Empire Builder Onboard

Our exodus from Chicago went smoothly. Arriving at Glenview, Milwaukee, and subsequent stops on time. The train ran smoothly in these segments, how the train ought to run really. It makes me curious too about the 110mph trains in this corridor. It would be nice if we could get the Empire Builder up to those speeds in this corridor, or at least up to 90 mph with the existing equipment. It seems a possibility with the fact the Santa Fe, decades ago, ran the double decker Superliner cars easily at 90mph!

The Bleak Countryside

As we rolled north and then turn northwest in direction upon leaving Milwaukee the landscape changed slightly. From neighborhoods, cleanly organized traditional grid suburbs, and empty countryside with spotty industrial building corpses and a spot of trees here and there, the scenary shifted away from all of this. In its stead was the grand smaller girth of the northern Mississippi river.

Always a sight to see at any point, but at this point in the Mississippi where we cross she’s extremely wide, but deceivingly so. You see, there’s numerous islands right center in the river, where the bridge segments make landfall. I suspect, at time of construction this made the bridge construction dramatically simpler versus attempting to cross at a section that would have traversed the entire width. The crossing is seemless and if one doesn’t know the geography would cross without awareness that the segment before and after the island are the same river!

The river shorelines on both sides are endless trees with a few small house boats interspersed between them all. We ride along on the south shore of the river, with the almost desolate look to the countryside. It’s spring, supposedly, but one couldn’t tell by the lack of green amongst all the trees. Nothing is really blooming yet, and everything is a tones of gray, with the brown grass peaking out among the high river waters flooding the shorelines.

After a few hours the sun begins setting and the absolutely epic view along the hilly horizon is outside our window. An amazing view that requires a few pictures, and a long look along the edge of the hills. The red emblazons this hilly edge as the yellow of the sun’s light dissappears for the night. The pictures, upon quick review after taking, are a paltry nothing compared to actually seeing the beauty of the sunset in person.

As night rolls around, the bunks down, the train rocks back and forth settling us in for sleep. Tick tock, tick tock the night hours pass by.

WHITEFISH, MONTANA VIA BIKES, TRAINS IN PICTURES “rail yard by the station”

Whitefish Station (Click for Full Size Image)

Whitefish Station (Click for Full Size Image)

CRC Idea Replacement

This is one of the better ideas I’ve seen about the CRC / I-5 Bridge & Congestion Problem between Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington. The respective DOTs need to pay attention and stop screwing around with that insanely stupid CRC idea. Most people hate it, and if they like it, they just haven’t thought about the better ideas very much. You’d have to have your head somewhere very uncomfortable to think the CRC – vastly expanded yet no additional throughput Interstate lanes – would actually help Portland or Vancouver.

This idea however, helps vastly more than just the theoretical. This idea helps the railroads, the drivers, the transit users, the river boats, and more.

<iframe src=”http://player.vimeo.com/video/22915646?title=0&amp;byline=0&amp;portrait=0&#8243; width=”400″ height=”300″ frameborder=”0″></iframe><p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/22915646″>A Common Sense Alternative to the CRC</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user1572838″>Spencer Boomhower</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>