Part 1 of The ESB “In Training”: A Cross-Country Journal with Video

As some of you may know, every year some of my good friends and I follow the San Francisco Giants to a different ballpark during the regular season. This year we chose Busch Stadium and the St. Louis Cardinals. It was a three game series – 2 night games on Friday and Saturday and a day game on Sunday – and we were all set to do our usual routine of flying in early on Friday and getting back late on Sunday. Then, I had an idea…

I’ve been trying to rewrite the business plan for the Elizabeth Street Brewery for well over a year now (after my last one went with the laptop that killed it – remember to back-up people) but with a consuming and committed day job, family, commute, etc. it had been very difficult to set the time aside to focus and just get it done. I have toyed with the idea of traveling across country for a while now… either by car or by train… but Allie is not the best traveling companion over long distances (she’s definitely more about the destination than the journey). So I thought I’d take advantage and take an Amtrak back from St. Louis and finish the business plan along the way.

I decided to take the Texas Eagle / Sunset Limited route that would see me travel south through Arkansas and the heart of Texas before heading west out of San Antonio, through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and finally into Union Station in Los Angeles. It was scheduled to take 62 hours and 30 minutes. Plenty of time to get it done…

Sunday, August 22, 2010

After the Giants played what I consider to be their most sub-par performance of the season, losing the second consecutive game to the St. Louis Cardinals of a three-game series, it was time to send the guys off to the airport and start the solo leg of my journey.

After bidding farewell to Tim and Ben, I set off on foot through downtown St. Louis to gather supplies for my train journey… the shopping list consisted of, among other things, water, chips, jerky and Bourbon.

The Gateway to the West

It was eerily quiet walking downtown. It was around 5:45pm and after spending 3 days with 10 of my best friends, the silence was deafening as I walked toward Market street. However, after 3 blocks of feeling like the last man on earth, I came across Market street and “downtown in the park”. They shut off a strip of the downtown area on the weekends to traffic and have water features that kids can come and play in. I watched the kids jumping around in the pool, their parents lying around on the grass, and really wished I could have been with my wife and kids right at that moment… Also a little nervous about my solo cross-country journey ahead.

After getting everything on the list and picking my bags back up at the hotel, I set off for the train station. I knew I was going to have to wait a little bit but I was going to be waiting no matter where I was so figured the train station was as good a place as any. After getting the lay of the land at the new Amtrak/Greyhound station I inquired as to the whether or not the train was on time. Unfortunately, the train was currently running an hour behind schedule… something I had already prepared myself for as a certainty so not too disappointed. Because I have a sleeper car ticket, I had access to the first class lounge where I joined a husband and wife – who were heading back south to Longview, Texas after attending the husband’s sister’s funeral – and a woman who was taking her sister back to Tucson, AZ for a 3-week visit. We waited for about 75 minutes in there, watching the nice HD TV and chatting every so often.

I boarded the train around 8:25pm. Quickly found my roomette on the second floor, got settled, and joined the other newly boarded guests in the dining car. I sat with an elderly woman (didn’t catch her name) who was traveling home to El Paso, TX after visiting her daughter in D.C. and was a big fan of eBay. We enjoyed a surprisingly good burger and cheesecake before retiring to our respective rooms for the night. It was now around 10pm, and I decided to grab a beer and check out the observation car while the porter made up my bed.

I got into bed around 10:30pm, poured myself a small glass of bourbon on the rocks, and settled down for Hitchcock’s masterpiece Strangers on a Train. I fell asleep around 11pm and kind of drifted in and out of sleep for 6 hours before opening the curtains and watching the dark world roll by and typing this first entry in the journal. I’m going to sign off now and listen to some music, hopefully catching another hour or two of sleep as the sun comes up.

Poplar Bluff, MO
Walnut Ridge, AR
Little Rock, AR
Malvern, AR
Arkadelphia, AR

To be continued…

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Filed: ESB Background, Events


Well done sir!

Posted by: chris siconolfi @ 3:10 pm // September 9, 2010

This is so cool! I can’t wait for part II!

Posted by: Tim Carter @ 3:27 pm // September 13, 2010

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