings, many of them adjacent to the branches back to the coal mines.
As might be expected, the hillsides along this portion of the river are very spectacular during Autumn colors, and the Collis P Huntington Chapter of NRHS has run excursions along here twice each weekend for the several weekends during which the trees are in full Autumn regalia. In the middle of the gorge, it is spanned by a single-arch steel road bridge, billed as the 'second highest' bridge in the country (more than 1700 feet above the river, second only to the privately-owned suspension bridge across the Royal Gorge in Colorado), and the 'longest' of its type. Once a year the road across the bridge is closed to permit a day for parachutists and bungee-jumpers to jump from its span to, or towards, the river below.
The New River extends deep into the Appalachians, the furthest east of any west flowing river in the eastern US, and cuts a deep gorge into the mountains while doing so. The railroad runs along the bottom of the gorge all the way from Montgomery to Hinton, with the deepest and most scenic portion between Cotton Hill and Thurmond. South of Hawks Nest the double track of this section (some of the line is single tack) is split into separate tracks on each side of the river. East of Huntington, we follow the Kanawha to Montgomery, where the track runs along one side of the main street through the business district, and Charleston, the West Virginia capital,.
At Charleston, the train starts away west, then backs up and crosses over to the other track. Somewhere between Charleston and Huntington, we pass a train on the other track. During the stop at the Amtrak station in Huntington, it becomes clear what the other train is—it's the returning Huntington Chapter, NRHS, New River Fall Colors excursion, with a string of privately owned cars headed by ex-Nickel Plate 2-8-4 765 from the Fort Wayne group, with engineer Rich Melvin.
East of the northern Kentucky urban area, and the CSX facilities at Silver Grove, the line runs along the Ohio River floodplain on the south side of the river, often with nothing but the rail line and a two-lane road between the river bank and the wooded bluffs alongside. Occasional populated areas occupy wide spots along the floodplain. The line continues along the south bank of the Ohio, passing the mouth of the Big Sandy river, to Huntington, WV.
Heading south into Cincinnati, the line runs down the Mill Creek Valley, past Proctor & Gamble’s offices and manufacturing facilities at Ivorydale, joining the ex-New York Central line from Sharonville and the north and the ex-B&O line from the east at Winton Place, then following the Mill Creek Valley around to the west and then south again as it passes CSX’s huge Queensgate Yard and enters the rump of Cincinnati Union Terminal. The art deco terminal itself is now largely a museum, but Amtrak has facilities in one corner of the building and uses a single platform behind it.
East of Indianapolis, the Amtrak route becomes CSX once again, as the Conrail Indianapolis line turns away to the north, this time a former B&O line from Indianapolis to Hamilton, OH, through Connersville, IN. Approaching Connersville, the line runs through undulating terrain between walls of trees close on either side of the track. Across from the Connersville depot is a small yard and a large grain elevator. Entering Ohio, the route joins the ex-B&O line from Toledo at Hamilton.
Approaching Indianapolis, the line turns south, crosses the ConRail St. Louis line in an overbridge, then approaches that line from the WSW past the huge Avon Yard that is the focus of ConRail activity in the area. The train stops at Indianapolis Union Station, where the platforms, canopies, and trackwork are still intact, but the former headhouse is now a hotel with full convention facilities. The Conrail line becomes the Indianapolis Line east of the station (but operationally, the break is at Avon Yard).
After Crawfordsville, where there is another college and a large RR Donnelley printing plant, the train turns from the former Monon line onto a Conrail branch that heads almost due east to Indianapolis. The CSX line no longer continues south of Ames, where this turn occurs, and the ConRail line no longer continues west of here, so operationally, there is one line covering parts of two railroads.
We awake as the train is leaving Crawfordsville, to find an Indianapolis newspaper pushed under the door of our bedroom. The headline that immediately catches my eye is that Leonard Bernstein has died! Apparently, this happened on Sunday, in New York City, but after we had left on the train. We’re still eating breakfast, when the steward closes the service down. A few minutes later, a couple appears from the sleeper. The steward firmly announces "the diner is closed, then says ‘that’s right, I hadn’t seen you yet today’. However, he still won’t serve them!
The Monon line through Lafayette runs down 5th Street through the center of town, with a station at one of the business premises along the street. Lafayette is the location of Purdue University, a source considerable traffic for Amtrak’s trains, at least to and from the north. Before the line crosses the Wabash River, there is a large yard north of Lafayette, as well as an intersection with Norfolk Southern’s former Wabash line paralleling its namesake river. At Monon, heading south, the route’s direction changes from SSE to due south, on a big curve where the crossing of the Monon line’s two major routes used to be. The legs north to Michigan City, and SSE directly to Indianapolis are now largely defunct.
The last stop before Chicago is at Dyer, IN, still on the former Monon line. Approaching the Chicago area, the train leaves the former Monon line, and turns northwest onto the old PRR (now Conrail) line from Logansport, then due north on an old PRR (now Conrail) branch that takes it to the main east-side entrance to Chicago at Colehour Junction, west of Hammond, IN, from which the route is the same as heading east three and a half weeks ago.
In Chicago, we walk east on Adams to the CTA Elevated line, and take a ride on the Ravenswood Line to its eponymous terminus (on the near north side) and back. The elevated track in the Loop area is interesting, but I’m fascinated by the four-tack heavy-duty elevated railroad north of the place where the Evanston line comes up out of the downtown subway, just before the line to Ravenswood heads off to the west of the four-track main.
Returning to Chicago, we eat lunch at The Berghoff, the German-style restaurant that I had found by chance in 1982, and was later assured was one of the best restaurants in Chicago. Then, we visit the Art Institute, across Michigan Avenue, which has a special exhibition on French Impressionism (“from Poussin to Matisse”) that we visit, as well as paying quick visits to Grant Wood’s ‘American Gothic’ and George Seurat’s ‘Sunday on the island of La Grand Jatte’, inspiration for Stephen Sondheim’s musical ‘Sunday in the Park with George’. When we walk into the room with the latter (it’s huge, taking up most of a wall directly facing the doorway from which we approach), Chris shocks the nearby security person by exclaiming ‘George!’ and rushing toward the painting with her arms spread wide.
Returning to Union Station, we board our train home prior to its approximately 5 pm departure. The route home is the same as on the outbound trip. Darkness falls before we reach the Mississippi River, while we’re eating dinner..
We arise this morning in Dodge City, KS, in broad daylight, and are thus able to see the portion of the line between western Kansas and the Rocky Mountains, as well as over Raton Pass, that had been in darkness going east. We have breakfast in Kansas, lunch in Colorado (approaching Raton Pass), and dinner in New Mexico (west of Albuquerque. Darkness falls again between Albuquerque and Gallup, NM.
We awake when the train stops in San Bernardino, and get up west of Pomona, to be ready to detrain in Pasadena. We arrive at the latter at 7:20 am, and reclaim our suitcases. We take a taxi home; I change into my standard business casual clothing, and head in to work, getting there much earlier than usual!