“Cold to Cold” * (Part I)

1-23-13-20

[Actually, we’re not “here” yet, but it seemed like a good lead photo based on the post title!  😉 ]

*  The actual full quote is:  One would not recognize it but I do believe you both have eskimo blood since you travel from cold areas to cold areas.  ~ Jo Lee, next door neighbor and Florida snowbird

As previously noted somewhere herein, the supervisor had a hankering to take our spring vacation . . . in January, in the Northeast!  We boarded an Amtrak train in St. Cloud at zero dark thirty on Wednesday, January 23, for the first leg to Chicago.  We did not know at the time we made reservations that we would have local company along as far as Chicago.  Some of you locals may even recognize Jeanne and Ken Howell, in the above photo taken as we all de-trained in the Windy City, a/k/a, That Toddlin’ Town.  The Howells were doing a long weekend in Chicago, Ken’s hometown, to catch a live broadcast of PBS’s Wait, Wait, Don’t Me and to see the play, The Book of Mormon.  We amused ourselves all the way down by playing Hearts – and the supervisor amused herself by always giving Ken the queen of spades.  Nevertheless, I believe they are still friends.

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[We did not have daylight until we hit the Cities, so our first photo op was of tugboats iced in the Mississippi . . . ]

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[Then the Pioneer Press.]

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[The beauty that is Wisconsin.  Amazingly, the Eastern half of country had had little snow this season.  But on our train trip, it pretty much snowed from St. Cloud to Boston.]

1-23-13-6

[The supervisor works on her word comprehension.]

1-23-13-8

[Guess?  (Remember you can increase the size of the photos with a double click.)]

1-23-13-9

[Their girls’ golf coach is a native Alexandrian.]

1-23-13-10

[Through the Lake Pepin – Wabasha stretch of the Mississippi we literally saw hundreds of bald eagles.  I, unfortunately, just had the snap shot camera along for this trip and with the speed of the train, I was not able to capture any in pixelated national symbols.]

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[Ken shooting a “nature” shot.  (Go Gophers!)]

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[“Nature”]

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[Maybe the only time on the trip we had a hint of sun.  Ruthie noted that the Canadian Via Rail train washes its windows along the way.  Unfortunately, our Amtrak windows made this photo look like the “floaters” I have in my eyes all the time.  But that does appear to be an eagle in flight at 11:00.]

1-23-13-14

[Guess again?  😉 ]

1-23-13-16

[Ken & Jeanne, our traveling companions.]

1-23-13-18

[Do you have any Grey Poupon?]

1-23-13-19

[Chicago – the end of the line for Jeanne and Ken.  Did this country ever build any more attractive buildings than the old train stations?  Resurrect them all with high speed rail to the heart of our major cities!  🙂  But, I editorialize.  We had a 6-hour layover, the Howells were just going to their hotel, so we decided to go out to dinner together.  See the photo at the top of the page.  In the middle of the photo you’ll see an orange sign – for Dylan’s, our dinner destination.]

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[Libations on hand, we awaited our nosh.]

1-23-13-23-1

[Then it was back on the train for the supervisor and me.  For those in sleepers, a/k/a, the “A” listers, there was an immediate wine and cheese party in the dining car!  😉 ]

1-23-13-24

[The Fat Boys Walking Club was interested in what the sleepers were like.  For the trip out, we didn’t have a bedroom – I believe it’s called a sleepette or roomette or something.  A bit cramped for sleeping but fine for sitting.  The facing benches becomes the lower berth and an upper berth is like a Murphy bed you pull down from above.  We had our own toidy.]

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[Our mirror, sink, and toilet.]

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[And whom amongst us doesn’t enjoy towels?]

1-23-13-28

[A fish-eye effect trying to capture the whole “room.”]

1-24-13-1

[As you’ll recall somewhere at the start of this missive I mentioned snowfall through most of the trip.  Well, there are flexibility gaps between the cars so as we travel these gaps, the transition between cars one had to endure to visit the dining and/or observation car, would fill with snow and had to be shoveled at each stop.  Above and in the following photos.]

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[The toilets in all roomettes, such as ours, froze.  They are vacuum operated.  Fortunately, the old “blue water” toilets at the ends of each car continued to function.  The supervisor took a shower on the way out – the drain was frozen, so she quit early as the water was rising at her feet.  A regular on this winter route said this stuff happens all the time – just made the trip that much more exciting!  😉 ]

1-24-13-5

[The Erie area was the only place that had any snow on the ground.  Chicago had no snow; Buffalo and Syracuse both average well over 100 inches of snow each season yet had less on the ground than we had in Alex; and Boston, which averages more snow than Minneapolis, was snow free when we got there.  Weird!]

1-24-13-6

[Are we there yet?]

1-24-13-7

[The guy with the supervisor was our butler outbound.  🙂 ]

1-24-13-8

[Maybe Rochester?]

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[An empty, though much sought after, bedroom.  We had one on the way home.]

1-24-13-10

[“Welcome to Syracuse.”  Home of the Orange.]

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[Somewhere between Syracuse and Albany.  I may think of it eventually.  A classic old mill town.  Utica?]

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[The Hudson . . . and below.]

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[Guess?]

1-24-13-17

1-24-13-18

[Almost there.  We arrived in Beantown about two hours late, almost midnight.  It’s a good thing we decided ahead of time to stay in a Boston hotel that first night.]

1-25-13-1

[This is the following morning.  This is also the Tufts Medical Center.  We were on an 8-minute walk to our tour bus location.  There was a raw, 20-below windchill whistling through the buildings of downtown Boston.  I have never been so cold in my life!]

Next up:  A tour of Boston.  Put on your history hats!  🙂

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