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The Flights Home & Some Closing Thoughts
  This would be the day it was time to go home, after an absolutely incredible trip!!! I checked out of the hotel before 9:00am so I could have enough time to get in a quick breakfast at McDonald's and make the drive back to the San Francisco International Airport. I arrived back there after enduring an insane traffic jam leading up to the San Francisco Bay Bridge. The traffic only let up slightly after actually getting past the toll booths and driving on the bridge itself. It feels weird that the old bridge is still next to the new one but will eventually be demolished. On my last trip to this area 2 years ago, I drove on that old bridge! It's amazing how much can change in two years!
  Once I finally arrived at the airport, I turned in the rental car and proceeded to the tram that would take me back to the proper terminal to reach Southwest Airlines. After checking my two bags (they still fly free on Southwest), I proceeded to security and once that was completed, found my gate. I would fly Southwest Airlines Flight #275 from San Francisco to Chicago Midway Airport. The flight took off close to on time and I flew in a brand-new Boeing 737-800 aircraft that had this futuristic blue lighting in the ceiling which is the same style lighting that is going in the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. To give you an idea as to how "new" this plane was, there was a couple sitting across from me who had a baby girl. The baby was a week older than the plane, and she was 1 month old!!! Shortly after takeoff, I just listened to my iPod and dozed off. We arrived in Chicago close to on time and I found the nearest McDonald's to my gate and bought dinner, then waited for the boarding call for my connecting flight, Southwest #1902 to Buffalo.
  Shortly before the boarding call for my flight, an irate passenger on another flight began making a scene in the airport complaining that she was not gonna be allowed to board her flight for exact reasons that were unknown. I never saw how that whole situation ended as I had now boarded my plane to bring me home. The flight was not full which would allow me to just relax across a couple seats once the "Fasten Seat Belt" light was shut off. We ended up departing some 40 minutes late as there was a weight distribution problem with the plane that required the baggage handlers to have to move luggage to different compartments in the belly of the plane to balance the weight. This was attributed to the fact that the flight wasn't full and so the belly of the plane wasn't full of luggage either. Once that was done, we took off and I had another uneventful flight back to Buffalo in another new Boeing 737-800. Upon landing in Buffalo, I would pick up my bags at Baggage Claim, then take a shuttle bus back to The Parking Spot which was located across the street from the airport where my car was parked, waiting for me, and so ends one completely, and totally awesome trip!!!
  Well, it has all come down to this. I've done many Amtrak trips over the years to lots of great places across our beautiful nation. Among all those great trips, this one really stands out. Cedar Point was absolutely awesome in 2013. I had the privilege of going to this world class park a total of three times this year with this trip being my third actual trip (I drove there for the first two trips). If you love roller coasters like I do, you need to go to this park! Special thanks goes to Cedar Point for photography assistance throughout my trips there in 2013! I am already planning a road trip back there for Opening Day in 2014, I just can't wait to go back!!!
  The Amtrak rides were all great, despite the lateness of the Lake Shore Limited from Sandusky to Chicago and also despite the fact that the California Zephyr was operating on a detour route. All of the onboard Amtrak crews were excellent on all trains. Riding a late Lake Shore Limited allowed me to see parts of the route that are otherwise passed through at night. The only drawback to this was that there was no time to go railfanning in Chicago during my brief layover there but I can always do that on a future trip! The ride on the California Zephyr will go down as one of the best rides I've ever taken on Amtrak! I successfully found a way to have a late train and one riding over a detour route work to my advantage which allowed me to have a trip that I'll never forget, and one I hope that you enjoyed reading about here!
  The overall ride experience was something Amtrak can be very proud of. A good, clean train with a crew that took care of the passenger. My sleeping car attendant was always available had I or any other passenger needed anything. The ride on the detour route was excellent! When I booked this trip in late February 2013, I had no idea I would be riding on this route, so I not only rode a great Amtrak train, but got to do so over some rare mileage as well.
  The Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola, CA is an absolute must-see if you're ever in Northern California or Nevada. This museum has so much to see, you'll want to spend an entire day there if you can! I won't soon forget the great experience of seeing all that historical equipment on display there. I hope to return to that museum again someday to operate one of the locomotives! Special thanks goes to the staff at that museum for providing me historical information on the museum's equipment that was used in this travelogue.
  As far as the Napa Valley Wine Train goes, well, it's been three months (as of when I wrote this) that I spent three days in Napa riding and photographing this world class railroad. I've been very fortunate to have had lots of great railroad-related experiences in my life and this will go down as being one of the absolute best. Special thanks goes to the Marketing & Public Relations Department as well as the Operations Department on the Wine Train for all of their assistance during my visit!
  The Amtrak California Capital Corridor Route experience was excellent as well. The cars used on these trains were actually built in my home state of New York and are very inviting, well built cars that you should experience if you take a trip out this way. Also the "Grand Central" and "Zephyr" fonts used in the travelogue were purchased from
   These trips overall take a lot of planning, and are such planned several months in advance. There's always the possibility that I could run into a situation such as a late train or something else that is beyond my control. I'm thankful that (likely through years of experience) I've found a way to take what would otherwise be a snag for most passengers and turn it into something positive! As I said earlier, this trip definitely goes down as one of the best I've ever taken. I sure hope you enjoyed what you read and saw in this travelogue as much as I enjoyed spending three months putting it all together! Until next time when I'll be making my annual Christmas Shopping trip in December, Happy Railfanning...