Feb. 14th, 2011

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Flying out in the morning to La Crosse, WI. I and a colleague are going to kick start an energy survey at an installation in the area. We will hit the ground running first thing in the morning Wednesday, and (hopefully) finish up around 5 pm.

Being a southern boy, I am SO glad that they are having a heat wave right now, with the temperature supposed to be in the mid 40's on Wednesday!

That evening, I will also take the first steps at marking an item off of my "bucket list" † namely, I will purchase two Amtrak Rail Passes for Jessica and I to take an around the nation rail trip later this summer. :-) The reason I am purchasing them in La Crosse is that there is a staffed, full service Amtrak station there, with a ticket agent that can help me book everything. Since it is the first time I have used a rail pass, I would prefer to have someone I can ask questions of when I am purchasing.

A rail pass, for those not in the know, is a pass that allows a certain number of trip segments within a certain time frame. A segment is defined as any time you get on and then get off a train. It could be a short 1 hour trip to the next town, or a longer multi-day trip across the country. The shortest duration pass is the 15 day pass, which allows up to 8 segments. There are 30 and 45 day passes available as well, which allow 12 and 18 segments respectively. In pricing out the trip, a 15 day rail pass will save us about $600, so it is definitely worth the additional hassle!

Our plan is to take the train to go visit Jessica's sister, who is currently teaching at the University of Idaho, in Moscow, ID. We plan to get a roomette in the sleeper car for all segments of the trip, which aside from granting us beds to sleep in, and a shower we can use, it also gives us free meals in the dining car while on board.

Our route will be from Birmingham, AL to Washington DC on board the "Crescent". If the train is on time in to DC, we will have about 6 hours to sight-see in DC before we board the "Capitol Limited" bound for Chicago. We should have about 6 hours in Chicago, before we board the "Empire Builder" headed for Spokane, WA.

Spokane is the closest station to the University of Idaho, being about 2 hours away. My sister in law has agreed to pick us up, even though the train doesn't arrive until 1:40 in the morning!
We will spend a couple of days visiting with her ans her boyfriend, before she drops us back off at the station for the trip home, the long way around.

We head from Spokane to Portland, OR, where we have a short layover prior to boarding the "Coast Starlight" which takes us to Los Angeles. We then will take the "sunset Limited" to New Orleans, then finally board the "Crescent" again to return to Alabama.

All Aboard!

† The 2007 movie "Bucket List" was about two terminally ill cancer patients (Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman) who escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a list of things to do before they die. This concept has been appropriated by many, who have compiled lists of things to be done before their death.


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tnrkitect - Musings of an Unconventional Mind

June 2011


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