The train from Boston to Albany was canceled due to track work being done. Amtrak provided a bus instead. Our bus ride from Boston to Albany took only 2.5 hours where the train takes 5 hours. So we had four hours to kill at the Albany station. Nice place, not much to do other than watch trains come and go which is fine by me. Here is a picture of Stephen next to the train called the Adirondeck.
It goes from Montreal to New York so there were a bunch of people speaking French around.
Our train, #49 the Lakeshore Limited (LSL) was right on time and we boarded our sleeper. Again, this is a single level train.
One interesting train related note, whenever a train comes into Albany and is headed to New York city, the replace the diesel engines on the train with a special diesel engine that can also run on a third rail electric. That way it can run in the undergrounds leading to New York’s Penn station. This is a picture of them hooking the normal diesels onto our train after taking the special one off (since our train came from NY).
Dining services are more limited on this train than others we have been on. It used to have a full service dining car, but all of Amtrak’s single level dining cars are over 50 years old and they are having trouble keeping them in service. They have not had the full service dining on the LSL for quite a while and are using a special car that is not that great for food service. However, the crews are dealing well with it and we had fantastic crews.
Our train ride was great and we arrived into Chicago about an hour late. We checked our bags into the first class lounge and headed out to the Sears Tower.
Great view, but costs way too much. Oh well, we can say we did it. While waiting in line to come down, I got a message from Amtrak, our next train has been canceled and there is not alternate transportation provided. I think Vicky thought I was about to pass out while listening to that message. We headed straight back to the station. They told us there that we need to hang tight, things were still up in the air.
I was on the internet looking at flights and possible one way car rentals. After I could not take the waiting anymore, I called Amtrak’s 1-800 number. After some checking, they informed me the train will be running on an alternate route and our destination will be served.
Wow, did God ever answer my prayers. We could finally relax and had a couple of hours before departure.
We ran down the street to the famous Giordano’s Pizza and had a small Chicago deep dish. It was good, but I think I prefer little thinner pizzas.
After returning to the station, we boarded our train about 2:45. This is train #3 the Southwest Chief. It is a Superliner train so doubledecker cars. Our rooms are across the hall from each other in the middle of the upper level.
Our train usually goes straight to Kansas City through Illinois and Iowa, but instead we headed South and went to St Louis. We pulled in to St Louis around 9:30 and it was cool to see the arch and downtown. I don’t think I have ever been there so it was nice getting to go somewhere new. After St Louis, we headed to KC. The normal schedule shows leaving KC at 10:55 PM, but we pulled out around 5:30 AM so we were running around 6 hours late because of the detour. Let me just say that I do not care. Since we are on this train and are not worrying about any connections, it can be as late as it wants. More time on the train!
We passed through Hutchinson, Ks at 10:30 AM. First time I have seen this town in the daylight. Here is a pic (a couple of people will understand the significance of this town).
By the time we stopped in La Junta for a chance to step off the train, we were about 7.5 hours behind schedule. Before we got to the Raton pass, our lead engine went bad so they stopped us to wait for another one. While we were waiting the second unit shut down. They finally got a freight unit hooked up and we pulled out of Trinidad at 8:30 pm, 11 hours late. Things are great, 11 extra hours on the train!
On the outskirts of Las Vegas, NM, after almost everyone else was sleeping on the train, the freight engine shutdown and the train cam to a halt. The only reason I knew what was happening is i was listening in on my scanner. After 45 minutes and a call to the helpdesk, they got going again.
We finally pulled into Lamy, NM at about 3:00 AM Saturday morning. About 12 hours and 40 minutes late. The only problem I had with this is the fact we had a four hour drive back to Amarillo. I felt good but after the first hour I was too out of it. I had not gotten any sleep that night. Vicky took the wheel and drove almost all the rest of the way.
I have written down some random observations and comments I want to make, but I will save them for the next post and after I get some sleep. I hope you will check back for that post later today or tomorrow.