2013: A Short Collection of Wandering….
Welcome back everyone. Glad you could join my wife, Mrs. Shuttletrain and I as we continue wander around that big country of ours. We have been very busy on the homefront this year, but, I will discuss that a little later. The American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation’s Let’s Talk Train program that I am a host of started off very strong. The month of January, I hosted twice. The first episode was about how riding trains helps universities and their students. The second episode was live from St. Louis Union Station featuring the new owner that had just purchased the station complex along with the hotel. We found out lots great information about his plans for the property and bring trains back to the station both excursions and model trains. Mrs Shuttletrain and I went to the World’s Greatest Hobby show in downtown St. Louis. We wanted to get more information about garden railroading there. It was a very large show. I am not sure why I have not been to trains shows like that before.
February’s LTT was about Amtrak’s plans for some of their biggest stations. The show was very interesting and informative. I had only planned to do one show in March, but, a scheduled host got sick and asked if I could host. My wife and I had previously planned to go to the winter meeting in Carlyle, Illinois of the Gateway Garden Railroad Club (GGRRC) to find out some more specific information about G Scale railroading. I agreed with the sick host that I would ask the GRRC if we could feature their club on the show. They said yes and let’s us take over their conference room for two hours while we did the show. It turned out that the episode was the highest rated show in the last three years. I was shocked. We were hooked on the GGRRC too. We both joined the club the next day. The members of the club are so knowledgeable and have become great friends.
My regularly scheduled show of March was the railroad collection of the Smithsonian Institution. It was another great episode. I took April off from hosting as my mother-in-law passed away and felt that I needed to spend time with Mrs. Shuttletrain alone.
May rolled around again and found Mrs. Shuttletrain and I finding that our historic house had developed a serious water issue affecting our foundation. We decided that since we were going to have to grade out the side of the house, why not replace it with a garden railway. We had seen lots of great layouts at botanical gardens during our travels around the country. We have picked landscapers, concrete and electrical contractors. We now have to start building a plan with the city engineers to come up with the best solution. The May Let’s Talk Train show for me was about Railroad museums the Georgia Railroad Museum and the Houston Railroad Museum.
June arrived a bit too cool for a summer month. My plan for the June Let’s Talk Trains show was about Trucks vs Trains…why can’t they get along. My thinking was that trucks are currently taking over our roads and causing to prematurely fall apart. The solution was go back to a more intermodal operation. I wanted the American Trucking and the Association of American Railroads to come on the show and debate what the best options were, but, alas…they did not respond. We still had a great show. I even had one of the hosts as a guest and give his input on a solution.
Ok, then July came….and boy I was ready, after all…it is my birth month. The Fourth of July weekend we headed to the southeast for a wedding of Mrs. Shuttletrain’s nephew. She decided that we could go to Georgia a couple of days before the wedding. So we packed up and headed south. We were about an hour outside of Nashville, Tennessee when the skies opened up and it preceded to rain all the way to the hotel. The next morning it was still raining, but, we headed off to Dalton, Georgia. The Let’s Talk Trains hosts all decided that we should get out and meet our audience, so I scheduled a meet and greet in Dalton. I forget that we would be traveling through a time zone that we would lose an hour. Since we had spent the night before in Nashville, TN, we arrived at one o’clock local time instead of the previously announced noon. I felt bad, but, there were still twenty people there waiting and who decided to watch the trains till we arrived. I am really discovering how railfans really enjoy the show and look forward to it each week.
We stopped into to the Dalton Visitors Center and spoke to the representative, who told us about the railfan center and the viewing area. We tried to eat at the Railroad restaurant but they were closed. Nonetheless, we moved on to Waycross, Georgia for the night. We arrived just as the rain had stopped, the darkness and wet streets made it difficult to see all the people that were lining the streets for the town’s fireworks display that would be starting about 15 minutes after we arrived. We found a KFC and ate dinner as they were trying to close but were gracious to let us finish and even gave us better directions to our hotel. We arrived at the hotel and the smoke was very overwhelming. We were very tired and fell asleep quickly.
The next morning, we packed up and headed to the southeast railfan’s heaven…Folkston, Georgia. We arrived at lunch and found a local restaurant to have lunch, knowing that our stomachs would have to watch out for certain foods. Overall, the food turned out very well cooked and we enjoyed it. We stopped by the Rail watch platform and visited with the railfans for awhile. Then it was time to head over the museum and set up for the Let’s Talk Trains program. We would be taping the show air a little later that month. We interviewed the current and former mayors whom are still great friends. The convention and visitors bureau director also came by and spoke to us. We interviewed some railfans and learned why they come to Folkston. If want pictures, go the Let’s Talk Trains Facebook page. After the show, we stayed around for awhile and watched trains too. Before long it was time to head further south and west along Interstate 10 and arrive for the night in Bonifay, Florida. The next morning headed to Fort Walton Beach, Florida for the wedding. Did I mention that it was still raining? It rained for most of the trip. The wedding was a great beach wedding, and it was like the Gods’ where shining on the bride and groom because the rain stopped long enough for the ceremony. Of course the reception was in doors, and after another long day we took cover in the hotel room to close our eyes for the night, all of five hours. The next day we drove back to Washington, Missouri because Mrs. Shuttletrain and I both had to be back at our regular jobs the next day.