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New York - Los Angeles

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Jun 29th, 2011, 10:01 PM
  #1
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New York - Los Angeles

This'll be working progress as we're currently in NYC

At the start of a 23 day trip accross the United States with my 4 year old daughter

Tuesday 28th June

We set off from London, England on Tuesday June 28th, leaving wasn't a problem, the temperature had dropped to 20 degrees C (68F) compared to 32 C (90F) on Monday. Had checked in online so that solved having to queue at the airport Security was quick and easy for once and we didnt have to wait to long for the gate to be listed.
My 4 year old was disappointed by Virgin Atlantic's inability to provide the activity packs that they claim all children leaving the UK will recieve, but one of the FA's recommended dropping them an email on my return as they don't offer them out of anywhere but the UK :/
Flight was one of the smoothest have ever experienced, my daughter sat happily in her seat for almost the entire flight (6 hours, 40 minutes) only broken by walks around the cabin, she appeared to be watching the same disney cartoon over and over again! On time leaving London and we were 40 minutes early into JFK
Happily security at JFK was almost empty, the only real wait was for the luggage, the flight was full and that took a while.
Took the Airtrain to Jamaica and then opted to take the LIRR to Manhattan, after the long flight it was easier to pay the extra money to reach Manhattan quicker!

We're staying at the Gershwin Hotel in NYC, i'd happily recommend it to anyone, its convenient for Manhattan, the rooms are nice and its quiet
I opted to take Anneliese (my daughter) to the playground at Madison Square Park after checking in, thanks to the helpful information we found it easily enough, the only thing Anneliese didnt like was that I wouldn't let her play in the water area, but drying clothes would be awkward to say the least! My cousin came and met us there which was nice, he hadn't seen Anneliese since she was 6 months old so a big change there, he treated us to dinner at the ShakeShack another recommendation from people on the boards, it certainly didn't disappoint
Anneliese crashed out in the stroller by 8pm so i took the advantage of refamiliarising myself with Times Square, had a look round a few shops but somehow resisted the temptation to buy anything! Returned to the hotel around 10pm where jetlag soon over took me!

Wednesday 29th June

Nice early start! Although waking up after the alarm would have been nice lol. Left the hotel at 9am and went in search of breakfast, decided would be nice to walk down Broadway all the way to the Statern Island Ferry terminal instead of taking the metro, took 2 hours to walk there including stops to buy fruit, drinks and various snacks
The original plan was to stay on Statern Island and have something to eat but Anneliese decided that she wanted to go back straight away after the ferry trip across as the first trip across was so much fun!
From the Ferry terminal we walked back to Bowling Green Subway and took the 4 train direct to Woodlawn which made things a lot less complicated! The security guy at the Woodlawn Cemetary remembered me from my visit last year and was very helpful with providing a map and cold water for Anneliese. We visited Woodlawn to pay respects to Vernon and Irene Castle and to Irving Berlin, even with the map finding them all was a little difficult but it all worked out in the end, on my trip last year i paid my respects to the Castle's only and met someone who remembered Irene, as well as paying my respects to Irving Berlin who wrote the music for my favourite movie (Top Hat) i discovered he'd had a baby son who'd died aged 25 days, interesting but sad.

From Woodlawn we took the metro to 14th Street and then walked to the Chelsea Piers, nice playground near pier 62, we spent a good half an hour there, Anneliese happily playing in the water. We then walked down to the Carousel where 4 rides were had, Anneliese was just under the height limit to ride alone which saved some money Apparently returning before we leave New York is a must
From there we walked back to Manhattan as the temperature had dropped, although i wouldn't walk it again in a hurry! Back to the hotel for a freshen up
Nice sunburn on shoulders for me Anneliese totally unaffected

Opted for Wendy's for dinner, it was the first time i'd been to Wendy's since i was 6 and a first for Anneliese, much nicer fries than i've had in any other fast food place and was impressed with the option of fruit with the kids meal, no complaints from Anneliese that i got her fruit instead of fries (that alone was amazing)

Anneliese fell asleep again before we reached Toys R US, so a good excuse not to go in there, however she woke as we reached the M&M's store, and was very excited as we passed the Disney Store, i somehow managed to persuade her that tonight wasn't a good time to buy anything and that tomorrow there will be plenty of time for shopping!
Back to the hotel for bed and then can see what tomorrow will bring
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Jun 30th, 2011, 05:20 AM
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Very nice start. I'll be with you till you leave LA but I won't be commenting. Keep up the good work!
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Jun 30th, 2011, 10:07 PM
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Thursday 30th June

Day didnt start quite as early as planned but still made it to the Empire State Building by 9.30 The queue was long enough but it moved quickly thank goodness! I'd been up before but this was the first time Anneliese had been up, wasn't quite sure how well she'd cope so just opted for a ticket to the 86th floor ($22 for an adult, children under 6 free) luckily she coped fine, was the first time i'd been up in daylight, views were fantastic much better than going up late at night!

Spent a good hour at the top getting money's worth got back down again at 11 and then went hunting for Jerry Ohlinger's Movie Materials Store located on W35th St between 7th & 8th Ave, got some new Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers photos to add to my collection, they provided Anneliese with paper and crayons while i chose the photos i wanted, was very impressed, they also remembered me from a previous visit!

With the shopping bug firmly set in we then visited Macy's, one Hello Kitty outfit later and we managed to leave
We then finally made tracks for Central Park where the Zoo got passed over for the Carousel and a rubber duck. Went the wrong way going back and ended up at Columbus Circle, so had a long walk to Lexington Avenue and Bloomigdales, somehow we didnt buy anything there! A long Walk back to 5th Avenue but found a Barnes and Noble on the way, nice Wallace and Gromit dvd for the train for Anneliese and the Astaire-Rogers Ultimate Collectors boxset for me
Once back on 5th Avenue a visit to the American Girl store cheered Anneliese up and a couple of books and a cookie later and the smiles were in full force!
We then found Build a Bear and a Pink Flamingo is now wearing a Statue of Liberty outfit, fortunately the Flamingo was already with us!
It was then decided that the metro was a better idea than walking We somehow managed to get the Express Train so ended up at 14th Street instead of 34th Street, if we'd been half an hour earliar a trip to Chelsea Piers would have been in order but a visit tomorrow morning is still looking hopeful

We stopped at Penn Station to confirm with Amtrak that the bigger bags could be checked tonight to save having to carry them tomorrow, happily they confirmed that as correct, which will make it much easier when we leave for Washington DC tomorrow, so it was back to the hotel to pack and then back to Penn Station to check the bags and then back again to the hotel, but anything to make things easier tomorrow!

My cousin came and stopped by the hotel again which was nice He brought some dvds for Anneliese which will make the long train rides much easier!! (I hope lol)
He walked with us down to 42 Street as Anneliese was quick to remind me that i'd promised a visit to the Disney Store..
The new Disney store in New York is fairly amazing, it is apparently the biggest Disney Store in the World! Although i don't think London's is much smaller

Very tiring day but well worth it, last few hours in NYC tomorrow before we take the train on (hopefully we'll avoid any shopping!!)
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Jul 2nd, 2011, 07:42 PM
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Friday July 1st
Up bright and early to make the most of the last few hours in New York, checked out of the Gershwin shortly after 8.30am leaving the heavier of the bags in their luggage storage to pick up later on  We then walked to the subway and took the 4 train to 14th street before taking the L train to 8th Avenue and were nicely on the way to Chelsea Piers by 9.15! We walked first to Pier 54, where the arch way is all that remains of the former Cunard-White Star Pier and then we walked down to Pier 62 in search of the carousel. I was hoping (i hadn’t checked) that they’d be opening at 10 and there was major disappointment from Anneliese when the attendant informed us they didn’t open till 11, he explained that sometimes they open a little earlier but I then explained that we had to be back in Manhattan by 11 to catch the train. To Anneliese’s delight he offered to open up to allow her to have one last ride, a private ride on the carousel made for a lovely experience for our last morning in New York, he then refused payment saying that Anneliese’s smiles were payment enough plus her obvious enjoyment of having one last ride on ‘her pony’
Saying goodbye to the Carousel and to the Piers was a wrench but it’s definitely somewhere we’d go back to on any future trips to New York!
We then took the subway back to 14th and then on to Grand Central Station where we switched to get down to Times Square where a trip to Toys R US for a ride on the Ferris Wheel was in order, Anneliese enjoyed the ride, getting to see all of the store from the best of vantage points was great, but having one eye on the clock (it was 11.45am when we boarded) meant that i didn’t enjoy the ‘flight’ as much as i could have done.
We took the subway back to 28th and Park Avenue before walking back to the Gershwin to pick up the bags, we had 50 minutes to spare before the train departed but opted to take a cab for peace of mind The traffic was pretty busy and it seemed that every traffic light was against us so it may have been quicker taking the subway but never mind!
Fortunately we’d had to print the tickets the night before in order to check the bags so all we had to do was to find the right track, the big crowd made it easy enough to find!
Sad to leave New York, short but sweet stay and hopefully we’ll get to visit again soon and visit some of the other places that we didn’t manage to visit on this trip!
The train was extremely crowded so we ended up having to sit apart, I really hope we don’t have problems on any trains that include overnight travel, spending 3 and a half hours with my 4 year old sitting behind is ok, but I wouldn’t want to have the same on the long distance trains. Anneliese was happy to sit and watch dvds all the way to Washington, once i got food for her, which allowed me to relax and fortunately the person she was next to had no problems with Anneliese making conversation! The train journey passed quicker than I expected, I’d never been on the Amfleet trains and found it strange being on a single decker Amtrak train. Anneliese enjoyed her first journey on Amtrak and got upset when we reached Washington Dc and had to get off.
We were met at Union Station by my friend Nina, who i met through YouTube and a shared love of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire and emails have been going back and forth for months, she’s very kindly offered to show us Washington DC which should make things a lot easier as the nearest we’ve ever been to DC is Dulles Airport :/ Was nice to be met, was good to finally meet after all the emails and for once Anneliese wasn’t telling me i shouldn’t be talking to strangers!
Picked up the baggage easily enough, fortunately both suitcases were easily found which meant we were soon on our way to the bus stop for the International Hostel where we’ll be staying until Monday 
Hostel was easy to find, very pleased with the private room that I had to book due to travelling with a child under the age of 13, we have bunk beds with the lower bunk being a double, a bathroom and a kitchen which I wasn’t expected and is a welcome surprise, especially the fridge!
By the time had settled everything it was getting on for 7pm and more than time to go out and find dinner, took a nice easy stroll down to Columbus Circle where French fries and cold soda won over ice cream  Anneliese had grilled cheese sandwiches but the hot weather had affected my appetite so i opted for French fries only, although the cheese and bacon burger that Nina had looked good also, but the chips had been recommended and the portion was large enough to think that one would either get one or the other!
Anneliese seemed to have recharged by the time we’d done with dinner so we took a stroll down to the fountain in the middle of Columbus Circle where Anneliese had plenty of fun throwing pennies for wishes! A trip to the pharmacy was then in order, along with yet more sunburn  I also seem to have been quite badly bitten, if it can happen in New York and Washington i dread to think what it’ll be like in Nebraska and Missouri! Fortunately i brought insect repellent, just wish now I’d used it in New York instead of thinking I’d be fine!
Tomorrow as they say will be another day, but Washington seems far more relaxed than New York and at the moment at least a lot less busy!
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Jul 2nd, 2011, 09:04 PM
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Saturday July 2nd

Day started at a relaxed pace, got up at half 8, grabbed breakfast by 9 (continental breakfast is included in the room price) and were in goodtime when leaving the hostel to get to the metro and take the red line to Forest Glan Station where Nina and I had arranged to meet at 10am
On leaving the hotel we ran into a tour group who were also going to the metro who insisted that we walk with them and chat! This meant the walk took longer than anticipated and we didn't make it to the metro station until 9.40 where we then had to wait 10 minutes for the metro train.
After having got used to the rush of New York, Washington Dc seemed very quiet to me, it being a holiday weekend and quiet made even less sense to me, at home everywhere gets busier when its a weekend!
The metro took longer than expected but again i got used to New York and everything being within the city, we were going out into Maryland, but the journey still only took 40 minutes, i hate being late anywhere though but it was ok

I'd bought Anneliese's boostapak (car seat) with us which meant that Nina could bring her car and Anneliese could ride (helpful really!)
Unfortunately the National Capitol Trolley Museum where we were headed for didn't open till 12, so we had some time before then, attempted to visit somewhere that Nina knew that sells maps, only to find that they were either closed or just not there at all, despite saying over the phone they'd be open! We went to the grocerystore instead, it may not sound that exciting but i can be like a kid at christmas in big supermarkets in the US because of all the variety of products available that I can't get at home!

We reached the National Capitol Trolley Museum at 12 just as they were opening It cost $7 for an adult and $5 for a child and included unlimited rides on the Trolley Car, 3 trips on the trolley car, a guided tour of the trolley cars that they are restoring including a tram from prewar Berlin which was interesting for me as my paternal grandparents came from there, reading all the interesting history, watching a short movie
about a boy growing up with Trams and how things have changed throughout history and watching the minature tram on the model tramset took a most enjoyable 2 hours and i'm really glad we got the opportunity to visit. I'd recommend it to any tram/train enthusiast, the majority of the people visiting when we were there were families with children

We then went to a diner for lunch where we had french toast that i can only describe as beautiful and pancakes and ham and egg sandwiches (although i skipped that bit) It was a very good meal and i'm glad we made it before they closed

We then headed for the Mall and Build a Bear in the hopes that they'd have something to indicate their location or at least for Washington DC, New York even has exclusive Bears! But sadly they didn't, Anneliese enjoyed the playground at the mall and I got some new clothes for her in the sales for July 4th

We went to Wendy's for dinner, I've fallen in love with their style of french fries, i try and avoid Macdonalds when i'm in the US because its the same as at home, but its nice to visit other fast food places that i can't visit at home and nowhere beats fast food places for good french fries

A really good day, its been hot but bearable much better than was expecting, much more restful so far than New York!! Looking forward to the rest of our stay here
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Jul 4th, 2011, 07:13 PM
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Sunday 3rd July
Got a small lie in, the most have had since leaving home! Got to breakfast at 9.25 just in time before it finished at 9.30, Cereal, bagels, toast and muffins were a good offering for a Hostel but calling it continental breakfast was a bit of a stretch!
Made use of the free Wi-Fi that was unfortunately only available in the lobby and on the 2nd floor where breakfast had been available. Looked up the Smithsonian museums to see which looked the best to go visit and also opening times before taking the laptop back upstairs and getting the stroller. Getting the elevator back down proved more awkward than I’d anticipated and I ended up carrying it down 8 flights of stairs (our room was right at the top). The elevator it turned out operated so if someone on floors 3-8 was going down and someone on a floor above them had already called for the elevator then it went up before it went down. Good in theory but if the people below had got in the elevator with lots of luggage then it meant a longer wait and after being greeted with a full elevator twice I thought walking down with Anneliese would be much quicker. Plus we were meeting Nina at 11 and the elevator waiting was about to make us late!
Met Nina in the lobby, she’d brought along the cool map puzzle of the United States as promised so i took it back upstairs instead of taking it out with us while Anneliese waited with Nina in the lobby  Then we were ready to go and explore Washington DC.
First up for visiting was the National Portrait Gallery, I had googled Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers on the Smithsonian Website so i already knew that they featured at least once in the exhibition ‘20th Century Americans – 1930-1950’ and we asked at the desk to see if the Bust of Ginger was back on display. It hadn’t been out on view for a while but happily it was back!! The bust was produced by a Japanese man while he was interred in a camp during WWII, Ginger had talked about it in her autobiography (published 1991) and it was a lovely surprise to be able to see it  We then went into the exhibition ‘20th Century Americans – 1930-1950’ and found a collection of Stills taken from the ‘Let’s Face the Music and Dance’ Number in Follow the Fleet 1936, a lovely collection and lovely to see them as part of the exhibition! We then took a look at ‘20th Century Americans – 1900-1930’ and found a modelling short of Irene Castle taken in 1919, hadn’t been expecting to find anyone i had heard of so it was a plus, was good to see that the information about Irene included a mention of the ‘Story of Vernon and Irene Castle’ 1939 a Hollywood musical based on the life of Irene and her first husband Vernon who was killed in 1918, portraying them in the movie were Fred and Ginger
Took a look into ‘20th Century Americans- 1950-1980’ as noticed a display of Oscar Statuettes and wondered who they belonged to! Turned out they were Katharine Hepburn’s 4 Best Actress Statuettes that had been gifted to the Smithsonian  Was really interesting to see how much the Oscar Statuettes have changed over the years! A rather good portrait of her was also on display in the same exhibition.
We then went over to the Museum of American History in the hopes that some of the dresses of Ginger Rogers that they own might have been on display. Sadly not, they confirmed that they’re in the collection but haven’t been on display for many years, we explained that 2011 would have been a good year as its 100 years since Ginger’s birth on July 16th which they didn’t appear to know about. Sadly nothing about Fred either, but we did go and have a look at the red shoes worn by Judy Garland in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ 1938, they had an exhibition on centred around 1939, but the most interesting thing we saw in the Museum was the Dolls House which Anneliese loved looking at and a Dumbo model from the ride at Disneyland in Anaheim in California, the only disappointment for Anneliese was not being able to climb into it, but as we’re visiting Disneyland while we’re in Los Angeles she’ll have plenty of chance to have a ride on the more modern version!
After that it was more than time to go and find some lunch! Ended up having more breakfast food, just about my favourite American meal Lovely waffle with butter and maple syrup along with helping Anneliese with her bacon, eggs and toast  Anneliese was rather disappointed to find that the front of the menu was displaying what could only be described as a typical English breakfast but it wasn’t actually available to order!
After lunch we went and visited the Air and Space Museum, really enjoyed seeing the exhibitions on The Golden Age of Aviation (between ww1 and ww2) and the exhibitions on World War 1 and World War 2 in relation to how much of a part aircraft played in both of them! Was also interesting to see the American view of the Wars in Europe before they entered into them, but was disappointed not to see the B17 Flying Fortress although there was a Japanese Zero on display
We then went and took a look at the exhibition on passenger aviation, took a walk through an old AA Boeing Jet, Nina kindly stayed with the stroller while i took Anneliese through, was odd to see an airplane set out like a train with seats facing both ways with a table in between. There were some really interesting advertisements in the exhibitions extolling people to decide between Train and Air Travel, for a small moment I thought they were referring to today, only to find taking a closer look that they were referring to an age when air travel was a real luxury and offered sleeper service, while travel by train was something that almost everyone could afford. It seemed almost impossible to imagine an age when a single ticket from Chicago to San Francisco cost only $39.50!!
Looking at the different uniforms from all the different airlines throughout the 20th Century was also interesting and the visit was well worth it, just as good as any other air museum I’ve ever been in 

There was a festival going on along the Mall i believe as part of the celebrations for the 4th of July which looked pretty good, was the most people I’d seen in Washington Dc so far! We walked along to the Carousel but Anneliese surprisingly showed no interest in having a ride and was far more interested in having an ice lolly! No problems there, the carousel was $3.50 per person, they didn’t allow children under 42 inches tall to ride alone but the only people riding free were infants under the age of 12 months. An ice lolly for $2 wasn’t asking me to have one as well, nice to save a little money From there we took the metro from the ‘Smithsonian’ only to find on reaching Metro Center that the promised rain had finally showed up along with thunder and lightning, so we made the decision to shelter for a little while until the rain had calmed down enough or stopped, it had been really hot and humid and the spray was pretty refreshing but Anneliese didn’t like the thunder or the lightning so much so was thankful when the sky started to lighten and the rain grew a lot less heavy  We decided to go for it while it was still raining if only to take the chance of cooling down, the first place we looked at we decided against for Anneliese’s sake, she can be good at sitting still at the table but like most small children its hit and miss! We finally ended up at Hard Rock Cafe, I knew that they had a children’s menu at the Hard Rock Cafe in London and Nina figured that it had to be the same in Washington Dc. I was very grateful that I have an all access card, the wait time suggested to a couple that didn’t have one was an hour (they promptly left) but while we were told it was going to be a 20 minute wait it was barely 10 minutes which was much better than my last trip to Hard Rock Cafe in London. I was more impressed when I saw the prices of the food, half the prices were the same as they are in London, except the exchange rate means that Hard Rock Cafe in London is even more expensive than it looks :/ the food was really good, I had the steak, Anneliese had hot dog and chips and Nina had Cobb Salad, I did take a look at the Desert Menu because they sounded really good, but one look at the desert menu made me feel more full than i had done previously! Nina walked back to the Hostel with us before she went for the metro and we went in search of a pay phone. Luckily they had one in the hostel as I needed to phone Amtrak to ask about what is going on with the California Zephyr at the moment and what would happen if connections were missed. Hopefully everything will go to plan, but will have to wait and see.
As Anneliese was still awake and showed no signs of tiring I thought it would be a good time to go for a walk and also see the Washington Memorial and the World War II Memorial at night, specially as it’s our last night in Washington Dc 
Anneliese walked as far as the White House before deciding that she wanted a ride in the Stroller where she promptly fell asleep! As it was already after 11.30pm it was more than time but she can catch up with her sleep on the train so it’s not so bad.
Was great to see the Memorials at night and I’m really glad I decided to go  despite the rain it was still warm, but quiet and peaceful. The World War II memorial was especially moving and I was surprised to see how recently it was built.
Got back to the hostel by 1am and still have to pack before an early start in the morning; luckily the alarm clock is loud!
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Jul 5th, 2011, 08:40 AM
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Monday 4th July

Alarm went off at 6.45, 45 minutes earlier than i had intended so had to climb down the ladder to change it, the extra 40 minutes sleep i got was worth it however!
Packed everything in the cases that I don’t expect to need before we reach Omaha (hopefully we’ll get there late Tuesday night!) and then woke Anneliese up to go get breakfast before heading out for Metro Center Station to get the train to Union Station to get the Amtrak Passes and tickets sorted and to check the bags in before we were due to meet Nina back at the hostel at 11am. We also had to get all the hand baggage out of the room and check out by the same time, so had left 2 hours to get there and back

Happily we got everything sorted within an hour and were back at the hostel by 10 (after leaving at 8.30) so had plenty of time to pack everything else up and check out of the hostel. It’s strange how much like home one room can seem after 3 days! Especially as this is now the second time in 7 days :/
I’d got some jelly for Nina and brought it from home, now looking forward to hearing how it compares to Jello! She’d brought some things for Anneliese so she fits in with all the other princesses when we visit Disneyland, including gloves, a bag and a crown (which Anneliese is now insisting she has to sleep in ) the bag as Anneliese quickly found out had some lovely sweets and lollypops in it, my hope that they might last the day, died fairly fast, but it kept Anneliese happy

I mentioned that I’d been up to the Washington Memorial and to the WW2 Memorial in the dark the previous evening but that I hadn’t seen the Lincoln Memorial and that it would be nice to see the WW2 Memorial in the Daylight! Thanks to the Smithsonian Metro Station being closed because of it being the 4th of July we walked, the bottle of frozen water i got on the way was possibly the most useful purchase i made all day! It was very busy on the Mall because of the parade for the 4th July, and we had to walk nearly all the way to the Lincoln Memorial before we got into the park where the Memorials are located, security was tight and they were checking everybody’s bags as they went in, I was just grateful that I was going to get to see the Lincoln Memorial As Anneliese was showing no interest at all and we could only see steps for access to the Lincoln Memorial, Nina offered to stay with Anneliese and the bags while i went up and took a couple of photos, this made the turn around a lot quicker! I was worried that we weren’t going to have time to visit the WW2 Memorial and get back in time to get the Train, but we worked out that as long as Anneliese kept moving it would all be fine, fortunately it all worked very well and I’m very glad i got the chance to see the Memorial in both darkness and daylight
We made it to Union Station with over an hour before the train was due to depart which left plenty of time to get a bite to eat as we’d missed out on getting lunch.
Was sad saying goodbye to Nina as she’s been really wonderful with showing us around DC, hopefully one day I’ll be able to repay the favour! Plus it was great to finally meet her after corresponding for so long, although we did say Au Revoir instead of goodbye I won’t see anyone I know now until Los Angeles and we visit Chicago, Omaha (NE), Galesburg (IL) and Kansas City (MO) before then!!
Despite the sadness of leaving Washington as it’s been great few days and definitely would come back again, it is exciting to be back travelling on Amtrak again Chance to catch up on some sleep before we reach Chicago around 8.45 tomorrow morning!
Unfortunately we didn’t see any fireworks from the train but its been a great day now on to Chicago then Omaha and the American Midwest!!
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Jul 5th, 2011, 08:45 AM
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Jul 5th, 2011, 09:47 AM
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I just want to say how impressed I am with your trip...it would be ambitious for anyone, but to travel alone with a 4-year old...well, wow, just wow! And you are so energetic--I am getting tired just reading about all you are doing.

I live near Kansas City and would love to meet you, just don't know how to go about arranging that, assuming you'd even be interested. You will get to witness, unfortunately, some very extensive flooding. Will look forward to reading more about your trip.
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Jul 6th, 2011, 09:10 AM
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Tuesday July 5th

Had a pretty good night considering we’re travelling in coach! Anneliese woke up at 6.45am and promptly announced it was breakfast time! It sounded good to me so we went along to the dining car to see what they could offer  We had a little wait before getting seated but the turnaround was quick enough and the dining car wasn’t as full as I’ve seen it on other trains in the past. I had the French toast which was as good as I remembered it while Anneliese had a child’s portion of what claimed to be scrambled egg, potatoes and a croissant, I’ve never seen egg looking so unappealing and needless to say she didn’t eat it, if we eat breakfast on the train again while on our travels she can have cereal!
Arrived into Chicago an hour later than expected, Anneliese was sad getting off the Capitol Limited and I can’t say i liked getting off the train too much, I’ve never been in Chicago long enough to see much of the city and this layover was no exception! By the time we’d sorted out leaving the luggage and located somewhere with Wi-Fi (unfortunately it was McDonalds but their frozen strawberry lemonade was pretty good) we had just enough time to walk down to the lake shore where Anneliese loved seeing the yachts bobbing in the water and then walk back again getting lunch on the way, retrieve the luggage and head to get the California Zephyr.
The journey on the CZ was going smoothly enough until we hit Ottumwa, IA where we got stopped by passing freight and sat having to wait our turn for nearly 2 hours. Having watched the progress of the CZ on Amtrak’s Status Maps i was grateful that we were only delayed by 2 hours, only downside now is that we won’t reach Lincoln, NE until 1am and then have to get the bus back to Omaha; hopefully we’ll get to Omaha by 2am but not looking forward to waking Anneliese up to get off the train! A very kind person let me borrow their cell phone to call the hotel so at least I don’t have to worry about the really late check-in being a problem!
Can’t believe we’ve only been in the United States for a week, it feels so much longer than that!!
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Jul 6th, 2011, 09:19 AM
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Hey Musicfan,

If it could be possible to meet then that would be great We're in Kansas City (touchwood on the trains doing ok) all day on July 8th and we're in Independence July 15th/16th. Have to say I don't feel so energetic right now after getting to Omaha at 3.20 this morning!
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Jul 6th, 2011, 10:43 AM
  #12
 
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Ugh on the 3:20am! Have fun in Omaha, though...I grew up there and still have family there.

The 8th won't work, but I maybe the 15th/16th...I'll check this thread next week when I am back from my trip next Tuesday.
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Jul 6th, 2011, 11:24 AM
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"we took the metro to 14th Street"

there is no metro in NYC, you should know that by now.

I would not drive on the right side in London and insist to the cops that I will do so as I am from NYC.
Neither will I claim to weigh 180 kilos, nor say it's 92 if asked what's the temperature.
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Jul 6th, 2011, 08:35 PM
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I'm sorry, but as the train system has been called something different in every city i've been to so far i can't remember the right one all the time :/ There is a major difference between calling the Subway the Metro by mistake than driving on the wrong side of the road and claiming its right
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Jul 6th, 2011, 09:21 PM
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Wednesday July 6th

We finally reached Lincoln at 1.53am, felt really mean having to wake Anneliese up to get off the train but couldn't carry her and the bags so no choice there :/ Bus to Omaha took 1 hour, fell asleep as soon as we started moving and only woke up as we turned into Omaha's Amtrak Station at 3.20am. Had to wait ages to get a cab, but finally got to the hotel at 4.10am and was fast asleep by 4.30

Missed breakfast and the original shuttle to the zoo by waking up 2 hours later than planned, only 4 hours sleep was clearly not going to work! Specially as i didn't sleep on the train. Got the hotel shuttle to the Henry Doorly Zoo just after 11. The Zoo was absolutely fantastic, and not to badly priced ($12.50 for adults and $7.50 for kids not inc Imax) Anneliese and I really enjoyed seeing all the animals, although maybe not the Tarantulas Somehow we spent 4 and a half hours there, but it was completely worth it Anneliese really enjoyed a ride on the carousel and her first sno cone

After trying and failing to contact the hotel to get the shuttle back to the hotel, i thought seeing as we were already on South 10th Street that it would be a good a time as any to go find the house where Fred Astaire was born!! An hour and a half of walking and some help from a kindly passerby and we finally found it!!! Shame that there's nothing to mark it as such but the passerby indicated that people are aware Then we walked (well i say walked i walked and pushed the stroller while Anneliese sat in it) down to the Old Market and stopped at Maggie Moo's for icecream We also paid a small visit to the Candy Shop but somehow only came away with lollypops, which may be a good thing, was a bit suprised to see a Christmas Shop next door but i guess some people most use it throughout the year

Managed to get hold of the hotel to get the shuttle back from the Old Market, got pizza for dinner then had the job of repacking the suitcases ready for another early departure! Have to get up at 4am to get to Omaha Station for the time the train should have been scheduled to leave at regardless of how late its actually running and then its bus to either Creston or Lincoln.
Been really nice to visit Omaha even if it has been really brief!!
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Jul 7th, 2011, 10:39 PM
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Thursday July 7th

Up at 4am, felt really bad again having to wake Anneliese but i didn't have any choice unfortunately. Hotel staff were able to call me a cab to the Amtrak Station (unfortunately at that early hour they only offered a shuttle to the airport) and even though their breakfast hours are from 5.30am they keep some food out for early departures and told me to help myself The fruit and muffins meant that i didn't have to buy food on the train and made up for missing breakfast the morning before!

Got to the station ok, bus again to Lincoln, departed Omaha at 5.18am and reached Lincoln at 6.25am, it rained heavily all the way to Lincoln, had stopped by the time we got there but clearly hadn't stopped anywhere else as it rained nearly the entire way to Galesburg :/ The California Zephyer reached Lincoln at 6.45am so we didn't have to long a wait thankfully, was only running 3 1/2 hours behind, managed to depart Lincoln by 7am and we reached Galesburg at 2.45pm, 3 hours 14 minutes late, which left us a more manageable 3 hours wait for the South West Chief

Because the previous day we'd made the journey in the dark we hadn't seen any of the flooding, going through it in daylight even with the rain was pretty shocking, i've never seen the Misouri river so full..

Thanks to the late arrival plus having the suitcases and because the Railroad Museum closed at 4 we opted out of going there and walked down to the nearest grocery store instead, we passed a toy store on the way where Anneliese spent a good half an hour playing with the Thomas the Tank Engine train set, they didn't mind however and was nice to see the difference between toys at home and toys in the US

We then had another 2 hours to go at Galesburg's Amtrak station, which then wasn't helped by the South West Chief (SWC) getting stuck behind the California Zephyr (CZ), which made the SWC late behind it, normally they'd have come in on the opposite track but the other track was blocked because of problems with Freight :/

Nice enough journey to Kansas City, for some reason we got given seats on the lower level, apparently they thought it'd be easier for me with getting off the train, true was a little easier but felt bad even though the lower level was fairly empty, we were only 20 minutes late arrving thankfully but felt bad again having to wake Anneliese up to get off the train, fortunately was easy enough to get a cab and the Residence Inn we're staying at is pretty good
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Jul 8th, 2011, 05:51 AM
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T
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Jul 8th, 2011, 08:18 AM
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Hi fredandgingermad,

Glad to see you exploring parts of America that many Americans don't. I took the California Zephyr back in 2006 Chicago-Emeryville and back. 4 hours late both ways, which, compared to some stories I've heard, doesn't seem so bad. I see you're already adjusting to Amtrak lateness by checking their "status updates". Very wise of you. The California Zephyr is quite a beauty as one gets further west... hope the Southwest Chief is the same.

Funny. I was going write "Wise man!" above instead of "very wise of you" and then I realized you quite possibly are a woman. Even though I cottoned on to the Astaire-Rogers reference right away, since your name starts with "fred" I read the whole report seeing you as a father, but realize there's a significant possibility you're a mother!
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Jul 8th, 2011, 12:18 PM
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Hey,

I guess somewhere i should have said that i'm female! But am happy you got the Astaire-Rogers reference!!

I hope to come back one day and take the California Zephyr the entire way, hoping the South West Chief route is good, we're take it 3 times!
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Jul 8th, 2011, 12:50 PM
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Flooding has been a problem for Amtrak (and freight railroads) for the past month. I hope that you have been "singing in the rain" on your late trains and buses.
My favorite stop on the Southwest Chief is Albuquerque New Mexico. My favorite stop on the California Zephyr is Glenwood Springs Colorado. Glad your daughter is enjoying the trip.
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