Another Saturday Night in OC

If you read our recent multi-part story about how, why, and when we ended up being retired in Ocean City, you may remember it said, “We loved being down here, and as we spent more and more time, our Ocean City Family grew.  We attended weddings on the beach, parties at neighbor’s houses, Saturday night dinners out, several Pennlyn Place Block Parties, St. Patty’s Day and New Year’s Eve events, and even went to a couple of local fundraisers.”   Those Saturday Night dinners I spoke of,  are an important part of our Ocean City life. While some weeks it will be 3 or 4 of us going out, some weeks it can be as many as 12 or 14.  Some weeks it’s just us, and some weeks, friends will bring friends and relatives and our group expands.  While we do go out a lot, many weeks we will get together at another’s house.  It can be a planned dinner, a pot luck, or an impromptu “order take out” night. All things being equal, just about every Saturday, some members of our group will be together.

Here’s a selection of some past Saturdays!

Having said that, let me tell you about a recent Saturday, where a number of us headed out to Carmen’s in Sea Isle City, for their last night of the season, and what they call their “Carmen’s Belly Buster”.  We’d been there only once, earlier in the year, and our waitress made a point of telling us about the Belly Buster night, and it peaked our interest.    Our good friend Denise called and made a reservation, and worked out transportation, and on Saturday October 20th, it was indeed Another Saturday Night…but this time in Sea Isle City! 

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The funny thing is that the Saturday before, we’d also been with Denise and her husband Chris, and our friends Patti and Meade, but that was in Lake Tahoe, Nevada!  It was great having some of our Ocean City Family with us at Kenny and Chris’ wedding, and it was a Saturday night, and yes, we did end up in our room after the close of the wedding!  On the side of the Atlantic Ocean, or the shore of Lake Tahoe, a Saturday is a Saturday for our Ocean City Family!!

But let me get back to Carmen’s and The Belly Buster!  The place seemed very festive when we got there with large groups of folks at tables on the outside deck.  It was a little chilly (Denise wore my jacket) but they did have side curtains and most of us were fine.  We started at a tight table, but then asked, and they moved us to a great octagonal table, where we had lots of room and we all could see each other!  Lucky they did!

The meal started with a hot crab chowder and a nice salad.  Then pass-around fried sea food (shrimp, scallops, clams, etc).  Dale and Denise are not seafood eaters, but there were several Chicken dishes in the next round of pass-arounds.  Then they lowered the boom on us with the Main Attraction of the evening!!

 

While we’d seen other tables with big disposable pans of mixed sea food, we somehow got the mother lode, pilled high in a huge fancy bowl!  Not quite sure why we got singled out, but we did end up on their web site, so I’m thinking we got the “display” portion!  Here’s that picture!

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It was loaded with clams, mussels, crab legs, and at least 4 lobsters!  Oh My God!  By no means did we eat it all, but we tried!

There was lots of laughs that night as we ate and drank our way through dinner (it is a BYOB), but there was still about half left (mostly mussels and clams) when we’d had our fill, and they wanted us to take it with us.  Nobody at our table was interested, so we passed it off to a lady at the table behind us!  She may still be dining on our leftovers!

It really doesn’t matter what we do, or where we do it.  What matters is that we are together, having fun.  Family Chosen is a Great Thing!

THE WEDDING WEEKEND

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I posted this the morning after the wedding on Facebook.  

“It was the wedding weekend of the decade, perhaps even of the century, as Christopher Fox and Kenneth D’Elia became one!  The love from the family and friends, the months and months of planning, the perfect location, the perfect mix, just came together and turned out exactly as they dreamed.  The talent from all their performing friends, and even from ones in law school,  just ramped up the energy level!  It was like being right in the middle of a Broadway Show, but YOU were a part of it!  Susie and I are so happy that Chris is officially our 3rd son now, and that Our Boys will go through life as partners, sharing the good, the great, and sometimes the not so great!  Love….the word for the weekend!”

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So, when we last left you, it was Wednesday and we were having a fun family day, visiting Virginia City, then stopping at the Western Reserve Casino, winning some money, and then venturing out that night for the boy’s Reno Batchelor Party.  

Thursday was our last day for pre-wedding tasks, before the group moved up to Lake Tahoe.  Susie and I started our day hitting the AAA to replace the maps we’d lost in LA, and then it was time for our second trip of the week to Costco.  A few incidentals we’d realized we needed, and 5 cases of white wine they hadn’t had at Trader Joe’s!  Then I dropped Susie off at Lucky Nails, near David and Lexi’s, so she could get good “Mother of the Groom” nails.  While she was there, I hit Walmart again, and then filled the car with gas.  We ended our separate tasks at just about the same time, and then headed over to David and Lexi’s to drop off the wine.  While Susie got busy in their kitchen and made Mac Salad Kenny had requested for the Friday night party, I headed back downtown to pick up the boys, so they could buy shirts and shoes for the wedding.  After everything was done, we had a nice early family dinner at Lexi and David’s house (you know, these people must be tired of the sight of us!), before heading back to Harrahs Reno, and the arrival of the East Coast gang!

Our daughter Krissi, her fiancé Mike, Mineola friends Manny and Kristen, Annie friend Kelly, and Jainesville Armory Friends Erica and Shayla were all arriving that night! It was late, but they wanted to gamble, so after everybody had made it from the airport to the hotel, Mom and Dad took their leave after an hour or so, and let the kids party!!  Kenny was so glad his “peeps” were in town!   

Friday morning, Kenny and Chris came by and picked up our bags, so they could be loaded in the trailer David had rented to transport luggage to Lake Tahoe.  About 10AM, Susie, Krissi, Mike and I headed up to the lake, after one more stop at Costco…this time to pick up the appetizer platters we’d ordered earlier.  It was a beautiful morning for our drive up to Tahoe, with incredible scenery. We were just down the road from the hotel, when Kenny texted us, “where are you?”  The boys had just about had it when the tent people asked them where the tent permit was?  Tent permit?  Huh?   Why didn’t you get that if you needed it?  Oh boy!  Just what they didn’t need…another wrinkle!

They needed the Fire Marshal, but he was off that day.  Phone calls were made, Megan and Shayla headed into town for a personal touch, and the rest of us hung with Kenny, keeping him as calm as could be.  He got us checked in, we unloaded the trays from Costco into the fridge in our room, and we waited for the rest of the group to show up.   When they did, there was a lot to unload, and luckily lots of bodies to help.  Decorations were scattered around the Inn, lights were strung, tables set up for the Friday night Welcome Party,  and after some accommodation from the Fire Marshall, the tent started going up!!!  YES!

Okay, now here’s one from the small world department…one of the kids on the tent company crew grew up in Ocean City, and his folks still live about 8 blocks away from us!  You just never know!  Like the time a couple of years ago, when a waitress in a Las Vegas Italian restaurant told us that she’d grown up on Delancey, around the corner from us, and that her first waitress job was at Ove’s on the boardwalk!  Yes it is indeed a small world!

The rest of the day was filled with folks arriving, lots of hugs and kisses, and breaking into the wedding booze supplies (5 cases each of white wine, red wine, rose wine, and champagne, a keg of Icky, and about 150 assorted cans of beer).   

As it started to get dark, the Welcome Party food started to go on the BBQ’s.  Burgers, Italian hot sausages, chicken sausages, accompanied by chips and dip.  Grandma Jerri’s Salsa (with the secret ingredient of black olives), and her Nuts and Bolts (think really good homemade Chex Mix) were a hit on the munchie table.  Remember the macaroni salad that Susie made on Thursday?  The unequaled hit of the food stuffs of the weekend!!  If Susie had a nickel for every time she told people what was in it, we could play a slot machine!

Oh by the way, the parents were in the Squirrel House, and this was the view from our room.  Not bad, huh? 

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After food, it was time to carry some wine down to the fire pit, listen to some music that DJ Rickie provided (he did a GREAT job Friday and Saturday, drink, talk, laugh, and have a wonderful evening!  

Saturday dawned sunny and beautiful, and as the day went on, it just got warmer!  The boys had been shined on by the Wedding Gods, and their special day was Beautiful!!  A little before 1, guests were called into their places, the Wedding Party assembled in our room, and the wedding was on.  Here are some pics!

By the way, this was the backdrop for the wedding. 

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The cocktail hour started immediately following the “I Do’s”, while good friends Shayla and Megan expedited the taking of family photos.  

Then we all moved into the tent for the actual reception, including introducing the Wedding Party, the Grooms, their first dance, plus the Mom and Groom Dances.

Then it was meal time, as catered by Famous Dave’s BBQ!

After dinner, we had time for some more pics, as we assembled important people into groups. 

Then it was time to move to the dance floor…and did this group dance!!

 

Then, the talent portion of the evening, as DJ Ricky fired up the karaoke machine!  Boy, was there talent, as the boys performing and non-performing friends alike, put on an incredible show, amazing EVERYBODY!

 

Included in the “performers” was Kenny’s older brother Bill, who did a spot on Ice Ice Baby!  Who knew!!

Then the dancers took center stage again till the 10PM quiet time!  

It was a hell of a night!!

The last picture I took that night was of David and Kim Fox!  David is Chris’ Dad and Kim is David’s sister and Chris’ Aunt.  We met Kim Monday, and quickly fell in love! She is one kick ass lady who always was there for whatever you needed!  From Costco trips, to unloading the car, from laughing together, to showing you where the booze was kept.  All our OC friends fell in love too, and have made her promise to come visit!

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We gathered in our room with friends, rather than climb all the way down the hill to the fire pit.  Lucky for us, as the newly married couple saw the local bear in the dumpster as they were coming back to their room…right above us!  

Sunday was cooler, but still nice and the day when most folks headed hom

By the end of the day, few were left beyond immediate family, including our partners in crime for the week, David and Lexi Fox!

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How can I nicely say it, Susie and I all but moved into David and Lexi’s house the week leading up to the wedding!  We ate, drank, danced, hugged, and truly became family!  We are so happy that these people are in our lives, and that we are officially Family!  Kenny is a Fox and we are Foxes once removed!  Who’s Luckier than US??

Oh, by the way, the youngins went down again to hang Sunday night, and again there was a bear sighting.  Once in the dumpster, then the bear headed towards the Squirrel House, where we were staying, where the boys fed it the remains of a “bear claw” they were eating.  The next morning we saw the remains.  A pawed through garbage can, and a broken light up bottle, which had been used a decorations. Good night Bear!  

Okay..due to upload issues and a desire to enjoy our last days of this trip, you’ll have to wait till we get back to Ocean City for the Rest of the Story!  Can’t wait to get back to my Mac Air and our Comcast internet speed.  See you then!!!

Day Eight – Wednesday October 10, 2018

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Day Eight – Wednesday October 10, 2018

Plans went back and forth and so did start times, but eventually around noon, 2 car loads of Fox/D’Elias headed up the mountain to Virginia City.  Perched on the Eastern Slopes of Mount Davidson at 6200 feet, Virginia City sprang up as a boomtown with the 1859 discovery of the Comstock Lode, the first major silver deposit discovery in the United States, with numerous mines opening. At the city’s peak of population in the mid-1870s, it had an estimated 25,000 residents. The mines’ output declined after 1878, and the city itself declined as a result. Today, the population of Virginia City is about 855, and that of Storey County, which is the County Seat of at about 4,000.

The trip up is a winding switchback 2 lane road, with pull-offs so that you can let the crazy drivers go past you.  I had 2 today!  First a black BMW I pulled over for, then a black motorcycle that came out of nowhere, and passed me on a curve with a car coming in the opposite direction!  Around the next bend, I saw the two of them up ahead of me, looking like a chase seen in a James Bond movie!   Yikes!! 

 We were scheduled to meet at the Bucket of Blood Saloon, and when we drove up, David had reserved us a place right out front (or so he said). It’s a fun place, very reminiscent of the old western bar we’ve read about, or seen in movies and tv.  Take a look!

There were slot machines, beer, free popcorn, and a banjo player.  It was fun! 

The rest of Virginia City is made up of bars, restaurants and stores.  With its wooden sidewalk, it’s a fun place to walk around, explore, and shop. The day was beautifully sunny up there, and much warmer than any of us had expected. Fall has definitely arrived to the Reno area of Nevada. 

We thought we were going to eat lunch up there, but plans changed again, and we were headed to the Western Village Casino, and their Mexican restaurant.  So down the mountain we went, and headed in our new direction!  Unfortunately,  the Mexican restaurant wasn’t open yet, so we had to gamble. “Had to” I say!  Everybody seemed to be having luck. David and his Mom were playing and split a $300 purse.  Aunt Kim took $237 out of a Quick Hits machine.  Susie had the Quick Hits machine she was playing up to $200 and change.  I was playing the Quick Hits machine next to her and just holding my own! By “holding my own” I really mean I was feeding $20 bills into it. Well, until I wasn’t.  

Just before I was about to give up on this machine, I won the free game jackpot, which gives you a number of spins for free. I think I got 10, and although I kept getting spins that raised the multiplier on winning spins higher and higher, I never won anything to multiply!  By the 10th and last spin, which it proudly spells out THIS IS YOUR LAST SPIN, I had the multiplier level up to 8, but a total of like 12 dollars in winnings.  I was sure my 10th and final spin would be a bust, but I was wrong.  Rather that a bust, I got 7 Quick Hits, which when multiplied, translated to a hand-pay of $1608!  As they say, all’s well that ends well!

 

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Then we were off for some Mexican food.  A couple of small (ha ha!) drinks, some food and we were out of there!  We had to get home, change, and return for the Reno version off Kenny and Chris’ Batchelor Party, planned and orchestrated by sister Michelle!!

For the Batchelor Party, we Ubered over to a beautiful new bar in the Arts District called Rum, Sugar, Lime.   From what everyone told us, just a couple of years ago, this had been one of the worst areas in Reno, but it has been turned into a meca of hip bars and cute little bistros.  What a perfect place to wander the night away!

Here’s a look at Rum, Sugar, Lime as the attendees gathered. 

Then it was off to Noble Pizza for dinner, and some very good pizza, after which it was time for the mature folks to head off, and leave the youngins to their fun.  Lexi, David, Aunt Kim, Susie and I Ubered home, telling the boys and their friends to have fun and be safe.  No calls for Bail Money, so we hope all went well!

Here is a pic from Noble Pizza and after we left.

Thursday is a busy day, with last minute details that have to get done before Saturday’s magic day.  We all have our lists of tasks, but then tomorrow, we’ll once again get together at Lexi and David’s for one last party before we all head up to Lake Tahoe.  Lots of family and friends arriving tomorrow, and we’re looking forward to that too!  Kenny will be happy that his twin sister Krissi and her fiancee Mike will be here, as those two are about as close as two people can be!  Born 2 minutes apart, and getting married 8 months apart (Mike and Krissi tie the knot next June)!

As David and I have said multiple times the last few days, “Who’s luckier than us?”

Things are heating up, with the wedding just days away, so please understand if there are no updates till after the fact!

Sue & Frank…the Proud Proud Parents

Southwest Chief – Last Look

If you read the blog that I posted very early this morning Eastern time, you know that future editions may be spotty due to wedding activities this coming week.  Saw these photos from our last night on the train that I hadn’t published, and thought I’d use them this morning (it’s 6:23 AM in LA) as a last look at the SWC!

These were all taken during the “fresh air break” in Flagstaff, Arizona during our last night on the train.

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The train in the station

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The room with blue “night light” is our Bedroom C 

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This  is Pinky, our Sleeping Car Attendant

In talking to Pinky, we discovered that she has worked on the Southwest Chief for 40 years. She is part of an LA based crew, and she lives just a couple of blocks from Union Station. She is originally from Chicago, where her father still lives.  Because of the overnight nature of the train’s trip from Chicago to LA and back, the crew does an east and a west trip every week, and then is off for a week.  She gets to spend two nights a month in Chicago with her Dad, and only works 26 weeks a year.  I found this out when I mentioned that the job I retired from, I  did so after being there 40 years.  “Ah, but you worked every day Honey.”, she said, “I only work every other week.”  I asked her about retirement and she said she loved her job so why retire.

 

 

Day Four – Saturday October 6, 2018

Welcome to California!!

A little after 8 AM this morning, Amtrak’s Train #3, the Southwest Chief pulled into Los Angeles’ Union Station, and our Sea to Shining Sea trek all aboard the rails was done!  It started Wednesday morning, in Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, and since then has included three different trains, four train stations, three nights in a sleeper bedroom, and six different Amtrak meals!  We traveled from sea level on the Atlantic Coast to sea level on the Pacific Coast, and in between went through the Raton Pass Tunnel at an elevation of 7,588 feet.  Our thoughts?  We loved it!  We both agreed that although we may never go on another sleeper train trip, if the opportunity arose, we wouldn’t hesitate to do it again!  But do it again or not, Susie got something checked off her bucket list, and we didn’t have to walk around an airport shoeless and holding our pants up!  Here are a few views of our last morning on the train.

At Union Station, when we asked our Car Attendant Pinky about baggage claim, she pointed us to a little Red Cap electric transport and said, “Just tell him you need to go to baggage claim and he’ll take you.”  Well he took us all across Union Station (and it’s big) dropping one passenger off at the Red Line, two others at the bus to LAX, and then us, first to Baggage Claim, and then to the Hertz counter.  The Hertz counter was a zoo, and after waiting for 45 minutes, we found out why.  They came in this morning with 7 reservations and 7 cars, except that Hertz corporate’s computer allowed 20 other people to reserve cars that didn’t exist!  Luckily, when they saw we were Hertz Gold members, they took us to the car that had been reserved for us, a Ford Explorer, and we were on our way to Kenny and Chris’ apartment (only after Susie contributed her pen to the effort, as nobody at the Hertz counter had a working pen!).

Kenny met us out front, and we put the Explorer in their garage space, since they no longer have cars, and we went up to their apartment.  What a change from a year ago when we were last there.  It went from a lovely apartment, to a moving staging zone!  In the past couple of weeks, they have sold their couch, their TV stand, and their bed frame.  They are sleeping on their mattress on the floor in front of their big screen TV, and their living room is full of boxes, bubble wrap, and packing tape!  What a difference. 

We left in short order to do some errands they needed wheels to do – drop off some donations, mail some boxes at the Post Office, and hit Home Depot to pick up more packing material.  Then it was back to their apartment, and as they packed boxes, I helped Susie bubble wrap some of their art work that wouldn’t fit into boxes.  Tomorrow we’ll pack the two SUVs, and transport as much as we can to Chris’ Dad’s house in Reno.  Speaking about two SUVs, now it was time to get Kenny and Chris to the Hertz office at LAX to pick up the SUV they’d reserved.  We’d both reserved Hyundai Santa Fe sized vehicles, and they hoped they’d get something as big as the Explorer we had.  After they texted us that they’d gotten the car, we left for the Del Taco we’d agreed to meet at for lunch.  Imagine our surprise when the boys showed up in the mother of all SUVs, a huge Ford Expedition!!  They’d been upgraded!  Great luck we all said.  You’ll have absolutely no problem accommodating everything you need to take to Reno with this car!  And it was great, till the other shoe dropped.  

The boys live on North Sycamore, just a half a block from Hollywood Boulevard.  The Grumman Chinese Theater is a block away, and the Roosevelt Hotel is just around the corner.  They are dead center of the Hollywood Tourist area.  Take a look at this map, and you’ll see what we mean. 

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Because of this, you need a resident permit to park on their street.  Because their apartment came with 2 parking places, they’d never needed one.  But guess what?  That BIG beautiful Ford Expedition SUV was TOO BIG (Kenny might have put a word between those 2 words and it might have begun with an F and ended with an ing) to fit in their garage!  Shit!  What were they going to do now!  Mom and Dad to the rescue….that big Expedition is parked at our hotel, and our Explorer is in their garage!  Loading will be a little more of a pain in the ass, but as I told Kenny, just one little bump in the road, leading to the happiest day of their lives, now just one week away!

After doing their laundry (the laundromat they go to is just across from our hotel), we headed to Ralph’s to buy some supplies for us.  You know, important things like like vodka, wine, iced tea, bathroom spray, and snacks for the road. Then they drove our car to their garage, and packed their bags for Reno, Lake Tahoe, and their WEDDING next Saturday!!  Tonight LA Greek food for four in our hotel room, then tomorrow morning we pack both cars, and head off to Reno!

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Tomorrow will be a road day, as we’ll spend most of the day driving to Reno, so there may not be enough for a full blog post, but hey, you never know!  The next week we will be in Reno doing wedding prep, spending time with our new family, and welcoming our own family as they arrive later in the week!  It’s going to be a wonderful week, and I’ll blog if I can, but please excuse us if there  isn’t time to keep you completely up to date!  Know that we’ll be having fun with people we love, sending our second child into the world of married life!  

Day three – Friday October 5, 2018

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Good Morning!    The alarm went off for us today at 7 AM  Central Time, but shortly after we got out of bed, we crossed into Colorado, and Mountain time!  As the sun started to make its presence known, we were near Granada and the weather app told us it was 47 degrees.  The compass app on my phone says we’re at 3000 plus feet, so we are heading upward.  Here’s a look out our window this morning.

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We went to breakfast about 7:30, and again, a full Dining Car and kitchen made all the difference!  Take a look at our breakfast choices, what I had (sorry…started eating before I took a pic) and it’s all included in our fare!

As we were at breakfast our weather changed from foggy to clear and sunny…it was very nice!  

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The Observation Car

B3DFC104-FA8C-4675-B482-5E90E3AEEADEAfter breakfast, we explored a bit.  We checked out the Observation Car, and both agreed that the view from our bedroom is just as good.  The seating in the Observation Car isn’t as comfortable as in our bedroom, and as we observed yesterday, Coach passengers took up the majority of seats.  Then we went down the stairs to check out the Cafe Lounge, as we keep hearing announcements from the Cafe Attendant Brittany about all she sells there.  The Lounge is an area with about 5 tables, and Brittany sells snacks, breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as drinks and things like playing cards.  Looked to us like a “fast food” version of the Dining Car for Coach passengers who don’t want to pay Dining car prices for meals.  On the way back to our room, every seat on the Observation level of the car was full, mainly by Coach folks.  

Shortly after we got back to our bedroom, our Car Attendant Pinky came by to change it back into the day mode.  We planned showers for this morning, and Susie asked her a couple of questions about how it worked.  Pinky suggested we check out the shower on the lower level, which she said was more like home, where our’s in the room version is RV like.  We did, and she was correct, so as I write this, Susie is down using it!  Depending on how it works out for her, I may do the same thing!!  It worked out just fine…don’t we smell and look better!!  Hell, I even shaved!   

The rest of the morning was spent traveling in some beautiful country as Colorado and then New Mexico glided by our picture window.  We’re at much higher elevation now, just passing Raton Tunnel with a sign saying we were at 7,588 feet, the highest point of the Santa Fe!  From what I read just now via Google, BNSF who owns the tracks through the pass, has pretty much abandoned freight service there due to the excessive grade, so it’s mostly AMTRAK’s Trains #3 and #4, the East and Westbound versions of the Southwest Chief, that are its exclusively daily users.  Here’s a picture I found of the Chief exiting the tunnel.

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Susie took some great pictures of the passing scenery, and here are some for your enjoyment!

We’re now moving along at 80 mph (I opened Waze and it told me), relaxing in our bedroom, reading, snoozing, and waiting for our 1 PM lunch reservation. 

LUNCH…first let me admit I forgot to take any pictures. Sorry. Then let me tell you we had the pleasure of sitting with this couple who sat across from us at breakfast.  This morning, both Susie and I thought he was the most obnoxious a-hole we’d heard during our train riding the last couple of days, saying the stupidest things to the couple they were sitting with.  Happy to say, he was not an ass at lunch.  Then we get back and realize he and his wife are in bedroom B…right next to us!  Oh well, they’re getting off in Albuquerque.  Oh, and what did Susie and I have for lunch?  Two very tasty bacon cheese burgers!  

Speaking about our table mates getting off at Albuquerque, they told us they are headed to the Albuquerque International Ballon Festival, which runs from tomorrow to October 14th. I think it’s the 48th year for this festival, and its a pretty big deal.  

Perhaps because of that, our train is full to capacity, and everybody we talk to, or overhear  talking to their table mates at a meal, seems to be heading to Albuquerque!   We get there later this afternoon, and perhaps it will be just the two of us from Albuquerque to Los Angeles!  I also think it’s fun to spell Albuquerque! (And think about the song”Albuquerque, is a Turkey,” which our kids learned from their elementary school music teacher, Marianne Craven….a wonderful teacher and friend!)

We enjoyed the afternoon, played a game of 5000, had some vodka, and even visited Brittany in the Cafe Car, because we used up all our brought vodka. It was a nice afternoon and early evening.  Through it all, we  enjoyed the beauty of America, just outside our picture window.  Enjoy what we saw!

Dinner tonight was wonderful!  The train is empty, so it really was nice in the Dining Car.  Tables for two all over the place, not crazy busy and much quieter, and we got to interact with the staff. So nice!  Susie and I had a garden salad with ranch dressing, butternut squash risotto with chicken, a Creme brûlée’s parfait, and a nice bottle of Chardonnay.  Here are our dinner pics from today….okay, so we ate almost everything before I remembered pics.  Sorry!

 

 

After dinner, we came back to the bedroom, had the rest of our Brittany Vodka, and played another game of 5000.  Susie won tonight and I won this afternoon!   We’re tied 2 games each on the train!  

As the train made a “smoke stop” in Flagstaff, Arizona, Susie and I decided to take in a little air, and saw several familiar folks getting off the train.

A quiet and early night, as we’ll be up early to prepare for our arrival in Union Station, Los Angeles, having completed the first leg in our trek to the Kenny and Christopher Wedding Festivities!  Looking forward to seeing our boys tomorrow!

PS…Happy Birthday Dad!  He would have been 108 today and has been gone for close to 35 years.  

Day Two – Thursday October 4, 2018

SORRY FOR THE LATE POSTING DUE TO LIMITED SERVICE

D4648BFB-94A7-4090-BE74-EBF9318BC863Good morning from the Capital Limited!  It’s 8:45 AM, Eastern Time as I write this from the couch in Room E in car 2900, as our room has been turned back into its daytime version.  According to the schedule, we should be about an hour from Chicago, with scheduled arrival there at 8:45 Central Time. Phil our car attendant, however, just announced that our arrival time will be more like 11 to 11:30 due to delays during the night.  Frankly, this is a good situation for us, as we probably won’t be able to board the Southwest Chief till about 2:15, and we’d much rather be sitting on the train, than in a station waiting room.  The view is much better from here!!  

Before I continue with today, let’s give you an idea of our sleeping arrangements last night.

Thanks Babe…as always, I owe you!  

An update…we just stopped at Waterloo, Indiana, where the schedule had us at 6:36 AM.  We stopped at 9:26, fully 2 hours and 50 minutes behind schedule. It’s scheduled to be about 3 hours and 10 minutes from Waterloo to Chicago, so if we don’t lose anymore time, we should make Chicago just before noon Central time. 

A brief look at the reason for these delays as I understand them.  Once you leave the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak doesn’t own the tracks the trains ride on.  Back when America was giving up on rail travel, and Amtrak was formed, most of America’s rail roads kept their freight operations going, because that was still profitable.  Fully 97% of the tracks Amtrak trains run on ARE NOT owned by Amtrak, because those tracks, and the freight trains running on them, are owned  by the lines or their heirs that gave up passenger service in the 20th Century.  So, the freight running on these lines, takes precedence over Amtrak and it’s schedules, which may necessitate an Amtrak train pulling onto a siding and waiting while a freight train rumbles past. This happened to us several times last night, and you know how long freight trains can be!  

Because the Capital Limited lacks a Dining Car, the included breakfast this morning was a box breakfast in the Sleeper Lounge. A yogurt parfait, a muffin, some fresh fruit, and a hot tea.  We heard some grumbling, but we didn’t have a problem with it, but we are looking forward to the Southwest Chief having a Dining Car AND kitchen!  Stay tuned for real meals!  Oh, another item…some folks are just so cheap!  There was a couple across from us this morning who apparently didn’t like the breakfast, and who did they take it out on?  Why the young lady working the lounge!  “Tip for that breakfast?  No way”.  Glad we’re not “those people” and never have been!  

An update….we just arrived at Chicago’s Union Station!   It’s 12 Noon Central time,  and we were scheduled to be here at 8:45 AM.    Here’s some views as we headed into the station.

We’re now in the Amtrak’s Metropolitan Club in Union Station, and it was a zoo, till they just announced two trains!  Folks are crazy.  When they put out some snacks (cheese and some veggies), you’d have thought most folks hadn’t eaten in months!!  It’s much quieter now!  This place is brand new and beautiful.  Here’s what we’ve got now. 

Talk to you next from Train 3…the Southwest Chief!

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So welcome to Room C of Car 330, on the Southwest Chief.  The room is exactly like what we had last night, but Susie and I think this train is newer.  Life will be easier today as we know what to expect, but we may miss Phil, last night’s Sleeping Car Attendant. We had not an auspicious start, as the door to our car was closed, and we had to stand and wait for somebody to show up!   We’ll see how things go, but we already asked her about wash cloths and hand towels and she said, “they’re there”…they’re not!  Fingers crossed for the next 2 nights on the train!  

At 2:47 they announced, “close all access doors” and just after 2:50 we chugged out of Union Station.  We’ve already made our first stop at Naperville, Illinois.  Quick, extra credit if you can name one of the movies, Naperville and an Amtrak train played a supporting part in?  I can think of two off hand.  Leave it in the comment section below for a grand prize!  (FYI…the “Grand Prize” is just my gratitude for reading this far!)

The Dining Car Steward has already come around and we have a dinner reservation tonight at 6:30, and we’re looking forward to see what kind of meals an Amtrak Dining Car can dish out.  Here a layout of the Dining Car if you’re interested.  

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Susie has already found the ice (and the wash cloths) but we’ve yet to “officially” meet our Sleeping Car Attendant, but we are ready to enjoy the next 40+ hours on Amtrak’s Southwest Chief!  Cheers!!!

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Now it’s just time to relax, and watch America pass by our picture window!  

Okay..I just went and got more ice, and had a very nice conversation with our Car Attendant.  Her name is Pinky, and she’s worked for Amtrak for 40 years. She lives in LA 2 blocks from the station, and her Dad lives in Chicago.  She works one week on and one week off, so twice a month she’s with her Dad overnight.  I think everything’s going to be fine, different, but fine!  

Right around 6:30, we crossed the Mississippi River, leaving Illinois and entering Iowa.  The sun was just going down, and I don’t think beautiful is an adequate description!

Shortly after that, we got called to the Dining Car for our 6:30 reservation!  We’d been looking forward to this, and if tonight’s meal was any indication, we won’t be disappointed!  Amazing what you can do with a real kitchen and a real Dining Car.  Last night’s meal was ok, but nowhere near tonight’s standard!  I said to Susie, that back in January when I booked this trip, the Capital Limited had a Dining Car.  They took the car away in the Spring to save money, but never sent me any money back!  I don’t think we got what we paid for!

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And as to dinner?  We started with a glass of nicely chilled Pino Grigio, and both chose for our entree the Land and Sea.  A perfectly cooked NY Strip Steak, accompanied by a Crab, Shrimp, and Scallop Cake, with string beans and a baked potato!  It was very good!  And then to top it off, a taste of Greek Yogurt Cheesecake.  Take a look!

Then it was back to our bedroom for a round of 5000 and a perfectly chilled glass of Titos Vodka.  Pretty soon Pinky will turn our day room into a night room, and our second night on the road (the RAIL road) will begin!   

Here’s Susie in the hall outside Bedroom C.

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So far, we are having a great time!  Since leaving Chicago, the views have been great. When the sun comes up tomorrow morning, we should be in Colorado (At least that’s where we’re scheduled to be)  and the view should be getting even better!  We know train travel isn’t for everybody, but so far, we’re really enjoying our trip!  We should see some spectacular sights tomorrow and can’t wait to share them!

See you on day 3!