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Segment 1: Buffalo To Sandusky, OH On Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited
Fall Vacation Trip 2005
Buffalo To Sandusky, OH
On Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited
Thursday-Friday, October 27th-28th, 2005

Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited having just arrived at Buffalo-Depew Station
running 41 minutes late at 12:28am - October 28th, 2005

Trip Planning:

   After some planning that spanned a couple months, I finally agreed that I should take my Fall Vacation trip this year in Late October instead of the usual September trips I’ve taken in years past. I decided this year to ride Amtrak Train #49 to Sandusky, OH from Buffalo to start my 14th year in a row trip to Cedar Point Amusement Park. After spending the weekend at CP, I planned to ride Train #49 again to Elkhart, IN to visit the National New York Central Museum as well as a buddy of mine who lived there at the time. I decided to close out the trip with a one day outing in Chicago where I’d ride Train #49 from Elkhart to Chicago, spend the whole day in Chi-Town, then ride Train #48 home to Buffalo. I booked all 4 of the tickets via Amtrak’s web site. My ticket from Buffalo To Sandusky and Sandusky to Elkhart were purchased using my AAA discount, the ticket from Elkhart to Chicago was a “Hot Deals” ticket which is formerly a “Rail Sale” seat. My ticket home was also a “Rail Sale” seat on Train #48 from Chicago back to Buffalo. The total cost for the 4 tickets was $87.60.
   I ordered all of the tickets on on September 21st, 2005. I was able to pick up 3 of the 4 tickets at the Buffalo-Depew Amtrak Station right away but would have to wait for one of the tickets to be mailed (the Elkhart-Chicago ticket). So I waited, and waited, and waited some more, and by October 21st, less than a week before the trip, I still hadn’t received that ticket in the mail. Out of concern that it may have been lost in the mail, I called Amtrak only to find out that the ticket sat in their queue and was never printed, nor mailed! After at least 3 apologies by Amtrak, the friendly agent on the phone made it possible for me to pick up that ticket at a staffed station. That evening, I went back to the station and picked up the 4th ticket. This is a situation I’ve been placed in before using, insofar as having to have a ticket mailed since I would be boarding at an unstaffed station. I really believe this should be changed because since "Rail Sale" or "Hot Deals" seats are individual reservations that could be part of a larger trip, Amtrak should allow the option of such tickets to just simply be printed since the reservation system has no way of knowing you may live near a staffed station! I’ve complained about this before but it seems to still be the policy in regards to these types of tickets being sold online.

Thursday Night, October 27th, 2005:

   I arrived at the station around 11:15pm only to find that Train #49 was running about 45 minutes late as it was set to arrive at 12:30am. I also realized that I not only left $17.00 in quarters at home in the trunk of my car but also had worn my work loafers to the station instead of my new New Balance Sneakers which would mean I’d need to pick up a pair of garbage sneakers on the trip as there was no way in “H E Double Hockey Sticks” I was gonna wear loafer shoes in an Amusement Park!!! Oh well, I guess I can be a clutz every once in awhile! I said goodbye to my parents (Thanks for once again driving me to the station at that late hour!) and stepped inside and had a nice conversation with a group of first-time passengers who would be heading to Chicago for the first time by train. I told them what they would be able to look forward to once they arrived there, including a 3 block walk to the Sears Tower which I visited last year! Shortly after I grabbed a Diet Pepsi from the vending machine, the Assistant Conductor took our tickets while we were all waiting inside the station. Train #49’s crew usually switches in Buffalo and runs to Toledo so the fact that the AC was already here was likely why she decided to collect tickets beforehand and hand out seat checks. After giving her my ticket, I walked outside to the platform to get set to take a night photo of the train. CSX Train Q-159 came by and stopped for a crew change down the tracks. Train #49 arrived in Depew at 12:28am, I took my night photo and sprinted down the platform with 2 suitcases, a camera bag and a tripod (oh how my feet hurt, ouch!!!! I’ll never wear loafers on an Amtrak Trip again!) I boarded Amfleet II Coach #25060 and eventually found a seat next to a passenger from Utica who was on his way to Cleveland for a concert. I started chatting with a couple passengers behind me briefly before settling into my seat. We left Buffalo-Depew at 12:38am, running 43 minutes late, though for this train, 43 minutes late isn’t bad. I got a quick phone call from one of my buddies who was working on CP Rail in Indiana. I had an interesting conversation with the passenger sitting next to me about classic cars before heading into the Café Car. We had an Amfleet II Café Car #28005 which had the old smoking lounge that the Assistant Conductor took up as her office. Of course now, there is no smoking allowed on Amtrak Trains anymore and thus the door from the smoking lounge was gone, the Assistant Conductor had stated in Buffalo that smoking breaks would be permitted in Cleveland and possibly South Bend. The consist for tonight's train is shown at the bottom of this page...
   I set up shop in the café car and started writing this travelogue. We stayed on Track #1 from somewhere past Buffalo to CP-47 where we would switch to Track #2 At CP-73, it was back to Track #1 as our station stop was coming up in Erie , PA. At 2:09am, we arrived in Erie at our next stop and left there at 2:11am running 50 minutes late. After leaving Erie, I continued chatting with the passenger next to me who would be getting off the train in Cleveland . We had one rather long speed restriction in the area around Ashtabula. We were able to pass CSX Train Q-113 between CP-134 and CP-140. A couple passengers sitting across from me had a GPS unit hooked up to their laptop which provided a detailed street level map of where the train was, it’s truly amazing that this is possible, you can literally know exactly where you are at virtually any time in your trip, that computer made my little Magellan SportTrac Pro GPS look like a baby toy!
   At the Eastlake Hot Box Detector, we switch to AAR Channel 59 on the railroad radio, this is 160.995Mhz. CSX added this channel in after their takeover of their portion of the Chicago Line from Conrail in 1999. I took a walk through the train to jot down car numbers from the coaches, then at Cleveland, where we arrived at 3:46am, I sprinted down the platform again in totally the wrong shoes to get the rest of the car numbers before sprinting back to the train to reboard in time! We left Cleveland at 3:57am running 37 minutes late. I then had a conversation with the passengers sitting behind me about a variety of topics. This was by far the one Amtrak train that at even at that hour of the night, there were lots of people still awake in my coach! I didn’t have a passenger sitting next to me for the rest of the trip to Sandusky. We had one red signal at CP DRAWBRIDGE just West of the station that held us up for a few minutes. We stopped in Elyria, OH and maybe picked up and dropped off one passenger before leaving there at 4:35am. At Sandusky, the Assistant Conductor told me which door would be open to get off the train plus we had a nice conversation about Amtrak before the train arrived in Sandusky at 5:07am. The train made a double spot as 1 sleeper passenger had to get off before I did.
   After grabbing my bags, I noticed on the platform in Sandusky that there is no payphone (no biggie, I have a cell phone) nor a phonebook, so I couldn’t call a cab (OK, now we have a problem!). The metal framework for the payphone however was still intact, could the phone have been stolen maybe??? I ended up getting a bus ride from the Sandusky Transit System to my hotel, the Econo Lodge on Cleveland Rd, in Sandusky. I was able to get an early check-in, I went to my room, took a much needed shower and finished up this Travelogue, and wow am I tired, having been awake about 20 hours! And so ends a long but good Day 1 of this vacation.

Friday, October 28th, 2005:

   After a much needed “nap”, I woke up and walked across the street to the local Enterprise Rent-A-Car location to pick up my rental car for this year’s trip. The friendly and very professional crew asked me to take a look at the Full Size car they had available. I would be renting a Black 2005 Ford Taurus SE. This of course made me very happy as I personally drive a 2001 Ford Taurus SE so this car would be nearly identical to my own and thus I’d be far more comfortable (and have more fun) driving it. After picking up the car, I went over to Wal-Mart to pick up a pair of cheap sneakers for the trip as I explained earlier that I had forgotten my sneakers when I left the house to catch the train. As I cashed out at Wal-Mart, I realized that I had left my credit card at the Enterprise Location! OOPS!!!! I got back over there as quickly as I could and they had locked up my card to keep it safe and apologized for having not given it back to me when I originally drove off with the car. I then stopped by a facility I worked at when I worked at CP in 2001, spent some time there with some former co-workers then decided to take a drive. Being that I’m on vacation and didn’t really care about miles traveled, I ended up taking a 35 mile drive back to Elyria, OH to a KFC restaurant for my first meal in about 23 hours! After lunch and a freak rain storm on the way back, I drove back to Sandusky, grabbed my camera bag and tripod and headed for the park. CP charges $9.00 to park, same as last year and had a special Friday Night ticket price of $27.00. During HalloWeekends, only certain rides are open on Friday Nights, with the rest of the park (Minus the water park, it’s too cold!) scheduled to be open on Saturdays and Sundays. For me this isn’t a big deal at all, they usually have their best coasters open on Friday Nights! To See Cedar Point this year, please click in the link at the bottom of this page...
Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited - Thursday, October 27th, 2005 - 52 Axles
Car/Engine Type:
Heritage Baggage
Baggage Car
Heritage 10/6 Sleeper
Pine Shore
Crew Sleeper
Viewliner Sleeper
Southern View
Sleeping Car
Viewliner Sleeper
Skyline View
Sleeping Car
Viewliner Sleeper
Morning View
Sleeping Car
Heritage Diner
Dining Car
Amfleet II Cafe Car
Chicago Club
Cafe Car
Amfleet II Coach
Amfleet II Coach
Coach (My Car)
Amfleet II Coach
Amfleet II Coach