301 - Kansas City Mule, Tuesday March 22, 2005 (Continued)
Thursday we went to Union Station. It is beautiful, fascinating, and (as stated earlier) poorly marked. In the afternoon we talked to a man at the model train exhibit who said the poor signage is a continuing problem. Dave had read about the financial problems the station is having but this man told us that the deficit in 2003 was about $5 million, dropped to $1 million last year and could be wiped out this year as the Post Office is moving into Union Station and will pay $3 million in rent. The new Post Office was under construction while we were there.
We walked all over the station. There is quite a bit of memorabilia in a restaurant area on the east end upper level. We also went to the Extreme Screen which had the movie Forces of Nature. There were so many people in line that Julie went to get the tickets while Dave sat nearby. At one point, Dave noticed that the clerk helping Julie was really laughing and thought he must be quite a jolly fellow to be getting such a "kick" out selling tickets. When Julie got back, she said that she gave him the coupon that allowed us to buy a second ticket at a reduced price. The clerk thought that since she was alone, she only wanted one ticket. He told her that if it was only her she didn't have to buy two tickets. When she explained to him that Dave was "over there" he thought his original assumption was hilarious. Anyway, this movie was so good it made Julie sick!
We also went to Science City. This seemed to be a very nice museum geared to children. We went there mainly because they have a train viewing area. The museum was extremely crowded so we didn't spend a lot of time on the other exhibits as there was just too much of a crush. The viewing area has information about trains (such as identifying commonly seen locomotives here, what car numbers mean, and models of the 12 railroads that have operated at Union Station), a scanner, and work areas where you can make "rubbings" of various trains. There are windows on the north and west sides.
There is locomotive parked outside this area in what we understand is a coming exhibit. We saw the Kansas City Mule come in and then go to turn around and finally come back to the station. We assumed that then becomes that St. Louis Mule.
304 - Ann Rutledge Friday March 25, 2005
7:10 We arrived at Kansas City Union Station. The passenger waiting area is nearly full and the area outside near the ticket counter is full of people standing up.
7:55/7:55 Departed Kansas City; Dave thinks we have a flat spot on one wheel on this car (#54534). There are three coaches on this train.
8:14/8:15 Departed Independence; this is a brick station which Dave believes is called Truman Depot. Soon after leaving the station we met UP freight. This was to become habitual as we met at least a dozen before we got to St. Louis.
8:31/8:32 Departed Lees Summit.
8:37 Stopped; met one UP freight just after crossing I-70.
8:45 Stopped for UP freight.
8:50 Moving again.
9:00 We passed a sign that says Pleasant Hill. Shortly thereafter, we see the intersection of MO Routes 7 and 58. A later check of Streets and Trips confirms that there is a town here that is named Pleasant Hill, MO.
9:06 We are slowed and a freight is passing.
9:23 Stopped; another freight has passed.
9:14/10:18 Departed Warrensburg. The station is a limestone building with what appears to be the chamber of commerce in one end of the building.
9:44/10:47 Departed Sedalia.
10:54 Train is slowed on a siding; a building beside the tract has a sign which reads West Smithton.
10:55 While stopped we met a freight.
10:58 We are stopped at Smithton MO.
11:38 Stopped while freight passes.
11:56 Moving again after passing westbound Amtrak.
12:11 Passed the junction of US 50 and Missouri Route 5, 4 miles west of Tipton
The conductor announced that about 60 people will get on at Jefferson City; he did an excellent job of keeping the passengers informed about what was happening. Dave talked to him briefly about the "UP problem".
10:58/12:58 Departed Jefferson City Building east of current Amtrak station looks like it may have been a railroad station at one time; passed another freight in Jefferson City and another a mile or two east of there.
13:05 Passed UP freight on double track.
13:09 Passed UP freight on double track.
13:14 Passed UP freight on double track.
13:16 Passed UP freight on double track.
13:40 There is a small waterfall on the south side of the track.
11:43/13:44 Departed Hermann.
13:49 We passed UP freight on double track.
12:11/14:12 Departed Washington; there is a park near the station with a caboose on display which says mo-pac. Dave looked this up on the internet and it apparently was from the Missouri Pacific Lines. What is even more amazing is that there is some information and pictures about this specific caboose on-line.
14:23 We are stopped at south point (southern most point of the Missouri River); we are following a coal train; the conductor reports that the train ahead had stopped so that debris that had placed on the track could be removed. When a crew member started to do this, he was assaulted with rocks thrown by the apparent perpetrators who had placed the debris on the track. It would seem that this time that it is providential for Amtrak to be behind a freight train rather than ahead as we passengers normally prefer.
14:43 Stopped again; what a surprise!
14:45 We are moving again.
14:46 We are in a tunnel.
14:49 We passed a UP freight on double track.
14:57 We are going through an urban area.
15:00 There is a prison on the north side of the track here.
15:07 We passed two more freight trains.
15:12 Passed UP freight on double track.
15:13 Passed UP freight on double track.
12:53/15:22 Departed Kirkwood.
13:35/15:50 Arrived in St. Louis. A lot of people got off here which was not surprise but what was a surprise is how many of them were headed under the viaduct with their luggage just like us! One woman asked Dave for directions to a certain street intersection; unfortunately he could not help her because even though we have been to St. Louis a number of times, we don't know the city that well and didn't have a map. We were somewhat surprised that someone would go to a city and not be certain of where they were going. Hopefully she got there okay.
We made our way back to the MetroLink station. Dave went to buy tickets from the machines, which are located at the other entrance to the station. He found a number of machines not working mostly because of jammed coins. These machines have the option of buying a validated ticket, the first like this that we had seen. Dave finally got the two tickets and got back to the platform just before an eastbound train arrived.
Back in Fairview Heights we exited the train and walked to the car. Dave immediately noticed that the remote control would not unlock the car. He hoped this was a malfunction of the keyless remote but found after getting in that the car would not start and no other electric accessories would work. He called AAA for assistance and the woman was very helpful but could not send assistance without a street address! He was sure that anyone working in the area would know exactly where the station was but AAA could not deal with this situation. We didn't have a map handy so Dave walked all the way to highway then called back to give her the route number. That did the trick. The AAA representative also called around and found a Firestone store that was open until 8 PM in case we need more than a jump start. While waiting, Dave inspected the car and discovered a map light had been left on. We will not reveal the guilty party who was reading the MetroLink schedule on the way to the parking area at the station. He appreciates remaining anonymous.
The truck arrived about fifteen minutes later and Dave and the mechanic pushed the car out of the space so they could gain access to the battery. (This is one reason why Dave frequently backs into the parking space.) The booster that the man brought would not activate the starter so he connected jumper cables. (He told us that the booster would not work if the battery is completely dead.) This would barely spin the engine, not enough to start. Dave thought the cables looked awfully small so the Mechanic tried the booster again and TGV started right up. Apparently being connected to the jumper charged the battery enough so that the booster would work.
The mechanic kindly followed us all the way to I-64, which we decided to take as it was late by then (just after sunset). I-64 was busy but bearable. The trip home was okay but we were tired, especially after an all day train ride and our ordeal in Fairview Heights.
Despite the poor weather, it was an enjoyable trip. We thank God that we are able to take trips like this. We have had good and bad experiences on Amtrak but really enjoy long distance train travel. We thought that crews on these trains above average. We took a trip to the northeast by train in the spring and plan to go to the west coast next summer. Hope to see you on the train!