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Well, it all started on September 18. I embarked at Red Wing, and, unlike my previous trips southbound via the Empire Builder, I was able to get a seat on the river side of the train. The train arrived and departed Red Wing on time, and maintained its schedule until we were held up by track work between Winona and La Crosse, WISC. Oh, well. The track for the entire trip was quite smooth, but the only downside to that was that we pullled into Columbus WI, approximatly 30 minutes late. IOW, we sat for a while around that track work, and were delayed again due to the Mississippi bridge being open at La Crosse. the diner required reservations for lunch, so I had to get a meal after I disembarked at CBS. One note: If one is going to Madison, WI, there is no problem getting a cab to come to CBS. Expect to pay between $65 - $76 to get to Madison. In my case, this meant that my cab fare one way was more than my round trip train ticket. Seeing as how my relatives were all in Madison for a wedding, I was able to avoid cab fare on the return trip because I was able to bum a ride back to CBS off of one of them  - . The weather was very good, and I was able to observe several eagles flying high over the Mississippi on the southbound trip. I was also abel to do some people watching. There were at least a dozen people embarking and disembarking at each stop in WI, and the train itself was pretty much full to capacity. On the North bound trip, September 20, the train was almost always on time, with the only late arrival being at Red Wing, where I disembarked. We were about 10 minutes late. Again, the train was quite full, and for those seats that were empty, they appeared to be spoken for. The diner again required reservations for dinner, and even that was fully booked. We had over 2 dozen people embarking at CBS on the 20th, and there were at least a dozen people getting on and off the train at each stop in WI. Heading into the sunset on the return trip was uneventful. The staff on both trips were curteous and professional in their demenor to the passengers. Overall, a good trip to report.
Posts: 506 | From: Wisconsin | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
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This time I went aboard the train for Thanksgiving. The train arrived into Saint Cloud about 15 minutes late, which really is not that bad, I think. The station, on Thanksgiving Day, had about 20 people or so in it. I was one of more than a dozen who embarked, and then off we went. I had breakfast in the diner, while looking out over the river valley south of Saint Paul, MN. The sun can be bright when it reflects off of things during the Fall. We had to wait for some river traffic to clear the bridge (I think) just prior to entering La Crosse. Then we raced across west Wisconsin, outpacing vehicles on the adjacent Interstate. I would really rather be aboard the train than having to drive the 6 - 7 hours to Madison. The station in Columbus is quaint, and this time I had relatives meet me there. I sure wish Amtrak or the State of Wisconsin or some entity could find the funds to upgrade the tracks around Madison so that the train could stop there, Amtrak would gain so many more riders than when it stops in Columbus, WI.

The return trip was packed. I mean, it just seemed to keep filling up with people. Every single stop we made between Columbus and Saint Cloud placed more people aboard the train. Especially telling were the announcements over the PA to the effect that the train would be standing room only by the time it reached Grand Forks, ND. And the number of folks who enbarked at Saint Paul was rather healthy number too. The train was full, and this was on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The train was on-time, the staff were polite and professional. All in all, a good way to start and end Thanksgiving.

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one corner of the Earth all one's life."

Posts: 506 | From: Wisconsin | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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