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Archive for July, 2011

The next morning @ 10:00am we were off on our city tour.  My travelers were still upset about the return issues.  The problem was there were several who had not taken the trip insurance (something I would never do) and that meant if the return needed to be changed, they would have to pay additional costs
We all knew the return would not happen.  That morning the TV said that Minot, ND had lost 13,000 homes to flooding & the river still had not crested.  Since the Empire Builder went right through Minot & alternate tracks were nonexistent in that part of the country, it was just a matter of time before we would get the news of Plan “B”.
I asked everyone to enjoy the tour and the day and I would let them know as soon as I learned anything new.  There was time in the afternoon for some additional touring but 35 out of the 47 went back to the hotel to rest up for the manager’s reception that evening since they were so tired from the past evening.
Meanwhile my travelers who had missed the train the previous night were on the Zephyr headed for Salt Lake.  They called they had the same problems and were delayed as we were.  However, in addition they lost another hour. The Moffat Tunnel, 6.2 miles long, and 50 miles west of Denver crossed the Continental Divide.  When they came out of the tunnel there was a rock slide.  There was no danger since railroad tracks were wired by computers and showed rock slides and other dangers to give the engineer plenty of notice to avoid the problem.  It just meant losing more time to clean up the mess.  These travelers didn’t have travel insurance and I didn’t have the heart to tell them then that they would not be taking the train home.
Just after 4:00pm I received the call.  Going home the original way was not going to happen.  Instead we would leave Glacier on the Empire Builder to Seattle.  I would need to help all the pax make flight arrangements and also hotels for those who needed to stay overnight.  And I would have to stay overnight to assist them.
Going to Seattle we would go through the Cascade tunnel which is the longest in North America (more on that later).  However there was grim news.  The train we had been on left Salt Lake and had been crashed into by a tanker truck just before Reno; 6 dead and dozens of injuries
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The next morning @ 10:00am we were off on our city tour.  My travelers were still upset about the return issues.  The problem was there were several who had not taken the trip insurance (something I would never do) and that meant if the return needed to be changed, they would have to pay additional costs
We all knew the return would not happen.  That morning the TV said that Minot, ND had lost 13,000 homes to flooding & the river still had not crested.  Since the Empire Builder went right through Minot & alternate tracks were nonexistent in that part of the country, it was just a matter of time before we would get the news of Plan “B”.
I asked everyone to enjoy the tour and the day and I would let them know as soon as I learned anything new.  There was time in the afternoon for some additional touring but 35 out of the 47 went back to the hotel to rest up for the manager’s reception that evening since they were so tired from the past evening.
Meanwhile my travelers who had missed the train the previous night were on the Zephyr headed for Salt Lake.  They called they had the same problems and were delayed as we were.  However, in addition they lost another hour. The Moffat Tunnel, 6.2 miles long, and 50 miles west of Denver crossed the Continental Divide.  When they came out of the tunnel there was a rock slide.  There was no danger since railroad tracks were wired by computers and showed rock slides and other dangers to give the engineer plenty of notice to avoid the problem.  It just meant losing more time to clean up the mess.  These travelers didn’t have travel insurance and I didn’t have the heart to tell them then that they would not be taking the train home.
Just after 4:00pm I received the call.  Going home the original way was not going to happen.  Instead we would leave Glacier on the Empire Builder to Seattle.  I would need to help all the pax make flight arrangements and also hotels for those who needed to stay overnight.  And I would have to stay overnight to assist them.
Going to Seattle we would go through the Cascade tunnel which is the longest in North America (more on that later).  However there was grim news.  The train we had been on left Salt Lake and had been crashed into by a tanker truck just before Reno; 6 dead and dozens of injuries

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 All seemed well as we made our way to Iowa. However, due to the flooding we would have to take alternate tracks. Anyone going to Omaha would be taken off the train in the middle of the night & bused to Omaha. Amtrak does not own its own tracks anymore. Consequently, if the train is late, it must pullover and let any freight trains go by first. BTrain Tour—Challenges & Changes Week 2 All seemed well as we made our way to Iowa. However, due to the flooding we would have to take alternate tracks. Anyone going to Omaha would be taken off the train in the middle of the night & bused to Omaha. Amtrak does not own its own tracks anymore. Consequently, if the train is late, it must pullover and let any freight trains go by first. Being on alternate tracks didn’t help. We were definitely low priority in the scheme of things. Plus throughout the night the conductor had to get off the train, roll up his pants legs, & move the switches manually. The water was right up to the tracks & the switches had been shorted out so changing them manually was the only option. The next morning was Denver & we were only 5 hours late! Our normal ETA was 11:00pm & I knew they could make up some time by shortening stops. But realistically we would still be 3 & ½ hours late. Whenever I got to a mountain town (the only areas my cell would work) I was on the phone to the hotel & motorcoach driver to advise on my new ETAs. The hotel had promised they would have bellman service for our luggage but I wondered if they would really be there @ 3:00am. We finally arrived in Salt Lake @2:30am. By the time everyone got on the “bus” & I counted, I was 2 pax short. I had worried about this because I had several travelers in an alternate sleeping car with no regular attendant. Luckily one couple woke up & tried to alert the others. However, I was missing a man & his grandson. Quickly jumping off the bus I alerted the luggage attendant & told him I was missing 2 pax & to not let the train take off. The conductor located the pax and got them off & as soon as I saw them walking towards the bus, the train departed. This is when fate kicks in. If the train hadn’t been so late or was a little later, or had not waited to get my 2 pax off would things have been different? eing on alternate tracks didn’t help. We were definitely low priority in the scheme of things. Plus throughout the night the conductor had to get off the train, roll up his pants legs, & move the switches manually. The water was right up to the tracks & the switches had been shorted out so changing them manually was the only option. The next morning was Denver & we were only 5 hours late! Our normal ETA was 11:00pm & I knew they could make up some time by shortening stops. But realistically we would still be 3 & ½ hours late. Whenever I got to a mountain town (the only areas my cell would work) I was on the phone to the hotel & motorcoach driver to advise on my new ETAs. The hotel had promised they would have bellman service for our luggage but I wondered if they would really be there @ 3:00am. We finally arrived in Salt Lake @2:30am. By the time everyone got on the “bus” & I counted, I was 2 pax short. I had worried about this because I had several travelers in an alternate sleeping car with no regular attendant. Luckily one couple woke up & tried to alert the others. However, I was missing a man & his grandson. Quickly jumping off the bus I alerted the luggage attendant & told him I was missing 2 pax & to not let the train take off. The conductor located the pax and got them off & as soon as I saw them walking towards the bus, the train departed. This is when fate kicks in. If the train hadn’t been so late or was a little later, or had not waited to get my 2 pax off would things have been different?

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All seemed well as we made our way to Iowa.  However, due to the flooding we would have to take alternate tracks.  Anyone going to Omaha would be taken off the train in the middle of the night & bused to Omaha.
Amtrak does not own its own tracks anymore.  Consequently, if the train is late, it must pullover and let any freight trains go by first.  Being on alternate tracks didn’t help.  We were definitely low priority in the scheme of things.  Plus throughout the night the conductor had to get off the train, roll up his pants legs, & move the switches manually.  The water was right up to the tracks & the switches had been shorted out so changing them manually was the only option.
The next morning was Denver & we were only 5 hours late!  Our normal ETA was 11:00pm & I knew they could make up some time by shortening stops.  But realistically we would still be 3 & ½ hours late.  Whenever I got to a mountain town (the only areas my cell would work) I was on the phone to the hotel & motorcoach driver to advise on my new ETAs.  The hotel had promised they would have bellman service for our luggage but I wondered if they would really be there @ 3:00am.
We finally arrived in Salt Lake @2:30am.  By the time everyone got on the “bus” & I counted, I was 2 pax short.  I had worried about this because I had several travelers in an alternate sleeping car with no regular attendant.  Luckily one couple woke up & tried to alert the others.  However, I was missing a man & his grandson.
Quickly jumping off the bus I alerted the luggage attendant & told him I was missing 2 pax & to not let the train take off.  The conductor located the pax and got them off & as soon as I saw them walking towards the bus, the train departed.
This is when fate kicks in.  If the train hadn’t been so late or was a little later, or had not waited to get my 2 pax off would things have been different?

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A Train Tour—Challenges & Changes        Week 1
A recent tour turned into one of the most challenging of my careers.  We were supposed to leave by train to Salt Lake & then onto Yellowstone & Glacier National Parks on June 22nd.  Up to the week before, I did not know if the California Zephyr would be running. 
Flooding in Iowa was a problem.  Not so much Iowa, as South Dakota.  There was so much water in South Dakota, they kept releasing water from the dam there, which affected Iowa.  Finally we got the word on Friday June 17th the Zephyr was a go.
On Wednesday the 22nd, I met my travelers in Union Station for a meeting before the train departed.  However two pax were missing.   They were on a train coming from the East Coast.  It had taken 12 & ½ hours for that train to get to South Bend, IN.  They were only 1 & ½ hours from Chicago but the train personnel, following Union procedures, needed to get off the train.  New personnel would have to be sent to bring the train the last hour and a half.  This happened at 9:30am.    
We were told our train departing @ 2:00pm would be held up to wait for the incoming train since there were so many pax on the East Coast train with connections on the Zephyr.  Meanwhile my company informed our travelers that the Empire Builder, our train home, might not run due to flooding in North Dakota.  They said they were working on a Plan “B” & would let us know as soon as they heard anything from Amtrak.
We finally got on the train & settled into our accommodations.  2:15pm came & went as well as 2:30pm.  At 2:45pm we were finally moving.  The conductor had been given the word to go.  The train from the East never arrived.   Luckily we didn’t wait since it didn’t arrive until 5:00pm.  But meanwhile we were 45 minutes late leaving.

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A Train Tour—Challenges & Changes        Week 1
A recent tour turned into one of the most challenging of my careers.  We were supposed to leave by train to Salt Lake & then onto Yellowstone & Glacier National Parks on June 22nd.  Up to the week before, I did not know if the California Zephyr would be running. 
Flooding in Iowa was a problem.  Not so much Iowa, as South Dakota.  There was so much water in South Dakota, they kept releasing water from the dam there, which affected Iowa.  Finally we got the word on Friday June 17th the Zephyr was a go.
On Wednesday the 22nd, I met my travelers in Union Station for a meeting before the train departed.  However two pax were missing.   They were on a train coming from the East Coast.  It had taken 12 & ½ hours for that train to get to South Bend, IN.  They were only 1 & ½ hours from Chicago but the train personnel, following Union procedures, needed to get off the train.  New personnel would have to be sent to bring the train the last hour and a half.  This happened at 9:30am.    
We were told our train departing @ 2:00pm would be held up to wait for the incoming train since there were so many pax on the East Coast train with connections on the Zephyr.  Meanwhile my company informed our travelers that the Empire Builder, our train home, might not run due to flooding in North Dakota.  They said they were working on a Plan “B” & would let us know as soon as they heard anything from Amtrak.
We finally got on the train & settled into our accommodations.  2:15pm came & went as well as 2:30pm.  At 2:45pm we were finally moving.  The conductor had been given the word to go.  The train from the East never arrived.   Luckily we didn’t wait since it didn’t arrive until 5:00pm.  But meanwhile we were 45 minutes late leaving.

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Where is the most perfect place to live?

Headlines 4 weeks ago said “Half the country wilts under unrelenting heat.”

The first week, I discussed north vs south and then, California.  From there we looked at conditions in the south? It’s only fair we end with the north.

So, what about the north?    Winters definitely can be brutal but no more than heat in the south in the summer.

I find it a lot easier to bundle up while you can only take so many clothes off in the southern summers.  And, lots of people like the snow.  Up north (& that includes the West, like WY & CO, as well as the Northeast), they ski and snowmobile and do other winter activities. And summer temps tend to be perfect.

I guess living in the north, south, east or west doesn’t really matter. One thing I noticed is people like to live in the same areas they grew up in if at all possible.  If you lived near water, you like living near water.  If you lived in mountains, you tend to like those areas.  They say people who live in the desert wouldn’t trade it for green grass or flowing rivers.  It is what they are used to.

So if you can’t afford to live in two places, the most perfect place to live is where you are.  Weather is something we can’t control.  We must accept the cold, the heat, the rain or snow–or lack there of.

The perfect place to live is where ever your family and friends are.  That is what makes life worth living no matter what the outside conditions.

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