Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Great American Train Chase and Scavenger Hunt

The real title is just the Great American Train Chase and I will explain the scavenger hunt, shortly. Back when I started riding Amtrak a lot, I would hang out at the station. That was back in the late 1970's. I picked-up on one of these nights, a national timetable for Amtrak. I thought that it would be nice, to travel from coast to coast on Amtrak. But, my mind did not stop there. How about hitting all four corners of the country? Or how about seeing how any trains I could take in the course of (let['s say) two weeks.

Wait a minute! If I tried that, all I would have to do is make it to the Northeast Corridor. I could take a train to the next stop and board the next one north and so on, riding the Corridor for two weeks. OK! Let's make is to have to hit the four corners of the country, in this travel. I gave it the railfan title of the Great American Train Chase. And make it a competition. It could become a promotion stunt for Amtrak. However, how would we verify that someone took the trains and hit the four corners? That was where the scavenger hunt came in.

As I said, that was a long time ago, before home computers and internet. The idea got shoved into the back of the mind for a few decades. A back in 2010, I was planning my trip to Boston, from Hamlet. I discovered that a through train to Boston was not possible. I had to go to Washington and connect to another train, one that went overnight to Boston. On that vacation, I decided to fly to Boston, take public transit and rent a car for a day for certain parts of the vacation.

That led me to looking at the possibilities of an out an back, train watching trip to Boston. Go to Washington, transferring to the overnight, and spend the day watching, returning on the overnight to Washington and transferring to home. Three days without getting a hotel room! I did more planning and saw that I could see the Matapan High Speed Line, ride the Green Line and get pictures, see the Blue line change from third rail to overhead at the Airport Station, watching North Station Commuter at North Station, and watching South Station Commuter. Long day but I thought is worthwhile or at least fun. I set it up and did it. I re-planned it, and found that I could change a few things and add riding commuter rail out of both South Station and North Station and hit the other targets as well. That will be a future trip.

This could be the basis of a TV game show called the American Train Chase. There would be a series of out and back trips with targets to photograph or video. The targets are railfan points such as commuter rail, light rail, or monorail. I did lay out a few, just for fun. I would love to try them someday.

 OK! I did plan out around the country, making the six corners: Boston, MA, Chicago IL, Seattle WA, San Diego, CA, New Orleans, LA, and Miami, FL. It would take 15 days if timed right. There would even be a few targets hit, while hitting he corners. Just for fun, I tried hitting all six corners and seeing all targets in my list. Now that would be a trip, taking at least 51 day.

Next the American Train Chase rules:

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