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Author Topic: Bah Humbug!
Vincent206
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Maybe I just have too many crazy relatives, but some years I have a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit. This year I've been really busy with work and other commitments, plus I needed to make a one-day Amtrak trip to Portland last Monday, so I was wondering if I was going to have enough time to get my act together and pull off the Christmas magic one more time. Fortunately, there's something about a train trip that can sometimes change a person's attitude for the better.

A few days before my trip there was a storm that brought cold weather and dumped a lot of snow on western WA. We didn't have any snow accumulation in Seattle but everywhere south of King County got at least a few inches of whiteness. I was worried that the weather might cause problems with the train tracks, but on the day of my trip, Tacoma to the Columbia River provided an absolutely spectacular vista of frozen ponds, icy rivers and bare trees that riveted my attention the whole time. I felt like I was travelling through a classic Ansel Adams black and white photograph. When I got back home that night I was ready to tackle Christmas and I did manage to cook the dinner and spend a very happy Christmas with family and friends.

Happy New Year to everyone! I hope you all have train travels planned for next year. In February I'll be heading west from Salt Lake City on the Zephyr. I know it's not the best time of year for scenery but I'm going to have a very busy 2017 and free time will be hard to arrange. I'll let you know how the trip goes when I get back.

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Gilbert B Norman
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Well Vincent, I know where you're coming from regarding Xmas. Wonder why I've simply sat the whole thing out for now some twenty five years. Happy to visit with my family in the New York area; just not at Xmas when everyone else has the same idea about visiting theirs.

Now that my Niece has emigrated to Sydney Australia (her husband is that), a visit with her is "problematic". I've been advised by "those who've been" that it will take some five days to recover - flying Business Class notwithstanding - and ten days away is simply my "max". She is disappointed, but understanding.

From the overseas trips I've made these past few years, Westward is tougher on the body than East.

My planned Florida trip over Super Bowl weekend, will likely include "Voyage 23". Probably NB - it's cheaper at that time of year. But please, no Snowmageddon this time.

Overseas? well since Australia will simply be "too much" for a ten day journey (my Sister is going for a month in March, but she "loves" having the two urchins crawling all over her and going with them to the beach. She will be staying with my Niece - but houseguesting with anyone is something I simply don't do; beaches? well, I can think of nicer things than being bitten by a shark), and I have a $1750 voucher from United which must be ticketed by May 11, any guesses if I'm going overseas (Europe) again?

Otherwise, my usual trips - Atlanta, Greenwich, Indianapolis, Fredericksburg, Amana, all of which are fly/drive.

Joyrides? maybe the Hoosier State to Lafayette.

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palmland
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Merry Christmas to all. Hard to not be in the Christmas spirit this year after a wonderful pageant at church (no one over age 7) was followed by Christmas with son's family and a 8 month old granddaughter.

2017 should be fun. No Amtrak plans but planning trip to Europe.

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Gilbert B Norman
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Mr. Palmland, do we and Miss Mary next meet atop Festung Hohensalzburg?
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DonNadeau
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Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, & Happy New Year to all.

@ Vincent, you will most likely love taking the Zephyr over the Sierra Nevada mountains. So lovely in winter.

Moreover, if you get a chance be sure to ride the Zephyr west from Denver also in winter. Sublime!

Hopefully, no Donner Pass-type winter incidents will happen during your trip. [Smile]

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Vincent206
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If anybody has any recommendations for things to do in SLC, I'd love to hear them. I'll have about 1 day of free time and I've never been to Utah before.
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Gilbert B Norman
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Plenty Mr. Vincent, Hill AFB (Clearfield UT) was my final duty station when in service 1965-69:

Rail - Take a ride on the Frontrunner; maybe just another "emerging" regional rail system to one from Seattle, but to one from where the rail system "is always broke" and the only change is that the fares go up every year, is is quite the joyride.

Street Cars - there is quite a system of such.

Shopping/Entertainment centers - check out the Union Pacific depot, which is still adorned with "the Shield". Non-rail, but the City Creek shopping mall is really attractive - and stayed off the list of those where Boxing Day had live auditions.

Excursions (need an auto) - Park City; Brighton; Golden Spike - bit of a haul to get up there. Ogden; where the short lived TV series Blood and Oil was filmed. Although not used by Frontrunner, the "Depot" has been nicely restored for "mixed use".

Arts - Utah Symphony; truly a world class ensemble. Their hall is named for Maurice Abravanel - the long time Music Director who was such when I attended their concerts when I was at Hill AFB.

UP viewing - Echo Canyon to the East of Ogden; public parking clear view of the action (photo Jan TRAINS)

TV show production - the live Mormon Tabernacle Choir broadcast is open to all - they won't put the "hard sell" on you to "convert" (naturally if you want to, they're there to help).

Hotel - mine is Marriott Downtown at City Creek ($195), but other major brands are also Downtown.

Amtrak viewing? Forget it - you get to see "same same" up your way - and at people hours.

Enjoy, I think it is a great region to visit - and you can have a drink anywhere at anytime you choose (not so when I was there in Service).

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palmland
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GBN-we'll be mostly south of you. Closest about 5 hour Railjet ride from Zurich: Greece, Italy, and SBB via Bernina pass.
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DonNadeau
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For something different, from SLC airport, the LDS church has a free two-hour tour of downtown Temple Square in Salt Lake City. It's set up for people with long airport connections. Have been wanting to take it if delayed there. (I am not a member of the LDS church.)

https://www.lds.org/church/news/temple-square-tours?lang=eng

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yukon11
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Union Pacific Depot, SLC:

 -

Does Amtrak now stop at or near the old Rio Grande Depot? I also thought that the Frontrunner and TRAX stop at a platform near the old UP Depot, but not sure. Was there a good reason for Amtrak abandoning the UP Depot or was it UP's doing?

The Frontrunner stops at the North Temple terminal. I assume that is near Temple Square?
TRAX stops at Temple Square which is near Abravanel Hall and the Utah Symphony. There is a Ruth's Chris restaurant along S. West Temple.

Richard

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Gilbert B Norman
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The DRGW station is now a State Heritage Society building, but is still adorned with the Rio Grande sign. Like the UP, all tracks have been yanked, but the alignment into the DRGW station is quite visible.

The present Amshack is part of the Intermodal Center, and is open from 10PM to 6A. It is located to the West of both former stations.

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Vincent206
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I've just returned from my winter adventure on the California Zephyr from Salt Lake City to Emeryville. The recent storms had me very worried about whether or not my train would be running so I had an air-contingency plan in case of a service disruption or bustitution. After landing in SLC I kept in close contact with Amtrak Julie and she repeatedly assured me that my train would depart on time from SLC. So, at the appointed hour, with my fingers and toes crossed, I headed to the station to catch my train.

There was a fairly large crowd gathered at the SLC Amshack when I arrived and the station agents explained that both the westbound 5 and the eastbound 6 were scheduled to arrive at 1100pm and depart at 1130pm. For train 5 that's on-time service, but train 6 was running about 20 hours behind schedule. What adventures were waiting for me and my fellow passengers? Keeping my fingers and toes crossed, I boarded the train, arranged my roomette, brushed my teeth and fell asleep hoping to wake up the next morning somewhere near Reno. During the night there were a few jerks and jolts that woke me up but the train always seemed to be in motion, so I just fell back to sleep and dreamed of sunny California.

When I did finally wake up in the morning there was very little snow on the ground and we were travelling through some spectacular mountain scenery. My sleeper attendant also had good news—we were running just a few minutes behind schedule and we were expected to depart Reno on time. But just a few miles before Reno we came to a stop in the Patrick siding to wait for the Union Pacific to clear a track through the Sparks railyard. Due to the days of stormy weather, there were lots of railcars waiting to head east and our delay was almost 90 minutes before UP could clear a track for us. Ninety minutes seemed like a long time to sit in the Patrick siding, but train 6 that arrived 20 hours late in SLC had spent 10 hours stuck in that same hole before it returned to Reno and waited for traffic to clear.

Our delays weren’t over, however. We took another hit at the Reno station when 4 Reno police detectives and a dog handler boarded our train to check out the room and luggage of a “suspicious” passenger. Reno PD had a copy of the passenger manifest and they noticed a young passenger riding in the sleeper with a home address in Humboldt County CA. Their search didn’t turn up anything illegal and the young man turned out to be a college student on a wrestling scholarship at a Midwest school who was returning home on a break. Nevertheless, we were now running almost 2 hours behind schedule.

The weather in Reno was cold and clear, but heading west through Donner Pass we were in heavy snow again with high winds that caused us to lose more time. By Roseville the weather had changed again and it was sunshine all the way to Emeryville where we arrived just after sunset and about 2 hours late. Considering the weather conditions and all the backed-up traffic, I think Amtrak and UP did a pretty remarkable job of getting me to my destination. I had breakfast and lunch on the train and both were fine. My room attendant was pretty new to the job and his performance had a few misses, but his attitude was great. I hope there are some “wise old hands” around to mentor him and iron out the wrinkles.

This was my first trip to Salt Lake City and I used my free time to check out some of the tourist attractions in and near downtown SLC. The LDS Temple was very elaborate and beautiful. I was very surprised to see skyscrapers next to the Temple. Paris wouldn’t allow a modern skyscraper to dwarf the Notre Dame, why would SLC allow such buildings next to the Temple? Even more shocking to me was the fact that the skyscrapers were owned by the business arm of the LDS church.

Thanks to all of you who offered up recommendations for a day in SLC. I walked through the old Union Pacific station that is now part of an outdoor shopping mall. The UP station is nicely restored and very echo-y, just like the UP station in Seattle. Was the echo chamber effect part of UP’s architectural design? The “Rio rande” station (the neon “G” was burned out during my visit) is now a museum. During my free day the temperature was near freezing and there was almost constant snow/sleet/rain falling from the sky so I used the light rail system extensively. An all-day ticket is $6.25 and allows unlimited rides on buses and light rail. The heavy rail system, Frontrunner, requires a separate ticket. The all-day ticket is a good investment, especially if you will be leaving town on the westbound Zephyr. The neighborhood around the Amshack is very creepy and I would highly recommend taking either light rail (last stop on the Blue Line) or a taxi to get to the station. The rest of SLC is clean and very tourist friendly.

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DonNadeau
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Vincent,

I am so glad that the trip turned out so remarkably well considering the recent closure of the Donner Pass route, the blockage of UP due to a dam breakage in eastern NV, and of course the continuing Feather River route closure. God smiled on you.

The Donner Pass in winter was one of my favorite experiences on Amtrak.

Sad that the church erected those skyscrapers.

Thank you for the SLC tips. Have been through on trains and at its airport many times, but have never stopped there.

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PullmanCo
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Looking at Google Maps/Earth, the former UP station is now landlocked by buildings surrounding it.
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Vincent206
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I noticed this story about the old "Rio Grande" sign in Salt Lake City. It's in such bad shape that it's been taken down from the building.
quote:
The old sign had suffered from maintenance issues for years, officials said. Spare parts were no longer available at a reasonable price, and the scaffolding was so dilapidated that contractors refused to use the catwalks to access it.
Fortunately the old sign will be replaced this fall with a new version.

I've worked on old neon signs and they can be very difficult to maintain once they have reached a certain age. Some old signs even contain low levels of uranium, which requires special attention when handling.

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Gilbert B Norman
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From Imlauer Pitter Hotel Salzburg--

Vincent; look what you get over here when trying to access the SLTribune material you linked:

quote:
We'll be back
We're sorry. The Salt Lake Tribune's web site, sltrib.com, is unavailable in the European Union. We are working with lawyers on compliance with the European Union's General Data Protection Requirements, and we expect to sltrib.com to be available once that is done. Thank you for your patience


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Vincent206
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I'm in Mexico right now and I've run into my share of "Sorry...." messages, too. I also get plenty of target ads and pop-ups in Spanish.

Meanwhile, Mexico continues to work on its first HSR line. If all goes well, 100 mph passenger trains will be connecting Toluca and Mexico City by 2023.

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Gilbert B Norman
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From aboard OBB Rail Jet 560 near Kufstien @145kmh--

Could have picked a better day for joyriding as it's raining. Nevertheless off to St. Anton/Arlberg to find the former station which is now an Annex to a four star Post House. Then back to Innsbruck and the best steak I know in Austria (not much on Boiled Beef), then back to Imlauer Pitter.

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Gilbert B Norman
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Aboard RJ663 soon to leave Innsbruck---

Best steak in Austria at Adler's Hotel still stands.

I got my photos of the former St.Anton/Arlberg station. It's part of a hotel there.

So the rain stopped and it turned out to be a good day.

Now moving; 160kmh

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