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Cleveland Make up Trip:

Cleveland Make up Trip:




            Back in July, a cab company in Cleveland made me miss train 48 back to Buffalo and in order to get home in time, I had to take a Greyhound Bus instead. I began planning this trip before I even arrived home from that adventure. I decided to wait until September, once my department at Wal-Mart wasn’t so busy.


After some research, my plan was to fly to Cleveland on September 17, spend a night in a different hotel much closer to the Amtrak station, then the next day, get a ride to the Amtrak station with a different cab company and ride Amtrak train 48 to Buffalo, then catch train 63 to Toronto. The trip unfolded as follows.


September 17, 2007:


I got down to Toronto’s Pearson International airport around 6:45 am. My flight was to leave at 9:10 am. Interestingly enough as I arrived, guess what I saw? Air Canada’s 65th anniversary plane. Just like the last three trips I’ve flown, I’ve seen that plane! However, I didn’t get a photo of it this time.


My mom dropped me off at Terminal 1, as I was once again flying on Air Canada. This time, I would be on a flight operated by Air Canada Jazz, which is Air Canada’s commuter airline.


I would come to see I needed a lot of the extra time to check in as there were long lineups for the check in counter and to go through Customs. At Terminal 1, there are two customs lines for U.S. bound travelers. One line was for Canadian citizens and one line for American citizens. However the Canadian citizen line was longer. When I finally got to the customs, the agent asked why I was flying one way and taking the train home. When I told him, he was alright with was I was doing. I offered to show him my Amtrak tickets, but he said he didn’t need to see them. This just goes to show how anal that one agent was back when I rode the Maple Leaf on my Arizona Make-up trip last year. The agent at the airport then stamped my passport and I went and dropped off my suitcase at the checked baggage drop off.


I then went through security and got through with no problem, though once again, I had to take off my shoes. I then went to a store in the terminal and bought myself a bottle of Coke.


My ticket said I was boarding at gate 254. To get to that gate, I had to take a bus down to a mini-terminal located outside of the now demolished Terminal 2. I got on the bus and we drove past several Air Canada planes and an Airbus A319 from the Mexican airline Mexicana. I took some photos of some of the aircraft.




The bus dropped me off at the mini-terminal. I saw lots of turboprop planes as well as a couple small jet aircraft operated by Air Canada Jazz. I still had plenty of time before my plane boarded. While waiting for my plane to board, I took a photo of Terminal 2 being demolished.



My plane started boarding shortly after 8:45 am. I walked outside and photographed my plane which was a De Havilland Canada Dash 8-100. I took a photo of the plane.



This would be the first time I had ever flown on a turboprop aircraft as all other times I’ve flown, I’ve flown on jets. Because the plane was small, passengers were told to put all carry-on baggage bigger than a laptop on the sky-cart which I did. I took my seat and studied the emergency evacuation card.


The plane was almost full, though there were a few empty seats. The plane left on time and I filmed the takeoff and as the plane climbed into the sky. From the plane, I saw an eastbound GO Transit commuter train. We were soon flying over Lake Ontario and then over the Niagara Peninsula. Soon, we were flying over Lake Erie. From the plane, I saw some cargo ships.


Soon, we were approaching Cleveland. I took some photos of the airport from the plane.



As the plane began its approach, I filmed the landing gear going down and the landing. Soon, we were parked and we were allowed off the plane. We had arrived 10 minutes early. I retrieved my carry on from the sky-cart before I took two more photos of the plane and headed to the baggage claim.




Shortly after I got to the baggage claim, they started bringing out the suitcases and my suitcase was one of the first to emerge. I then headed to catch a Red Line RTA train. I bought a day pass before I headed onto the platform and photographed the RTA train at the station.



After the train left the airport, I phoned home. A little while later, I got off at Tower City. I took a picture of the train I rode then filmed it leaving. I then photographed a two-car train on a pocket track in the station.



            I then went upstairs and caught a route 6 bus to my hotel; the Days Inn and Suites on Euclid Avenue. This hotel is much closer to the Amtrak station, and only a few dollars more expensive. When I got to the public square, I noticed a lot of roadwork being done. After I rode to my hotel, I found out what was being done. They were building private bus lanes on Euclid Avenue.


Back home, VIVA is planning to do something similar on Yonge Street, but some people are protesting, wanting the TTC to extend the subway north. I first found out about the protest last spring when the receptionist at my dentist asked me to sign a petition (which I didn’t.) These NIMBY’s are protesting because the work to build the private bus lanes would rip up Yonge Street, and prevent people turning left from Yonge onto smaller streets like my dentist office. Right now, it isn’t exactly easy to turn left anyway. One other thing these NIMBY’s don’t seen to realize is if they had there way and a subway extension was built, the street would have to be torn up anyway, for a lot longer and the cost of the subway is much more than building the private bus lanes.


Once I got off the bus and walked over to my hotel, I saw a taxi pass by owned by the same company that made me miss train #48 last time. “Boooo!” I shouted.


I then got to the lobby of my hotel and checked in. I saw in the parking lot that they had some shuttle vans. I asked the desk clerk if the shuttle vans would take me to the Amtrak station. She told me no and offered to give me the number of a taxi company. I then told her about how the taxi company had made me miss the train last time and even insulted me, so the clerk gave me a telephone number for a company called Yellow Cab. Back in July, when the taxi didn’t show up to take me to the Amtrak station, I phoned Yellow cab for a taxi, but before it could come, the original cab came 40 minutes late, so I cancelled my request to Yellow cab.


Once I got to my room, I phoned Yellow cab and requested a taxi to pick me up at 6:00 am the next morning. I then headed back to Tower City on the bus and had lunch in the food court. After lunch, I headed to the RTA station to take a Waterfront train. I decided to try to photograph the ex CA&E interurbans belonging to the Lake Shore Electric Railway (formerly Trolleyville USA). I snapped one dark picture, then filmed in inbound green line train before I went back to snap some better photos of the interurbans. Just then, an RTA employee asked what I was doing and when I gave her an honest answer, she told me I needed permission and gave me a phone number to call. I called and after being transferred twice and missed the next waterfront train, I was finally allowed to take three photos. I did just that before the employee who first asked me told me she had to go. She then offered to let me take a fourth photo, but I declined. At least they weren’t too anal about it. Here are the pictures I took.





I then caught the next Waterfront train which came 15 minutes later. I got off and photographed a NS freight.



I then walked over to the walked to the Great Lakes Science Centre.



I then paid my admission and bought a ticket for the showing of “Hurricane in the Bayou” in the IMAX Theatre. That is where I lost my baseball hat 10 years ago on my school trip. This time, I made sure I wouldn’t lose another hat there.


The movie had its moments; awhile ago, I learned that Hurricane Katrina could have been worse for New Orleans if it had been a little further west. I didn’t understand how until I learned that the eye of Katrina missed New Orleans, and the winds outside the eye are the worst of any hurricane.


After the show, I looked around the exhibits, taking some photos.




I then went out onto a balcony and snapped a photo of the William G. Mather, which I visited on my last trip to Cleveland.



I went back inside and went to the transportation exhibit downstairs. I photographed the O-scale train that runs around on a track which has a drawbridge you can raise. I also photographed an exhibit on how Maglev trains work.




            I then looked around for a couple more minutes before I went to a simulator of landing the space shuttle. Interestingly enough the shuttle you would be landing was the ill-fated Columbia which disintegrated on reentry on February 1, 2003 killing the crew. I tried the exhibit and just like last time, I ended up crashing, but not on purpose!



I looked at the gift shop before I walked over to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame next door. My friend Greg and some other people recommended I visit, though I had visited on my school trip 10 years earlier. As I got there, I saw another cab from the taxi company that made me miss the Lakeshore Limited last time. I booed again. I then took a picture of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Johnny Cash’s tour bus still parked in front.



I went inside and paid admission. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has a no photography rule, so I checked my camera at the coat check. I explored the museum. At one point, I saw a film about the start of Rock and Roll because it implied there was a train in it. After the film was over, I left the theatre, thinking I would go back into the main hall, when I walked into a second theatre and saw a continuation of the film! It was like something out of the Simpsons!


After the movie was over, I looked around at many of the exhibits and visited the gift shop. However, I didn’t buy anything because nothing said, “buy me!” I then retrieved my camera and left.


I decided to walk over to the William G. Mather to see if it was open, when I got there, I found out it was not open on Mondays in September. I took a photo of the ship.



I noticed there was a large stick in the Mather’s bow thrusters. Nearby, I could see the building where most of Trolleyville USA’s fleet is kept including ex Toronto PCC #4602. Like the Mather, the display building was closed, but there was a banner hanging out front for the Lake Shore Electric Railway.


I then walked back to the RTA station, and noticed in the change machine a lot of quarters. I looked for my pass and found I had lost it! I ended up paying the fare for the RTA and bought a new pass at Tower City. After I stepped off the train at Tower City, I took a photo of it.



After I bought another day pass, I walked up to catch the route 19 bus. While waiting for my bus, I took some photos of other RTA buses.



RTA RTS #9761.


            The route 19 bus came and I boarded an RTS similar to #9761 above. I rode to a White Castle which I saw on my last visit to Cleveland, but not the same one I ate at on my last night there. After dinner, I caught a bus back to the rapid transit system. I filmed a two-car red line train as it headed towards the airport. I then rode another red line train past the RTA yard. As we passed the yard, I filmed it. When I got off, I looked for my day pass and realized I had lost it again! I paid my fare when the next red line train arrived and rode to Tower City. As we passed where the interurbans from Trolleyville were stored, I filmed them. After I got off, I walked upstairs and took a ride on the E-line trolley.


            The E-line trolley is basically a Dennis SLF-200 painted green and has a “bell” on the roof and is supposed to look like a trolley car. The fare was free though and I took a ride before I got off and took some photos of the bus.




            I then caught an RTA Nova LFS on route 6 back to my hotel. I phoned home to check in when my cell phone ran out of money. I added $40 to my account and phoned my parents back.


            To avoid any problems with the Yellow cab the next morning, I gave them a call and asked if I was still set. I asked them to ensure the cab would be on time. They told me if there was a delay, I’d get a call 15 minutes before the time I requested. After, I arranged for a wake up call at 5:30 am. I watched a bit of TV. At one point, I saw on CNN that Britney Spears would be paying her ex-husband alimony and the headline also read, “A victory for men”! I eventually called it a night.


September 18, 2007:


            I got up at 5:35 am, oversleeping by 5 minutes, but I was still able to get ready in time. I waited until 5:45 am before I left. Since I didn’t get a call from Yellow cab, I assumed everything was still alright and I headed down to the lobby and checked out. I then waited in the lobby. I called Julie to find out the status of 48 and found it was on time. Since the train moved to its new schedule, I found it’s been pretty good at timekeeping between Chicago and Cleveland.


            6:00 am came, but no cab came. I went outside to look, but there was no sign of a taxi. Five minutes passed, then six. I went outside, but there was no sign of a cab anywhere. It was at this moment that a terrible sense of deja-vu descended upon me. It was all too familiar like what happened on my last trip to Cleveland. I went back inside and was about to call Yellow Cab, when they phoned my hotel. The desk clerk answered the phone and once he hung up, he told me the cab went to the wrong hotel, but would show up in four minutes.


            When the cab finally came, it was 10-14 minutes late. The driver said they had gone to the Comfort Inn even though I had told them I was at the Days Inn and Suites! I could understand if they were at another Days Inn since they have 5-7 locations in the Cleveland area. I seem to have a way with taxis for some reason.


            They took me over to the Amtrak station. I got there at 6:22 am. Train 48 was already at the station. However, I still had plenty of time as train 48 was to depart at 7:00 am. I paid for my taxi and ran into the station. The conductor took my ticket in the station, and I headed out onto the platform and boarded the train. Before I boarded, I took two photos.




            I was seated in Amfleet 2 coach #25039, a refurbished coach with a blue and white interior, digital display boards and AC outlets by the seats. The coach was pretty full, and I had an aisle seat. While waiting, I saw an RTA waterfront train pass the station. I also saw a van that appeared to be operated by the taxi company that made me miss 48 the last time.


            The Lakeshore Limited departed on time. Shortly after it left, I went to have breakfast in the dining car. On my way to the diner, I passed through the café car which was an Amfleet 2 café car that was refurbished for diner-lite service on the Cardinal. However, we had a Temoinsa refurbished diner. I sat down for breakfast. I was seated with a couple from Albany who were on their way home from a trip to Arizona in the Grand Canyon, not like what I did in 2006. They said the Lakeshore was better than the Southwest Chief.


            I had the continental breakfast, and when I was pouring milk onto my cereal, the train hit a rough spot causing me to spill the milk on my croissant. The waiter then gave me another croissant. After breakfast, I paid for my meal and went back to my seat. I didn’t stay there too long. I went to the café car and took some photos of the interior.


            I bought some milk from the café car and sat at one of the tables. I stayed in the café car as we stopped in Erie, Pennsylvania. As we left, I filmed the General Electric locomotive plant as we went past. At one point, we passed a museum with ex Chicago, South Shore, and South Bend “Little Joe” electric #802, but I was unable to film the museum. A little while later, I filmed a smaller museum that had former NKP 2-8-4 #755. Throughout this part, I went between the café car, and my coach. I walked through the two coaches behind mine to see if they were refurbished or not. Three of the four Amfleet 2 coaches were refurbished, and the last car of the train was unrefurbished.


            At one point, I went back to the café car and phoned Julie to find out what time the train was due into Buffalo-Depew station. Julie said we’d arrive at 10:21 am; 26 minutes late. However, that wasn’t the case. When 10:21 came, we were nowhere close to Depew station.


            Soon, we passed through Angola, New York. A little while later, we were approaching Buffalo. This would be the first time I would have gotten off 48 at Depew without there being snow on the ground as the past three times I’ve ridden 48 were either in winter or right after a freak snowstorm in October! Since I boarded train 63 at Buffalo-Exchange Street on my last trip, that time doesn’t count.


            Soon, we passed over a drawbridge and soon, we passed the freight yard and the old Buffalo Central terminal before arriving into Buffalo-Depew station 45 minutes late. Once I got off, I walked to the end of the station and photographed the train.



            I waited for train 48 to depart. While waiting, I saw a kid and his father also looking at the train. When train 48 departed, I filmed the 10 car train pulling out without running out of memory on my digital camera’s memory stick like the time I rode the Three Rivers back in 2005. I then photographed the rear of #48 and a westbound CSX intermodel.




            I then called Julie to find out the status of train 63. I found out it was running 3 minutes late. I then phoned home and let my dad know I was in Buffalo. When I told him about the cab being 10 minutes late, he said I had a way with taxis.


            I had at least four and a half hours to kill, so I took a taxi to the Niagara Central hobby shop about a mile away. The cab driver was unsure where to go, so I pointed it out to him since I had been there in the past. When it came time to turn onto Union Road, we did, but we had to get over, but an 18-wheeler was blocking us, so we had to wait. When we did change lanes, a road-rager yelled at us. I resisted the urge to give him the finger and we arrived at the hobby store. I paid the fare and went inside the store where I left my stuff at the counter and looked around. I noticed they had a camera pointing out at the CSX main behind the store where I had just come in. I eventually bought an HO scale model of a BNSF GP38. I then went outside and photographed the former Erie caboose in the parking lot before I went inside it and looked around.



            After I was done looking around the caboose, I walked over to a nearby Subway restaurant for lunch. After lunch, I began my walk back to the Amtrak station. When I was almost there, I was fortunate enough to catch a route 6 bus back to the station. I boarded the New Flyer D40 and rode the rest of the way, getting dropped off right in front of the station. Once I got there, I then called Julie to find out the status of 63 and found it was still running three minutes late. I had plenty of time left.


            Shortly after I got onto the platform, I westbound CSX intermodel passed by on the closest track. I photographed it.



            As the freight train passed, the breeze it created was almost like air conditioning as it was pretty humid out. After the last car had passed by, they made an announcement that train 64 had just left Buffalo Exchange Street station five minutes late and would arrive in about 10 minutes. About ten minutes later, I saw a headlight down the tracks. At first, I thought it was 64, but it was really a freight train stopped down the line. An announcement came that 64 was delayed because of a problem it experienced outside of Buffalo-Exchange Street station. I would later find out that the train was experiencing engine problems.


            I turned my attention to the Norfolk Southern line west of the station. I only learned the line was there when I was stranded at Buffalo Depew station back in October after Buffalo was hit by a freak snowstorm which knocked out power to the area. I saw a couple freights throughout the time I spent at Depew and I photographed or filmed a couple of them.



            Back on the CSX line, another westbound intermodel passed before I photographed a work train being led by two SD40-2s.



            After awhile, one more westbound intermodel passed. Meanwhile, I saw a girl and her mother who were waiting their grandma to arrive on train 63 were on the platform, and the girl and her mother were writing down things they had seen. I walked up and told them that they could put “delayed passengers” on the list!


Some point later, an announcement was made that Amtrak train 64 was finally on its way and would be arriving in 10 minutes. I was unsure if the Amtrak locomotive had been fixed or if any CSX diesels were leading the still broken down Amtrak unit. However, when the train arrived, it was being led by P42 #67, so the unit had been fixed. As the train arrived, I filmed it pulling into the station before I repositioned and took a photo of the train.



A few minutes later, the train departed 1 hour and 53 minutes late. I filmed the train pulling out. I then called Julie and found out train 63 would be a little more than an hour late.


A westbound merchandise freight passed the station. The train had four units including an HLCX lease unit that appeared to be painted in Florida East Coast colours. I took a couple photos of the train.




A little while later, an eastbound coal train passed which I also photographed.



After both freight trains left, train 63 soon arrived running 67 minutes late. As it pulled in, I filmed it. I noticed that instead of a 48000 series café car, which has business class seats at one end, I saw the train had Amfleet 1 coach #44968 which appeared to be an economy class coach for business class travelers as well as a café car in the 43000 series that has tables at both ends. I filmed the train pulling in.



After passengers had detrained, it was time to board. I was seated in Amfleet 2 coach #25071. The coach was semi-refurbished with a blue and beige interior, old style signs at the ends of the car, and no AC outlets. I would find out the car in front was unrefurbished. The coach right behind my car was refurbished, but locked. I had no idea if the car at the rear of the train was refurbished or not. The train soon left.


We passed the old Buffalo Central terminal and soon stopped at Buffalo Exchange Street. When we left, I was given a card to fill out for customs. Once I filled it out, passengers were told the café car was closed until we cleared the boarder.


The train stopped at Niagara Falls, New York. Passengers continuing on to Canada were allowed to step out for a few minutes. I stepped out and took some photos of the train.




I got back on the train and we soon left. I noticed that they had figured they could do away with U.S. customs checking the Canada bound train.


The train crossed into Canada, but when we arrived at Niagara Falls, Ontario, the Canadian customs didn’t come on for several minutes, unless they were checking the business class passengers and the train crew first. When they finally came on board, the person who interviewed me was thankfully nowhere as anal as the customs agent who interviewed me on my “Arizona Make-up trip” last October.


Soon, the inspection was over and the train departed. Apparently, we were now running five minutes late. I then went to the café car and bought dinner. I then phoned home and let my dad know I was back in Canada.


Before we got to St. Catherines, the train stopped to let a ship pass under the drawbridge over the Welland Canal. A person sitting across from me was telling a couple from England about how one time he was on the New York bound Maple Leaf that stopped to let a ship pass through the drawbridge. Instead of stopping, the train backed up for 10+ minutes back to the St. Catherines station!


Soon, the bridge was lowered and we were allowed to continue. The train stopped at St. Catherines. As we left, I saw the St. Catherines Transit bus garage with some retired Classics out back. The train continued on before it stopped at Grimsby.


Between Grimsby and Aldershot, VIA train 95 passed us. I was hoping to film it, but I was unable to. We passed a freight yard near Hamilton and I filmed some Rail America diesels parked.


The train stopped at Aldershot. It felt good to be back in GO Transit territory again. We soon left and stopped at Oakville. While we were at Oakville, I filmed VIA train #79 bound for Windsor. After we left Oakville, the sun went down. As we passed VIA’s Toronto Maintenance Centre, I saw six ex-Metra cars that had been stored there since 2003 after CN derailed them while they were being moved to Montreal in the process of being scrapped. We soon arrived into Toronto Union Station a mere 15 minutes late. Once I got off the train, I walked to the end of the platform and photographed the train.



I then headed downstairs and phoned home. I then headed to the subway where I rode a class H-5 subway train to Finch. When I got back to street level, I saw York Region Transit New Flyer D40LF #611, which is the first bus to be in YRT’s new livery pull into the regional terminal. I soon found my dad and we headed home.




Aside from the circumstances that led me to the trip, and the little run in with RTA security at Tower City, this trip was great. I finally rode the Lakeshore since it moved to its new schedule. With the successful completion of this trip, I can now officially say my Washington-Cleveland trip which I’ve been planning since 2004 is now over. As for now, I don’t plan to go to Cleveland until the Lakeshore Electric Railway is fully up and running and I can once again ride PCC 4602, but that won’t happen for years. Even though the cab I took to the train station was 10 minutes late because they went to the wrong hotel, Yellow Cab is by far the lesser of two evils compared to the cab company I used last time.


If you’re still wondering what cab company made me miss the Lakeshore Limited last time, I’ll give you a hint. If you look at the report, you’ll see some bolded letters in the middle of the word. The bolded letters will spell out the name of the lousy taxi company that made me miss the Lakeshore Limited back in July.


I was impressed by how much time the Maple Leaf made up. We would have been into Union station sooner if we didn’t have to let a ship pass under the drawbridge. The way the train was made up could have been better with a refurbished Amfleet 2 coach actually being opened, but I was able to make due. My ride on the plane was also uneventful.


This could be the last time I ride the Maple Leaf. A few months earlier, a rumor started on the Canadian Passenger Rail Yahoo group that CN may abandon the bridge the Maple Leaf uses to cross into the U.S. Should that happen, Amtrak will either have to buy the line, reroute the Maple Leaf. What could also happen is that Amtrak stops running the Maple Leaf and in its place, have a Niagara Falls, New York-New York City train and VIA would take over the Toronto-Niagara Falls, Ontario portion using their own equipment. If that happens, I’ll try to take a “Farewell to the Maple Leaf” trip. However, that won’t happen until early May of 2008, when the abandonment is supposed to go through.


This was also the last time I would ride the Lakeshore Limited with a Heritage diner. A few weeks later, the train began running with an Amfleet 2 “Diner-lite” car in place of a diner and a Horizon fleet café car.


As for now, I don’t have any more trips planned for 2007. We’ll just have to see. Until next time…