Part 2 of The ESB “In Training”: A Cross-Country Journal with Video

This picks up where ESB “In Training”: Part 1 left off…

Monday, August 23, 2010

Texarkana, AR
Marshall, TX
Longview, TX
Mineola, TX
Dallas, TX
Fort Worth, TX
Cleburne, TX
McGregor, TX
Temple, TX
Taylor, TX
Austin, TX
San Marcos, TX
San Antonio, TX

Sunrise at Arkansas / Texas border

Breakfast in the dining car around 8:30. Scrambled eggs, sausage patties and homefries with a fresh, warm biscuit. Mmmmm. Spent the morning working on the business plan and napping. Great combo. Even though we were running an hour behind schedule because of an initial delay in Chicago, the driver managed to make up all the time overnight and we rolled into Dallas 5 minutes ahead of schedule. We had about 25 minutes to stretch our legs.

We arrived in Fort Worth about an hour later and were told it was about 109 degrees. It felt hotter. Because we had 45 minutes before the train was due to depart, I thought I’d go on a quest for a local bar close to the station. After three blocks in the heat, with a black T-shirt on, I gave up and went back to the A/C in the train.

Amtrak Station - Fort Worth, TX

Ft. Worth Limited Car

I ordered a $6 Heineken and put my feet up. Lunch consisted of a fresh spinach salad with salmon fillet. By now, a number of my low expectations had been blown out of the water… I’ll talk first about the food. Because I have a “first-class” ticket (any ticket that gets you in the sleeping car is considered a first-class ticket) all my meals are included… and it’s nothing to scoff at. Burgers are around $9. They have a $22 skirt steak with mashed potatoes and green beans (that I had for dinner this evening) and it’s all very, very high quality.

I’ve split my time between my private roomette and the open observation deck during the day. There’s a steady crowd in the observation room but not crazy and every time I look up from typing (like I did just then) I can see Texas all around me. Sun is going to set in about 45 minutes I think. I’m going to stay out here for that and then hit the sack early.

I’ve made a lot of progress on the plan. Just have two key sections to complete tomorrow. I’m going to enjoy the rest of my awake time this evening and watch a movie, read some more of my book and take a nap.

Change of plans. We were delayed about half an hour heading into Austin, TX and they indicated we may be stuck there for a number of hours because of a repair needing to be made to the track on bridge ahead (over the Colorado river). I promptly made plans to go to The Gingerman – an excellent beer pub in Austin akin to The Toronado in SF. I also got in touch with Stacy Libby, an old colleague and friend that has recently relocated to Austin from the Bay Area. No sooner had I put everything together, we were told that the problem was fixed and that we could move on our way after all.

Austin Sunset - TX

We rolled into San Antonio about 25 minutes late at 10:20pm. I said goodbye to my porter – Cesar – and tipped him for the past 2 days.

San Antonio, TX

This is the stop where the Texas Eagle ends and the sleeper car and one coach car gets added to the Sunset Limited that runs from New Orleans to Los Angeles. That train was due in around 2am and then my sleeper car was going to get added to the back of the train. I asked my new porter – Peggy – if she knew if there were any bars locally that I could check out for a few hours before going to bed. Sure enough, Alibi’s was right around the corner and I enjoyed a couple of shots of tequila, a handful of Shiner Bocks and got friendly with the locals. It was open mic night so I even got to plug in my iPhone and play Mumford & Sons for everyone. Awesome.

Alibi's Bar in San Antonio, TX

Alibi's Bar in San Antonio, TX

Good times. I stumbled back to the train and got into my bed around 2:30am. Sleeping immediately.

To be continued…

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