We'd been talking about it and you've been hearing about it for months. On June 14th, the moment finally came for me and my wife Shelia and 38 WBKO viewers from southern Kentucky to hit the road for The Great California Train Adventure.
This is the first installment of a series of pictures from that 11-day journey that will be posted here. There are well over 400 photographs to go through so it may take some time to get them all in place.
Even though the name of the trip is called The Great California Train Adventure, we used just about every mode of transportation known to man...except maybe a rocket ship! And, we visited more states than just California. The best part of the adventure was the journey just getting there. Here and now...and for the next several weeks, I will document our adventure through pictures taken from my BlackBerry. Many of you were able to follow my real-time updates from start to finish through my twitter account @ChrisAllen_WBKO with the hash tag #califadventure. You can still search that hash tag and see my tweets along the way.
The morning of June 14th. Our motorcoach arrives at the Walmart on Campbell Lane with Bob Waxon (left), our tour director with Holiday Vacations. Next to him is Jack Hoeft (center) of Bowling Green, a friend of mine who also went with us on the New England trip. Bob's assistant and "host in training" Tiffany Kunhart (right).
After boarding our bus, we stop in Lafayette, IN for some lunch at the local Cracker Barrel.
The first night of our journey takes us to Chicago. Here is some of our group enjoying a nice supper at the Hyatt Rosemont near the O'hare Airport.
Day 2 of our adventure provides us a tour of Chicago. As we drive past Oz Park we see a statue of Dorothy and Toto from "The Wizard Of Oz". We see Dorothy, Toto, the yellow bricks...but where's the tornado??
This is Lincoln Park which is surrounded by many of Chicago's skyscrapers and apartment buildings.
Inside the Lincoln Park Conservatory there was a beautiful display of summer tropical vegetation including this lillypad pond.
More of the Lincoln Park Conservatory with a huge display of ferns and undergrowth. Very tropical!
Inside the Lincoln Park Conservatory was a koi fish pond. A sign nearby said "please do not feed the fish". Looks to me like they've had plenty to eat!
And here's the lovely Shelia admiring the ferns.
A shot of some of Chicago's skyline taken from the tour bus.
Downtown Chicago from the Chicago River.
As we travel down Chicago's "miracle mile" we pass by Grant Park.
See all the statues that look like legs? This is known as Agora, better known as Chicago's "bark park" where dog owners take their canines friends for a walk and a...well, you know. The "legs" are painted like tree bark, so what do you think happens? Anyway, one of the contributors that helped finance this was Robin Williams who recently starred in the movie "Old Dogs".
The famous Chicago skyline as seen from the Adler Planetarium.
The rowdiest of our tour group standing in front of the Chicago skyline. From L to R, Linda Taylor, Gary Taylor, Shelia and Me, Carol Hoeft, Jack Hoeft.
Remember the fountain scene in the opening to "Married With Children"? This is it. It's called Buckingham Fountain which was commissioned in 1927.
More of Chicago's great skyline including the Tribune Tower which has been standing tall over "the magnificent mile" since 1925.
Another view of Tribune Tower looking down to Michigan Avenue, better known as "the magnificent mile".
Our tour of Chicago over, we enter Union Station to board our Amtrak train that will take us across the Great Plains.
There we are! The schedule board at Amtrak shows our California Zephyr as train #5 leaving at 2pm.
For those of us (like myself) who've never been on a train, all of this is a unique experience. Notice how many of us are taking pictures of all the trains!
All aboard! You can tell I am really looking forward to this. For the next three days and two nights, we will all be "living" on this train. From Chicago to Reno, we'll get to see some of this country's most beautiful landscape. Will I be able to sleep in close quarters while the train moves at 80 mph? What cities will we pass along the way? Will I make it back to Bowling Green in one piece?? These are the questions that will be answered...along with more incredible pictures of our adventure in Part 2 of The Great California Train Adventure!