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The Flights Home & Some Closing Thoughts
An American Airlines Boeing 757 which would be the plane I would fly on from San Francisco to Chicago O'Hare Airport.
   After checking out of the hotel, I made the drive back to the San Francisco Airport making sure the tank was full in the rental car by stopping twice for gas on the way back since the airport was over 60 miles from Vacaville and Enterprise expects the car's tank to be full when its returned. I left the hotel around 9:30am even though my flight wasn't until 2pm. I finally arrived at the airport around 11:30am only after driving through a gully washer of a rain storm on the way there! After arriving at the rental car facility and turning in the car, I took the "Air Train" tram over to Terminal 2 where American Airlines is based. After checking in, and shockingly finding that my flight WASN'T overbooked (assuming that it wasn't because the self check-in kiosk made no mention of it), I forked over $60.00 to check 2 bags (Amtrak, PLEASE don't get any ideas like this from the airlines!) then actually checked my luggage and went through security screening. I then walked to my gate, 56B to catch American Airlines Flight #554 from San Francisco to Chicago O'Hare where I would connect with American Eagle Fight #4232 to Buffalo. Flight #554 used a Boeing 757 and #4232 was on a "puddle jumper" Embraer RJ-145 Regional Jet. An Amfleet Coach is bigger than a regional jet!!! The 757 had 3 seats on each side of a single aisle and the RJ-145 had 2 seats on one side and 1 on the other. I had lunch from a restaurant in the airport called "Burger Joint" before boarding my first flight. Flight #554 departed about 10 minutes late and was otherwise uneventful. We landed on time at 8:10pm in Chicago. After finding my gate (which changed a couple times), I walked to gate G12 at O'Hare Airport and stopped by a Manchu Wok restaurant for a quick dinner before boarding of my flight home. We arrived in Buffalo at about 12:10am again, on time. I picked up my luggage and surprisingly, this particular airline didn't damage my bags unlike last year where one of my bags was completely ruined! I headed over to my car and paid $100.00 to park it for 14 days and headed out. And so ends an absolutely incredible cross-country trip!!!
  As I look back on what I accomplished on this trip, I can't help but be amazed at all that I experienced. I spent a total of 3 days at Cedar Point which outside of the year I worked there (when I was there for 5 months), was the first time I spent 3 days there! It was my second visit to the park in 2011 as I drove there in May 2011 for Opening Day and was an incredible experience. This was also my 20th straight year visiting so I felt it was fitting to go there for the 3 days! After riding "Ripcord", I officially am NOT AFRAID of any ride at any amusement park! Railfanning at Berea, OH and Chicago, IL was great despite the lousy weather! My ride on the Texas Eagle this year was a vast improvement over my last ride in 2009. The Sunset Limited ride was great also. I witnessed first-hand how Amtrak is able to pull together and take care of passengers in the event of equipment problems that are beyond the control of the crew! My first ride up the California Central Valley on the San Joaquin train was also a great experience! I know my original plans didn't have me taking this routing but in the end, this trip ended up being great anyway. I plan to visit La Plata, MO in 2012 as I really do need to experience the Depot Inn & Suites and everything around it so that will be a story for a future travelogue!
  What can I say about the Napa Valley Wine Train? It is nothing short of true greatness in every respect!!! The operators of this railroad deserve awards for the level of service they provided and the incredible experience you get when you ride! That Sunday morning will be a day I'll never forget! The California State Railroad Museum is one of the finest railroad museums in the country and a place I hope to see again sometime! The Golden Gate Bride is something everyone needs to drive and walk, if for nothing else, just to say you were there, like me! It was a great experience! I am not a fan of flying but I will say American Airlines did a good job on both flights as things were relatively uneventful. With that, my next trip is set to commence less than 2 days after this one ended! I'll be heading to Jackson, MI to visit the Amtrak 40th Anniversary Exhibit Train! That will be the story for the next travelogue, so until then, I thank you for reading through this travelogue and as always, Happy Railfanning!!!