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Trip Report Amtrak & rental car Oregon to Baltimore Dec 2013

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General outline of the trip that DW and I took Dec. 3 to Dec 19.
Started at Chemult Oregon after 8PM. The southbound Coast Starlight was about a half hour late. We were stopped for a while about 30 miles north of Sacramento while the host railroad repaired a broken rail about dawn. Got to SAC about 7:30AM.
We put our bags on "hold" while we went to breakfast at Jim Denny's (12th between H&I).
We boarded the California Zephyr about 11:15AM enroute to Burlington Iowa.
During our journey the weather was very cold. Several times members of the train crew had to get out to hammer ice out of switches so that we could get on a siding to let westbound freight trains pass. We arrived in Burlington about 3 hours behind schedule (2:30PM).
We got picked up in BRL with our rental car (red Mazda2). The weather was cold and cloudy. As we approached Indianapolis, we saw the first flakes. Our hotel reservation was in Louisville. We did make it about 11PM. The Interstate from Indianapolis to Louisville had about 10 cars that slid off due to the icy conditions.
I purposely took a southern route to avoid the lake effect snow zones. Saturday 12/7 left Louisville and went east and then southeast through the Cumberland Gap into Tennessee to connect with I-81 north to Salem VA in the Shenandoah Valley. Weather was good.
We heard that an ice storm was coming in on Sunday. We left Salem about 5:30AM and got about 150 miles up I-81 before we hit the bad weather. We did stop several times to knock ice off the wipers before we got to DD and SIL's place in Columbia MD.
We left after sundown to go to our reserved hotel room on the east side of Baltimore.
My tip is to NEVER reserve at a Rodeway Inn. We spent one night because we sort of had to. We checked out the next morning after a rather poor breakfast.
I found a suite at the Extended Stay in Columbia for about the same money. This is where we will stay any time we go to visit DD.
Now for the real purpose of the trip: Our daughter graduated with a BS in Nursing from the University of MD on Monday evening 12/9. We left Maryland on Thursday morning on the way back west.
I had planned to take a route through PA and Ohio to northern Indiana but decided to play it safer and go through West Virginia and back to the place we stayed in Louisville.
The next day we drove as far as Blue Springs just east of Kansas City.
On Saturday we drove to Abilene KS. I found a couple of geocaches before we checked into our $44 room which was much better than the $55+ Rodeway in MD.
Sunday we got out early to go to a church in Nebraska City NE where a pastor I knew from Bend is now preaching. I found a cache in NE and then we headed for Hannibal MO.
On Monday morning (12/16) found a couple of caches in MO before we headed back to Burlington. I did manage to find a cache in the Convention and Visitor Bureau for my IA cache find. During the trip I added 8 new states with a cache find.
We had a great late lunch at the Drake in Burlington. We turned in the car about 4 PM (they close at 5). We sat in the Amtrak station until the westbound Zephyr arrived at 7PM.
We were running late until we got to SLC a few minutes early. We arrived in Winnemucca, Reno and Sacramento early.
We "held" our bags and headed for Old Town. We spent 2 hours touring the California Railroad Museum. We spent an hour poking around some of the shops in Old Town before going to the Firehouse restaurant for a fabulous meal (rather expensive).
We sat for several hours in the Sacramento station waiting for the northbound Coast Starlight. It was about 12:15AM before we were on our way out of SAC on our way back to Chemult. We were about 10 minutes behind schedule when we got off the train.
Sleeping on the train in coach can be uncomfortable, but we survived 6 nights out of 16.
I am glad that we got to take this trip without having to drive over the Rockies and all the way through Kansas or Nebraska.
I'll be glad to try to answer questions you may have.

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