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Buffalo, NY To Sandusky, OH On Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited
 Trip Planning:
  I started planning out my big trip for 2010 back in late February of this year. I knew I wanted to cover the Empire Builder and Coast Starlight again as I had an incredible trip on both of those routes back in 2006. This time around however, I wanted to try to cover the trackage I missed the last time I rode both of these trains. On that trip, I connected same-day in Portland, OR so I missed the sections of the routes from Spokane and Seattle, WA on the Empire Builder and Seattle to Portland on the Coast Starlight. This year's trip would have me riding the Lake Shore Limited from Buffalo-Depew Station to Sandusky, OH. I would stay at the Fairfield Inn by Marriott (first time staying at this particular hotel) and would have a rental car for the weekend from Enterprise Rent-A-Car. I would visit Cedar Point on Friday night and Saturday (my 19th straight year and second time this season visiting this world class park!) and originally planned to drive out to Deshler, OH to go railfanning there at Crossroads Park on Sunday. Due to a last minute change of plans however, I ended up driving out to Bellevue, OH to visit the Mad River & Nickel Plate Railroad Museum instead, so I never did go to Deshler. Oh well, there's always next year! After spending the weekend in Ohio, I would ride the Capitol Limited on Monday morning October 18th to Chicago. I'd spend most of my layover in Chicago railfanning at Roosevelt Avenue before boarding the Empire Builder and riding it to Seattle, WA. On that train, I would have a Superliner Roomette (big upgrade considering my last trip on this train was in coach!). Once I arrived in Seattle, I would stay at a Hampton Inn located 2 or 3 blocks from the Space Needle which I planned to visit. After spending the night in Seattle, I would ride the Coast Starlight to Los Angeles in a Superliner Roomette as well. At Los Angeles, I'd get a Surfliner train in Business Class to Fullerton. The plan this year was to go railfanning on the Surf Line both at San Clemente and at Torrey Pines Beach. After reading an excellent travelogue written by Chris Guenzler about San Clemente, I knew I needed to come down here to experience the area! I last visited Torrey Pines State Beach in 2008 which is near Del Mar, CA, just north of San Diego. I would have a second rental car reserved in Fullerton from Enterprise for this purpose and would spend 2 nights at a Courtyard By Marriott hotel in San Diego as well as spending some time with family in Orange County. I would fly home to Buffalo on United Airlines out of LAX and change planes at Chicago O'Hare.
  I booked this trip using a combination of and Amtrak Guest Rewards Points. I booked my tickets on the Lake Shore, Capitol, and Empire Builder on The total cost for those tickets was $535.00 ($461.00 of that total was for the Empire Builder portion of the ride which included the sleeper fare). My tickets on the Coast Starlight and Surfliner trains were booked very efficiently over the phone through Amtrak Guest Rewards. I needed to purchase some points so as to have enough to cover that leg of the trip. By buying the points, I would save money versus buying the last two tickets straight through Amtrak. The cost had I purchased the tickets via Amtrak directly would have been $311.00 but since I bought the points, and paid with points, I ended up paying about $187.50 for the same two tickets (the cost of the points)! Every year I seem to find a way to save the big bucks when travelling on Amtrak! All I had to do now is wait out nearly 8 months for this trip to happen!!!
 Thursday Night/Friday Morning October 14th-15h, 2010:
 I first drove to the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport to park my car so it would be waiting for me when I arrive back home on October 27th since I was flying home from Los Angeles. I took the free shuttle from the Long Term "B" Lot back to the main terminal at the airport and took a cab from Airport Taxi Service back to the Amtrak Station in Depew. The cab fare was a flat $15.00 which is a regular fare for that particular run. The station is only a few miles from the airport. I arrived at the station around 11:15pm. The schedule board in the station said Train #49 - The Lake Shore Limited would arrive around 12:40am tonight (now this morning). The train lost some time in Syracuse (It was Syracuse University's Homecoming coming up that weekend). I had a rather lengthy conversation with another passenger who was on her way to Bloomington, IL and would ride the Texas Eagle once she arrived in Chicago. I then ventured out to the platform. The platform at this station was being refurbished using American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (Economic Stimulus Money) Funds and the work had just recently begun on the platform's facelift. They were working on the east end of the platform with the eventual plan to rehab the entire platform. The train lost a little more time and was now scheduled for a 12:50am arrival according to the schedule board in the station. I decided just to hang out on the platform and wait. The crew collected tickets from all of us before the train arrived and gave me my seat check. One freight train passed by as Train #49 finally arrived at Buffalo-Depew Station at 1:03am. I would board in the Boston Section on Amfleet II Coach #25047. This is a refurbished coach that was rebuilt with Stimulus money as it had the decal saying so printed on its side. The train made a double spot due to the shortened platform and the need for additional station work for this train. This train is unique as it has a baggage car on both ends which will in most cases necessitate a double spot at this station. Buffalo-Depew is also a crew change point for the train. At 1:14am, running 1 hour and 15 minutes late, we departed Buffalo-Depew Station. The consist for tonight's train is showed below:
Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited - Thursday, October 14th, 2010 - 60 Axles
Car/Engine Type:
Heritage Baggage
Baggage Car (From Boston)
Viewliner Sleeper
Skyline View
4920 - Sleeping Car (From Boston)
Amfleet II Coach
Coach (From Boston)
Amfleet II Coach
Coach (From Boston) (My Car)
Horizon Café Car
Cafe/Lounge Car (From Boston)
Amfleet II Coach
Coach (From New York)
Amfleet II Coach
Coach (From New York)
Amfleet II Coach
Coach (From New York)
Amfleet II Coach
Coach (From New York)
Heritage Diner
Silver Bit
Dining Car (From New York)
Viewliner Sleeper
Forest View
4911 - Sleeping Car (From New York)
Viewliner Sleeper
Beach View
4912 - Sleeping Car (From New York)
Heritage Baggage
Baggage Car (From New York)
  I had a brief conversation with a couple passengers who were on their way to Chicago to see the Buffalo Sabres NHL Hockey Team play the Chicago Blackhawks (Go Sabres!!!). I didn't talk to the passenger sitting next to me right away as she was sleeping. Now a little commentary about this coach. This was a stimulus rebuild coach and had one new feature I've never seen before on an Amfleet coach: an aisle light along one side of the aisle so as to help one see better as they walk through the car at night! Nice safety feature! It really comes in handy at night as its rather dark in the car at that time! Also, they must have put new shocks on this coach as the ride was very smooth!!! We passed by the old Buffalo Central Terminal and would continue on our way past CP-DRAW and onto points west with our next station stop being Erie, PA. After passing through Angola (part of my old stomping grounds), I took a walk through the train to take down car numbers and got a bunch of photos of our dining car, Heritage Diner #8531 which is a former Chicago, Burlington & Quincy diner named "Silver Bit". This car had the full Temoinsa rebuilt interior and looked absolutely gorgeous inside. I so wish I could have a meal in this car but there's no overnight diner service on this train. Oh well, its OK to dream isn't it? I then got out the computer and a bottle of Diet Pepsi I bought in the station before I left and started writing this travelogue. For this trip, I would add a new gadget to enhance the overall experience. I purchased a Garmin Nuvi 255W GPS earlier this year and figured I'd try it out using it on the train! Well, it's obvious after using this gadget, though nice, it is clearly designed for use in an automobile, not on a train! It does follow along riding the rails but the icon showing you where you are is a car! I followed along our course as we crossed into Pennsylvania going a steady 75mph. I could see the Lake Shore Railway Historical Society's museum in North East, PA as we were getting closer to our next stop in Erie. We would pass the GE Transportation Systems locomotive plant as well. We arrived in Erie, PA, our next stop at 2:47am. We would depart Erie at 2:53am, 1 hour and 17 minutes late.
  Once we got out of Erie, we eventually picked up speed again. I had a nice chat with the same passenger I talked to in the station before the train arrived and showed her some stuff from this web site. We were now cruising at a steady 70mph as we barreled on through Northwestern Pennsylvania and would be nearing the Ohio border. Things were rather uneventful for the most part. I finished writing this travelogue for the time being and had an interesting conversation with the train crew who were set up in the cafe car. I talked with them for a bit before returning to my seat. The passenger sitting next to me was getting off the train in Cleveland and was now awake. She told me she was big into video game tournaments and was going to school in Rochester, NY and was heading back home to Ohio for the weekend. I set up the GPS at my coach seat to figure out where we were. We arrived at our next stop of Cleveland at 4:38am running 1 hour and 11 minutes late. A brief smoking break was granted as we were running late. I stepped off the train to get some air and a quick photo of the Stimulus shield that was on my coach. We departed Cleveland at 4:46am now 1 hour and 1 minute late due to some schedule padding. I headed back to my coach seat and watched what I could see and just relax. I had the GPS in my hand plotting the course ahead. We made our brief station stop in Elyria at 5:11am and left at 5:13am, running 53 minutes late. I continued to relax as I was now awake some 20 hours straight and was starting to doze off! We arrived at the next (and my final stop for this leg of the trip) stop at Sandusky, OH at 5:47am, running 52 minutes late, so thanks to some schedule padding, the train was making up time. I was one of 3 people who got off the train there this year. This is the 13th year now that I've used Amtrak to get to Cedar Point and during so many of those past years, I've been the only person getting off the train in Sandusky, rather creepy if you ask me!!!! There was a rather large group getting on the train though. As soon as I got off the train, there just happened to be a taxi waiting at the station. I won't soon forget in years past, calling and waiting for what seemed like forever for a taxi to show up! I took the taxi to my hotel for this leg of the trip, the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott. The fare was $8.00 and I got the taxi company's business card so I can contact them to bring me back to the station on Monday. I checked into my hotel which had 2 double beds in the room. I originally booked a room with a king-sized bed but had to change to this setup in order to get an early check-in today. The rate was the same for the room either way. After a well deserved shower and some more writing of this travelogue, I would call it a good first day to this cross-country journey!
  I attempted to try to get some much-needed sleep only to get a phone call alerting me that my bank had some issue with my credit card and my upcoming travel. So after calling the bank and and in fact confirming with them that I was travelling (something I already did the previous day), I tried to get back to sleep. I would maybe sleep another hour and get another phone call! This time, from Enterprise Rent-A-Car calling to reconfirm my rental today (they called me the previous day already to confirm once so this was really unnecessary) as well as try to see if I could pick up the car an hour earlier than scheduled (Noon vs. 1pm). So after trying to get back to sleep again, I eventually got up and Enterprise showed up at my hotel around noon.