As many of our regular rail fest attendees know, one of our primary goals during each meet is to discuss where we are going to go in the future. Over the course of the three-day event we had in the New York City area on January 12-13-14, I had discussions with many different people.
At one point I shared with some people a hardcopy printout of a rough calendar I made showing my intentions for the next 5 years 2007-2011. Until now it hasn't been made public, but now here it is.
However, I love to use the word tentative, and that calendar is just that.
In 2006, we actually had five outings that I arranged, namely BARF 2006, NJ RailFest 2006, Montreal RailFest 2006, MARF 2006 (Baltimore & Philly), and the Keystone Excursion in November. My original idea for 2007 were to try and have the same number of events.
However, having another rail fest in March 2007 poses a few problems. The above calendar reflects for this a 3-day event (Garden State RailFest) that would have included NJ TRANSIT commuter rail in North Jersey, a well as the Atlantic City Line and one SEPTA round trip as well. This would have involved people getting hotel rooms in the Philadelphia area. Looking at the calendar, it was found that the first two weekends in March, the Flower Show is in town at the Philadelphia Convention Center. Such major events tend to gobble up available rooms or inflate their prices. The third weekend of the month, St. Patrick's Day happens to fall on a Saturday. We've found in the past that this causes conflicts as well. The fourth full weekend of the month might work, except that it is too close to my planned annual trip to Florida, for which I intended to leave on March 31st or April 1st.
Now as most of you are aware, I've decided that for our large summer trip it's time to go cross country and tackle one of our several fests planned on the west coast. I chose Northern California because of the number of possible activities and the fewest pending projects. Obviously with Southern California and the Pacific Northwest having large project under construction we want to hit those after the new stuff opens.
So the OTOL Northern California RailFest 2007 is born. I've known in my heart for a while now the time is right for this major trip, and I've spent many weekends at work putting together an impressive list of hotels and restaurants in the cities we intend to visit. For those like myself who would be going by rail from points on the east coast, we are talking 12 days. If you are originating in the Midwest and taking the train, it would be 10 days. Some may also opt to fly to California and join us just for our four full days of train riding within Northern California. And if you live on the west coast, please do join us as well during that period of time. The above homepage has a synopsis of where we would be each of the 12 days (which span the period of July 13-24), as well as a link to the specific itinerary with each rail line.
The fact that we will be away for 12 days on the NoCal Fest, including 5 nights in hotels within California and as many as 6 nights aboard trains, was another reason to bypass any potential rail fest in March. Our longest fest to date, the EagleFest event in 2005, was a total of 8 days for those of us from the east coast, so the 4 additional days are a longer period of time than a fest in March would have been. Instead we can all channel our financial resources, time off from work, plus my preparatory activities and post-fest reporting, into making the NoCal fest one of our best ever. I hope everyone tries to attend at least part of this event, if not all of it. Getting together to ride trains has always been a memorable experience, and most participants come away with feelings of comeraderie and are eagerly awaiting the next event.
Those who have been watching my NoCal itinerary for some time may noticed some major recent changes, particularly to the overall dates of the event, as well as our activities in San Francisco. Things were moved up one day to the July 13-24 period because one of our members discovered last week that the westbound California Zephyr had its sleepers already sold out for the July 15th Chicago departure. The other major change was for the day we are riding Muni in San Francisco. Streetcar and cable car trips were juggled around so that we have time to ride the newest line, the T-Third Street line, as well as visiting the Cable Car Museum. I think the latter will be an interesting diversion, as I know we enjoyed the streetcar barn we visited in Dallas in 2005.
We are still a little under 6 months away, but please stay tuned for updates as the event gets closer and closer!