S: 2011 Rail Adventure
BC: Making Memories With Friends! | August, 2011
FC: 2011 Rail Adventure | From San Antonio, TX To Quebec City, Canada And Back....by Train!
1: Map Of Our Trip | A - San Antonio, TX B - Temple, TX C - Clifton, TX D - Ft. Worth, TX E - Dallas, TX F - Marshall, TX G - Little Rock, AR | H - St. Louis, MO I - Chicago, IL J - Cleveland, OH K - Buffalo, NY / Niagra Falls, CA L - Toronto, CA M - Montreal, CA N - Quebec, CA (by bus) | Key To Map
2: The Alamo Cradle of Texas Liberty
3: Monuments Honoring the Heroes of the Alamo.
4: We started our adventure with a bus ride from our hotel to the train station in San Antonio. Pretty cool bus, huh? | The Tower of Americas in early morning darkness.
5: San Antonio Train Station
6: Boarding the train early in the morning to begin our adventure! | Marilyn and Me in the photo to the left. Dave & my Aunt Louise in the photo to the right.
7: Sights On the Way to Chicago | Tower of Americas San Antonio, TX | Alamo Dome San Antonio, TX | Wurstfest in New Braunfels, TX | Austin, Texas
8: Temple, TX Phil & Marilyn's Hometown! | Rail Station in Temple, TX
9: Ringling Brother's Circus Train in Ft. Worth, TX | Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, TX
10: Sights Around Dallas, TX
12: St. Louis, MO | Gateway Arch and St. Louis Skyline
13: Busch Stadium | Fueling the Train in St. Louis | Close-Up Of Building in Photo to the Left | Building Across From St. Louis Train Station
16: Our train stopped in Chicago's Union Station on the way to and from Buffalo. All members of our group agreed the food in Union Station was great, especially the hot dogs! I took this photo while we were waiting for a tour bus to pick us up for a tour of the city.
17: Our group (from Central Texas) with Chicago and Lake Michigan in the background. From Left: Gayle, Patsy, Geneva, Guy, Louise, Dave, Me, & Marilyn
18: Marilyn in front of the "Big Bean" in Chicago. This is one of many interesting sculptures found in and around Chicago. Examples of other sculptures can be seen on opposite page.
19: Two water wall sculptures. Note the face projected on the opposite wall.
20: Photo on the right is a close-up of the street signs shown in the photo on the left. Note that the famous Route 66 begins in Chicago. The tall building in the background of the photo to the left is the Sears Tower. | Left: Fountain from TV show "Married With Children"
21: Above: Entrance to Chicago's very exclusive Hyde Park | Right: Chicago's Museum of Natural History | One of the many nice houses in Hyde Park neighborhood.
22: The Chicago River | Above right and bottom photos are of the inside of Union Station's Great Hall.
23: Marilyn Monroe Sculpture in Downtown Chicago I love it! | View Along Chicago's Lakeshore Drive
24: Buffalo, NY | Buffalo is where we crossed the Canadian border both entering and exiting the country. Most of our time in Buffalo was spent at customs or at the train station waiting for a bus into Canada or a train back to Chicago.
25: Boarding the bus in Buffalo to cross into Canada and go to the Peller Estates Winery for a delicious lunch. | Finally, we made it to Canada!
26: Here we're off the bus and entering the Peller Estates restaurant for a great lunch. Because our train was late in arriving in Buffalo, we were unable to take a tour of the winery famous for its premium boutique wines. | The landscaping was beautiful at the Peller Estates.
27: Beautiful view of the Niagra River flowing toward nearby Lake Ontario. On a little less hazy day (or maybe with a more talented photographer!) you would be able to see Toronto in the distant background.
28: The photo above is from the 20th floor of our hotel. The American Falls are to the left in this photo.
29: The Canadian Falls, or Horseshoe Falls, are to the right in the photo above.
31: Our group took a tour of Niagra Falls and was treated to this awesome display of power! Well worth the time! What a SPECTACULAR sight!!! Insert below shows where the photo to the left was taken.
32: The Falls on the American side may not be quite as spectacular as Horseshoe Falls but it does allow people to climb down and get an up close and awesome view!
33: The Skylon Tower offers a terrific view of Niagra Falls. We did not go up the tower because our hotel was just about as tall and offered a pretty amazing view as well...and well, we're frugal (cheap)! | Photo to the left shows passengers boarding the Maid of the Mist for a very wet and exciting ride to the bottom of Horseshoe Falls.
34: View of Horseshoe Falls from The Maid of the Mist. I used a Sony point and shoot camera for this excursion because I knew it would be too wet to risk my Canon SLR digital camera. Still got some pretty good shots, though you will notice water droplets on the photos on the opposite page. Oh well, you still get a good look at the turbulence below the falls and a couple of nice rainbows.
35: With the sun at our backs on the way back to the dock, we saw rainbows everywhere.
36: The Maid of the Mist approaches Horshoe Falls. One of my favorite photos from this trip.
37: Finally got some really great lighting to go with the scenery. Cool how the horseshoe shape of the falls causes the mist to converge in one area and rise up like a gigantic geyser!
38: Photos on this page are of the Niagra River "Whirlpool". What an incredible site. The photo below shows a cable car carrying sightseers across the "Whirlpool". We did not have the time to take cable car ride this time, but we will next time! (After proofreading this, Marilyn said she would NOT ride it !)
39: Believe it or not, we did do something else in Niagra Falls besides seeing the Falls and the Niagra River. We visited the Niagra Parks Botanical Gardens and School of Horticulture. Actually, we only had time to visit this unique clock and the "Butterfly House". I did not take a photograph of the butterfly center building, but I did get many good photos inside it. What an amazing place! I've never seen so many butterflies in one place.
44: Boarding the train in Niagra Falls to go to Toronto where we would change trains and go on to Montreal. | Marilyn catching up on her Emails.
45: Toronto | Our time in Toronto was spent changing trains to go on to Montreal (going) or Buffalo (returning). The above photos of Toronto were taken from the train as we left the city.
46: We spent four days in Montreal, but would have loved to have had at least another four or five days to explore this beautiful city. So many things about Montreal appealed to us including the architecture, the churches, the transportation system, the friendly people, and the wonderful food!
47: Though I'm devoting several pages to Montreal, it does not do justice to the beauty we saw and the fun we had on this trip. It's difficult to get a lot of really good photos when touring a city in a tour bus. I hope we can make it back to Montreal in the not too distant future and explore the city at a more leisurely pace.
48: Marilyn and I spent our first full day in Montreal exploring on our own. After a short explanation by our hotel's concierge on how to use Montreal's subway system, Marilyn and I set out for Olympic Park. The system was easy to use, clean, safe, and more convenient than using a rental car to get to the stadium.
49: The first thing we did upon arriving at Olympic Park was to go to the top of the Leaning Tower for a great view of Montreal. The two page photo of Montreal on the previous page was taken from the top of the Leaning Tower. The domed building behind Marilyn is the Biodome.
50: On Left : The huge complex above the parking lot includes the Botanical Gardens, Aviary, and Insectarium. We just didn't have the time or energy to see this attraction. Maybe next time! | On Right: The Biodome. During the Olympics it was the Velodrome where the bicycle races were held. Its shape is that of a biker's racing helmet. Today it serves as an indoor nature museum. | On Left: This photo shows the stadium used for the Track and Field events in the 1976 Summer Olympics. The pyramid shaped building in the background was used as a dorm for the Olympic athletes.
51: Following our trip to the top of the Leaning Tower, we took a tour of the Olympic Stadium. The photo above is the best I could get of this giant stadium.
52: Above: the Olympic Swimming and Diving pools. Below: a group of kids are being carefully watched by a coach as they jump from the ten meter board.
53: Following the tour of the swimming facilities, we were given a tour of the stadium used by the Montreal Expos professional baseball team before they moved to Washington D. C. to play as the Washington Nationals.
54: After our tour of the Olympic Stadium, we visited the Biodome, an indoor nature museum divided into ecosystems ranging from a tropical forest to the Arctic. The next few pages include several of my favorite photos from the Biodome.
55: Okay, I touched this photo up a bit, but I did take it in the Biodome. I really like the effect. Did you spend a little extra time looking at this photo? I thought so!
56: We saw this little guy in the Tropical Forest exhibit.
57: The Bobcat was really focused in on something.
58: Don't worry, he's not real! | Look out, this one is very real!
59: A Beaver's Story | Marilyn and I saw this Beaver swimming in the pond. | Next thing we know she's on land begging for food. | The caretaker gave her a carrot and we saw her swim to her den. | Finally the Beaver is back with her mate. (I'm referring to the action on the monitor!)
60: The aquarium was not very big, but it was really nice!
61: The aquarium had observation decks above and below the surface. Wish we could have spent more time here!
62: It was feeding time for the penguins when we got to this exhibit. By now we were pretty tired and when we saw this exhibit we realized we were hungry as well. We returned to the hotel after this exhibit.
63: Following our Olympic Stadium adventure, we enjoyed a delicious Italian meal at Central Rail Station, located just across the street from our hotel. As a matter of fact, because of the convenience, variety, and quality of the restaurants in the station, Marilyn and I had many of our meals there during our stay in Montreal.
64: Apparently, Tim Horton Restaurants are very big in Canada as we saw them everywhere we went. Don't know if we're related. | A Sampling of Places To Eat In Central Rail Station | I don't recall the name of this restaurant (sign says "Dame Nature"), but I enjoyed their waffles for breakfast a couple of mornings! Would like to have one as I'm writing this!
65: "Second Cup" was our favorite coffee and pastry shop. | Note the bewildered look on Marilyn's face. She's trying to decide between a healthy muffin or apple strudel. She took the muffin...a big mistake! Next day she chose the strudel. Our clothes were fitting a little tighter when we departed from Montreal!
66: Above: Mary, Queen of the World Basilica, seat of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Montreal. It is a scale model of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Until I read about this church, I assumed the figures on top were Jesus and the twelve apostles. They are actually statues of the patron saints of the thirteen parishes of Montreal. | My Favorite Buildings in Montreal
67: Side view of Mary, Queen of the World Basilica in Montreal | Inside view of Mary, Queen of the World Basilica. It's so pretty!
68: An handsome government building in historic Old Montreal.
69: Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal was another church we visited. This church is in the historic district of Old Montreal just a few blocks from our hotel. Its Gothic Revival architecture is very dramatic and its interior, as seen on the next page, is breathtakingly beautiful! Celine Dion was married in this church in 1994.
72: Above: St. Joseph Oratory of Mount Royal. It is a Roman Catholic minor basilica and national shrine. This church seats over three thousand people! Visitors must climb over 280 steps to get to the main basilica entrance. (Probably a younger than average congregation!) The copper dome is the highest point in Montreal and is the 2nd largest of its kind in the world, the largest being St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.
73: A couple of attractive office buildings near our hotel
76: Quebec City is one of the oldest and most charming cities in North America. Quebec's skyline is dominated by the massive Chateau Frontenac Hotel. Quebec City has a distinct European feel with its architecture and winding streets lined with shops and restaurants.
77: Note the Upper and Lower towns linked by the Funicular. The fortification wall surrounding Up Town is also visible. We spent only a few hours exploring Quebec this time. Next time I hope to spend a few days REALLY exploring this city! (By the way, a Funicular is a cable railway ascending a mountain.)
78: Above: Our guide tells us a little about the history of Quebec City. Below: Part of our group enjoys the sights of Lower Quebec City
79: Above: Our group walks the narrow streets of Lower Quebec City. The Funicular can be seen in the background of this photo.
80: A lot of imagination went into painting the side of this building. I love it!
81: Above: Monument to Louis XIV Below: Someone made up as an angel...doing what, I don't know.
82: Above: The Notre Dame des Victoires Church. This shot was taken in the morning not long after we arrived in Quebec City. Later in the day, following a cruise on the St. Lawrence River, I was wandering through Lower Town and happened upon a wedding ceremony taking place at this historic church.
83: The first thing I saw was a very nervous bride-to-be going up the steps of the church. | Then her dad said something to her that broke the tension and brought a beautiful smile to her face! (Good for him!) | Making some IMPORTANT last minute adjustments. (Cont'd on next page)
84: The proud father again says something nice (What did he say? I'll leave that to your imagination!) This is my favorite photo! | Whatever it was he said got him a kiss on the cheek!! | The horse and carriage await the lovely bride and her new husband. Unfortunately, I didn't stick around to take a photo of the newlyweds as they left the church. Sorry, I'm an impatient man!
85: We toured Upper Quebec City in a bus and stopped only a couple of times. One stop was to get photos of the Parliament building (pictured on the next page) and this beautiful fountain just across the street from the Parliament building.
86: Parliament Building, Quebec City. Very impressive!
87: We also took a ride on the St. Lawrence River in the boat shown above. From the boat we had a chance to see many interesting and pretty sights including many people on their sailboats enjoying the glorious weather.
88: As our boat made a turn to go back to Quebec City, I got this photo of Montmorency Falls. I read that this waterfall is 90 feet higher than Niagra Falls, though it is not nearly as wide. Wish we could have gotten a little closer look. Note the people on the bridge over the falls. What a view!
89: Places along the St. Lawrence River with very scenic views.
90: This is the view we had of Quebec City as our boat was returning us to the dock from our river tour.
91: I shot this photo even though the sun was almost behind the city. I still like the result!
92: Final Photos & Thoughts | Marilyn and I, like almost everyone else in our tour group, signed up for this tour because we had always wondered what it would be like to take a trip by train. | We all knew our rooms (using the term "rooms" quite liberally here!) were going to be small, but I think everyone was surprised just how small they were! However, we all survived and now have some good stories to tell our families and friends back home.
93: We spent a lot of time in train stations waiting to board the train. | We boarded several different trains along the way.
94: We had many very good meals on the train! | We had many hours to socialize, read, look out at the scenery and to catch up on our sleep as we rode the rails.
95: We saw many memorable sights on this trip!
96: We shared some laughs! | Dave cutting up instead of listening to our guide. (Since I got the photo I must not have been paying much attention either!) | We all got a good laugh when getting off the bus to visit the Notre-Dame Basilica. We saw this guy just outside the bus being suited up in a costume for the Gay Pride parade going on in Montreal that same day!
97: We had another a good laugh at the dinner (pictured on next page) hosted by Jim & Malvina of ABCAT Travel. Someone said a building was on fire on the other side of Niagra Falls! Turns out it was just an illusion caused by the setting sun shining on the building. The mist from the Falls looked like smoke billowing from the building. It fooled us all!
98: Finally, we made a lot of new friends! I feel so blessed to be able to travel with Marilyn on trips such as this, making memories and new friends as we go. This trip was a wonderful experience for both of us and we owe many thanks to Aunt Louise and Dave for inspiring us to take this trip. I'm already looking forward to our next trip! (Not necessarily by train however!)
99: The End | Many thanks to my wife Marilyn and my daughter Brandy for their suggestions, corrections, and comments while I worked on this book. Special thanks to my sister Pat for her thorough proofreading of this book and for the many suggested changes she gave me. I'm so blessed to have such a loving and supportive family!