Tag Archives: LET’S_TALK_TRAINS

Winter’s Coming To An End Soon, Maybe?

Well, March is coming to an end. It has been a very interesting winter around the eastern part of Missouri. When I last left you last November, it was getting cooler. I remember asking that this winter be snowy and cold. I asked for two reasons, one, to kill all the bugs and germs, and the other, help the farmers get ground water for their crops, and livestock. Well, God granted my wish alright! Boy it was snowy and arctic cold quite often this winter. My job at Enterprise got quite busy, lots of new locations into the booking systems.

I stayed in the Metro St. Louis area for most of the month of December. The biggest thing happening in December was that I got to help in the Gateway Garden Railroad Club (GGRRC) set-up of the club’s modular layout at my new friend’s Brad Joseph’s Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep dealership in Belleville, Illinois. Brad has the GGRRC set-up the layout during the month of December, for his customers. Brad has a full-size working private railroad car in his dealership that he holds daily meetings and functions in. The Railroad Car is located in a glass covered part of the dealership. It’s almost as if it was waiting for an engine to back up and hook on to it and pull it away on an adventure. But, alas, there are no tracks. The dealership hosts an open house each December for the public to come and enjoy all the trains. I will say that attendance is great, even in the bad weather that December brought. The club then takes the layout down the first weekend in January.

Also in December, I hosted the Let’s Talk Trains Host Summit again. I really like doing it. It gives all the hosts a chance to talk about what is going and what they are planning for the next year. This year, the senior host, Chris and the husband/wife duo, Bob and Elizabeth joined me. We continued to push ourselves to provide quality episodes with a wide ranging group of topics. It took me about two weeks, to come up with my plans for the 2014 season. I am amazed that I get to be part of this very interesting show. I sometimes wish that I could get paid for hosting, and traveling. If I did, I could cover more topics, but, that is another story.

January arrived, with the coldest temps in a long while. The GGRRC had it’s modular layout take down, and January meeting. During that meeting, The former president and I introduced to the membership that the new owners of St. Louis Union Station, whom I had interviewed a year ago, were interested in having the GGRRC build a permanent G Scale layout in their new coffee shop space. They also wanted us to be the centerpiece of the grand re-re-opening of the building on National Train Day in May. A group of us members formed the Friends of Union Station to build the coffee shop layout. We started the build just last week and hope to have it installed by May 1st. Let’s talk Trains kept me very busy during the month of January. I got to visit the Operations Center for the St. Louis Metrolink and speak to the COO and a MetroLink operator. The next week, it was off to Branson, Missouri with Mrs. Shuttletrain. We took off from homebase on a Friday night. We arrived into Branson just after nine o’clock. There was no traffic, because, it was off season and most shows and hotels were closed. We found our hotel, checked in and the found a place to eat, then did some shopping at the Outlet Mall. The next morning, we headed to the Rail Passenger Car Alliance Convention to do the Let’s Talk Train Show. Afterwards, we went to the IMAX theater to watch the Rocky Mountain Express. The movie details how the Canadian Trans-Continental Railroad was built. Very interesting movie. I would recommend it. Back to the hotel for some much need rest and relaxation. On Sunday, we headed to Springfield, Missouri area to meet up with my childhood friend, whom according to him, bullied me during grade school. Of course, I had long turned the other cheek. Mrs. Shuttletrain and I met up with them at their church. We attended their church service and Sunday school. It was the first time that I have met his wife and children. Afterwards, we went with the Sunday School class to a local Chinese restaurant. Had a great time. Little did we know that a few days later the health department would close it down for serious health violations.. We found our way back to Washington, Missouri and back to the weekday job.

The second weekend in February, Mrs. Shuttletrain and I headed to Carlyle Lake in Illinois for the GGRRC Winter Meet. The GGRRC invites other g-scale clubs to come run trains and meet with vendors and just have a great time. Once again, it was icy and snowy. Oh, did I mention cold too? Mrs. Shuttletrain decided that we needed some A-B-A F units painted in Union Pacific colors. She did a great job of finding some at a good price. We have learned so much from the members, and continue too.  Then back home, across the just opened new Mississippi River bridge, named the Stan Musial Veterans bridge. The third week of February, I confirmed with several of my Let’s Talk Trains guests about dates and times. I am still waiting on BNSF to tell the St. Paul folks when they will allow AMTRAK to move into the Union Depot in St. Paul, Minnesota. First, it was December, then February, pushed to March, now with March almost over, who knows. It’s fully BNSF’s fault, the severe weather, really impacted them too. I think St. Paul is running out of places to put the snow that they plow.

February hosting duties called for two episodes. The first one I did from the passenger seat of the car. We started the show as we were crossing the new Stan Span as it called, from Illinois. We had gone to Belleville, Illinois to meet a friend that morning. As Mrs. Shuttletrain drove across the bridge, i got to look out for the first time, since when i drove over it the last time it was snowing and slick and I felt I just better pay attention to the road conditions. This time however, I was impressed, but, I the bridge designs are starting to look the same. The guest for the show was Allen Harper. He is the CEO of American Heritage Railways. They are  the owners and operators of the Durango and Sliverton along with the Great Smoky Mountain Railway. They also license through their Rail Events Inc, all the Polar Express events around the world. Mr Harper was an excellent guest. He really has a passion for railroading and know how to put people first.

The next episode for February was about street cars and their comeback. I picked two different cities that I knew were building street cars and the cities were not too sure if they wanted them. Cincinnati and Kansas City. I learned a great deal and hoped that the listening audience did too.

That brings us to March. Boy what can I say about March.

The GGRRC was asked to participate in the Springfield, Illinois train show again at the Illinois State Fair Grounds. Mrs. Shuttletrain and I went up on Saturday morning, help set up the modular display in five hours, then headed to the monthly meeting at a local restaurant. We spent the night at one of favorite hotels, the Crowne Plaza. I just love the atmosphere there. On Sunday morning, we arrived and Mrs. Shuttletrain finished setting up the layout, while I got ready to run trains. I had two trains running for two hours, one in each directions. The show ended at four, then the tear down process started. We managed to get done at 6:30, a half-hour earlier than last year. The trip home seemed to go a great deal faster this year. Oh, no snow coming down to fight with.

Let’s Talk Trains March episodes provided me with some challenges. I decided that i could do three shows during the month of March.  Playing off one of the biggest listened to shows of 2013. I decided to host a show about Garden Railway landscaping using the Garden Magazine, landscaping editor Nancy Norris and four other landscaping experts so that I had all time zones covered. The show was a round table format with all the guests on the air at the same time. It really came off well.

The second episode I hosted was about a railroaders memories, particularly, that of a Maintenance Of Way worker and supervisor. I called upon my grade school friend’s husband whom had just retired from Union Pacific Railroad. Since Mrs. Shuttletrain and I were at St. Louis Union Station, helping the Friends of Union Station build the G-Scale Coffee House layout. I hosted the show from the lobby of the St. Louis Union Station Hotel, during the First and Second Round NCAA basketball tournament. The grand hall is undergoing a massive renovation that will be done on May 8th, just in time for National Train Day Festivities. I was another knock out of the park interview.

For the next episode, I wanted to feature the Terminal Railroad Association of St. Louis, but, alas, they turned down a request to be interviewed. I am now planning on talking the the movers and shakers of Acadia, Missouri. The town is getting a Amtrak Texas Eagle stop soon. They are building the platform, and a waiting area. Both the northbound and southbound Texas Eagle will stop early in the morning, It should be an interesting episode.

The couple of weeks will find Mrs. Shuttletrain and I in DeQunicy, Louisiana for the 2014 Louisiana Railroad Festival; Union City, Tennessee at the Discovery Park of America; Bowling Green, Kentucky visiting the Historic Railpark and Museum.

Don’t forget too, that Mrs. Shuttletrain and I are hosting the 2014 Rhineland Railroad Photography Weekend, featuring three professional photographers teaching different ways to photograph railroad things around the Missouri Rhineland and it’s four fallen flag railroads. Sign up at http://www.rhinelandrailroadphotogrphy.wordpress.com.

That will do for this edition of Shuttletrain’s Wanderings. Be sure and stop be again real soon and tell your friends about us.

 

Thanks and happy wanderings!!

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Spring has sprung!! Finally….Wanderings start becoming more often….

When I last left all of you, it was February, very abnormal one at that. I had two Let’s Talk Train shows  under my belt. The first was from the National Transportation Museum in St. Louis County, Missouri. and then month later I moved east on the Union Pacific Jefferson City subdivision to the Kirkwood Missouri train station and interviewed two old friends. The mayor of Kirkwood, MO, Art. McDonnell and the StationMaster Bill Birkhalter. Both very interesting. men. At the time I did not know that the mayor was up for re-election two months later. Don’t know that at the time. But good thing for the city was that he was re-elected. Art ran the community grocery store before retiring last year. He and I got a chance to catch up about old times before the show. It was fun.

St. Patrick’s Day marked the third monthly podcast that i was the host. This was the one that I really started to be nervous about back in December. I was asking State of Illinois officials to come on to my show. I was glad that they agreed to. I even got the Midwest High Speed Rail Association Director to come on and give an update. I filled out the show with the first model railroad club of the month, my old Big Bend Railroad Club based in Webster Groves. MO. Great group of folks. Have made it back to the layout twice now. Living out the childhood all over again.

The end of March, brought the UP 844 back through Washington, MO for the Shiloh Limited. Since I visited Shiloh with my Boy Scout troop 301 when I was kid and more recently as adult. My wife, Pam and I went there on one of our first trips as a married couple way back in 2007. I was really good to see the local newspaper, a republican thinking paper, the Missourian, come out and offer some much support for the stopping and servicing the train in Washington. Even the Downtown Washington INC. group was really interested in generating support for people to come and watch a living legend.

The last Saturday, I got to start off my 50th birthday celebration, four months early. I got to join the main Let’s Talk Trains host, Chris Guenzler , two of his railfan friends,  Winston and Christy Walker, my best man, Mike Strong and my great wife Pamela; on the Columbia Star dinner train. The Columbia Star runs from just north of Columbia, Missouri to just south of Centralia. Missouri. The rain boards at 6:30 pm on Friday and Saturday and 11:00 am on Sunday for brunch. The leaves the trans-load area promptly at 7:00 pm and 11:30 am respectfully. The food is great. A five course meal is served, with drinks extra. The train has floodlights, so you can see the countryside as you travel back and forth. The train consists of two F-7’s, one on each end. (the train does not have anywhere to turn around.) then two dining cars, followed by the kitchen, (an old baggage car), then two more dining cars. I got to find how much Chris really knows about trains in America. He has ridden over million miles on the rails. My friend, Mike was amazed that a person could ride that many miles on a train. I just may make a true railfan out of him yet.

I had to work at Enterprise that week, since I had just gotten new position as an Information Management/Global Distribution Systems agent. Pam and I left everyone and head back to Washington, Mo…getting home at 11:30pm. It was hard going back to work knowing that Chris was hosting a Railfan Picture Event in La Plata, Missouri that week. But it gave me a good feeling knowing that on Friday night, I was meeting Pam and AJAX, our dog, and heading up to La Plata to stay at the Depot Inn and Suites to be with Chris and another show host from Kansas City, Nathan. We would all go train spotting on that Saturday morning before doing the Let’s Talk Trains show from the La Plata train lookout point. I was glad AJAX, made friends with Nathan and Chris quickly. Why AJAX even laid down at Chris’ feet during the show. We had dinner again with Chris that night at the Red Rooster in La Plata. Which has some OK food. Chris, Pam and I headed back to the  LaPlata Amtrak station to let Chris board the Southwest Chief back to California so that he could go back to work as a substitute teacher in Santa Ana area. We stayed over night again, and then early in the morning when back out to the lookout point to watch trains again. All toll during the weekend, we saw over 250 trains either in person, thru the webcam in the rooms or just hearing them travel through the town.

Since it was Easter Sunday, headed to church,  then back to Wright City, Missouri to Pam’s sister’s for Easter brunch…followed by Easter dinner at my aunts and uncles in north Saint Charles, Missouri, then back to the good olde homestead in Washington, Missouri. The weekend was very relaxing, almost felt like week were gone for a week.

The next couple of months are going to be very busy. I am hosting the April 21st from the Washington, Missouri station with guests from Oklahoma Department of Transportation, The Midwest Model Railroad Association convention folks and the Boeing Employee Model Railroad Club and a corporate PR guy from Boeing listening in to make sure the guests don’t give out any trade secrets. May, finds us at the Route 66 railfan center in Pacific, Missouri. June, we’re at St. Louis & Iron Mountain railway in Jackson, Missouri. Rochelle, Illinois is our host city for my July birthday show.  La Plata, Missouri is the host city for the August show., September has me doing two shows. My regular third Saturday, from my home city of Washington,. then a week later from the National Historical Site Steamtown USA, in Scranton, PA. October is Live Steam month, with both the Wabash, Frisco and Pacific and the St. Louis Live Steamers. November is from Kansas City. 2012 ends with a show at the Missouri Botanical Garden Express. Sound good huh?

Stay tuned…More soon.

LET’S TALK TRAINS RADIO SHOW

Last month, after listening for over a year and then finally calling in and talking with the hosts of the show, I became a host myself. Wow, talk about a crash course in the new technical aspects of broadcasting, or as they say now, pod casting. The show is internet based..it’s control board is on a webpage. There are no knobs to turn, no turntable. There is no even a mic boom. you can use your phone. My, things have really changed my old days in radio back in the1980’s and early 1990’s.  I wanted my shows to follow a certain format. The first 20 mins, a regional rundown of news items. The remainder of the first hour would be talking to one or two guests about certain train museum or station. The second hour would be 2/3rds more guests talking about railfan projects. And then the last 1/3 talk about model railroads. Sounds like a plan, however, last Saturday, I had to punt for the second hour because my guests did not call in as we had previously arranged, instead the guest did something else and forgot to tell me that he could not be on show. Well I stumbled a bit, found my train of thought and started filling the remaining hour. I had never had a guest just not show up in all of the days of being coordinating producer for several weekly shows during my earlier broadcasting days. I have also already had the folks at Norfolk and Southern decline to be on show. They passed because it would have too hard for them to find someone on a Saturday for two hours. I can see their point,but with companies giving flex-time to their employees now, I wonder. I even did the show last week with a cold/pneumonia ending. Because I believe I have a commitment.   Last week, I was off work twice, once of being to sick to talk and another to be at good friends funeral. Today, home again, due the bug in the voice. Taking care it to take better care of my customers. That’s it for this week..till next time…Keep wandering around looking at everything.