Wednesday, December 28, 2016

New Year's Planning

I realize that it has been months since my last entry. End of June, marked the beginning of full retirement. I moved to an apartment to be my home in retirement. I spent the first month of two, taking one day a week in train watching. It was hardly railfan travel. I did take a day trip on Amtrak for watching at Selma, NC. Time and weather did not work out and other interest caught my time.

Now, I focus my attention on my Christmas trip. As in the past, I will be going to Richmond, VA for New Years even and day. I usually take one day for a day trip. A one day out and back. I was looking at my list and will it will be a day trip to Washington, DC, from Richmond, on Amtrak. I did my scheduled perspective, so to see the DC streetcars, MARC at New Carrollton, VRE at L'Enfant Plaza.

My plans start by drawing out the schedule of possible trains, in both directions. It might take some time as to the number of carriers. I ends up like this for the MARC:

Marc, Amtrak New Carrollton Station


I color code the carrier, in this case MARC is black, Amtrak is red and Amtrak Acela is brown. This information is put into a prospective schedule, with such schedule, above put into the format below. I deleted those in the schedule that is before arrival and after departure. This schedule will give me the ideal times to watch.

Richmond, VA, Staples Mill Rd - Washington, DC, Union Station, 8:25am-10:56am, 88 Northeast Regional

DC Street Car 1.5 hr 11:00-12:30
Washington, DC, Union Station - New Carrollton Station, 1:20-1:31

Marc, Amtrak New Carrollton Station, 1:31 arrival 3,2,2

New Carrollton Station - L'Enfant Plaza Station, 23 min orange line

VRE, Amtrak L'Enfant Plaza Station. 2:55 arrival
L'Enfant Plaza Station - Washington, DC, Union Station 15 min green red
Washington, DC, Union Station - Richmond, VA, Staples Mill Rd, 7:00pm-9:13pm, 87 Northeast Regional
Of course, this plan is, in reality a perspectus not a shedule. I might get involved with one stop or the other, so I have to change as I go. Another factor in planning, is daylight. This should be between 5 and 6.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Cellphone or Camorder?

I still haven't planned my next trip. I have several, or more, planned but not confirmed which one I want to take first. There is the road trip to Horseshoe Curve, with sid trips to a couple of caverns and other sites. Or there is my overnights to Chicago and to Memphis, via Amtrak. I did talk about cameras. I use my DSLR for most vacation and railfan trips. However, around home I use my cellphone. I did use my cell phone for Rail video while downtown for a art show.

 It slowed me down in getting to the show. Thunder threatened a storm so I left early, and guess what I was delayed for another train.

I did not have my camcorder so I did use my phone. It is amazing how good the newer cellphone are. I have better control with my camcorder, however.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Next Vacation or Railfan Trip

As I mentioned before, I am revising my vacation plans for my new location. These might be railfan exclusive, meaning all railfanning trips, or might be railfan inclusive, meaning a trip that is not railfan in emphasis but does include a destination of rail interest. And finally, the exclusive railfan, involving mostly railfan but touching on other interest as well. My trip to New England was railfan inclusive. My trip to Boston, a couple of years was railfan exclusive.

If I could afford it, I would take Around the Country Tour, taking in all commuter rail, light rail, monorail, and streetcars. By my simple calculations, it would take 51 days. There would be the six corners trip, touching the six cities of Miami, Boston, Chicago, Portland, Oregon, San Diego, and New Orleans. This would take only 15 days. However, I could take a number of short trips, from Cary to Atlanta (3 day), to Boston, MA (3 day), to Florida: two trips (three and one day, including flying),  to Memphis TN, via Chicago (6 day), to New York and Metro-North (3 day), to Philadelphia (3 day). Than there are those trips that require a flight to a start city such as Fort Worth to Dallas to Austin, Portland, OR to Seattle,WA, San Diego to Los Angeles, San Francisco, or the West Coast.

Than there is my Next Vacation, plans that is railfan inclusive, but main goal is Horseshoe Curve. We will have to see what comes up.

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Monday, July 18, 2016

About Vacation, This Year

Vacation, this year, may be iffie, since I moved in June and into retirement, so I need to settle a bit and to think through the finances. At the present, I have been out a couple of times to train watch.
Amtrak 75, Southbound, Cary, NC, July 16, 2016

Amtrak 74, Northbound, Cary, NC, July 16, 2016

Both of these videos were made in Cary, NC.

I am correcting my Itineraries to use Cary, NC, not Richmond, VA as my origin. I changed my retirement location, so I have to change those, as well.

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Saturday, July 9, 2016

Pictures, part 4

The major change in camera is the cellphone with camera. These have gotten better in quality and features, allowing for both still and motion pictures. So now I have my SLR for most still pictures of trains and general vacation pictures. I have a camcorder that is use for all train video. The cellphone is used for family and pictures where my camera or camcorder is not with me. I have only use my cellphone for two train videos.

I use the cell for most family pics, however. I balance out the use of both.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Pictures, part 3

I did not begin model railroading until I got to college. I began scratch building very early because of the too few attractive models at the local hobby shop but an abundance of material for building from scratch. It was at this time that I bought the first of 4 SLRs. The first was an all manual, 35 mm film camera. It did have the exposure meter in the lens. Several years later I bought my second, 35 mm SLR, this time it was automatic with manual override. In the years of film, I took thousand of slide. The duplication of subjects and locations, led me to begin to discard the least quality. By the 2000,s digital had become more afordable. And I had over 3,000 slides and even more negatives, color and black and white.

My first digital was a cheap point and shoot model. Soon I got my first digital SLR. Shortly afterwards, I needed a scanner. I found a nice scanner with a slide head. I than began to put all my slides and prints on my computer. All new pictures were taken digitally.

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Sunday, May 22, 2016

Pictures, part 2

My first real camera came early. It was a plastic Kodak Brownie. I don't have pictures taken by because I was young. Also, I made one drastic mistake, early on. I left the camera in the rear window of the car, on a hot sunny day. The plastic melted and there when one childhood possession, my first camera.

Later, shortly after high school, I did acquire a Polaroid, Swinger. A cheaper, simpler, Polaroid, self developing camera. The pictures were small, not very good resolution, and I lost most of my pictures. It seem, I had this idea that my pictures, like my journal, might record things for future use when such things did not exist. (I forgot about museum collection, etc.) I only saved a few, pictures, around Williamsburg and for my journal.

It, like so many things, got push aside and forgotten. It was not until the end of my second year of college that I got my first SLR. Which became a fixture, on my days off and vacations.

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Friday, May 13, 2016

Pictures, part 1

I personal travel log includes many many pictures. Across the years, they have run the gambit. In the early years of travel with the family of origin, I collected postcards, as my main picture taking. At one point I got a simple film camera which lasted about two months. I eventually got my first SLR and picture taking became photography. Finally, I have had a variety of digital cameras, including the one in my phone. Which leads to the new equivalent of postcard: the emailed/texted selfie.

Postcards were a great way of getting pictures as you traveled. The photography was better than anything I could do. It was amazing the locations and scenes that the cards would cover. They were taken from locations that we could rarely be. Besides, they were relative cheap. You could even get free postcards of the motel/hotel that you stayed the night in. And what better way of making your friends, at home, envious of your trip, than to send a postcard from some exotic location. OK, they were a good, quick, cheaper way of keeping in touch. Remember when they were five cents each or 6 for a quarter. You could mail them for 4 cents when a letter cost 5 cents. (yes, I am telling my age.)

Some Postcard from My Collection

No. 004, Luray Caverns, 1966
No. 005, Luray Caverns, 1966
No. 006, Alamo Plaza, Charlotte, NC, 1966
No. 007, Charlotte, NC, 1966
No. 008, Charlotte, NC, 1966
No. 015, Morehead Planetarium, Durham, NC, 1966
No. 016, Morehead Planetarium, Durham, NC, 1966
No. 009, Golf Ranch Motel, 1966
No. 012, USS North Carolina, 1966
No. 013, USS North Carolina, 1966
No. 021, Pirateland, Myrtle Beach, 1966
No. 022, Pirateland, Myrtle Beach, 1966
No. 023, Pirateland, Myrtle Beach, 1966
Recently, I got my cards from my parents basement and reorganized them. I numbered them and scanned them into a jpg. than I re-boxed them more appropriately.

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Monday, May 9, 2016

New York City

One destination, not laid out is New York. NYC is such a large place and to plan a vacation is more difficult. My first experience with the city was when I took my first New England vacation more than 40 years ago. My sister lived on Roosevelt Island and a visit was in order. I took the train from Providence, Rhode Island. My uncle and aunt lived there so a visit there was good and a good place to take the train into NYC. It wasn't much of a railfan visit but just touring. I took a tour boat around the Island. I made to Wall Street but not lower.

A few years ago. I began to lay out my train chases and thought about watching trains around NYC. I was planning a vacation to see my sister in MN. I thought that it might be fun to take the train to Newark, NJ and fly out of there, preceded by one day of train watching and ended by one day of train watching.

Day one included a run to Harrison station on the N.J.T. I set up in a parking garage, for the elevation as well as not being so noticed. Than I took P.A.T.H. to Jersey City and watched the light rail. I came back to Hoboken and cross the river via P.A.T.H., walked to Penn Station and took the Long Island RR to Jamaica and the JFK sky train to the airport. Back to Newark via the L.I.R.R. with transfer for the N.J.T. On returning from MN, I went to Trenton and north of the Amtrak station in Newark to watch light rail.

In all these, I did not get to Staten Island for the S.I.R.R. That came this last summer. I took the ferry over to lower Manhattan and toured. Before that I crossed the Hudson at Terrytown, where I watched Hudson River trains. In all my expedience in and around Manhattan, I never did much touring of the Island. In looking at my research, there are many sites that would be nice to see. A unique attraction in High Line Park, an old elevated railroad, now abandoned and turned into a urban park. Than there are the typical attractions such as the new Trade Center (back on my first visit I got to go the observation deck of the old World Trade Center). There are many others. I would make a great daytrip.

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Monday, January 18, 2016

Next Vacation

Even as I was returning home from my last, I was thinking about my next. there are many places that would be nice to visit. Some would be cleanup from previous trips. Atlanta is one. Years ago, rumor was that Southern RR was discontinuing their Crescent Ltd, from Washington to New Orleans. For the fun of it I went to Washington and took the Crescent to Atlanta and return the next night. Idid not do much on that trip other than that. Now, there is more to be done and easier transit around the city. The last time in Atlanta, a couple of years ago, I wanted to see the new Streetcars, but the streetcars had not begun operations. My first trip was before the internet, so I did not do a lot of good research as to what to see. Return today would mean streetcars, third rail, other RR, and Underground Atlanta.

I have outlined another Boston day trip. It includes other stops for watching, same stuff, different location. Florida is another option. I laid out three versions. The first is a north Florida excursion, taking two overnight trains, include a stop in Orlando to see Commuter Rail and Jacksonville to see their Monorail. The second version is to Miami. In a very unrailfan move, I think that flying would be good. This would include a trip out to see the Miami Art Deco along the beach. The third version would combined both north and south into one Florida trip. The interesting thing is two trips work out to be four days while combining these two would be 6 days. The big differences is the two overnight on trains.

Chicago is an interesting place for train watchers and others. There are 5 good transfer points, to make you way the Chicago. Coming from Richmond, VA, just transfer in Washington for New Orleans and than to Chicago. This has the drawback of the layover being over night. It does have the advantage of allowing for me to watch the streetcar action in New Orleans. Just as far is to go via Boston and take the Lake Shore Limited to Chicago. New York is a good alternative, to get the Lake Shore Limited. A good alternative is to transfer for the Pennsylvanian in Philadelphia and for the Capitol Limited in Pittsburgh. This takes your route though Horseshoe Curve in Pennsylvania.

Coming from Virginia, the best transfer is Washington, DC. Even here there are two alternatives. One is the Capitol Limited, overnight, to Chicago. The Cardinal takes your trip through West Virginia. As I continue to look at overnight to Chicago, I think back to a previous vacation where I considered a trip to Memphis, TN. My first thoughts were a car trip as I went to Chattanooga. I could continue past Nashville, where there is now commuter rail. Looking at the rail journey, the trip would go via Chicago. That would mean an overnight to Chicago, spend the day in Chicago, overnight to Memphis, spending a day in Memphis, overnight back to Chicago, spend the day in Chicago and finally overnight back to Washington. That would give me two days in Chicago. In addition to Metra and EL and South Shore, and the air train at O Hare, I would have time for more conventional touring, such as going to two sky decks, taking in Navy Pier, and an additional train station. In Memphis, I would see one of the only hanging monorails and streetcars. In addition I would see Mudd Island and its attractions. Taking what started as a three day, two night trip into a five day, four night trip. In addition, all overnights would be on train so no hotel bills.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


As I look to my next adventures, I think about doing a few day trips. I have a liberal definition of day trips. For me, a day trip is one that I spend the day touring or train watching. Where I may differ is getting there, so to speak. Extended day trips would have a full day travel to and a day from, and two nights. All touring is in one day.  My favorite day trip would be overnight on train, day watching, and overnight return. Although in this form, it might be a full day out before going overnight, and a full day after overnight back.

One of my first day trips, I did not think of as a day trip. I was living in Williamsburg, Va. I read in Trains Magazine that Amtrak was buying the SPV 2000, an updated rail car, in the same style as Amfleet. The first delivery would be April and to run the New Have to Springfield runs. I decided to go to Springfield to see this new equipment in its first days.

Living in Williamsburg, at the time, the Colonial ran from Newport News, Va to Boston MA. All I had to do was to transfer in New Haven for Springfield. I chose a chain hotel in Springfield and bought tickets. It was a day trip on train, to New Have and Springfield. I spent the night and railfaned the following day. The third day I took the local to New Haven and the Colonial home.

Let's consider another. Living near Hamlet, NC, I looked at the rail service to Boston, where I wanted to vacation. The only problem is that it required a transfer in Washington, DC and an overnight train from there to Boston. However, the overnight train originated in Newport News, Va and went through Richmond, VA onward to Boston. That left four reasonable points of transfer from the Silver Star and the Northeast Regional: Richmond, Alexandria, Washington, and Baltimore, MD. The route of the Star and Regional did overlap all the way to New York, that would make a very late transfer. For that vacation I chose to fly to Boston and use public transit, except for one day of car rental. I later planned a railfan trip that included Mattapan High Speed, Commuter Rail, and the Green Line (light rail).

A third trip would be when I move to Richmond, Va and take that trip to Boston without layover or transfer.

O course I would consider an out and back in the same day to be a day trip. I would expand it to a trip like to Boston, even with the overnight train, taking as must as 24 hours on train to get there. That would be expanded to one with transfer, even if that transfer was for hours. The first trip, I would be reluctant to call a day trip. in the second case, the trip would cover more than two days but most of the overnight time would be in travel and layovers would be what was necessary.

One more day trip that would take Richmond to Memphis TN, via would require 4 overnights, two going and two returning with one full day layover and transfer in Chicago each way. OK this is stretching the designation to far. I might refer to that as three day trips. I hope to take that one someday.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

More Christmas

Just to conclude, Christmas was varied, Two trains were videoed, another seen and attempted to picture. My friends in Richmond loves to show off the tacky homes. I got picture of two. One expanded to two houses and the other beginning to.

New Years Eve we took in the first. The neighbor of this one played on that old cartoon:

Of course the real lights:

Than the following night we took in number 2:

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Christmas and New years, 2015/2016, Afternoon of the First Day

The morning wasn't really a bust just no pics. I drove back and got new batteries for the camera and back at the room, recharge camcorder batteries. After a nap I went to Staples Mill Station. I wasn't in time for Amtrak but did get two CSX Freights coming through.

For New Years eve, we went to The Science Museum's ball drop, they dropped 2015 balls, frozen in Liquid Nitrogen so they broke on contact. The Science Museum is in the building that was Broad Street Station.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Christmas and New years, 2015/2016, Morning of the first Day

Since summer, I have done little as far as this blog. I did sort the mugs, update patches, and did some organization of the old postcards. I have done some planning for future trips. I may have decided which one I will take in July. I retire in June and may take one then, I will be moving so that will influence where.

I am taking my traditional Christmas to Richmond excursion. Since I am retiring and maybe relocating here, I have mostly been looking a future housing. I had not planned to do any railfanning, but this morning I did go to Main Street Station. Coming into town, I passed by and saw that they had open back up the old train shed. They had remodeled it into a mall to help revitalize downtown, but that didn't work out, than it became storage for citywide textbooks. I had heard rumors that they were planning some renovating of the station.

I had my camera and camcorder with me just as the NE Regional came through. I had four batteries for the camcorder, all depleted. I turned to my SLR it's battery was depleted. I got a video made with my phone and, guess what? I was loss in editing. OH well!