Monday, September 7, 2020

COVID-19 Update September 2020 and 1965 Great Northern Empire Builder Trip


1965 Great Northern Empire Builder

COVID-19 Update September 2020

After six months self isolating at home, I am beginning to get out more including walking at the nearby mall with mask for exercise during the very hot summer days here in Tennessee and the too fast approaching colder weather of Fall and Winter. I am still not doing any group activities. And travel has been put on hold until into 2021. I have decided not to even try to travel to my home State Louisiana to visit family until next calendar year. That's sad but I am saving money not traveling.

Physically and health wise I am doing very well and have my type 2 diabetes well under control with a good A1C number and daily blood sugar readings.

Yes, I am getting exercise but I do confess to watching way more streaming services including Netflix, Amazon Prime, UP Faith and Family, and Disney+. My favorite series is Heartland about a Canadian Ranch family. I watched all 11 seasons on Netflix last summer 2019 and then added UP Faith and Family to watch seasons 12 and 13 recently and I know a Season 14 will be available next year. 

1965 Great Norther Empire Builder - My First Train Trip

When you stay at home, you find time to do many things. One of the things I did was to dig out my old Kodachrome Slides I took in 1960's and 1970's to find in particular slides I took on my very first long distance overnight train ride. I sent the slides to ScanCafe to have them scan and convert the slides to digital photos.  Although cameras and photo processing have greatly improved, I am happy to now have the photos updated to my photo galleries. Since the slides were over 50 years old they did fade so the photos are not anywhere near the quality of my current photos. Just the same, I hope you will enjoy checking them out.

This was my very first long distance train trip. Up until that point, I had only ridden Kansas City Southern's Southern Belle between North Louisiana and Baton Rouge and New Orleans. So this 23 year old while living in New Orleans, LA, planned my May 1965 trip to travel via sleeper car from New Orleans to Chicago on Illinois Central's all Pullman Panama Limited and actually had to change train stations in Chicago to board Great Northern's Empire Builder to Seattle, WA. I spent approximately a week in Seattle and most of the photos are of the Seattle area as it was in 1965. While the Space Needle was there, the highest building was the Smith Tower and that is the building some of the photos show and from which I took some view photos. In one of the photos, you will see evidence that Seattle had recently experienced an earthquake. One special memory of my time in Seattle was that is where I went to the theater to see the new movie SOUND OF MUSIC starring Julie Andrews. Oh, how many times I have seen that movie since.  After the week in Seattle, I returned on the Great Northern Empire Builder with it's full length dome for sleeper passengers to Chicago and then the Illinois Central Panama Limited back to New Orleans.

Interestingly, I had no idea that later in 1965 I would change jobs and begin an  auditor training program with what is now the Federal Highway Administration moving first to Baton Rouge, then to Washington, DC, and lastly to Roseburg, Riddle, Oregon for training. I was in Oregon from Easter to early July 1966, just south of the State of Washington. So I have a special affinity to the Pacific Northwest. To complete the history story, when I completed my training assignment I was transferred first to Atlanta, GA, before being asked to move to Nashville, TN, in August 1966. So after 2 careers - 16 years with the Federal Highway Administration and 24 years with Southern Baptist Sunday School Board/LifeWay Christian Resources - I am enjoying my retirement life still here in Nashville. And that 23 year old will turn 79 in October 2020.

By the way, you can view all the photos of my gallery by clicking this photo or caption below:

1965 Great Northern Empire Builder

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; 
6 think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.   Proverbs 3:5-6

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Still Home Alone - Now In My FIFTH MONTH Home during Covid-19 Virus Pandemic

Still Celebrating LSU's Football National Championship

Mask Up Everyone

Home Alone Pandemic Fifth Month Update

Just a short update to let you know that I'm still Covid-19 free and still staying at home alone with limited trips to doctors and to do curbside pickups from restaurants and fast food places. Medically, my doctors are all giving me good reports so when I feel safe I'm good to travel.  Actually, I have zero travel plans and the first travel hopefully this calendar year will be to travel to my home State Louisiana to visit family and friends in the Shreveport/Bossier City area. I'm not making even those plans until the USA makes tons more improvement in the Covid-19 situation. Sadly, Tennessee is at the peak of number of new cases everyday with rising hospitalizations and deaths. We have now exceeded 50,000 positive cases of Covid-19. Also, many Tennesseans are not willing to wear masks nor physical distance from others.  So, I will maintain my "safer at home" status definitely through August and maybe longer awaiting a great reduction in new cases and hospitalizations.

While I do have great neighbors and church family support, I so greatly miss interactions except for phone calls with my blood Louisiana family and my adopted Tennessee family. If there is disappointment and sadness for me, it is this absence of family closeness. So I will close this update with these photos of the newest member of my Louisiana family.  My great great nephew Jack Malec will be 4 months old July 17. That is his mom and dad Cheri and Matt with him in the last photo. Hopefully, I get to meet him in person this year sometime.

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; 
6 think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.   Proverbs 3:5-6

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Home Alone - Months of Covid-19 Virus Pandemic

Relaxing at Home in March and April

Home Alone - Months of Covid-19 Virus Pandemic

When I returned home from my Winter 2020 trip on Amtrak's California Zephyr I was aware that the Covid-19 Virus was going to change my travel plans but was not aware that I along with most everyone else would be "staying home" for some length of time. Well, as of May 1, I have been home 48 days and now foresee staying home with limited trips to doctors' offices and other necessary places for possibly several months. I am 78 and do have type 2 diabetes so I will stay at or close to home until the actual number of cases and deaths greatly decline and there is adequate testing and tracing to assure my safety. As far as I am concerned my State of Tennessee and the rest of the USA will not be safe for me for some time to come. Most likely I will limit vacation type travel until after I personally can receive a safe and effective vaccine.  

I did cancel an Amtrak trip I had planned for April 16-30 immediately upon arriving home in early March for full refunds from Amtrak and Southwest Airlines. I simply cancelled the hotel reservations. So for the foreseeable future into 2021, I have no pleasure travel reservations or plans.

I do want to and will travel to my northwest Louisiana home when both Tennessee and Louisiana businesses are safely open and I personally feel safe flying on American Airlines.  I was scheduled to fly home to Shreveport, LA, May 12 but did cancel that reservation for a full refund of my frequent flyer points. I was to meet my newly born great, great nephew Jack Malec born March 17 and also to attend high school graduation of friend Macy Young whose parents and grandparents are dear friends. While disappointed that those plans have been delayed and cancelled, I know that Jack and all my family and friends will still be there when I can make the trip.

Great Great Nephew Jack Malec born March 17, 2020

So what have I been up to while staying home alone? Thankfully, church friends and neighbors have been taking great care of me.  My next door neighbors have been sharing cooked food from their dinner table. My church friend Lori has been doing my grocery shopping for me and my Sunday School teacher Kevin has kept in contact and is getting our class together Wednesdays and Sundays via ZOOM plus offering to meet most any need we may ask. 

My sisters in Louisiana have kept in touch and sent me two home made masks to wear when I go out to doctors' offices and other places. My Tennessee family Russ calls as does our mutual friend Daniel just to talk so I am remaining socially connected while staying home and physically distancing.

I updated my photo galleries with a gallery of photos showing you the great area I have to neighborhood walk. Click the following photo to see the gallery.

2020 Covid-19 Virus Pandemic 

Historic May 1-2, 2010 Rain and Floods

After viewing my 2020 Covid-19 gallery, you might like to check out the same neighborhood area photos after Nashville's historic and catastrophic floods ten years ago on May 1-2, 2010. Click the photo below to see the gallery.

Historic May 1-2, 2010, Rain and Flooding

Since Covid-19 Virus is a global pandemic, I hope that you are safe and doing well wherever you may be.  Since I don't have any travel plans for a while, I will post an update every couple months or so.

Prov.3 Verses 5 to 6 NKJV
[5] Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. [6] In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Amtrak February 2020 Winter Trip - Galleries Ready to View

Amtrak's California Zephyr in Colorado's Canyons

Amtrak 2020 Winter Trip - February 21 to March 7 - Chicago, Amtrak's California Zephyr, California

I write this travel blog update after being home in Nashville/Franklin, TN, two weeks staying at home social distancing hoping not to contract Coronavirus Covid-19 nor spread it. As a 78 year old with type 2 diabetes I am one of the group most susceptible to suffer severe conditions from this virus. I am healthy and I have had no evidence of the virus symptoms and I hope to keep it that way by staying at home isolating myself for the foreseeable future. I have had friends offer to get things I may need and my next door neighbors have been excellent in checking on me and sharing some of their cooked food and running a milk and bread run for me. In addition two other friends have picked up grocery items and delivered them to my home and, yes, we are practicing social distancing when they bring stuff to my door.  

This 2020 Winter Trip may be my only travel adventure this calendar year. I cancelled my April 16-30 Amtrak Trip on the Texas Eagle/Sunset Limited, Coast Starlight and California Zephyr with overnight stays in Chicago and Emeryville, CA. The only other trip I have planned and still have my flight reservation for is a trip to my Louisiana home in May but I am expecting we in the USA may still be asked to stay home practicing social distancing into May and possibly beyond. If I cannot travel in May, I will still travel to my Louisiana home later in the year.

Hopefully, each of you will be okay during this very different time of crisis all around the world. Be safe and do stay at home and practice social distancing.

Amtrak Winter Trip Photo Galleries Ready to View

Thankfully, I was able to experience this very enjoyable trip just prior to the covid-19 virus began spreading in the USA and took over 500 photos which I have uploaded to six photo galleries and they are ready for you to view. Here are the links to each of the photo galleries. Just click on the photo or caption to see the photos.


Amtrak's California Zephyr Westbound

East SF Bay Coastal Walk

San Francisco
Emeryville, Sacramento

Amtrak's California Zephyr Eastbound

If you would like to like here is the link to the 


While I may not have any definite future travel plans, I will update you in a few months how I am doing and maybe some future travel plans. 

As we travel through this uncertain time, just remember that GOD IS IN CONTROL and serving Jesus is my definite future.

Proverbs 3:5-6 New King James Version (NKJV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Amtrak 2020 Winter Trip - Back to Middle America March 5

My Friend Marice from Galesburg, IL

Back to Middle America - March 5

After a full week in Western USA, overnight my Amtrak California Zephyr transported me back into Middle America from Denver across Nebraska into the State of Iowa. So today we traveled across Iowa and Illinois into Chicago arriving early afternoon.  During my very brief stop in Galesburg, IL, my friend Maurice and I had time to take the selfie picture above. I met Maurice a few years ago on a rail fan road trip I made to Galesburg, IL. Maurice along with others runs the Galesburg Railway Museum at the Amtrak Station in Galesburg.

Just as the photos across Colorado were scenic, the photos below show the farming states of Iowa and Illinois(yes, Illinois has farms) which are an essential part of American life. Enjoy and be thankful.

The Mississippi River dividing Iowa and Illinois 

Galesburg, IL, Railway Museum

Having arrived back in Chicago and TheWit Doubletree Hotel my Amtrak 2020 Winter Trip has come to a end. After a restful day tomorrow, I travel home to Nashville/Franklin, TN Saturday.  I have taken over 500 digital photos which I will edit and organize into photo galleries for you to view. My next update will be after the photo galleries are ready for you to view soon in the next week or so. Thanks for traveling with me and also thanks to each of you who send emails communicating your interest in my Winter 2020 travels.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Amtrak 2020 Winter Trip - Colorado Eastbound

Another great scenery day passing through Colorado eastbound. I’m going to let these IPhone photos tell you today’s story. The first photo is from Utah. 

We arrive Denver soon and then overnight we travel through Nebraska. We travel through Iowa and Illinois tomorrow arriving Chicago mid afternoon. I will send laptop update tomorrow night.