Where are you now?

I’I’I’mMy wife has been using Google Maps to follow the train route. I started texting her as I reached towns here in Texas, but data and text coverage is really spotty out here in the boondocks.

However, the GPS on my phone seems to be keeping up with my location, although there’s not much point in zooming in for details unless the data connection is available.

I’m starting an offline log of timepoints in Word – I’ll update the live blog as I get data.

April 8, 2015

4:00 PM – coming up on Pontiac, which would be awesome if it were Pontiac, MI – but it’s Pontiac, IL. Still a ways to go to Chicago. I hope I can make it in time to catch the 6:00 Greyhound…

3:29 PM – stopped at the Normal, IL station.

3:25 PM – Bloomington, IL

3:17 PM – Shirley, IL. I am serious. And don’t call me, surely.

3:13 PM – Funks Grove, IL.

2:49 PM – Lincoln, IL. It sounds like THIS is the stop where they’re only opening one door in the sleeper car (not Carlinville). Or maybe not. We just rolled past the downtown station – slowly, but not that slowly. I did get a couple of pics of a very ornate town hall or something of the sort.

2:17 PM – departing the Springfield station. The state capitol is behind us on the port side – I didn’t notice it until just now. That’s the problem with sitting with my back to the forward bulkhead – you don’t see the sights until too late. I did get pictures of some older downtown buildings on the starboard side (on my left facing the back of the train), including one multi-story hotel made of brick, with window unit air conditioners.

2:05 PM – rolling into Springfield, IL – the state capitol, and thus the old stamping grounds of one Illinois State Senator Barack H. Obama.

1:40 PM – rolling through Girard, IL. I would take pictures of the town for my friend L. Girard, but there’s just one problem – there’s no THERE there. Also, the southbound Amtrak just barreled past us. I wonder if they’re on time?

1:35 PM – Either those sleeper passengers literally jumped off the train in Carlinville (it was moving kind of slowly through town), or I misheard the conductor’s announcement (maybe we’re stopping at a different town), or there was a miscommunication. But I don’t hear this train full of already-delayed passengers clamoring for the train to stop to sort it all out.

1:28 PM – we’re making a stop in Carlinville IL for only one party – or at least, the conductor announced that the only door being opened is the one on the sleeper car at the front of the train. The weird thing is that we’re still rolling, although we left the Carlinville Amtrak station behind a couple of minutes ago. Are we stopping at an intersection on the edge of town?

1:12 PM – going through Shipman IL. I just tried to connect the work laptop using the AirCard and had the connection attempt refused. I looked at the miles of prairie farmland going by and figured the failed connection attempt probably isn’t due to cosmic rays.

1:00 PM – there were some Amish folks on the train from before Austin – and probably from before San Antonio, as they got off in Austin to stretch their legs, which you wouldn’t think they’d bother to do after the short run from San Antonio to Austin. I’ve only seen two of them since Austin – an elderly man and woman who’ve spent a good bit of the trip in the Observation Car. They have their own food and drink – or at least they HAD their own food and drink, as the woman just tipped the drink thermos up to get the last drops out. I have never in my life wanted to start a chant of “Chug! Chug! Chug!” as much as I do right now.

12:31 PM – passed through West Alton, East Alton, and Upper Alton. I think Alton is going a little overboard with the whole “Greater Alton” vision thing. Or maybe their annexation battles have been murderous.

12:13 PM – passing through Granite City.

12:10 PM – called Greyhound and spoke to customer support. It’s a Bad News – Good News – Better News situation. The bad news (which I already knew) is that we won’t get to Chicago before the Greyhound leaves the Amtrak station. The good news is that I CAN use the second part of my ticket (for the route that leaves the main Greyhound terminal at 6:00 PM) even if I can’t get there in time for the first bus. The better news is that the main Greyhound terminal is a short cab ride (and even shorter walk, according to what people say online – but the loaner laptop from work is HEAVY, so I ain’t hoofing it) from the Amtrak terminal. I feel better about my chances of making my bus to Ann Arbor.

12:00 PM – we crossed the Mississippi going out of St. Louis. I took a LOT of pictures of the Gateway Arch through the window. I’ve seen it once before – hell, I’ve touched it – but I got the chance to see it and take pictures from a new angle.

11:40 AM – after backing up for a couple of minutes, we stopped. I figured they would switch the track ahead of us and we’d head on down the road again. 20 minutes later, we backed up some more, THEN reversed direction and started making forward progress. I have to remind myself that Amtrak is a low-priority user of the rails – these days, priority is given to trains hauling crude oil and other rolling bombs.

11:08 AM – we’re backing out of the St Louis station. I got out to take some pictures of an interesting building across the street from the station – it has murals on two sides.

10:20 AM – we’re in the station, but we can’t disembark just yet – they’re adding a car to the train.

10:14 AM – the Gateway Arch is on the left side of the train, but the sun is on the left side of the train. I’m in the Observation Car and the reflection from the windows behind me makes it impossible to get a good shot unless I’m looking straight through the window – so no approach shots of the Arch, alas.

10:00 AM – we’ve been running through the outskirts of St. Louis for a few minutes.

9:15 AM – running through cuts that look close enough to touch. I took a couple of video clips from my phone – I’ll upload them (maybe when I get a chance for WiFi)

8:56 AM – De Soto

8:14 AM – between Iron Mountain Lake and Bismarck, MO

7:30 AM – we might have caught up some time overnight – ETA Chicago is 3:50 PM, just 2 hours overdue.

6:32 AM – traveling through a farm area. I’m going to try to get back to my seat for a nap. If I can’t, I’ll take my Bag O’Food etc downstairs to the restroom and see if I can get some kind of decent shave (razor and a small can of shaving goo being part of the “etc” in “Bag O’Food etc”). If I can get a nap, I may bring the work laptop to the Observation Car later and try to sit with my back to the front bulkhead where no one can see the screen while I work. There are plenty of outlets in the Observation Car, as well as in the coach car.

6:23 AM – my seatmate was fast asleep, but I was able to retrieve my Bag O’Food etc from the overhead bin without waking him. I returned to Snowpiercer the Observation Car. My cardigan was in the Bag O’Food, and a couple of the other inhabitants of the car (the ones who hadn’t already frozen to death) spoke to the conductor and got the A/C set to a more reasonable level – it’s quite comfortable in here now. I ate my second packet of sous vide turkey. It was fairly warm, but I figure it was probably safer than Thanksgiving leftovers that have sat out during a long feast. Ah, who am I trying to fool – I’ll probably be dead of food poisoning tomorrow. But it was tasty. BTW, we stopped in Poplar Bluff at 6:15 AM. It’s getting light out – light enough to see that the Poplar Bluff station was in some need of new paint on some doors, etc.

5:57 AM – just crossed into Missouri – looks like the next stop is Poplar Bluff. The Observation Car has gotten kind of chilly – I’m going to see if I can get back to my (window) seat and maybe doze some more.

5:18 AM – pulling out of Hoxie / Walnut Ridge (it was the next stop). I tried the Indoor preset on my camera and got a decent picture which captures the Observation Car (well, the 1/3 of it closest to our coach car – there were people behind me, but I wanted to get a picture of the car by itself).

4:50 AM – Passed Tuckerman, coming up on Swifton, AR. I’m in the Observation Car, which stays open all night for the convenience of night owls. I’ll try to get a decent picture (without flash) if I’m still in here at the next station (which looks to be Hoxie or Walnut Ridge).

4:10 AM – dozed for a while, woke up, looked at Maps. Cortana (the Windows Phone answer to Siri) brings up a Flood Alert. Better check that out! So I click on the alert, Cortana thinks about it for a while…then tells me “Interests are not available now.” Thanks for the Flood Warning there, Cortana! There’s definitely some serious thunder and lightning outside. Oh, and we’re in Bradford, AR.

3:38 AM – Between Beebe and McCrae, AR. Some thunder and lightning outside.

2:56 AM – Rebooted phone – we’re in Little Rock! And departing now…

2:48 AM – ??? I’ve been dozing, and Maps can’t seem to find where we are.

12:40 AM – between Fulton and Hope, AR

12:07 AM – arrived Texarkana station

April 7 2015

10:48 PM – departed Marshall, TX

10:15 PM – departed Longview

9:58 PM – approaching Longview, TX (start of overnight “quiet time” – last PA announcement)

9:22 PM – departed Mineola, TX

8:54 PM – passing by Grand Saline, TX

7:10 PM – arrived Dallas, TX

5:56 PM – arrived Fort Worth, TX

5:10 PM – arrived Cleburne, TX

4:39 PM – crossed a good-sized river (for Texas) between Temple and Cleburne

2:33 PM – departed Temple, TX

1:25 PM – arrived Taylor, TX

12:29 PM – the Texas Eagle pulls out of the Austin station (scheduled departure time was 9:31 AM)

9:07 AM – discovered that the train has been held up at the previous stop (San Antonio) – predicted time of arrival in Austin: 11:00 AM.

9:05 AM – arrived at the Austin Amtrak station – less than the suggested 30 minutes before the scheduled arrival of the Texas Eagle. I hope I’m not too late…

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