Saturday, June 2, 2018

Planning Trips, Part 4, An Actual Planning Sessions, Padding

I had several versions of a Philadelphia stop. Now that I have a circuit, I bit of enhancement will be natural. One thing I came accross was the Delaware River Railroad Excursions, Phillipsburg, NJ which would be a small digression from the circuit. A nice addition. Years ago I visited a old preserved railroad, Strasburg Rail Road, PA. This would be good addition, since it has been more that 30 years since my last visit, Across the road is an nice railroad museum, as well. All this is set in Amish Country. I am not big of watching Amish. They are a people not a museum, so it is invasion of privacy to gawk. It is ok to buy from them, however. So this is the revised trip:

I still need to work out the details of both destinations. Back to Cass, The Cass Website links you to operations that we can be involved with. Not only at Cass, but also in in Elkins and Durbin,  we have more roailroad stuff. I still need to research it further. It may be that several days may be needed, between these three sites.

Horseshoe Curve near Altoona, is an objective on a trip and this trip sounds good. I could go to Altoona for lodging and than to the curve, or visa versa. Altoona would be a good for a bit of time, it has a railroad museum. Besides visiting Horseshoe curve, I would love to take the train through the curve. There is a daylight train, the Pennsylvanian that goes through the curve, So a trip between Altoona and Johnstown, PA, would lead you through the curve and it is a daylight train. (my first experience in the curve came on the, now extinct Broadway Lmt. between Philadelphia and Chicago. However, it was scheduled to go through the curve during the night. When I woke the next morning, I was talking to the car attendant and told him that I was sorry I could not see the curve during the daylight. He said that we were many hours late and had not gone through the curve, as yet. He even allowed me to go to the  old dutch doors at the end of the car, which he opened and let me, look out as we went through the curve).

My first thought would be to take the Pennsylvanian west bound out of Altoona, spend time in Johnstown, and return on the eastbound, again going through the curve. Timing is the real kicker. If I were to want to do any siteseeing in Johnston, there would be very little daylight to take advantage of it. So, let's look at sites to see, around Johnston with Google Maps.

I had placed an another train trip on the trip to Philadelphia. From Philadelphia I leave for home. Than something was remembered. In my New England Trip, 40 years ago, I had stopped by Strasbourg Railroad. I should add that to this trip. Now for the homeward bound. I could come down the Eastern Shore of Virginia, through the Bay Bridge Tunnel, and home that way.

I could add more and more details to this trip but I have not laid out a possible time frame. When I lay out the trip, I use Google Maps. Inserting origin and destination, it will calculate several routes and give an estimate of time traveled. It will even give optional public transit. This will give a better understanding of time frame, and appropriate adjustments will be made. (Be careful, however. I was use to a certain trip but decided to use Maps to see how Maps would do it. I laid in two familiar points and than followed their itinerary. I followed it and at one point it took me down a ugly dirt road. Than it had me cross the railroad tracks but not at a RR Crossing. I scratched my head at this until I notices that I was not looking at driving but walking, in the instructions. What I was seeing as hours, was actually days of walking. In other words, if you set the mode of transit wrong, sometimes you can't get there from here.)

So to sum up: we lay out a general route, of certain key points. We expand that to include details and sites we might as well visit. Get a general day by day travel guide. As to this trip, I am still working it out. Time frame indicated that I might need to do it in twos or take more time than I should. I will work it out.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Planning Trips, Part 4, An Actual Planning Sessions

I was looking through old pictures and video about my visits to Cass Scenic Railroad, in WVA. I decided to plan a trip (by car) to Cass. My first step is to go to Google Maps and layout the first leg of the trip, obviously Home to Cass:

The layout of this trip, gives various intermediate destinations: train watching in Roanoke, VA, Lynchburg, VA (my parents home town and mother's grave). But first, let us add another destination. It would be hard to come this far north and this far west with out going by the other great Mecca of railfans: Horseshoe Curve and Altoona. So let's add that, shall we?

Altoona has a lot of railroad interest. going west we have horseshoe curve. We will add some interesting detail, later, but for now, one more destination and home. That would be Philadelphia. I had serveral ideas for that destination, and than home.

Next: add details and other stops.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Planning Trips, Part 3, choosing destinations. Complications

Trips are more or less complicated and a combination of railfan sites and normal tourist sites. Miami is another Florida destination has its on complications. My first plan for Miami, included down and back, touring public transit which includes airport monorail and people movers. Included in this is commuter rail. The first complications requiring to re plan, was Brightline. My first plan did not include Brightline as it was in planning and being built. Finally the first phase opened, between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. This warranted the trip to watch and/ or ride. Finally, a new complication with the service to Miami. Brightline announced service to Miami, itself.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Planning Trips, Part 3, choosing destinations.

Choosing destinations can be complicated or can be simple. One way to visualize this destination question is like a dog bone. Our trip has a long shaft, our route to our destination, with a number of attractions at the destinations, like the bulb at the end of a dog bone.  Consider a trip to Florida from Cary, NC. First, we have a limit of trains, to the one, the Silver Star. It does go to Tampa before heading for Miami. I was examining Tampa as a destination, there are limits on train watching. There is an airport monorail, which would make it worthwhile, only if driving through or past. I did that a few years ago, so no use doing it again. Instead, I looked at Orlando and Jacksonville as good destinations. Orlando has SunRail Commuter rail that might be interesting and Jacksonville has a monorail public transit.

Choices need to be made! Looking at the schedules, it looked good to take the Star to Orlando, watch the SunRail and take the Meteor northbound to Jacksonville and the Star Northbound back to Cary, NC. Day 1 would be boarding the Star at 9:23 pm and arrive in Orlando at 10:06, day 2. Watching SunRail and whatever til 1:35 pm, when I board the Silver Meteor, Arriving in Jacksonville at 4:47 pm. In Jacksonville, after watching the monorail, at 11:03 pm, I board the Silver Star for Cary, NC with arrival 8:08 am on day 3. I would not even need to take an extra day off. Here, we have two destination in one trip, as well. Orlando and Jacksonville become that large bulb at one end of the bone. Some trips might have a bulb at each in with a central shaft, sort of a "T" bone. Another, would be two bones together. In addition to an ultimate destination, we set intermediate destination, perhaps alternative transfer points. 

Friday, May 4, 2018

Planning Trips, Part 2, choosing route

I will recap planning. There are two ways to determine trip. The first is final destination. This destination is chosen because of what you will see there, for one thing. The second thing, is how you get there. The second factor in planning is route. How do you go. This may be determine by how you get there as well as intermediate destinations.

In choosing a trip to Boston, MA it began as a major destination. In that destination, there were many sub-destinations: trains to watch and other sites to see. Amtrak will route the trip with a transfer in Washington, DC. From Cary, NC, we have two trains, the Carolinian and the Silver Star. Both, only go as far as New York. We have to transfer to the Northeast Regional. The Northeast Regional, that we will transfer to, originates in Newport News, Virginia. If we take the Star, we can transfer in Richmond, VA and Alexandria, VA in addition to Washington, DC. The Carolinian adds Fredericksburg, VA.

The major problem with Washington is that it is very late. Departure from DC is around 10:00p. By the time you settle for the long trip it is an hour later. Alexandria, is almost 1:15 earlier. South of Washington, the train is pulled by diesel engines and north is electric. In DC the switch engines, resupply the commissary, change crews, and add or subtract cars. This takes 30 or so minutes, normally. So to board in Alexandria, you board earlier, and by the time the trains leaves DC, you are well settled. The drawback is that the station closes about an hour before the train arrives, meaning you will be sitting outside on the platform, until train arrives.

Fredericksburg, VA is much earlier. We have Commuter rail that comes into Fredericksburg, Amtrak, and CSX. If at the wrong time of the year, and the Carolinian is much late, it is after dark or limited in the time of daylight, making watching, more difficult. There is not alternative destinations, in walking distance, in the area. To make matters worse, there is no indoor waiting area.

As we see we need to choose route, including transfer point. Occasionally we can make weird routes and make one out and a different one back. In a planned trip to Chicago from Cary, We make the transfer and take the train to Boston, as mentioned above. We take the Lake Shore Limited to Chicago. Return would be via West Virginia on the Cardinal, Here, I would stay the night in Manassas, as there is good and less expensive lodging close to the train and a scenic route, I would take Commuter Rail into Washington or Alexandria, to take the train home.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Planning Trips, Part 1

It has been a while since a too an excursion. I have done a bit of planning and re-planning. One that has involved is my Florida trips. I worked with three. First takes me to Orlando and Jacksonville. I would go to Tampa, but there is not a lot that is interesting to make it worth it. The second would be to Miami. This would include seeing the new Brightline, between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. Brightline will eventually go between Orlando and Miami. I could wait until it is finished, but this trip is for now only. The third trip combines the two trips.

As we plan such trips, we, of course, look at railfan sites. SunRail, commuter rail runs out of Orland, Tampa only has their airport shuttle. I would only seek a pass through which is not what I would be doing on these plans. Jacksonville has a monorail. Both have nice intercity transit, going through point also of interest. I am not into amusement parks so they are not considered for my trip. This trip would be nice as a train trip and can planned to take very little non train ground travel. My projeted iteneraly is

Cary, NC to North Florida
Day 1
Cary, NC to Orlando, FL, 9:23p-10:06a 91 Silver Star (part 1)
Day 2
Cary, NC to Orlando, FL , 9:23p-10:06a 91 Silver Star (part 2)

SunRail, Orlando, FL
Orlando, FL to Jacksonville, FL, 1:35p-4:47p 98 Silver Meteor (map)
Jacksonville, FL, Amtrak to Rosa Parks Transit Station, Jacksonville, FL Bus K2 (map)

JTA Skyway, Monorail
Rosa Parks Transit Station, Jacksonville, FL to Jacksonville, FL, Amtrak, Bus K2
Jacksonville, FL, Amtrak to Cary, NC, 11:03pm - 8:08am 92 Silver Star (part 1)
Day 3
Jacksonville, FL, Amtrak to Cary, NC, 11:03pm - 8:08am 92 Silver Star (part 2)

Our Miami trip has to be more complicated. There is not overnight travel, between Orlando and Miami, for instance. It would require hotel stays, for that reason. The best for Miami Hotels is near the airport. This is normally a less expensive option for hotel. However, the most reasonable is in Fort Lauderdale, which has the duel function of giving a stop on the new Brightline train. And the hotel is close to the train station. Unlike the north Florida, there are a number of Tourist sites, I want to be seen such as the art Deco Architecture in Miami Beach. This is added to the train watching.The following is suggested itinerary.

Cary, NC to Miami, Florida
Day 1
Cary, NC to Miami, Florida, 9:23p-5:58p: 91 Silver Star
Day 2
Cary, NC to Miami, Florida, 9:23p-5:58p: 91 Silver Star

Miami Hotel
Day 3
Miami, Florida, Airport to Art Deco Historic District 8:20a, every 20 minutes, 45 ride, bus 150 (route) 9:00-9:45

Art Deco Historic District full tour: walking, self guide(part 1), walking, self guide(part 2),  32 min. plus stops
Art Deco Historic District to Adrienne Arsht Center Metromover Station, Miami, FL 10:27, every 12 minutes, 22 min ride bus 120 (route), 11:53a-12:15p
Adrienne Arsht Center Metromover Station, Miami, FL 33132 to Government Center Metromover Station, Miami, FL 10 min travel every 5-6 min. 12:15-1:15

Metromover various stops 7 stops
Stephen P. Clark Government Center to Airport Station 1:27P-1:42P

Miami, Fl, Amtrak to Fort Lauderdale, TriRail FL, P630, 3:10P-3:59P, P632, 3:50P-4:47P, P634, 4:30P-5:17P, P636, 4:50P-:37P, P638, 5:20P-6:07P
Fort Lauderdale to West Palm Beach, FL, Brightline, 3:55p-4:35p,4:55p-5:35p,5:55p-6:35p,6:55p-7:35p

Days Inn Ft Lauderdale Airport
Day 4

Brightline: 8:35an,9:00as,9:35an,10:35an,11:00as,12:00p
Brighline station to Amtrak 12:17 PM (Monday) - 12:33 P
West Palm Beach, FL to Cary, 1:27p-8:08a 92 Silver Star
Day 5
West Palm Beach, FL to Cary, 1:27p-8:08a 92 Silver Star

I have noted potential times for some transits with enough flexibility.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


For me to call this my Christmas is wrong. It centers with Christmas. Some years ago, when I was a United Methodist Pastor, I was thinking about my Home Church, in Richmond, Virginia. I had visited Richmond, many times. I lived about an hour and half from Richmond for a while and went frequently to research my genealogy. I never went to church, in Richmond because I had to preach at my own church. I thought it would be nice to visit on a Sunday and worship with them. This desire came in the fall. As I looked at the possibility, I concluded that I could not do the trip in the fall due to new groups forming. I could not go through the season of Advent, as we prepared for Christmas. The best time came after Christmas and that year, it was the first Sunday in January.

About this church: it was not my church, as this was a merger of my home church with another church. Technically, it was as a merger becomes a combination of the churches merging, in history as well as former member.

I left on Thursday, stopping at the welcome center in route and there was some interesting artwork.

Virginia is for Lovers
Even the benches were Virginia oriented.

I had the intention to go to Willaimsburg, to tour. I worked there a little more than thirty years ago and since have come to the feeling that I had truly left Williamsburg. However, I thought that I could tour the restored area. Friday was rainy so I change my mine and I hung out in Richmond. I did try some train watching. I got to the spot that I like to watch from. I took out my Amtrak notes, and there was not a train schedule for a couple of hours. I did take out my phone to see if there were delays that might mean a train soon. I did hear the whistle but did not get into position in time. It was the Carolinian, northbound, two hours late. I read awhile waiting for a freight but got bored and decided to leave. I got a short distance when I saw the gate come down at another crossing and a pig train came by, and me out of position.

I toured the city and on Saturday, I got the whim to take video of my drive. I have a phone holder attached to the windshield so I can use it for directions. I put the phone on the holder and used that to take video. I drove to Northside and through the a favorite park: Bryan Park.

I remember hearing that the site of the park was an old quarry. There was more to it than that, however. I also heard that it was build at the end of the trolley line to encourage trolley usage on weekends. However there is more, of course. Look it up.

It seems, my photography and video has always been on rainy days.