I’ve got train music on my brain. I get excited when it’s time for another train trip heading north.
Everyone recognizes the song lyrics above. Those words are the first line to the old “Wabash Cannonball” song. It was actually a made-up name stolen from another made-up name. It seems there was the same lyric to a song called “The Great Rock Island Route” that was published in 1882. In 1904, another song writer stole many of the words, the melody, added a new title and re-published the tune as we know it today. Dozens of country/folk singers recorded it but the version by Roy Acuff in 1936 became one of only 30 tunes to ever sell over 10 million copies. Amazing!
The actual train was named for the song, not the other way around. After seeing the popularity of the song, the Wabash railroad named the route from Detroit to St. Louis, The Wabash Cannonball. That was in 1949. Norfolk and Western bought the Wabash railroad and ended the “cannonball” in 1971. They had dozens of “final trips” of the cannonball up and down the route. I took my kids on a “final cannonball” run from Lafayette, Indiana to Attica, Indiana in 1971(about a 50 mile round trip).
I like trains. I like traveling by train…sometimes. Some trains are as uncomfortable as airplanes and those I hate. However, the San Joaquin Route serving Bakersfield, Fresno, Merced, Stockton, Sacramento, Oakland and San Francisco is a comfortable fun-run. I’ll be doing it again in two weeks so my mind is on trains today.
I find the four-hour car-drive to San Francisco boring. The San Joaquin has booths with huge tables, like a restaurant. My wife and I like to spread out our tablets, laptop, books, magazines, and scrabble game and enjoy the ride. The rail-cars are all Wireless so I can “Facebook” or blog, send and receive e-mail and read my morning e-newspapers in my rail-rolling office. We do this trip often and have a blast.
We have 4 favorite destinations in San Francisco and we alternate them depending on the time of the year and the musical/club/theatre performances we want to see.
We really love and enjoy our time share with Shell Vacations Club. The 4 SF locations are incredible accommodations. The location in Napa Valley always demands a car, but the other 3 are easily reached by Amtrak.
If our intent is to see the SF Symphony, the Opera or other classical performances in the Civic Center area, we go to “Inn at the Opera”, a quaint European boutique hotel. Davies Hall, the Opera House, the Ballet Theatre and other concert halls are just across the street. Dozens of late-night restaurants are within a few blocks.
When it’s shopping time, viewing beautiful Christmas lights, and more wonderful restaurants, the “Donatello Hotel” is right at Union Square. Oh, and two doors down is “Biscuits and Blues”, my favorite blues club.
Our Amtrak trip in two weeks will be to Fisherman’s Wharf. Across the street is Lou’s Pier and Blues club where I will get to see an old buddy still out there on the road making music. A short trolley car trip up the hill to the “Curran Theatre” and we get to see Kathleen Turner in her new play, “High”. Oh yes, and lots of more great restaurants.
Subtracting one senior discount and one AAA discount, the Amtrak fare is a barely more than two tanks of gas in the Camry. We can’t play scrabble in the Camry.