Getting from here to there: Last Day, over an infamous pass and into California

(This is the seventh post in a series about a cross- country train trip we recently completed)

(Click here to go to my Galleries for full-sized images, the ones below are thumbnails)

 

The last, fifth day of our journey took us through Utah, including a stop at the Biggest Little City in the World, over the infamous Donner Pass, and down into California to just outside San Francisco. 

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High desert before Reno

 

Side Note: 'Mid-morning pulled into Reno to an underground platform. The conductor made an announcement that we would be here for a few minutes for those that wanted to stretch their legs and for the smokers (Amtrak trains are completely non- smoking and the infrequent stops are the only opportunity for a few puffs). He warned everyone getting off the train, however, that whatever they did, DO NOT GO UP THE STEPS. Wander around the platform, look down the tracks, but DO NOT GO UP THE STAIRWAY. Because, he explained, if you went up the steps you would be in a casino. And you would have just enough time to put two quarters in a slot machine, come back down the steps... and see that the train had left.  

 

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Following the Truckee River to the Donner Pass


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Just across the California line, last stop before the big pull over the Donner Pass

 

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Donner Lake- the infamous Donner Lake

 

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Taking poetic license with color

 

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Speeding by Donner Lake. Many jokes about what occurred there and the need to get by quickly.

 

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The equally infamous Donner Pass

 

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Peaking the Donner Pass. It took three locomotives.

 

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And down into the California lowlands.



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Old buildings beside a siding while we waited for yet another freight to pass

 

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Last leg: across California and into Emoryville, just outside San Francisco. End of the ride.

 

Next stop: San Francisco, courtesy of our family Uber driver!

 

December, 2017   

 


Getting from here to there: The Gallery Slideshow

Getting from here to there, our cross- country train excursion, was an amazing trip. I have been posting images and the story through a series of blog entries. The images in the blog are thumbnails... cut down images to fit in a blog. As such, they lose a lot. Now you can see them in my Galleries as full images. Click here to go to the From Here To There gallery. I'll continue to add images, all the way through the days in San Francisco and in Napa.


Getting from here to there: Riding into the Sunset

(This is the fifth post in a series about a cross- country train trip we recently completed)

(Click here to go to my Galleries for full-sized images, the ones below are thumbnails)

 

Vivid western sunset...

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Stopped in maintenance yard

 

Side Note: In typical Amtrak style, just at sunset the crew announced that we were going to stop for twenty - thirty minutes to swap a locomotive. Evidently there was a problem with one of the two pretty Amtrak locomotives so they were going to put on a freight locomotive (a bit of scorn entered the announcer's voice when he said that) for the next day's pull over the Donner Pass. Twenty to thirty minutes turned into an hour or so... with no power. They had to turn off everything except emergency lighting when they did the coupling, including the heat. We sat in semi- darkness and grew rapidly colder, finally wrapping ourselves in blankets. We were no longer in the mountains but it still was chilly. Finally they got things sorted, power came back on and off we went... led by the aforementioned ugly freight locomotive.   

 

December, 2017


Getting from here to there: To Chicago and beyond

(This is the third post in a series about a cross- country train trip we recently completed)

(Click here to go to my Galleries for full-sized images, the ones below are thumbnails)

 

Second leg: overnight from Washington, DC to Chicago

Third leg: 52 hours scheduled, that turned into 54 hours, from Chicago through Denver, Salt Lake City and Reno to Emeryville, CA just outside of San Francisco

Side note: once we passed through Denver the scenery changed from tedious to everything it was advertised as: awesome. Mountains, snow storms, amazing views, the feeling of being in a middle-of-nowhere's wilderness. All from the <relative> comfort of a sleeper car with a dining car and observation car to hang out in. Despite the inefficiencies of Amtrak and the feeling of traveling in a less- than- first- world, modern conveyance, the views outside the windows were spectacular and more than made up for any minor inconveniences. 

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Trains pass through lots of small towns, often stopping for five to ten minutes.

 

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Not a lot to get excited about between DC through Chicago and to Denver.  A lot of it was at night.


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Yes, it's a cell phone image. We were happy to be in the train and not down in the traffic. Chicago in the background.

 

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Denver way in the hazy background as we start to climb.

 

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Same place, different perspective, with a bit of blur and window reflection to prove we were actually where we said we were... on the train!

 

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Into the mountains


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Train climbing into the mountains. It takes two engines, later three, to pull through the mountains.



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Snowstorm approaching, that we would go through

 

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Snowy Road and partially frozen creek, shrouded by the snow storm.


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Coming to a tunnel (center right). Most of the tunnels had dates back in the 50's at their entrances.


More to follow...

 

December 5-7, 2017


Getting from here to there: Washington stopover

(This is the second post in a series about a cross-country train journey we recently completed)

(Click here to go to my Galleries for full-sized images, the ones below are thumbnails)

 

First leg, overnight by train from Orlando to Washington, DC. A day in the city before boarding our second train, overnight to Chicago. 

DC was cold and dreary... the weather, that is.

Side Note: the law enforcement presence was huge. Everywhere you looked there were vehicles, cops and all sorts of other law enforcement. Look carefully at the bottom of the last picture in the previous post: at least a half dozen or so law enforcement vehicles parked at the street corner.  A lot of the cops carried heavy weapons, not just sidearms. We asked a Capital Policeman if there was something special going on and he said it was just business as usual.  

Union Station is walking distance to the Supreme Court and the Capital. A stroll around:

 

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Union Station- even the train station is ornate

 

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Senate Office Building- more ornateness

 

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Dirksen Building. Anybody remember the guy the building is named after, Everett McKinley Dirksen? Famous in his day, now just the name on a building.

 

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Our Supreme Court. Interestingly, there were three separate and distinct protests going on out front. Two were normal run-of-the-mill protests about cases the court was hearing. The third off to the side...

 

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were whack jobs ('hope that doesn't offend anyone... look at the signs: that's really what they were.)

 

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Later they gained a few more members and moved closer to the other protestors. All the while carefully watched over.

 Side Note: the best part was when a small dog, having a wonderful time, raced from behind us, across the street and through the protestors. He was chased by two uniformed officers, one who stopped to catch his breath and gasped that they had been chasing that damned dog for an hour and a half after he ran away from someone at the Capital. Some Senator's dog that was important enough to be chased by two Capital cops? They disappeared into the crowds of protestors so, for all we know, the chase continues.  

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A traditional look at our US Capital. What's interesting about this picture is to look closely at the guy at the top of the steps at the base of the pillar...

 

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Uniformed, big gun and taking pictures of everyone (maybe 10 of us) looking at the Capital. Hmmmm.

 

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We did a quick tour of the Capital Visitor's gallery. This was the entrance to the hall. Noisy high schoolers on a tour got the best of us and we left.

 

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Capital through the trees. Not your normal view.

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Bright tree and an ornate bus stop. It was on a closed off side street so probably no one ever uses it.

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It was a gray and dreary day. The Washington Monument off in the distance was partially obscured by clouds.

 

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"The Truth Shall Make You Free"


And now its off to Chicago.

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On the train to Chicago, in the middle of...???



December 5, 2017


 


Getting from here to there: a multi-part tale

(Click here to go to my Galleries for full-sized images, the ones below are thumbnails)

 

On December 4 we started a five day cross- country tour, old- style on trains- three different trains. Orlando, FL to Washington, DC to Chicago, IL to Emeryville, CA just outside of San Francisco in five days. Over the next several weeks I will post images of the trip in multiple posts.

It started at the train station in Orlando, FL. To be absolutely factual, it started as a bus ride from Tampa to Orlando to catch the train. 

A comment on train stations. If you travel a lot, most train stations appear stuck in a time warp... an older style of traveling. The decor, furnishings and technology are all dated.

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Waiting outdoors for the train. No jetways?

 

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Redefining a Refreshment Center

 

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"Mommy, what are those little boxes with doors for? Do bad people get put in them?"

Side note: when you get on the train, you just get on. No waiting in line, no going through security, no scanning tickets. Just get on, find your seat/ compartment and wait for a conductor to come by checking tickets. At most stations the train stops for ten minutes or less.

 

Overnight to our first transfer: Washington, DC.

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From the steps of Union Station


  More to follow in upcoming weeks...


Putnam Lodge

One of the best kept secrets in Florida is the Putnam Lodge. Unless you are a regular traveler on Florida's Highway 19 along the central West Coast you will probably never see this hidden gem. Originally built in 1927 by a lumber company, it has gone though several owners and some long periods of abandonment. Now fully restored, it sits in Cross City as a wonderful stopping place. The 25 rooms have been redone but retain a lot of their old charm. The restaurant and bar, including live music, normally only open Thursday - Saturday evenings is an excellent experience- great food and service.

This isn't one of the chain properties we all have gotten used to so don't expect the "amenities"- internet is iffy, breakfast is a Keurig and do-it-yourself pastries, central heat and air, real metal room keys and it takes two hands to get the door open, one electrical outlet in the room, and if you wander down at an odd hour there probably isn't someone at the front desk. BUT if you like somewhat quirky lodging with big chunks of old Southern hospitality and grace, its a wonderful place to get away to and kick back.

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History Lesson

 

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One of the outbuildings

 

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Every self- respecting restored building in FL has to have a giant chicken.

 

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Emergency exit?

 

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Room Door with functioning vent above the door.

 

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What's a restored room without cats on the wall?

 

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Est. 1927


             November, 2017