Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Maybe Not!

I am still interested in New England. But alternatives would be to do an extended out and back, Train chase. I have put together a number, more or less projects that may or may not be done. Most range between 3 days to 5 days, door to door. If you recall, I did one of these to Boston a couple of years ago.

One of the neatest started as an out and back to Chicago, watch and return. It was one day out, one day watching, and one day return. After I decided not to see Memphis TN on my vacation a couple of years ago, I added it to the Chicago trip. It became one day to Chicago, watch one day, overnight to Memphis and watch for the day, overnight back to Chicago and watch another day (train schedules meant this extra day), than overnight back to Washington and rest of the day home. That three day out and back ended up being five days. I would take two days in Chicago and take in something other than trains.

As I thought about it, I might add to that, perhaps a Washington to Atlanta to see the new streetcars. This would work out good as the Star arrives in Washington only 45 minutes before the Capitol Limited leaves for Chicago, too close for comfort. So the Atlanta leg would be before the Chicago leg. Coming back to DC would arrive with plenty of time before leaving for Chicago.

Another option is a combining the Boston trip with Chicago, taking the overnight Northeast Regional from DC than take the Lake Shore Limited to Chicago. Unless I spent the day and night in Boston, I would not have time to do much in Boston.

The final form sounds interesting. Instead of Washington, DC, to on to Philadelphia. From Philadelphia, take the Pennsylvanian to Pittsburgh where I change for the Capitol Limited to go into Chicago. This leg grew out of my want to see Horseshoe Curve. The Pennsylvanian,s route does take it through the curve in daylight. Pittsburgh may not be at a good time but that is ok. The layover in Philadelphia is tight so the best thing to do is to spend the night in Philadelphia, both going and coming. That would give me plenty of time to sightsee. Philadelphia is a railfan's dream. Streetcars and light rail are numerous.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

More to Come!

As I mentioned before, I could take the shoreline, first and comeback along the inland. I first tried that but on second look at operating times of destinations might me reverse that trip might be more productive. But for this blog, I will relate the first option. I will lay out the alternative, just to get the best way. It is only January. I have all kinds of time and, who knows, may change the whole trip, anyways.

I had added to the 1978 itinerary Railroad Museum of New England, Inc, Naugatuck Railroad and Essex Steam Train before Mystic. In my research, there are many good Amtrak, MNRR, and SLE watching opportunities along that route. So I need to add at least one watching stop, along the way. Here is were YouTube comes in handy. I chose a location and see on YouTube an idea of layout. From this I determined that Straford CT was a good location for the Metro North New Haven Line and not far from Naugatuck. Old Saybrook CT is good for the Shoreline East. All before Mystic Seaport.

FRom Old Saybrook a stop at Old Colony & Newport Railway, Newport, RI and Cape Cod Central Railroad, Hyannis, MA are new attrations since 1978. Than there is Plymouth Plantation, being a 17th century model.

I did initially remove from the list Edaville Railroad. Actually, Edaville Railroad has been turned into a amusement park with a train. As I looked back to Edaville Railroad, I visited when it was a heritage railroad with a collection making it more of a museum. Today, it is Edaville USA and reminds me of an amusement part with railroad. From what I have read, all the original equipment has been sold and moved. The current website is different from the last that I looked at and maybe, it sufficiently new. Now I may have to weave a swing by into my trips. I would do what I dis at Tweetsie two years ago. I would just pull up into the parking lot, set up my video and take it from there.

Northward past Boston is Saugus Iron Works. It is strange and remarkable that I never visited or even knew about this site, until just a few years ago. I lived in Lynn, MA less than 5 miles from the site, in 1983/84 and did visit the SS Constitution in Cambridge, near Bunker Hill, but never know about Saugus. I even visited Lynn Woods, just a stones throw from Saugus Iron Works. I did questio whether it was worth the detour, to visit but at present it is a part of my vacation plans.

Three attractions, in a line accross  MA are Old Sturbridge Village, Hancock Shaker Village, Shelburne Falls Trolley Museum and Berkshire Scenic Railway.  I have an interested in communes and intentiona commnities, as Hancock is a Shaker settlement in Western Mass. It was part of the 1978 visit and a brief visit is in order now. Just for fun the new destinaions are added. the Bekshire has been changing so I might be different that I am thinking now.

That is the last of New England. Now, the trip home. I would cross the Hudson and down the Garden State Parkway to connect with I95. I have a plan to detour to Staten Island, take the RR and ferry and back. This would add a bit more RR watching. The whold vacation would be 10 days, door to door. I have thought to reverse the trip and making adjustment to timing. The plan does not include the run by at Edaville. It is only January and I can and will make many adjustments. I might even decide to do something all together different.

Friday, January 23, 2015

But wait!!!!! There's more!

But wait!!!!! There's more!

This trip from Williamsburg, VA (where I lived and worked in 1978) to Mystic began with the Chessie Steam Special from Richmond to Balcony Falls, along the James River. This was the second year of the Specials. I missed the first.

I spent the night in Northern Virginia, near Washington, DC, with my parent, before heading north, the next day. I took went via the Tappen Zee Bridge, accross Connecticut to Mystic, Seaport, that night.

I was younger and would drive for hours without a break. I did stop for gas before getting into the NYC traffic. I was cruising across Connecticut and was a couple of hours inside CT when I decided to stop, take a break, and get my bearings. I was past New Haven. I came off the interstate and stopped by a McDonald's. I looked at my map and to my surprise, Mystic was the very next exit. I decided that I would sleep in the car for the night. I soon abandoned the ideas and looked for a motel.

Back them, I did not know what was what as to trains,in New England and New York. The first thing it the current work of the MTA. Metro North RR, Long Island RR, and Staton Island RR. Now, I do. First thing I notice is crossing the Tappen Zee, I cross he Hudson Line of Metro North. I could stop and watch on the northbound segment or wait until the return home. After analysis, I decide one the north

When planning a trip, I lay out possible Itenerary in table format in HTML. HTML allows for doing things that other apps will not allow, such as table in table. I will lay out train time in this table format. These can be colored to indicate service, such as red for Amtrak. In the example below, I insert the shedule table into an overall table:s

Day 2
Emmorton Park Rd, Edgewood, MD (Baltimore, MD) to Tarrytown NY 3:59 (9:00-2:00)
       Tarrrytown NT
8:54n( 69) 9:01s 9:05s(252) 10:08s(236) 9:11 n 9:12s
9:20n 9:43s 9:41n 10:01s 10:11n 10:12s
10:20n 10:39n 10:43s 10:51n(281) 11:01s 11:11n
11:12s 11:20n 11:55n(233) 12:01s 12:05st(280) 12:11n
12:12s 12:20n 12:39n 12:43s 1:01s 1:06s(290)
1:11n 1:12s 1:20n 1:39n 1:43s 1:54n(283)
2:01s 2:06s(238) 2:11n 2:12s 2:20n 2:39n
2:43s 2:54n(235) 3:01s 3:06s(284) 3:11n 3:12s
3:20n 3:39n 3:43s 4:01s 4:11n 4:12s
4:15nt(49) 4:20n 4:39s 4:39n 5:01s 5:05s(242)
5:11n 5:12s 5:20n 5:38s(48) 5:39s 5:39n
5:48nt(237) 6:01s 6:05st(244)  5:48n(237) 6:11n 6:12s
6:20n 6:39n 6:43s 7:01s 7:11n 7:12s
7:20n 7:35s(68) 7:39n 7:43s 8:20n  
Amtrak Metro North

Edgewood, MD is the breaking point only from the prospective of planning. It happens to be a good point to break for the day. The days travel begins as above. I look at Google Maps and that their time estimation and add 10 min for each hour, to allow for slowdowns and breaks from driving. Any driving that might be around noon or 5 will call for an additional hour for mealtime. All days are schedule to begin at 9. However, I may start the day earlier and not take the prospective breaks. Subtracting the part of the schedule before I am planning to arrive and deleting those after I plan to leave leaves a prospectus. In the care of Tarrytown. I figure an hour would be a basic number to watch and according the plan below allows for 6 Metro North trains and two Amtrak Empire Service trains to video

Day 2
Emmorton Park Rd, Edgewood, MD (Baltimore, MD) to Tarrytown NY 3:59 (9:00-2:00)
       Tarrytown NY, Amtrak, Metro North (Hudson Line)
2:01s 2:06s(238) 2:11n 2:12s 2:20n 2:39n
2:43s 2:54n(235)
Amtrak 2 Metro North 6

Wait!!!!! There is more to come!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

First Look at New England

A few years ago, and about the time I began this blog, I took my tour of Boston. I flew to Boston, toured by mass transit and one rental car. This trip will not repeat this. My 1978 vacation to New England, included a stop at South Station but that was due to missing my exit on the Mass Pike. As in 1978, this tour will be a circle. One half of the circle will be across the coast and the return be central Mass back to Pittsvillle. I tried the northern lap, being the start but found the best to do it as I in 1978.

Besides the destinations outside of New England, my list of destinations in 1978 included Mystic Seaport, Edvaville Railroad, Plymouth Plantation, Old Sturbridge Village, Hancock Shaker Village. Beyond New England, there was a swing by Strasburg Rail Road, in central Pennsylvania (such began my swing bys as a part of vacations). In my initial plan to circuit New England, there were  some new added to the old. The question was what should I revisit those for so long ago.

Naugatuck Railroad is new site. In 1978, this scenic railroad was not in service, however, it only operates a few days a week The 2015 schedule is not out but according to last years it operates only on Tues. I just may run by to see it, not in operation, before heading on. It is a diesel operation, so I don't feel the urge to see it operating or ride.

I missed Essex Steam Train & Riverboat, for some reason. It may not have been my tourist railroad guide or I just overlooked it. According to Wikipedia, it began operations July 29, 1971. My guide may have been released before that.

Onward to Mystic Seaport. Look back to 1978, I noticed that for such a photo-op as this, I have only three pictures taken there: two Amtrak trains and the train station in Mystic. But notice, for all that I have before Mystic, In that trip it was only my first New England destination.

But wait!!!!! There's more!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Looking Ahead

Even with Christmas shortly behind me, I am looking at the possibilities for future trips. Just to have projects, I have planned a number of trips such as an overnight to Chicago with a overnight sidetrip to Memphis, TN and overnight return to Chicago and finally overnight to Home. When I modified the Tennessee trip, last year, I removed Memphis and Nashville. Chicago is obvious as what to see, both railfan and other. The one major attractions to Memphis is one of the only hanging monorails in the country. That is multiplied with streetcars and more tourist stuff.

Last year, I got to Atlanta before they began running the Streetcars. An very good out and back would go overnight to Atlanta and overnight back. Between arrival in DC and departure for Atlanta, I could scope out their Streetcars, which I missed this last Christmas. I could do that on the return, as well, do something else. I read that the Atlanta Streetcars started running on December 31. When the DC streetcars begin is yet to be known. My last information places it the week of January 19th.

Another remake is the Northern Florida out and back. First to Orlando via Winter Park to both see, watch, and ride SunCom. (I was in Orlando on a Sunday and it did not run on Sundays.) Than Back to Jacksonville to see and ride the monorail. (I was there on a Sunday and the Monorail did not run on Sundays.) I laid out a out and back trip to see both.

For some reason, I would love to duplicate, in part, my first vacation to New England. That vacation I took in the fall of 1978. It was a two week trip and ended in a run across Pennsylvania to Strasbourg. It started with a ride on the Chessie Steam Special. It was my first railfan/other excursion

I took the usual Virginia to New England route, I 95 to the Garden State Parkway, across the
Tappan Zee bridge, back down to I 95, taking the shoreline to Mystic Seaport, Connecticut. With a stop in Providence RI to visit family and a train ride to NYC to see my sister,

I was working as an Apprentice and interpretive Bookbinder for Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and had interest in restorations. Mystic Seaport was one. From there I went to Plymouth Plantation. I stopped by Edaville Railroad, when it was simply a scenic railroad and museum, not the amusement part that it is today. Old Sturbridge Village and Hancock Shaker were added to this trip. For some reason the exact order of visiting has been forgotten, There was one thing that confuses me. I remember being on the Mass. Pike heading for Boston but taking a detour before downtown but missing the detour and ending up at South station (a happy accident, I might add). From there I headed south to Plymouth. But did I see Edaville before Plymouth or after and was Providence before?  After Hancock, I went accross Pennslyvania to Stausbourg, before heading home.

That was the time that all I had to plan with (before the days of the internet) was a Atlas and a book listing tourist railroads. Not only that, I was new to railfanning, so I did not look for good places to watch trains nor did I know what I might encounter. And there were a few places that I missed because I did not yet know better.

As it is, there are more to see, now. There are updates to what I saw before, and things I did not see for lack of knowing. A refresher trip would be nice. I did a planning session this fall just to see what it would take. But, more on that, later.

Monday, January 12, 2015

One Last Thing

It is Christmas, after all. A friend and I went to near Kings Dominion to a light show. Back in the city, we went by a couple of decorated houses. Richmonder's are proud of their tacky homes. In fact, the local weekly puts out their tacky home tour and tour companies take bus trips to see the lights. We came by a couple including this wounderous sight:

Before visiting family, I got a card for my Brother. I showed a very decorated house and the next door neighbor with nothing except one signe saying "Ditto" and pointing to the decorated house. My brother loved it. Next door to this extreme decoration was this neighbor.

Washington to Richmond

Back at Union Station, I purchased my ticket for the V.R.E. My schedule had me taking the VRE 311 to Fredericksburg, leaving DC at 6:00 and arriving in Fredericksburg at 7:30. The best connection was the Northeast Regional 85. It allowed for sufficient time to arrive and get ready for the connection. I need to recharge my phone, an ongoing problem.

What I was not aware of was the fact that Northeast Regional 93 was late, by 40 to 45 minutes. As I was settling in, a train is heard in the distance, and I though it was only a Freight but is in fact 93. It was  surprise and I did not know if 85 was early. I was told it was the regional, so I boarded. So I arrived in Richmond, a bit early.

Some thoughts

In planning and execution, this trip was good and bad. I went to New Carrolton to ride behind electrics on MARC as well as seeing them. It just happened that the electric motors were in for maintenance. On the up side I did see the new electrics on Amtrak and a Acela.

Silver Springs was a different location to watch. Alexandria was very familiar. I did get to ride V.R.E. and MARC. I did not get to see MARC under electric but got see the new electrics for Amtrak. I first started planning so I could see the Streetcar, but they were not running. But I had planed around them rather than with them. I did see one, but it was tested and too far away to video.

Over all, very worth the time, Now to plan my next outing,

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Silver Spring, MD

Finally at midday, I now make my way to Silver Spring MD. Decided to take Metro back to Union Station. There, I had a little time before I took MARC from Union Staion to Silver Spring. I just happens that the only scheduled trains ran out bound to Silver Spring. So I planned to return to Union Station via Metro.

First is the MARC 891

Next is the only Amtrak through Silver Spring. The Capitol Limited, no. 29.

I don't do much video of light rail like Metro, However, Most of my train watching was adjacent to the Metro. So, I got some video of Metro in Alexrandia, VA, New Carrolton and Silver Spring.

Back to Union Station, via Metro and await the VRE south to Fredricskburg, where I will transfer to Amtrak Northeast Regional

Thursday, January 8, 2015

New Carrolton, cont,

First, Amtrak NE Regional 84. Note that 84 is being pulled by the new ACS-64 electric locomotives 609.

Before I could turn around, came MARC 427

Amtrak 185, southboundbound, pulled by 624, another new engine. I had a good long look at this new engine as it took on passengers

MARC 418, northbound, pulled by 73

One more before moving on and of course an Acela

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

New Carrolton

Looking back at railfaning New Carrolton, I think back to my standards regarding video and pictures of trains. My first preference is to have a picture or video that shows the engine and whatever cars from end to end and from top to bottom. An exception is a picture showing certain detail. This makes stations with high level platforms a bit challenging.

To be fair, you should be positioned at the end of the platform. If you are on the southbound platform, your should be on the north end of the platform. This means that trains approaching on the track in front, are not yet obstructed by the platformed and those on the other track do not have the platform to obstruct. This is the problem with New Carrolton, the platform is center, so half the trains have the obstruction of the platform.

An example of being obstructed.

being at the end of the platform, I could get it after it left the station. This in not always acceptable.

This is the situation at New Carrolton. It is center platform, the platform is used for both tracks in both directions. I still got some decent Videos.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Out and Back, part 2, Alexandria, Cont.

According to my schedule, if the train is on time I have a couple of minutes to get ready to view the southbound Southeast Regional 67. But, as it were, we were about 10 minutes late. There will be 4 VRE scheduled trains, all northbound, in this first hour.

 As I was checking my notes of schedule work, I hear in the distance another train. This was a CSX container train:

Now it is time for the northbound Northeast Regional 174

The northbound Crescent was next on the schedule but checking the Amtrak app on my pnone, it was running late by about 15 minutes, I chose to wait to see the next Northeast Regional 84 than I would decide to wait or not for the Crescent.

After the Regional came, the Crescent was too much delayed, so I started to my next destination: New Carrollton, MD. In one scenario, it was this last Regional would let me cross town. But this scheme had me take the Metro, a little quicker.

Before I go, I did take a video of the Masonic Lodge in Alexandria. You can see this for miles, coming to town on Amtrak.