Buena Park Hillbilly 2017
Day One Sunday Aug 20
Well it’s that time again. My somewhat regular trip out West to visit my friend of now 55 years, fellow car
guy, both model and real….Terry. As I get my final packing done and double check all the things I have to
take for a multiple week journey I am as almost always excited and a bit apprehensive. More excitement this
year than other years. My destination is San Diego rather than Buena Park. I am heading first to the HET
2017. That’s the International Hudson Essex Terraplane auto club convention. And this year is kinda
special. Terry’s Dad is the honoree this year. His cars have been in magazines and TV shows all over the
world. His 1934 Terraplane pickup truck was named ‘most beautiful pick-up’ a number of times. More on
that later for sure. First my train ride out to So Cal!!
Being creatures of habit after the bags are packed and loaded we headed for McDonald’s in White Sulphur
Springs for our pre-train meal. Sounds exciting right!?!?! It’s just become what we do. Last year we were
unable to do the McDonald’s meal as the MickyD was still closed from the horrific floods of June 23 2016.
The flooding caused 6 to 8 feet of water in most of WSS. But now finally they were reopened and with a all
new concept for McDonald’s. You order at a screen, pay and food is brought to your table. Our newest
Daughter-in-law had come with us to see me off and see the new restaurant. We kinda liked it….no wrong
orders as you make the order. I think they have a few bugs to work out…...but I see all fast food going this
way. These stands don’t cost $20 an hour to run…..be careful what you ask for.
The Amtrak Cardinal had run on time all day from NYC to DC then lost 40 minutes. It was 30 minutes late
into WSS but that is not bad really. Amtrak has to share tracks with CSX which runs LONG coal trains on
this line. A train of 150 100 ton coal hoppers went East right before our train pulled in. Someone
somewhere is buying coal. And as they were running late it meant that the WSS stop would be a ‘quicky’.....
IE long enough to drop off and grab the new passengers. I say my goodbyes and climb on. I am traveling
business class for the WSS to Chicago leg for the first time. I am using points to travel this year and a
roomette was going to be too much. Business class is 3 BIG seat per row rather than 4, low lighting and no
noise permitted. I like it but for a bright light at the end of the car need to show the area between cars. Only
about 6 adults in the car when I got on…..no one made a sound all night. Not a roomette but not bad for a
late afternoon until morning trip.
I am traveling a bit differently this year…...in a number of ways. I have joined the current century and gotten
a smart phone. NOT because I wanted to…...but rather AT&T turned off my vintage 2005 MOTO Razor
back December 2016…….thus I had no choice. Now that I have been dragged kicking and screaming into
the present and I’ve learned the basics…….I hate to say I like my ‘smart’ phone. Now I didn’t go all the way
and get one of them apple things, I ain’t doing that, and I find the ZTE I got for free no strings more than
enough. I loaded a speedometer app which I use with my classic cars and on the train just to see how fast
we are going. But the biggest thing I like about these modern tracking devices is the 500 songs I have
loaded onto it. This has been great. My new 2016 F-150 pickup does not have a CD player…..they figure
everyone has some type of device to use now…….thankfully I do. On extended trips in the truck I just tell it
to play all songs random and enjoy. I am finding that on the train it may be even better. You must use
headphones but that’s not an issue…….kinda like it really.
So I am sitting in my large recliner YES playing in my head phones watching rural West Virginia go by. Call
me simple but I am pretty content right now. Excited about the So Cal trip and HET, even things like giving
up my briefcase for a backpack this trip……..like I said simple. I never had a backpack, they were just for
hikers when I was growing up. But it’s made a difference for me and traveling. Sounds to easy…..but I am
set in my ways and changing is hard. But again simple things can really change a person.
My youngest son and my daughter and family are meeting me at the Huntington ‘fresh air’ stop. We get 10
minutes to get off the train and get fresh air, smoke really, They are bringing me a Coke and some snacks.
Another tradition with our family. My granddaughters LOVE seeing the train and saying high to me…...and I
them. Good kids made now even better with the gifts of a cold bottle of coke and a cookie. Did I mention I
am pretty simple???
So it’s now 22:30 by the time I have a chance to open the laptop and write some of this down. I am sitting in
the business lounge area. Seats and tables is all it is. But I am the only one in the car…..playing my music
and writing. I am a Blessed man. It don’t take much. Not to say this trip doesn’t take much. Without the
support of family I could not do it. My oldest son keeps the grass cut and trash collected while I am gone.
And my wife only reminds me once a day that this year she is staying home…...but otherwise lets me go.
But Terry and I have been friends for 55+ years!! I’ve only known her for 43 years!! Add to it the fact Terry
and his Dad give me a place to stay for free…..I could not do this without that. And the fact it’s a Mid
Century Modern ranch on a hillside that looks out over Orange county doesn’t hurt!!
It’s getting late and I am ready to rest some…..now let’s see how much I miss that roomette!!
This trip I sense something different. By the end of the first day I always naturally find a name for my trip.
SIMPLE seems to be this years. Just plane old simple pleasures. Family, friends and even folks I met along
the way. Gotta keep my Brit record intact. Night.
Day two Monday Aug 21
This old man is not a upright chair sleeper any longer. I tried to go to sleep about 23:30 last night…..never
got comfortable and woke about every hour. The old bones just need that roomette to really be able to
sleep well. Add to it that light at the end of the car and a very rough ride….long night. Business class is OK
but I see very few benefits. The cafe area of our car had ZERO drinks or snacks, the restroom, the only one
in the car, was almost always occupied by someone from the sleeper car…..where they have a restroom in
each room!!! So by Cinci it was very dirty and no TP. What luxury! So overall I’d say spend more for the
roomette or go cheap with coach. Business class got me nothing really.
Rough track. I do not recall this track being this rough.At times last night in my twilight sleep I dreamed I was
in a old wagon on a bad rocky road. And that’s about how it felt. I’ve been riding long distance passenger
trains since 1959 but it the last year the ride has gotten very bad. Last year on the Amtrak SWC going
home I was scared a few times it was so bad. We need to decide if we want rail travel or not….and if we
do…..fix it!! And speaking of weather or not we want rail as an option for travel…...this train says we do.
The train is very full and it seems they had to add a few coaches for this trip as we are much longer train
than the norm. That says more people are discovering this rail travel. A non-scientific scan of the
passengers also reveals a lot of travelers I have not seen in the past. For lack of a better term a number of
‘hipster doofus’ have been spotted (easy) and a number of folks that clearly are on their first train trip as
they do not understand how doors open or what the little light on the restroom door means. (in use) But with
this new blood comes all the things you may not like about air travel. More crowded seating, overpowering
perfume, loud conversations on cell phones covering topics that embarrass an old sailor. But that’s the cost
of success it seems.
I got up, gave up, about 05:30 this morning. Turned on my music and slept on and off for an hour or two. I
feel pretty good now and moved to the lounge area again so I could sit at a table, This also allows me to
see out both sides of the train….so not a bad deal. This train seems to be filled with newbies. Lots of folks
getting to the cafe car after last call at 08:00 and acting like that’s way too early. Life on the train starts
early and it’s not on your schedule! It fits me fine,,,,but those used to getting breakfast all day at a fast food
place just discovered ‘rail time’!! We’ll be in Chicago at 10:00 with all the food you can stand!! You’ll live.
And while on the topic of newbies….here are just two things all newbies need to know. Husband and wife in
matching Bermuda shorts is not good anywhere…..but on a train, or plane, it just screams ‘we left our
brains at home’. Now add a pair of open sandals and it may be the perfect outfit NOT to wear anywhere.
See between every two cars are two metal plates that must move constantly and you get to walk over them
if you want to move from car to car. These plates have been known for years by old timers as ‘toe
removers’......and thus the rule at one time of no open toe shoe permitted on the train…...at one time they
had signs and PA warnings. Seems that too is of a bygone era. All part of the ‘common sense has left town’
We’ll be in Chicago soon if we keep this pace up. And I’ll have my 5 hour layover, which in Chicago is just
enough…..lots to do and see even just in the station. Later.
We got into Chicago Union 2 minutes late…..pretty good after 30 minutes late at WSS. I walked from the
train to the Metro lounge…..I made it but I was at the back of the train and it was much longer than normal.
In place of the coach we pick up at Indy we got 4 and a locomotive. That added to a long Cardinal made for
a huge train. I could have used a Red Cap and may well do so for the SWC. In keeping with the ‘simple’
theme I had a Chicago beef hot dog and bottled diet Coke for lunch. I sat and people watched…...standard
operation for Chicago layover. Lots of Mennonites and some Amish this time. The crowd is changing
some…...getting younger it looks.I decide to walk outside as we have the full 5 hours until the SWC loads. I
walk up to the river and take some photos. Busy as always…...get run into a few times by folks too busy,that
and the heat…...time to head to the Metro again. I stop by one of the shops and buy a Payday and a
Classic Trains magazine about famous train and Chicago…..figured it was fate. Gonna just sit for a while
and rest. See ya on the SWC. Oh BTW today is the total eclipse and Chicago is at 86% total…...I saw a
total back in the 1970’s and wasn’t too impressed so I’m going to sit this one out…...besides I hear if you
look at it your exact double may replace you and I do not want to miss this trip…...label me ‘playing safe’.
Roomette sweet roomette. They called for loading the SWC a little early today. So I gathered my bags and
headed for the Red Cap line. It’s a long haul to the sleeper cars and after my walk in from the Cardinal,,,,,,
figured I’d better ride this time. I got dropped off at my Superliner car and was first one on. Went up to room
4 and sat…..How happy I was to be back in a roomette. Just something about these little rooms, So
comfortable and…...not really sure what….but they are so good when you get there. The room was very
clean and set up perfect…..and on the cool side….my favorite. Put my room bag away and sat back to just
relax in my little room. Right at 15:00 the train slowly pulls out from the underground Chicago station. We
slowly move through the yards but are soon going 70 mph through tidy suburbs of Chicago, Our tracks run
down the center of these little villages but no one seems to know there is this huge silver train going by
within feet at 70 mph…..no one even looks over. So many trains a day it must become just background
When we clear the big city urban spread we hit the corn belt. Not a lot to see for the rest of the day until
night. I have a 19:00 dinner reservation waiting. After dinner I’ll just listen to some music and relax. Later.
I took an impromptu nap. Was going to just sit for a minute and feel asleep….so easy to do in these
roomette ‘cocoons’, that and a sleepless night on the Cardinal. That small space and slight rocking…..you
sleep like a baby…..big babay but man what a nap. Woke just in time for meal call….glad I didn’t miss it!
Had the same meal I always have. Big steak and fixings. Always great…..why change?? Eat dinner with
three other people….all going to see friends and all about the same age as I. With dinner done back to my
room….almost too tired to convert into bedroom so I'll sit and later convert it...I hope. Either way I am beat.
Wish I could stay up for the smoke break...just not in me tonight.
Day Three Tuesday Aug 22
Last night the lack of sleep hit me and as we pulled into KC I turned in. We were on time then but during the
night I woke a few times to the train just sitting, One time the HEP (head end power) was cut…..not sure
what happened but not a good thing. So whatever happened we are now 3 hours 30 minutes late. This
really screws up my connection at LA Union…..but that’s tomorrow so we will see. Slept great, easy to do
on a train most days. Got up, dressed and head to the dinner car for breakfast. Breakfast is the only meal
they do not take reservations for…..it’s a first come type. Had a cheese omelet that was good, headed to
the room to see if I can figure out why we are 3 plus hours late.
Amtrak claims the delay was all because of the storm last night. 3.5 hours lost in just 7 hours is hard, but if
we had mechanical issues they do not like to talk about them. No matter….all part of travel via mode.
We went through Dodge City Kansas after breakfast. Normally this stop is before most of us are up…...but
running 3.5 late we are up today. Not as ‘Western’ looking as the name might indicate. You always heard
Dodge City in Western themed shows and movies…..but kinda normal looking…...but there is a new Dodge
car dealership next to the tracks!! Good thing it wasn’t a KIA dealer….might have to change the city name.
Skys are very cloudy and overcast today….do not think I ever recall it being so on other trips….not even
the JAN trip in 2015. Gives everything a very different look.
We are pulling FIVE private rail cars behind the SWC. I am pretty sure one of them had something to do
with our 3.5 hour late running. Private rail cars are vintage passenger cars that are restored and now
owned by the rich folks or corporations. They pay to have Amtrak pull them behind their trains. But between
the cost of the car, upgrades required and annual maintenance and certificates…...owning a 80 foot yacht
doesn’t say ‘Rich’ a private rail car does. But being sometimes 50 to 70 years old means no matter what
things can go wrong…..no different than a vintage car. And just to add to the joy we are now holding on a
siding for the Eastbound SWC #4 to pass us…..but that will not happen for another 45 minutes. This just
keeps getting better. Amtrak needs to fix it or shut it down. We are not a 3rd world country but we do have it’
s rail service.
The 5 vintage rail cars have caused us more trouble. At ABQ, a 40 minutes stop on a normal day, took 1.5
hours because we dropped off the rail cars we were dragging. So now we are 5 hours late. At this rate I
miss my train at Los Angeles station. I did get off the train at ABQ as it’s a long stop and I enjoy walking
around….but this was the first visit at night…..and they do not plan for trains in the dark….hard to see my
way around so I stick close to the platform. Once back in the roomette I sit for a while,,,,make a few phone
calls and turn my room into bed. I’m done for today.
Day Four Wednesday Aug 23
I wake up….get dressed and head for the diner. On a normal trip I am getting off the train at 06:00 at
Fullerton. But that is now 6.5 hours late…..so they (Amtrak) is going to feed me. But as the train has more
folks than normal and the trip taking longer…..food is short. I get a sausage patty and HALF of a dinner roll
from last night. It would be very funny if it wasn’t kinda sad that Amtrak’s planning is this poor. Not enough
food if we are 6.5 hours late??? Good thing we are not a day late…….there’d be fights for food and water.
Oh…..they also had run out of the free sodas but plenty of the $2.25 sodas were available. How do they tell
the difference??? Both were 12 oz cans?? I return to my room and sit. Stress over how I am going to
connect to a train to San Diego and just how much later we will be has me out of sorts.
We arrive in Fullerton and I get off…..trying to catch a train that might be earlier than if I continue into Los
Angeles. Add to it we are so late if we get held up just minutes the locomotive crew will ‘die’ or expire. Not
dead die….but their limit of work hours will be reached and the train stops until Amtrak can get a crew and
drive them to the train so they can bring it the rest of the way. Federal law…..created years ago after crews
would fall asleep in cab…...overkill today to me with all the safety stuff in locomotives….but still law. So I find
the next train to Solana Beach (san Diego) is almost 2 hour wait.That’s fine. Fullerton is a nice stop….a little
store where I grab a Diet Coke and chips while I wait. I find about 6 other SWC passengers doing the same
thing as I. Some are in a panic as they have no concept or train travel. I tell them we can get on Surfliner
#580 and get to San Diego without issue. Most are unhappy but sit back and believe me. One older lady, in
a movie like move, announces that she is getting on the next train going South. A Metroliner train pulls up
and she grabs her stuff…….I tell her wrong train…..but she say she has to go. I looked up the train…..it
was headed to Riverside Ca…..far from San Diego…..good luck lady.
Surfliner #580 arrives and we board. I am beat and not to willing to deal with people. The conductor scans
my ticket and tells me to head upstairs with my three bags. I ask her if I can sit downstairs and she says ;if
you have to’. Because I am pretty mobile and look ‘normal’ in a way does not mean I don’t have two
prosthetic legs. I do my best to be mainstream and do not ask for a lot of special treatment…….that said
making me out a slacker because after 4 days on a late train I want to sit in an area that says ‘seating for
disabled’!! One young girl with shorty shorts and crop top has her feet propped up in the seat across from
her…...she might have issues…..but looks capable to me the way she ran into the coach at Anaheim stop.
We ride along pretty quick. I pull my smart phone speedometer up and it say 80+ mph. Other than the
conductor that was not as ‘caring’ as they claim…...Amtrak runs this line right. Fast stops, fast running and
we arrive in Solana Beach 4 minutes early. I drag myself off the train. I get off with a number of celebrity
look alikes. Mariah Carey is in front of me…..well the 1995 Mariah with an almost comical large breast
enlargement. I ain’t in West Virginia any longer Toto.
There’s a Brinty Spears of the 1990 era with ‘school girl’ crop top and pony tails…..but she looks 45 if older.
Terry rolls up in the 1949 Hudson to pick me up. We load up the car and head for the HET met at the
Karlan Hotel. We park the Hudson on a grassy hill in a setting that looks like the photos I’ve seen of Pebble
Beach car shows. Beautiful setting for sure. We grab a $10 hot dog on the hotel veranda, good but $10…..
not sure. We sit an talk a while, Terry’s sister Cindy and Terry’s Dad are sitting there already. It’s great to
see Cindy again. We all grew up together in SoCal as kids. Now Terry and I were just younger (by a year)
obstructions at the time….but now we are all close with us all sharing the ups and downs of life….which
mirror each others family in a close way. We make a quick pass of some of the cars and then I am tired and
ready for my hotel room. We borrow Cindy’s car so we will not have to pull the 49 Hudson off the field. I am
just 4 miles down the road…..the host hotel sold out a year in advance…...and the HET lasts 7 days!!!
The club as a whole has taken over 99% of the hotel so I stayed down I-15 but not far. I get in my room and
clean up and fall asleep fast. Night,
Day Five Thursday Aug 24
First full day at HET
Day was spent walking the grounds and talking with friends. All of Terry’s family is here.
A great time of family and cars. While I am not really ‘family’ I have been friends for 56 years…..so I feel like
I am….and they do too. Photos say most of it. Just the typical car show stuff…..lots of sharing latest car
stories and talking with friends and family. Got more photos taken but still have more to take Sat.
Day Six Friday Aug 25
Busy day. Chuck picked me up at the hotel. At around noon we will take about 40 Hudsons to a wine and
auto museum Deer Park. IT’s a place with wine and cars!! The owner loved both and thus built this facility to
share both. But ne passed about 10 years ago and the place closed. Now his family is trying to reopen and
improve it. Many cool cars, 99% convertibles, on display in a few buildings. I don’t drink wine but others said
it was OK for the price.
After the wine and cars we headed to The Grand Cruise in Escondido CA. This was a HUGE event….I saw
maybe 25% of it and was worn out.
Didn’t take a lot of photos at The Grand Cruise as it was kinda overwhelming, hot, crowded and I was beat.
But so COOL…...downtown Escondido reminded me of Modesto in American Graffiti film. Lots of cars
cruising, a few police cars. As night fell it really looked like AG…..and they do this EVERY Friday!!! Grand
and Broadway were lined with old school stores. A shoe repair store, vacuum cleaner store, a bunch of little
mom and pop type places…..a time machine to me. If we had ONE night like this in WV I’d be happy. This is
why I made this trip…...only problem was while I was attending with two great Hudsons I wanted MY car…..
either the 46 Ford coupe or the 66 Mustang. I gotta do this someday….WITH my car. Cindy got us take out
for dinner….I got two tacos. They were more authentic tacos than chain type tacos, very large and filled to
overflow. I walked around as much as I could….but I wore out fast in the heat and went back and sat with
the Hudson club. We left about 21:00 or so…..about 15 minutes back to our hotel. We got back and Terry
ran me back to my hotel. Easy to get to sleep tonight!!! One full day of HET to go. Night.
Day Seven Saturday Aug 26
This is the last full day of HET 2017. It has been a big success per those in attendance. The Hotel grounds
and the way the cars were displayed reminded me very much of Pebble Beach. Some folks are packing up
and heading out. The HET closing dinner and awards start about 18:00 and when the gavel goes down
HET 2017 will officially end. I along with Terry’s nephew and family can not attend the dinner as we are not
paying members. So we get Olive Garden take out and eat by the hotel pool. And as 99% of those staying
at the hotel are club members we have the place to ourselves. We have a great time talking family, cars
and such. About 19:30 we walk down to the dinner hall and say bye to Terry and his Dad. They are heading
home, 10 hour drive, but will drop me at the hotel before they head out. Sunday is a BIG day. I will drive the
49 Hudson sedan home…….a little scary. Again a easy night to fall asleep.
Day Eight Sunday Aug 27
OK…..deep breath. We, as a group, will drive 3 vintage Hudson's back to Buena Park CA about a 2 hour
drive with a break for the cars (and us!!) All 3 are award winning cars. The green and silver sedan I will
drive has 700000+ miles on it. I drive it around the parking lot to get a feel. Drives nice…...but it’s someone
else's mint vintage car. Add to it I have not driven CA freeways in 25 years. I am looking forward to driving
the car but still a little scary. I am the lucky one…..the 49 sedan does have modern disk brakes added up
front. The other two cars are bone stock including a 1937 utility sedan. 1937 was a long time ago…..things
have changed a great deal since then.
I’ve been gone a week now…….away from home and on the road most of the time.
Didn’t know if this old 60+ year old could pull it off…..so far so good!!!
Wagons ho!!!! We line up…..this is it!! We leave the parking lot and head for I-15 north. We get on as a
group…..we will stay toward the far right lane and let the others go around. Even so we are doing the speed
limit of 65 mph…...but as others are in the 70-75 range they go around. We will stay on I-15 until highway
78 West. The car drives great. It is solid and the very low center of gravity gives a nice stable feel. The
steering is the only thing that gives away it’s age…...not that it’s bad…..but you have to stay on top of it.
These older cars take 100% concentration while driving…...no messin with phones or sight seeing!! It has
plenty of HP and when we leave H-78 for I-5 North I get to test the brakes. I had an issues with folks not
allowing me to merge onto the I-5 N ramp and had to hit the gas to get on….then all traffic was stopped.
Good thing I had those disk brakes!! As we get on I-5 we are close to the ocean and the temps drop and it’s
overcast…...perfect for driving. We come to a rest area and stop to rest the cars…...and us. The rest area
is very busy. We stop for 5 minutes and it’s back on the road. As I back out of my spot a new Mustang
comes flying backwards to claim a spot. A guy yells to me and let me know as I was watching oncoming…...
who’d thought someone would be going the wrong way!!!! I miss the Mustang and the helpful guy yells ‘too
nice a car to mess up!!’. Thanks. Helps to be in a vintage car sometimes. As we get closer to Buena Park it
gets muggy and hot with a bright sun. We charge onward. By the time we get off the I-5, through the city
streets and home we all are beat mentally and physically. We got us, all our stuff and 3 vintage cars home
and all in good, if tired, shape. You would think we just won the 24 hours of Le Mans!! Shaking hands, hugs
and congratulations all around. It’s not that this was a monumental task….just after a great week in San
Diego at the HET meet and it going so well…...we wanted to finish it off the same.
We all go in a just sit in the A/C for a while….go back out later and stage the cars in the garage. Later we
go to Polly’s Pies a local restaurant that’s we go to often. After that…..some TV and early bed. We are
Day Nine Monday Aug 28
We are not planning much of anything. Get unpacked, clean up and settle in. I still have 3 plus weeks in So
Cal. And that theme I have each year. ‘Simple’ is this years. Been pretty simple so far. We do go to the
grocery store and get stuff to fix dinner and the week. Other than that we did some computer work, Terry’s
PC has been down for weeks…...after 4 hours I declare it dead and at 9 years old…...a new one is needed.
We watch a bunch of automotive themed TV shows. Right at 100 degrees outside and still feeling the
affects of HET we don’t do much but enjoy being here. Simple.
For dinner Terry and I tag team taco salad bar. Maybe I am tired of eating out…..maybe just tired….maybe
we did good but it’s one great meal. Watch the Indy car race on the DVR….and that was about it. Night
Day Ten Tuesday Aug 29
Hobby shop day. For many years when I traveled anywhere a visit to a ‘foreign’ hobby shop was a must.
Back in the day you would often find items you may never see otherwise. It was like a treasure hunt!! With
the internet today I can see what is in Japanese hobby shops….and I did just order an item from one last
month! So the big hobby shop day is not the hunt it was. One shop, Brookhurst, still has a lot of stuff and
some imports…...but I hate to say you can find it all on the net and often cheaper. It’s still fun to see what’s
new and hold things in your hand. We also hit Hobby City on Beach. This place has been a hobby shop
since I was a kid. Slot cars and trains in the 1960’s…..today plastic kits and collector die cast models. A sip
at the grocery for items and home. We fix a little dinner…..the normal TV and we are done. Not everyday is
Day Eleven Wednesday Aug 30
The heat is limiting what we do. We are hitting the 105+ mark daily. After a week of Hudsons and the type
and the fact Terry had not seen Disney’s ‘Cars 3’......we decided to go to Disneyland and see the film
there. Downtown Disney is a taste of Disneyland without paying the $150 per person per day it takes to go
to the parks. It’s a shopping area between Disneyland and California Adventure parks. We go and see
‘Cars 3’, with a number of Hudsons in it, and then head out to the main street. We have this method. We
park at the short term lot right at the end of Downtown, use my handicap permit, and get our ticket stamped
which means 4 hours free parking. After the movie, which is great BTW, we head toward our second
destination…...the LEGO Store!!
My son, 36 years old, and I have a LEGO city which we constantly add to…...which means trips to the
LEGO store to buy parts. And each LEGO store can have different parts for sale…..so it pays to check
each one. Disney LEGO has some great parts on hand today and I buy three containers full. Afterwards we
head to a little mexican food place that Terry knows. It’s in Downtown but is not Disney priced. I have a
burrito bowl and it’s very good. About 10 minutes before our free parking is up….so we head to the parking
lot. It’s pretty hot so we head for home and the A/C…..dinner and in for the night.
Day Twelve Thursday Aug 31
Another 105 plus degree day. We do a little car work. The 37 Sedan developed a slight oil leak on the way
home. A side cover had to be removed and the gasket reset. NOT replaced….that would be nice but the
local parts store doesn't stock gaskets for a Hudson 1937 sedan 6 cylinder side cover for some reason. We
make it work. It’s put back together and no leaks. Good thing as we could not do it over in this heat. More
heat so we decide to go and see another movie. We call a friend of Terry’s to see if he wants to meet us.
We go to see ‘Baby Driver’. NOT a film about a car driving infant but a guy named Baby that is a getaway
driver for hire. I’d seen it but it was good enough to see again…..the soundtrack is GREAT!!
For dinner we loaded up and went down to In-and-Out a West coast burger chain. Great cheap burgers. I
kinda feel that In-and-Out is the model for Cook-Out on the East coast and the company my youngest
works for. Cook-Out has a bigger menu but it’s base is good basic burgers. Home and done.
Day Thirteen Friday Sept 1
Friday is Whittier cruise night. Between the heat and busy week we consider not going…..but decide to go
anyway. It’s only 100 by 3:00 pm when we leave. No one can say we wimped out. Car count is way down.
The die hards are here…...many I have seen before with a few new cars. Our early arrival gets us some
shade in which we set up our chairs. Cars trickle in, two more Hudsons both which were at HET 2017. We
brought the 37 sedan so Terry drove the Honda as 3 in the 37 is tight. I ride in the 37 and see what a
handful it can be. Bias ply tires add to the ‘vintage’ handling. But it is a real insight into what driving in the
1930’s was like…...and the Hudson was a bit more advanced than some fellow cars of the era. About 6:00
pm we walk over to Ruby’s diner…….not Ruby Tuesday like we have back East…...but a 50’s themed
burger type place. I have bacon cheeseburger which was big and pretty good. I don’t stray far from my
favorites. Again a simple guy.
Back out to the heat. It had cooled off to the high 90’s by now. We sat around our cars, in the shade, talking
until almost dark when we packed up. On the way home the 37 Hudson blew a lighting fuse so we had no
lights….OK for us to see in the city lights…..but no one can see us. Terry falls in behind us to act as tail
lights so no one runs into us. We get home and put the 37 away…..looks like a headlight terminal cane
loose and popped the fuse. We’ll fix it later and the terminal too. Unload the car and we are done again.
Day Fourteen Saturday Sept 2
We decide to brave the temps, down a little, and attend a BIG car show cruise, Orange County Labor Day
Weekend Cruise. It’s a huge complex where folks park along a street they lay out where cars can cruise.
You will see more cars at this event because the cars do not have to be street legal…...so you see some
drag and customs most would not be seen on the streets. There are vendors and booths selling food. We
walk the entire show, the cruise path about 2 miles long. We stop when we can and watch the parade….
then walk more. I saw more 46 Fords than I have ever seen total, just at this show…...good to see others
like mine…….How I wish I had my 46 to make a few laps around this cruise. We pretty much see it all….all
we can anyway and head back to the truck. Gene drove today so we all could come in one vehicle….tough
to get us 3 in the Honda. We spot a Shakey’s Pizza with a buffet and stop. I had not had Shakey’s since
they left North Carolina in the late 1970’s. It was pretty good….but with temps in the high 90’s still I didn’t eat
as much as I wanted. We got home and sat around and talked some. None of us wanted dinner so we just
watch some TV for the evening. Done…
Day Fifteen Sunday Sept 3
Another hot day. We have 3 big races to watch today so that’s about all we do. First the F1 race from Italy.
MB won so on to the Indycar race at Watkins Glen. Andretti driver Rossi won so that was OK. That evening
it was the NASCAR Cup race from Darlington SC. This is a favorite as they paint the cars in vintage
schemes and Darlington is a old school track…..one I’d attend back in the day. Race was OK but Hamlin
won in a Toyota. A day later it was found his car was illegal so it kinda made the whole race a waste of time.
Another year before we do it again. We eat and another one down.
Day Sixteen Monday Sept 4
Not much planned today. We decide to go to the movies again. It’s cool and takes little effort. Add to it Luke
is off work and we have some free passes. This time we go see ‘Logan Lucky’. A movie about some
hillbillies from West Virginia that plot to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway during the 600 race weekend.
Wow….a movie about folks from WV and about CMS….we were required to see it. That’s because while we
lived in Charlotte I did a fair amount of work for the speedway. I did some model and artwork for them. Got
to know Humpy Wheeler and staff. So a movie about the speedway, race cars and WV???? Had to see it.
The hillbillies were portrayed as a bit slow and unlucky (thus the movie title) but like us dumb hillbillies we
fool them all and end up on top. It was a fun film with some very positive family values of real WV folk
shown. I’ll buy it when it comes out on video for sure.
Dinner was Sizzler buffet. We kinda forgot it was a holiday weekend so the buffet was somewhat ravaged…..
but OK to fair. Home, TV, done…….
Day Seventeen Tuesday Sept 5
Today will be Knott’s Berry Farm for much of the day. We like Knott’s more laid back style, much smaller
crowds, smaller park and smaller entry fee. Knott’s was $90 for the two of us while Disney would be $250 for
one park one day. Knott’s is easy, Terry’s Dad drops us off at front gate just feet away while Disney is just
hard to get into and you walk pretty far to get anywhere even the front gate. Knott’s now has the same
Disney type security check. Much like airport were you empty pockets and pass through a metal detector.
And like Disney I failed the metal detector….I had warned them my metal legs will alarm….they do. At
Disney I was pulled aside and checked a second time. Knott’s I pulled up my pants leg showing metal legs
and they waived me on. Sad to think this was unheard of when we were kids, Knott’s didn’t even have a
fence around it or admission cost. Terry and I talk about how simple it was as kids. Better?? We agree it
was. We cover lots of things and how they are different today. Half the kids in the park have their ‘device’
held up to their face the whole time. When I was a kid I’d drink in all of my surroundings. Knott’s had it all for
me. A real ghost town that you could walk after dark and really FEEL what 1850 America felt like. Little
creeks and ponds all over the park….like a slice of idealistic countryside set down in the middle of a huge
metro area. The Calico gold mine ride…...a little train running through tunnels, over waterfalls and into
deep rock mines. I believed and loved it all. I loved it so much that I wanted these little creeks and even a
mine train in my yard and often dreamed of having such. I went to Disneyland often as a kid…..but it was
unobtainable. Old wooden ghost town buildings and a little mine train might be within my grasp. I think that
is why today I still love Knott’s…….with it’s overload of metal coasters and other warts….I still love coming
here. And with the restoration of the Mission Walk it sends a signal that Knott’s cares,even if a little, about it’
s history and where it came from. The folks across town seem to have torn down everything Walt had a
hand in. Thanks to the Knott’s caretakers for that not insignificant step.
Our day done at Knott’s Terry’s Dad picks us up at the front gate and we head home. We had done all we
went to do and tired out about the perfect time. A simple day for simple guys. Done again.
Day Eighteen Wednesday Sept 6
After our busy day at Knott’s we decided to have a slow day. I did some wash, we went to the ;post office
and mailed things. Watched some TV and in the end Luke and I went and picked up pizza from the Hut. A
very simple day.
Day Nineteen Thursday Sept 7
We did have one more hobby shop yet to visit. Pegasus Hobbies out near Pomona. Not only is it a large
well stocked shop…..they are a manufacturer and importer of hobby items. And they stock a huge amount
of hobby supplies I have to order when I'm home. It’s a 40+ mile drive for us so we save this for a day when
we are not doing much…..this way we can take our time once there.
Day Twenty Friday Sept 8
Today we will gather all our strength we can and visit a very foreign and dangerous place. The giant M&L
Cloth store!! My wife loved this store last year on her visit…..and asked me to go again this year. But
inventory changes almost daily so it was as much symbolic as anything. I told her there was no way I was
going so I’ll surprise her and she will be thrilled with whatever I buy, she better be is all I’ll say. We drive
down to the store and park. Ask we walk toward the store we joke about weather we will be permitted inside
without an accompanying woman. As we enter we see one other man….and he is actually looking at cloth. I
make a comment on not knowing what we are looking for and he shakes his head as if in agreement. The
wife did say something about cloth with a small print. We find 3 different ones, she better be thrilled, and a
single panel print with squirrels doing odd things. Luke likes squirrels so we get it so my wife can make
something for him out of it. We carry our cloth to the checkout to be cut and totalled. And we manager to
escape not much worse for ware. She better love this stuff!!!
Whittier car Friday night car show again. This week it’s not 105 degrees but a nice lower 80 degrees. The
lower temps have turned out more cars this week. A few I have seen many times and a number of new cars.
A 39 Ford sedan in black is one of the new cars and a favorite of mine. We sit and talk cars, get up and eat
at Ruby’s with Gene…..we are the ‘Old Guys’ we kinda made fun of for years. But it’s cool seeing the cars
and this weekly show is as big as our local yearly one so still fun…..simple fun. It don’t take much.
On the way home the headlights fail on the 37 Hudson again. This week we left just a few minutes early so
we have some daylight all the way home. We put the car away….fix it another day. This one is dome.
Day Twenty One Saturday Sept 9
Another big car day planned today. Terry, Gene and I will drive cross the LA basin to Galpin Ford to see a
smaller but very cool collection of vintage and custom cars. We drive right through downtown Los Angeles,
a route I have not been on in years. It’s very busy and somewhat stop and go. After downtown we go
through Hollywood as we pass the old Capitol records building shaped like a stack of records. All the build
up makes it harder to see from the freeway than I recall as a kid. We find Galpin and park. But the lot is
almost empty. Good reason too. The museum is closed on weekends!! We should have checked first. But
the Galpin store is open so we go in there. They have a lot of neat stuff…..but way overpriced. I do find a
very nice black and gray Shelby snake logo shirt marked down to $20 so I buy it. Afterwards I think it might
be the same as my wife bought me…...can’t have too many Shelby shirts!!
We left Galpin for our secondary target a museum of vintage cars only about five miles away. It was
founded by the Merle Norman cosmetics owner. It’s called the Nethercutt Collection. It is a large custom built
showroom made to hold most of the fantastic collection. Cars run from the 1910 era to 1970’s with the
majority being from the 1920’s and 1930’s. Many I had never seen. A large group of Rolls Royce are in the
collection too, not my thing. I think there were about 200 cars, a fire engine and a 30’s era house trailer.
ALL the cars were what can be called 100 point cars or perfect. The most impressive private collection I
have ever seen or heard of.
Then outside there was a steam locomotive and vintage private passenger car. The passenger car was a
custom built car owned by a oil baroness from the 1920 era of California. They run tours around noon so
we get in line. The car is very well restored and a great look at what was the private jet of the early 1900’s.
After the passenger car we were permitted to climb into the cab of the steam locomotive. It then hit me…...
this ex Canadian Pacific Hudson was once owned by Southern Railway…..and I rode behind it on an
excursion trip back in the 1980’s. Now 37 years later I am sitting in the engineer's seat!! That alone is a
unreal set of circumstances but add to it that was in North Carolina and now she sits in So Cal!!! The loco is
somewhat sun bleached but looked solid. How cool to see her again at a very unexpected place.
We left the museum after spending almost 3 hours there. You could stay longer but we saw it. The one
good thing I noted was when we came in there were maybe 3 groups walking the museum. Now there are
many and of all ages. I hope this means people understand why these cars are important to keep and be
shown. We hit the freeway and head toward BP.
We get off to find someplace to eat. I’m up for about anything. Gene picks a place that looks like a old lodge
in the mountains and even has fake snow on the roof!!! Sign out front says ‘North Woods Inn’. We park
and head in. Instantly I am transported back to 1962, I’m a little kid following my folks into a ‘fancy
restaurant’. The ceiling is low, the room is dark, Dean Martin is playing softly, the waiters and waitresses
are wearing red jackets and white shirts. In the center of the room is a bar, they lead us to a table that is
dimly lit with big overstuffed chairs. I sit and even feel like that little kid again. I’m not saying this was bad,
rather I felt like had just been sent through a time machine. It truly jogged fuzzy memories out of my brain. I
was thankful of Gene’s choice even though I did not say it out loud for fear of being laughed at. Our waiter
was right out of the 1960’s. Thin mustache, slight Euro accent, neatly dressed and very proper and polite. I
have to use the light on my cell phone to see the menu…..stay away from the dinners….they start at $28
and go up, some $65!! I order a house burger for only $12. It comes with a house salad that turns out to be
old school. They don’t ask what you want, it’s iceburg lettuce with blue cheese dressing. I have no issue
with that but today most places have some exotic weed in their salad and a host of options. Something
strangely comforting about no choices.
My burger comes and it’s two big patties on a sub type roll. It has grilled onions, pickled red cabbage and
mayo on it. May sound odd but it was pretty good, and somehow seemed old school. It was served with a
brown rice that I think had fine chopped onions and peppers. Unusual to me but again I liked. Our soft
drinks, Diet Coke here, were served in large fancy stem glasses. They were good size but I still downed
three of them. The bill ended up being $75 which is not real step for a high brow sit down place near
Hollywood today. Weather this is how going out was 1962 or not, my mind thinks it was. Overall it was a fun
and nostalgic for me and did seem to jog some real memories.
Back on the freeway and again toward BP. We sit for a few minutes and talk but soon Gene heads home
and we watch some TV before turning in. My days in So Cal are winding down fast, I don’t really want to
think about it. Terry says to just re-book my ticket home and stay for a few more weeks. I’m done…..it was a
Day Twenty Two Sunday Sept 10
We had plans to tour the old neighborhoods today. But we then figured that not much had changed since
last Sept when we did it….so we decided to pass. Terry said there was an old hobby shop in San Pedro
that might be cool to go to. It’s a long drive but Sunday morning afternoon should be OK. We head out.
We get off the freeway and head through the ports of Long Beach. The shear number of shipping
containers, internodal boxes, is unreal. Miles and miles of them. Stacked six or seven high, end to end.
They claim they can track them all, I somehow doubt they really can. Maybe in theory but real time 100%
accurate??? HOW? We try and get off at San Pedro but due to a construction project we can’t. We end up
dumped at the Queen Mary dock. We turn around and find our way to JD Hobbies in downtown.
JD Hobbies is a combination of vintage hobby shop, hoarders attic and one of those weird dreams I have
about finding a hidden stash. It’s in a older downtown setting storefront. About 50 feet wide and 200 feet
deep. It is filled, I mean filled to the top with model kits, toys, trains and games. Most of the items are vintage
items from collections bought. Most are mint. It was almost impossible to get a grasp on what they had. I
kept discovering pockets of items I had not seen. Most things are priced but if they are not you must carry
them to the back of the store to the owner, a lady with a little hippie vibe going, and ask or barter a price,
Terry found a old Revell 53 Chevy panel truck for a good price and I found a built 1977 AMT Matador street
stock. Mine had no price so to the lady we went. At first she said $25, not bad but more than I was willing to
pay for a built PINK Matador. When she saw we were buying the Revell kit too she dropped it to $15. I’d
paid $20…...but $15 was better. We wandered the store for maybe 45 minutes. Could have stayed longer.
But we have a new place to go to on the annual trip now.
We grabbed lunch at a Red Robin. It was on Walker st which runs near my old home in La Palma. We
decided it was fate and so after lunch we drove by the old place. Not much has changed. The
neighborhood still looks good if a little small. (why is that?) Then it was home.
Day Twenty Three Monday Sept 11
A date that to our generation is like Dec 7 1941 was to our folks. We say ‘Never forget’ so I will back up
some and tell my 9/11 day story. I worked nights at the time and got off work at seven that morning. I drove
home and about 7:30 fixed dinner or whatever you call it. About 8:30 I changed and laid down with the news
on. Needless to say it all changed qt 8:46. Like everyone I thought it was a horrible accident. But within an
hour we knew different. I never did go sleep that day but like many was glued to the TV. Most know what all
happened over the next few hours, or should know. I take up my story that evening. I was scheduled to work
my normal 12.5 hour shift that night. But I got a call from my employer First Union. Our then fairly new office
complex was the largest private office complex in the United States and the company had been told as a
financial institution and the largest building the Federal government considered it a target and for them to
lock down. I was told I did not need to come in, I was happy, and they would get back as soon as they had
new information. We were locked out for two days. It did not count against us in any way, pay, sick day etc.
Our schools closed early on 9/11 and I can’t remember how long the kids were out…...but I was home so it
was not an issue. I do recall how different things were. No planes in the sky, streets were almost empty, just
very quiet. As they say the rest is history. I will add one little story to show how things changed. We had a
booked vacation to Myrtle Beach SC for the end of September. We went ahead and took it as I thought we
needed some diversion. We were all at a miniature golf course, a favorite thing for us to do. It was a new
facility only open a few months. There was a volcano in the middle of the place among the windmills, giant
animals and waterfalls. No one knew the volcano would ‘erupt’ at random times. Well it decided to erupt,
which was really a loud explosion sound. When it did, a number of people screamed, hit the ground or ran.
It’s as if the whole world was shell shocked. Things had changed never to be the same.
As for me in 2017…..I wash and packed my clothes, checked my bags and stuff. A simple day on a
infamous date. My last full day in So Cal.
Day Twenty Four Tuesday Sept 12
Last day in So Cal. We did not have plans today. Terry had some appointments made long ago so we did
them. Went by Ihop for breakfast, it was good but overpriced to me. Then back to the house. Driving all
surface streets to the appointments reinforced just how huge the Los Angeles basin is. If you include out to
Riverside and down to San Diego (and the US border) it starts to get mind boggling. My analyst brain thinks
about odd things like how do they supply every house with enough water JUST to flush toilets?? I mean let's
not even think of drinking water, electricity or basic food. How does this all work?? Why does it not break
down more often? Does the average person out here even think about such things?? I think if they did they
may move!! Terry’s neighborhood has MANY more cars than the 1000 square mile county I live in. And this
is one of thousands of neighborhoods in Orange county, a county much smaller than Pocahontas. The
physical infrastructure alone is incomprehensible. At any one time the I-5 may have more cars on it than the
state of West Virginia. I can not wrap my mind around how this all seems to work seamlessly and without
much disruption. Is it a well thought out plan that runs because we are that smart and good at supplying
goods and services to a population I can’t grasp?? Or is it a balancing act that has luckily been working and
no one wants to upset the cart by questioning any of it. Some TV shows have tapped into this question.
The AMC show ;Fear the walking dead’ showed how in a crisis food and water go away in days if not hours.
Is this fantasy drama or a real scenario that California governments think and plan for. If they do plan for
this type stuff the keep quiet about it. You see PSA spots on TV about keeping some water on hand, three
days worth. If something major happens will three days water save you?? Some of the violence I saw on TV
from Florida when gas ran short makes me think if real issues arise he who is willing to do whatever it takes,
no matter how bad, will come out on top. Pretty negative thoughts for a guy who likes to see the positive in
all things. But the massiveness of the LA basin is fantastic and scary at the same time. When you are here
and it’s all good it makes you think it will always be this way. Part of the lure of this place. LA LA Land but in
real life….maybe that’s why the film flopped everywhere but here in LA LA Land itself. It reinforced just how
good it is here and nothing bad can happen…...right??
Back home I packed and checked my baggage. Made sure I had all my stuff gathered. I then laid down and
took a pre trip nap. Both of us were worn out after a busy 3 plus weeks of travel and doing things. My train
leaves at 6:45 and I woke around 4:00. We decided to go eat dinner before my train. There is a restaurant
at the Fullerton station so it makes it easy to get there early and relax before train time. After we eat with a
group of very rowdy and noisy 4 to 6 year olds we walk to the station. We say our goodbyes and thanks. It’s
been a good but busy visit. Combining the HET meet, family get together and my annual visit kinda
shortened the visit in a way. But it’s time to go home.
I write about this every trip. This is the best and worst day of the trip rolled into one. Los Angeles vs.
Hillsboro might as well be two different planets. Orange county has a population bigger than the state of
West Virginia. Pocahontas county, where I live, is bigger than Orange county. Can you get an idea how
different these places are?? There are more homes in Terry’s neighborhood than in my county. I tell people
that have not ventured far from Pocahontas that going to LA is a different world. And that is how I have
begun to think of it. I leave my home, get on this big shiny metal transportation device, one I do not leave
for almost 4 days, and get off in a place that well could be another planet. EVERYTHING is vastly different
from home. Maybe one reason I still want to go each year. It's dark now and as we travel the empty lands
East of Barstow it almost does seem like space travel. Black darkness with just a little twinkling light here
and there. I’m tired and so I convert my room to a bedroom and turn in for the night….aboard my ‘ship’.
Day Twenty Five Wednesday Sept 13
I wake to the only FULL day on the Southwest Chief. Luckily I enjoy the trip as much as anything. I mean
right now I am sitting in a private room typing on my lap top while rolling at 79 miles per hour. And soon
they will call me to the diner car to feed me a great lunch. Who needs planes. Yet there are still a good
number of people that must want to complain about life in general. Some the rooms are too small, have
they been on a jet lately?/ Others the food is not good, again, do you fly?? I like the whole thing. Being late
can cause stress but if you know going in that’s part of travel, any kind of travel, it’s not an issue. Oh…,..I’m
picky on my food, it’s good to great on the SWC. We get to the big stop for the day. ABQ…..if you do not
know what that means look it up as I can’t begin to spell it. Hint, it’s where Break Bad took place. This is a
crew change, restock and wash the train stop. Normal is about 45 minutes. I get off the train and head for
the small cafe inside the station. They have Coke products, train has Pepsi only, and I grab a huge fountain
drink for about $2.50 less than a can on the train. After I grab a drink I visit the vendors set up on the
station platform. This is a tradition started back in the post war era by Santa Fe to entertain riders at this
refuel reset stop. Local Indians, now native Americans, would bring hand made items to sell to the tourist.
That continues today. A few years ago I bought a bright orange blanket made by a older lady. It was $10
and really nice. I looked today and the blankets are $20 and have manufacture tags on them. So much for
tral Indian blankets. A few of the vendors do still make the items and can tell you about them. Lots of
turquoise stones. Nice stuff but I’m low on cash and just look. I get back on the train and wait for lunch call.
At lunch I sit with a older couple, maybe 70ish. We do the normal where you going to or from etc. When
they ask where I am going I tell them home, to WV. The man says ‘I went to WV once to see Dr Patch
Adams at the Gesundheit Inst.’ The Patch Adams place, now a commune, is about a mile from my house,
and we see Mr Adams from time to time. I told him he’s more than likely been by my house then. These folks
live in Truth or Consequences NM and have been by my house. Funny how paths cross. I have yet to have
my encounter with a Brit…..I do every trip. This lady has been to Great Britain, does it count???
A nap, some internet surfing and some ‘stare out the window while listening to music’ time and I am at
dinner. I took last call as it’s less crowded and I just like it. I am sat with a twenty-something. I find out he
rides trains as often as he can. And is very pro-rail, lamenting that we do not have the rail system the
French, Japanese or even the Chinese do. I agree but say until this country wants to spend the money itt
spends on roads on rail it will not change. But each time I ride I have more and more first timers, more Gen-
x’ers, just more from all walks. Is this proof that overall we want a great rail system…...a certain few to
anyway. I set my room up for sleep mode and lay down. A unproductive but full day on the SWC. Kinda the
way I like it.
Day Twenty Six Thursday Sept 14
Last day on the SWC. I get up about 6:00, change and reset my room to seating for the last time this trip. I
eat a quick breakfast and get off the train at Kansas City. We are 20 minutes early but can not leave until
the departure time. So it will be a longer than normal stop. We leave KC on time. This is a good sign. I hope
it holds true. If it does I will be home about noon Friday.
I feel we are moving pretty fast. I pick up my phone and bring up the GPS based speedometer to check. It
comes up and says ‘88’ miles an hour…….Back to the Future!!! Maybe we are in a BTTF mode today. My
grandkids have tossed their ipads and tablets for painting and cutting doll clothes from felt. Even adult color
books are the rage. Can train riding by Gen-x and other twenty-somethings be a partial rejection of tech?
Ezekiel big wheel stuff.
I return to my room and just watch the scenery go by while listening to my music on my phone. I just relax
and enjoy the ride. This is one of the reasons I love the train so much. When it goes right it is a great way to
travel. I head to the dinner for lunch. As I’ve said Amtrak sits you with other folks to fill a table. I am sat with
a man, his wife and young child. He was covered in tattoos and dressed unlike most train riders. I am going
to be kinda vague and you will see why. We do the normal ‘where you from, where you going’. The couple
are from a western state traveling back East to relocate. As he tells his story he was a gang member trying
to change his life after a stint in prison. When he got out he didn’t want to go back…..but the gang life kept
trying to pull him back. So they decided to move and see if they could restart. As he talked about many
details I am leaving out I truly felt he was not only telling the truth but was also really trying to change. It was
a tough story for sure. I finished lunch after not saying much. But I stood and held out my hand and wished
him good luck and hang in there. I think he was a little surprised that this old guy was sympathetic to his
story. Moral of the lunch…….you can’t judge by outside appearances. I really hope it works for him and
We pull into Chicago Union station late, not real late but I had a 2 hour 15 minute layover if on time. Now I’m
down to about a hour and still have things I need to do. I walk to Metro lounge and stow my luggage and
head to the area where the food court and stores are. After only Pepsi products on the train I head for the
little store that has Coke. I buy 2 bottles, cookies and a Payday bar for emergency supplies. By now it’s
close to loading time. Union station is suddenly the busiest place I have ever been in. Friday rush hour, late
Amtrak trains and a Cubs game has caused a huge rush. I make it back to Metro as we are loading. I ride
with a Red Cap as the distance to the Cardinal can be far and I am tired. These little buggies with a trailer
fly through the normal walking area of the station, beeping a horn that the regulars must know and they
move. We are traveling what seems very fast. I am dropped off at car #5000 and find my Roomette and
settle in. I am relieved and almost ecstatic getting to my room. It’s the last leg of my almost month long trip. I
love my So Cal visits but ready to get home. 5:45 and we start moving, ON TIME!! We roll slowly through
the South side of Chicago. We have to wait for a clear track. I notice a Amtrak Police SUV pull up beside our
train. I wonder if something else is going on. But soon we roll, the reason for the police must just be
because of where we were parked. Soon we are rolling.
Dinner is different on the Cardinal is very different than the SWC. All food is cooked by microwave. I look
over the menu and I do not see anything I’d really like. Too much ‘rice noodle with cashew sauce’. I am
sitting alone, I ask the waiter if I can order off the kids menu. Sure! I had seen a hot dog and said I’d take
one of those. The waiter, a large fellow, said ‘bet you need two’.....why yes, I think I do. The waiter brings my
dogs, they are huge quarter pound dogs, two pickles and chips. So much for a light meal!! It was great
I set up my room as a sleeper soon after dinner. It’s dark, I’m beat and know I will fall asleep quick. And as I
thought I fell asleep fast. I wake at Indy and look at the phone, we are on time. Back asleep until I am woken
at Cincinnati when we stop. Again check the phone and we are on time. I’ll be home before noon at this
rate. Back asleep I should be in Huntington when I wake again for fresh air stop and almost home.
Day Twenty Seven Friday Sept 15 last day on the road??
I wake at 6:00 am and look out the window. We are still in Cincinnati!! Why have we been here for over 3
hours?? I get dressed and change the room over to sitting. I go looking for someone to ask what is going
on. I called Amtrak and got a message about ‘info not available’ for my train…..not good. The car’s doors
are open and steps are down…..again not good. I see the train’s conductor, the boss man of the train. I am
wearing my blue ‘Chessie System’ shirt. The line we have been sitting on for 3 hours plus was the Chessie
system. As I approach the conductor he says ‘bet you want to know what’s going on’. I say ‘how’d you
know?’. He informs me that a CSX freight train has derailed on the line ahead. There is no ETA on getting it
fixed. OK, I just want to get home. These things can go on for days. FRA and NTSB have to come out and
inspect and if it was on a bridge it may take days. I decide I gotta bail. All my trains being late has built up
and now I am ready to control my travel rather than be at the mercy of it. At 6:30 I call Enterprise car rental.
After all they are the ones with the tag line ‘We pick you up’. I get a reservation and a phone number of the
local store to call at 8:30 local time. They will pick me up and I will be on my way. I call at the time required. I
am told the store is short handed and they are not picking up this week. I ask him for a alternative and they
say get a cab. I decided to call the national phone number, I give them my reservation number and they
transfer my call back to the store that had just turned me down. This is starting to be like ‘Planes, Trains
and Automobiles’ movie with Steve Martin. I call the national number again……..and start my long spiel
about their ads with ‘We pick up’, staffing is not my issue, I have a reservation, I’m stuck on a train for over
six hours etc. The operator asks if she can put me on hode. In my mind I saw a conversation at national
headquarters going somewhat like ‘he is right, every ad has the ‘we pick you up’ tagline. And he does have
a reservation. Whatever really happened she connected me to another Enterprise store. They asked where
I was, said they’d be there in 15 minutes. They did in fact ‘pick me up’ and took me to the lot. They had a
Nissan SUV ready, loaded my luggage for me, had me sign a few things and off I was. THAT was how it was
supposed to work. I grab my phone, bring up WASE and punch the home button. The system gets me out
of downtown Cincinnati easy and quickly. Soon I am on Ohio 32 a 4 lane very nice hiway. I may have
jumped ship (train) too soon but after more than enough drama on the train I did what was best for me. I set
the cruise control, AM radio on #33 Next Wave and had a fresh bottle of Diet Coke in the cup holder. The
road had almost no traffic and was a pretty drive. I felt relaxed but a bit mad. I wasn’t mad we had issues.
Any transportation system has issues. I was kinda mad that Amtrak performance was poor to very poor on
all legs of this trip. Late trains on all legs but the Surfliner and on that train I was hassled. A real miss for
Amtrak. Mad and sad that I see Amtrak dying and no one in power cares or wants to fix it. Amtrak may last
longer than I do but I really doubt I will ever see a really well run rail system in the USA.
I continue to drive across lower Ohio and into West Virginia. Back in the home state. Still no traffic and good
if cloudy skies. Once on US 35 I know the rest of the way home. I will get to the Enterprise store at the
Greenbrier airport about 4:30 in the afternoon. I did see the Cardinal did start moving again at about 1:00
pm but even if they have no more issues it will be midnight before they are in White Sulphur Springs so I still
made the right move. I get off I-64 and onto US 219 which runs by home. I am ready to be home. I park the
car at the airport and walk inside to turn it in. The Greenbrier airport is a ghost town. The last flight has left
so only the car rental lady is here. Kinda strange. After just being in the very busy Chicago Union less than
24 hours ago the totally empty airport is kinda spooky! It’s like everyone else escaped but you’re the last
person left. Yes…..I been gone to long. I sign the car in, even the rental lady knows the Cardinal had issues
as some were trying to fly into Greenbrier. I know there were a few folks on the train going to ‘The
Roslyn pulls up in her car for the last leg to go before home. Up US 219 and I am home. One more cross
country trip comes off successfully. True, we were late almost every leg and some things were less than my
expectations, but I am home and pretty much intact. Good trip in the end.
Train travel: I do not see it getting any better over the past ten years. Sad thing is I do not see it getting
better forward. Very sad for a system that should be world class. We need a better transportation system
than everyone driving a car or flying as our only choices. But unless the public demands it, it will never
happen. I don’t see that happening.
HET meeting: This was a great event on many levels. All the fantastic cars, all the friends and family. With
about all of Terry’s family in attendance along with their inclusion of me was a rare event. The show and the
side trips were fun. My hotel was nice. I got to drive a 1949 Hudson from San Diego to Buena Park and did
so bringing home the car in one piece. Overall a great week.
So Cal: There is always more to do in So Cal than anyone has the time AND energy to do. We did a number
of new things, a few that we always do with a few variations. Counting the HET we attended about five big
car shows. Two new museums. A bunch of new restaurants, some good, some OK and some just different.
With a week spent in San Diego the stay in Buena Park seemed short. But it was still a good number of
days. Terry and I both wear out about the same time so that worked out well.
Simple was the theme this year. That held true to some extent while it was quite opposite and complex at
times. Simple pleasures with friends and family. Complex re-scheduling on the fly multiple times.
As I always do I prefaced this travel log that I do it for myself. I share it with friends and family that may want
to read what all went on during my trip each year. I read my old logs after a few years pass. It’s amazing
how many little details I write about that you would forget if you didn’t.
If you read all or part thanks. Hope I get to do it again next year. Thanks