Closing out 2014

Greetings and Happy New Year Everyone. I hope as I write this that each and every reader is ready for a fantastic 2015. 2015 marks the start of the fourth year I will be hosting the American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation’s Let’s Talk Trains LIVE Weekly Podcast. I am really learning a great deal about railroad museums and railwatching spots, along with more model railroading things that I ever though possible. Mrs. Shuttletrain and I traveled to Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas this last year. We were able to be Grand Marshals in a parade and Special Guests of several cities. We both feel very honored to be able to get to see so much of our wonderful country. We enjoy  being able to showcase museums and towns to the rest of the railfanning world.

One the biggest thrills of 2014, occurred the last two days of October and first two days of November. Those were the days that we spent in Kansas City, Missouri. The Union Station Kansas City is opened on October 30, 1914, so the station celebrated it’s 100th Anniversary during those four days. There was a big gala, an exhibit dedication, a gigantic re-dedication ceremony. It was so big of an event that Mrs. Shuttletrain and I had help from the Midwest host (KC Nathan) and half of the Pacific Northwest Hosts (Bob Alkire), come into town and help with doing the shows. The first LIVE show was the Dedication of the new History of Union Station Exhibits and the Smartphone APP. After this; Bob, Mrs. Shuttletrain and I headed over to Fritz’s Railroad Restaurant for a quick lunch bite, then  took a VIP Tour of the complete KC Streetcar construction by the Project Manager. Wow, it was incredible. Even in the cold weather they are pouring concrete for the maintenance facility and for the tracks along the route. The route by the way will run from the RiverMarket on the north to Union Station on the south stopping in downtown and Crosstown along the way. We then headed to the National World War I Museum to tape an interview with one of the archivist that would be played the next day during the regular show. Aterwards,  we went back to our headquarters hotel, the Crowne Plaza-Downtown, to rest up and wait for KC Nathan and his friends to join us for dinner. Fiorella’s Jack Stack’s BBQ is where we decided to go, which is in the FreightHouse District right next to the railroad tracks across from or behind Union Station Kansas City. Some of the best BBQ in KC. We ended up staying and talking until the place closed. On Saturday, the Grand Re-Dedication Ceremony was attended by numerous civic dignitaries. We streamed the ceremony LIVE and then did our regular weekly show from the Grand Headhouse hall. We interviewed various Union Station Officials and people that were there for the event. It was a historic event, so in honor of the event for dinner we chose to go to Pierpont’s, located inside Union Station. Wow, Wow is all I can say. World Class Food. Great Staff. Afterwards, we decided to go back to the hotel and rest our feet after standing on them on the Terrazzo floor. On Sunday, Mrs. Shuttletrain and I went to the Official Hallmark Company Store to pick our Christmas Cards and Ornament. Sunday afternoon, found our weekend coming to an end. We took our friend Bob back to the airport and then drove back to Washington, Missouri.

Thanksgiving came upon us quicker than Mrs. Shuttletrain wanted. We spent the day first with her family and having a great lunch. After filling up and topping off with pumpkin pie, we headed over to my aunt and uncle’s house for my family gathering and more food and fun. We were truly blessed to have time to spend with our families. I made us very aware of those that could be with their love ones on that day because of jobs or service.

The calendar showed that November became December and that we would soon be heading to Belleville, Illinois to load in the Gateway Garden Railroad Club’s modular layout for a month long display at Oliver C. Joseph’s car dealership.  Be sure and see the video about the railcar the owner has in dealership and the talking moose. The dealership had a BIG open house the second Saturday of December that drew quite a few folks. Mrs. Shuttletrain and I went over a few times a week during the month to run our trains I also did the show from the dealership three times during the month. Met more nice people and introduced them to the APRHF’s Let’s Talk Trains podcast. We even brought a friend over one Saturday to play trains with Mrs. Shuttletrain while I hosted the podcast, then drove through one of oldest drive-through Christmas light displays at the National Shrine Of Our Lady Of The Snows and had dinner at their restaurant. More great people, great lights and food.

I love Christmastime and only my wife loves it more. Mrs. Shuttletrain decorates the tree and the inside of our home with lots and lots of lovely Christmas themed items. It take about five trips to the basement from me to bring it all up to her. Oh, I forgot about the four closets that i find stuff in too. I love My Dear!. Christmastime is a little rough for me, because people I cared about are no longer with us, but, my family, friends and neighbors make sure that I don’t have to worry about getting sad. Christmas was cool this year. Since we mailed our Christmas Cards a little late this year, it was neat to see how many we got back, NONE and how many people sent us one, over 80. Our list is getting slimmer and slimmer each year, but, as we some, we are adding some too. For Christmas went to my wife’s sister’s house for Christmas lunch and then to my cousin’s house for dinner. Again, I am surrounded by people that know how to cook wonderful meals and know how to eat.

Last Tuesday, December 30th, went up to Laplata, Missouri to the American Passenger Heritage Foundation’s Headquarters to meet with the President of the APRHF, who is also the Executive Producer of the Let’s Talk Trains Show and the other Coordinating Producer, KC Nathan. The meeting was held in the Amtrak station in Laplata, Missouri, a small town just south of Kirksville, Missouri in Northeast Missouri. The meeting was about three hours long. We had a great deal of things to discuss, mostly what 2015 will bring for the LTT show. Afterwards, checked into the Depot Inn and Suites for the night. The American Passenger Rail Heritage Foundation also has a Railroad Lookout that is heated that you can visit and watch the BNSF TransCon. Or you can do what I did, watch from the comfort of you hotel room via a LIVE Stream Webcam on your television 24/7. I turned in about 1 am. then got back up to a very, cold -1 degree morning. Glad the room was nice and toasty all night. Went to the lobby for the continental breakfast and chatted with the APRHF and National Park Service’s Trails and Rails team members that also spent the night at the hotel waiting to catch the Amtrak Southwest Chief back to Chicago that morning. Great people, very friendly and well versed in the history of the area that the train runs through.  Did I say that is another service of the APRHF? Came back home on New Year’s Eve afternoon to a little warmer Washington, Missouri. Had a great New Year’s Eve at home with Mrs. Shuttletrain except for all the amateur fireworks and Semi-Automatic gunfire.

Looking forward to a great 2015. We will take down the GGRRC modular layout the first Saturday of January, then put up for the Great Train Expo in St. Charles, MO then again the following weekend at the Winter Train Jamboree in Carlisle, Illinois. Hope to see some of you at one or both of the events. Until then or next time we wander together. Please remember Be Safe. See Tracks Think Trains