Tuesday, June 4, 2013

First Train Run - Nebraska to Colorado

For most people, the time to kick back and relax is from Friday at 5 pm through the weekend. Well, us circus folks live on a different schedule. Immediately after the show ended up Sunday, we had to pack everything up and get on the road. I got back to the train early that evening and decided to have dinner in the pie car (the restaurant on the train, plenty more on that later) and hung out with a clown, a teacher and some acrobats for a while.  A great time was had by all and then did somebody mention that they were locking down the cars to get ready to leave.  Oops.

At that point, I took off running down the train to find out that my car was one of the first to be locked up (this has been filed under "key information for future travel").  I was able to find one of the train porters and plead ignorance to get him to let me back in my car.  Sometimes being the "new guy" has it's advantages.  

Originally, the plan was to roll out of Nebraska at 2 am. I had planned to stay up to see the beginning of my first train run and I was excited at 12:30 am when the train started moving.  Colorado here I come!

Ha!  Sucker, we moved 1/4th of a mile and then stopped to attach more cars.   At that point, I gave up and went to bed.  It's certainly interesting when you wake up the next morning, look out the window and are somewhere completely different; in this case Ogallala, Nebraska.  I'm sure there's a joke about small towns with odd names, I'll leave that to you to come up with.  Submit your punch lines in the comments.

The train run was about 40 hours which I spent cleaning my room, unpacking, watching a couple movies: Anchorman (always a classic) and Drive Angry (why do I even bother with Nicholas Cage movies anymore?) and watching the country go by.  By far, the best scenery was when we rolled through Denver.  No disrespect to Nebraska and Wyoming, but there is just nothing (that we passed anyway).

I learned a couple other lessons on the first train run:

First, I thought a celebratory first train run cigar was a great idea.  I was actually quite wrong.  Smoking in the vestibule (the open area outside of my car where all these great pictures are taken) is about like trying to smoke in a convertible with the top down on the highway, it doesn't end well.  Also, smoking right inside your room is also a bad idea because one A/C unit covers three rooms, I had to make some apologies for blasting smoke into two other rooms.

Second, never try to make phone appointments during train runs through the middle of nowhere.  I had set up two calls and thanks to Mr. Murphy and his pesky law, both ended up in places where I didn't even have one bar of roaming cell service.

Third, the roughest track is always when you're asleep.  I had a couple times where I would wake up due to an abrupt jerk, but that really wasn't the issue.  I had stuff laying out on counters, in cabinets, etc. probably like you do at home.  Well, your home doesn't move at 60 mph.  I woke up a few times to hear power strips, fans and kitchen utensils drop, fall, bang around, etc.  Fortunately, everything survived and I've added more bungee cords and velcro to my shopping list this week.

Here's a view of Downtown Denver from the train (a pretty city from a train car):
Here is the view out of my car as we were rolling into Commerce City, Colorado.  If you want to imagine what Wyoming and Nebraska looked like, take this picture and mentally delete all the buildings except for one or two. 


  1. Hey Paymaster,

    Great blog.

    One question: are you confined to your car for the entire train run? I recall your posting on another online forum that said you could not access the rest of the train while underway. 40 hours seems like a long time to be cooped up in your cabin, eh?

    Keep up this great blog and MORE PICS!

  2. I have the same question as Mark - while the train is in motion are you stuck on your individual train car?

  3. Great blog. I look forward living vicariously through you!