Sunday, May 22, 2016

Stalking Patrick & the Southwestern Chief

Saturday was one of those days that wouldn't stretch quite far enough, so I missed Lucas County's first Big Day of Birding despite good intentions. Hopefully, there will be a second --- and many more in future years.

I did, however, successfully stalk Patrick Cremeens and catch up briefly during the early afternoon with him --- and the nephews, niece and assorted grandnephews and grandnieces he was throwing a picnic reunion party for --- in the big stone shelter house at Red Haw.

Of the nephews and niece, Eric Cremeens was the only one I'd met before --- and he was only one day old at the time. Time flies. The "kids" are (from left) Aron Cremeens, Jill (Cremeens) Polich and Eric Cremeens.

Patrick doesn't fly, so it was fun to watch his progress (on Facebook) via rail and rented car from San Diego to Chariton --- and to speculate about the comparable travel times "then" --- a century ago when the U.S. rail system was intact --- and "now," when Amtrak is the only game in town.

Although the California Zephyr --- Chicago to San Francisco and back --- passes through Chariton daily, the trains don't stop here any more. Osceola and Ottumwa are the nearest stopping points. And because there's no longer a passenger rail link between the greater Los Angeles area and Salt Lake City, it's a challenge to get here from there.

So Patrick boarded the Southwestern Chief in Fullerton late Wednesday afternoon, arrived in Albuquerque about noon Thursday and in Kansas City early Friday morning where he rented a car and drove up. He'll reverse the journey starting Tuesday.

Patrick had reserved a room aboard the Chief, so did travel in considerable style and comfort with access to the observation car and dining car, too. It's a great way to travel, he says --- providing you're willing to allocate the time to do it, then slow down and relax a little, just watching the scenery roll by.

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