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Buffalo To Sandusky, OH On Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited
Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited takes a break at Buffalo-Depew Station
shortly after midnight on Friday, July 4th, 2009. (File Photo)
Trip Planning & How I Saved BIG MONEY:
  I started planning this trip back in February 2009. I knew I wanted to take another cross-country adventure as I did last year. I decided that this year I wanted to cover a route I have not yet covered in my previous trips. After deciding I wanted to do something different, I would end up covering technically 2 routes, the Texas Eagle and the Sunset Limited! I would end up being very creative in how I planned this trip, and by being creative, I ended up saving a substantial amount of money, and would still ride the majority of this trip in a sleeping car!!! So without further ado, here’s how I saved BIG!!!
  I booked my tickets from Buffalo to Sandusky, OH on Train #49 - The Lake Shore Limited as well as my ticket on Train #29 - The Capitol Limited from Sandusky to Chicago, IL via Those tickets cost $74.00, nothing out of the ordinary so far. I then checked the price to ride on Train #21 - The Texas Eagle (Classified As Train #421) and Train #1 - The Sunset Limited in a Superliner Roomette and was quoted $754.00. I felt this was just too high of a price to pay but I still wanted to ride in a sleeper. So I knew that if I was gonna take this trip in a sleeper, I would have to get really creative in how I book it!!! Amtrak Guest Rewards (which I am a proud member of) allows you to buy up to 10,000 points per year. I needed 8,000 points (already had a little over 7,000 earned points at the time) so as to be able to purchase a Superliner Roomette in the Central Zone (The country is broken up into 3 zones in this program plus a Northeast zone). The total number of points needed was 15,000. The points cost me $235.00 (2.75 cents per point with a handling fee). I would book a Superliner Roomette from Chicago to El Paso, TX through Guest Rewards and book El Paso to Los Angeles through for $197.00. End Result, I paid $432.00 and got a sleeping car from Chicago to LA and saved myself $322.00!!! The only catch, I was booked in 2 different sleepers for the trip so I would have to switch my sleeping car in El Paso which is no big deal as it’s during the day. I purchased one final ticket to ride a Pacific Surfliner train from Los Angeles to Fullerton, CA for $9.50. Moral of the story, if you want to save big, you have to get creative, that’s the bottom line!!!
  My plan for this year was to ride the Lake Shore Limited to Sandusky, OH from Buffalo to go to Cedar Point Amusement Park (This would be my 18th straight year visiting this world class park!). I would have a rental car in Sandusky, OH and would take the first of 2 "road trips" to Cleveland to go visit the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame on Sunday. I would be staying at the Comfort Suites in Sandusky, OH for the weekend. I stayed at this hotel in 2007 and knew it was a decent hotel. On Monday, September 28th, I would ride the Capitol Limited to Chicago so as to visit the Museum Of Science & Industry. This would be my first visit to this incredible museum! I'd spend the night at the Comfort Suites in Aurora, IL which is conveniently located at the end of the Metra Commuter Rail line there on the BNSF! I'd ride Metra out to Aurora, then back to Chicago the following morning where I would get in some railfanning at Roosevelt Avenue (one of the hottest railfanning spots in Chicago) and later board the Texas Eagle. I'd be riding in the Sleeping Car that connects with the Sunset Limited in San Antonio, TX and ride to the Sunset's western terminus of Los Angeles. At Los Angeles, I would ride a Pacific Surfliner train to Fullerton, CA where I would pick up another rental car and taking my second "road trip" of this trip, this time driving to Las Vegas!!! I would stay at a Springhill Suites By Marriott while there (This hotel just opened on Labor Day weekend so I figured it should be great!). It's located in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson. I'll explain why I chose to stay there instead of at a hotel on the strip a little later. I would ride the Nevada Southern Railway excursion trains while there. I would then drive back to Orange County California after two nights in Vegas and spend my final night of the trip with family, then fly home the following day on Delta Airlines. I did an awful lot on this trip and thus this is one very extensive travelogue that I think you'll really enjoy so let's get started!
Thursday Night, September 24th, 2009:

   Due to my flying home on this trip, the best possible way to get home from the airport was to leave my car at the airport. So I drove to the Buffalo-Niagara International Airport and parked my car in one of  the long-term lots.  I caught a free shuttle back to the airport terminal where my Mother and Sister picked me up and drove me to the Amtrak Buffalo-Depew Station (Thanks Mom & Sis!!!!).  I arrived there shortly after 10:00pm and would end up having a very in-depth conversation with a few railfans who were also at the station.  We chatted about Amtrak and railroading in general.  At about 11:45pm, I headed out onto the platform. The Conductor collected our tickets and at 12:00 Midnight, Train #49, the Lake Shore Limited arrived in Depew with P42 #175 on the lead.  The consist for tonight’s train is shown below:

Amtrak's Lake Shore Limited - Thursday, September 24th, 2009 - 56 Axles
Car/Engine Type:
Heritage Baggage
Baggage Car (From Boston)
Viewliner Sleeper
Beach 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 "Diner-Lite" Car
Dining Car (From New York)
Viewliner Sleeper
Southern View
4911 - Sleeping Car (From New York)
Viewliner Sleeper
Autumn View
4912 - Sleeping Car (From New York)
Heritage Baggage
Baggage Car (From New York)
  At 12:08am, we began to pull out of Buffalo-Depew station but would stop again to make a double spot to let sleeping car passengers board in the New York section. At CP-437, we stopped for about 5 minutes to let one freight pass us. We then passed Buffalo Central Terminal with its clocks all lit up which is a nice site to see! I was seated with a passenger from Binghamton, NY who was on her way to Chicago. We had a nice conversation and I explained why I love train travel so much and was able to point out different things as we passed them as we were now coming into my old neighborhood (Town of Evans/Village of Angola, NY) where I did countless hours of railfanning as a kid and young adult (I'm 32 now, so am I showing my age???). I was seated in Amfleet II Coach #25064. It appeared to be partially refurbished as it had blue seats but no digital reader boards. The car was in the Boston section of the train and the crew was assigning seats tonight as I was in seat #48. After passing through Angola, I started to take a walk through the train and took down car numbers. I then headed to the cafe car and had a very nice conversation with the Assistant Conductor. I later brought the computer in and showed the crew my web site and had some interesting conversations with a family from Syracuse who were playing card games to pass the time. This is one of the great things about train travel, the people you meet. Everyone I met thus far was very happy, even at this insane hour of the night! There were actually a fair amount of people in the lounge car who were using their laptop computers! This is a very common practice in train travel as people like to either get work done or maybe watch a movie!
  I continued writing this travelogue as we crossed into Pennsylvania and would be heading to our next station stop in Erie, PA. At 1:52am, we arrived in Erie, PA running 16 minutes late. After a brief 4 minute stop, we departed Erie at 1:56am now 20 minutes late. Things were rather uneventful as we passed only 1 train shortly after leaving Erie. We passed one more freight somewhere near Springfield, PA which is near the Ohio border. In the area of Ashtabula, OH, we had a minor speed restriction but overall nothing of major concern. I would end up spending nearly all of the rest of my time on the train in the cafe car as a couple other passengers were entertaining me and another passenger with some interesting card tricks! I put away the computer and grabbed a bottle of Diet Pepsi and some candy from one of my bags (I haven't eaten much of anything in about 8 hours!). We arrived in Cleveland at 3:30am where during our station stop there, a few passengers got off the train to smoke (I also took the time to get some air as I don’t smoke). We had a red signal to contend with (which ended up being no big deal as we made most of the time we lost after leaving Erie) so we sat at the Cleveland station until leaving at 3:43am, which by the schedule is 2 minutes early (any times I list here are based on my watch or my cell phone and I can't set either one!). I returned to the Cafe car and just hung out. We had an excellent crew who did a fine job running the train this morning, their work is to be commended! We left Elyria, OH, our next stop at 4:18am on time. The Assistant Conductor told me I could be let off the train in Sandusky from the Cafe Car (my car was 1 car back from there), so once we passed through Vermillion (about 20 miles from Sandusky), I picked up my 2 suitcases and wheeled them into the Cafe car and at 4:51am, running 4 minutes early, I arrived in Sandusky, OH, my destination for this leg of the trip. Once again, I was the ONLY person who got off the train there today (this has happened several times over the years but still feels weird)!!! I proceeded to call a taxi which ended up calling me back when they initially didn't show up. They eventually did show up, about 15 minutes after my initial call and I was driven to the Comfort Suites on Milan Rd. in Sandusky, my hotel for this portion of the trip. I stayed there in 2007 so I was already familiar with this place and knew it was nice. I called the hotel a couple weeks before the trip and was approved for an early check-in as I would end up arriving there around 5:40am. After a shower, I called it a day, and so ends an uneventful (which is always a good thing) first day…