Monday, April 18, 2011

All Aboard! - Riding the Rails on the Ark Valley Eagle

Ark Valley Eagle

OK, I have to admit, riding the train composed of 2 engines (one on front and one on back) and 3- 1950's passenger cars int he middle, was NOT on my bucket list. I could've died contentedly without the hour long railroad tour. But when my husband ended up with an extra ticket (this particular opportunity happens in our area once a year), I did the good wife thing and accompanied him, all the while looking at it from a blogger point of view and having no real expectations. After all, this was not the first time I had been on a train, I remember a few years back when I was just a youngster (alright, MORE than a few years) my elementary school took the train to the zoo. Of course at that time, well the same as it would be today, I was way more excited about going to the zoo than riding on the train.

 As much as I was unimpressed, I couldn't help but notice all the children- no doubt having been raised on the adventures of Thomas the Tank Engine - giddy with excitement as the train rolled into town. The whistle blowing and the conductors in period costume waving as the train comes to a stop.

The train coming from Wichita, detrained those passengers in downtown Hutchinson for them to go eat and browse the antique district and then loaded up with a new group of families, railroad enthusiasts and just plain folk, out to experience a dying breed of transportation. We boarded the train and prepared for our short journey. The conductor came by and punched our ticket and we were off.

One thing that struck me was how the train seems to go behind the scenes, not the best part of town, and seeing the underbelly of the infrastructure, the maintenance departments and the drainage ditches. The gentle swaying was relaxing but not enough that it made a wimp like me sick to my stomach. Then we reached the destination and the train simply stopped, we switched our seat backs to the other position, the other engine took over  and proceeded back from whence we came.  This was definitely not a thrill-seeker kind of adventure and not one I'd like to do every weekend but was a nice way to spend a couple of hours on a sunny, spring Saturday.

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