Friday, August 5, 2016

August 4, 2016

As i left my train i wondered where i would find my family. I had a missed call but no voice mail from my son. He had a 3.5 hour drive from Gunnison, CO with two young passengers, 7 and 5. He and they have traveled this route before so it shouldn't have been a hardship save the 5am wakeup to meet me. I didn't think about it much because i had arrived and would wait for the next scene in the adventure, regardless.It came rather quickly.
Walking down track side towards Union Station i had three familiar creatures jump out at me. One rather tall and good-looking and two miniatures of him short and cute. We hugged and hugged some more then off to the car and Estes Park, Co. We did sightsee in Denver a bit but you can make up the play by play on your own.
Nice cabin at Colorado Cottages in Estes, Co. Small but room enough to work as a base of Operations. We got up at dawn or slightly after to an overcast sky. Temperatures not expected to rise above 70 and cloudy all day. No rain in the forecast, though. I walked to the local gas station for fresh coffee. During my return, I passed a bakery advertising fresh coffee. You know i will visit said bakery tomorrow for coffee and. Dad may not like it but i will play the grandpa card.
After breakfast we packed to visit  Rocky Mountain National Park. I love my grand kids. I do. So i walked away when the tantrums started. I only need to see them in the good times. When the hubbub settled my grandson wore his 'jammies to the park, a fashion statement of the first order!
We packed in the car and drove to the park. I forgot my Senior National Park Pass so had to pay the $20 entrance fee. I didn't, actually forget, i never thought about going so just didn't bring it.
We walked mountain paths and up stream beds to delicate waterfalls. Fortunately for my son, we loaded more popcorn in our mouths than on the floor of his car. We took pictures. Two tired kids and adults later we left the park.
As i finish this entry, the kids have given us a much needed rest by taking a nap. Wait!! head fake, they are in the bedroom plotting. More later.
Aug 3, 2016

At 9am, eastern, my 18 passenger, turbo prop lifted off the tarmac at Blacker airport. I arrived in Chicago Midway at 9am central, just like the airline promised. A short 15 minute walk to the "L" train and my "Chicago" segment began.
I wanted to take the “L” to Wrigleyville and purchase a Cubs jersey however, the train ran slow due to ongoing construction both on the track and off. I had imagined(the ony word i can think of here) that my Denver bound train left Union Station at 5pm. When reality struck and my departure time moved up to 2pm, I lost 3 whole leisurely sightseeing hours. I felt I won't have enough time to lunch with my brother, Ben, so cut my "L" ride short. After I returned downtown, I found that two stores on State street had the jersey I wanted(Go Cubs). Unfortunately, for me, the cost of $125 fell outside my team support budget. So I bought a cheaper style jersey(go cubs) and went to Ebay. $60 later, I had my Ernie Banks, #14, old school jersey(Go CUBS).
Lunch with my brother, Ben, at The Berghoff Bar. (old school) came next on the itinerary. Thence to Union Station to board my train west. My heart fluttered, briefly, as I searched for my ticket. I had securely stowed the ticket in a pocket in my backpack. Naturally, I missed that "special" pocket several times until I unloaded the entire “pack” and found said pocket. Phew, I travel disaster avoided!
At precisely 2pm, my Iron Horse left Union Station bound for Denver, Colorado and points in-between and beyond. I found my window side, coach seat comfortable. My 15 hour trip demanded comfort. Comfort, shmufort... 15 hours 
We galloped through Illinois watching the corn grow, literally, more corn then i thought ever existed, just miles and miles and miles of corn. I have thought about all the boxes of cereal in the grocery store aisles and wondered how we could grow so much corn. Now I know.
We made several stops in Illinois and finally reached the 'Ol Man River, himself. Brown, wide and just keeping rolling along. On into Iowa and more corn. Occasionally, a break for cattle and some low growing green stuff but mostly corn.
Our train had this configuration, Two diesel engines. one baggage car, one sleeper car for the crew. It occurred to me when I saw this that the crew embarked in Chicago and served for the whole trip unlike airlines that can trade out staff after their shift time expires. Following the sleeper,three coach cars, the observation car which had the snack commissary in it, a dining car and three sleeper cars. I passed my time with ebooks, and movies, sometimes walking to the observation car crammed full of  travelers passing time like myself.
After we left Osceola, Iowa I felt a bump and we stopped. Dead! 2 hours later we heard that someone had abandoned a pick-up truck on the railroad crossing. I think i heard that while they tried to remove it someone got hurt. Bad enough to go to the hospital. Two hours lost messed up our timetable big time!
On to Omaha which I assumed would be a larger station. Not so much. I expected a grand station and got a track siding. Oh well. We arrived in Omaha at 1:30 am.

The train is quiet and comfortable. Cooler in the evening hours when the sun doesn't warm the car.  Sweaters and blankets for all to ward off the cool and to sleep if sleep can come. Sleep comes in fits and starts for me. I don't sleep well in a halfway reclining position. I expected this and got it.
Dawn appeared on the eastern horizon. Not a spectacle from a moving train with nothing but Colorado scrub to give it texture. The corn fields we left behind in Nebraska. We entertained ourselves with  viewing cattle farming, feed lots and gas wells. Soon we saw small towns growing in frequency on track side. Then the towns connected and soon the The Mile High City appeared on the horizon. Two hours late and excited with anticipations, i disembarked to hunt down my son and grand kids for our two day adventure.