Monday, October 5, 2020

The Savannah Circle with Dave Ingles

JDI on a trip a few months after the one described here

My friend J. David "Dave" Ingles of Waukesha, WI passed away on October 4, 2020 at age 79. I've been thinking about him and the good times we had over the past 45 or more years ever since I received the word. I've written about a lot of these trips but somehow I've never written about this one. I imagine there will be some errors in this writeup as it is mostly from memory, but here goes.

In February 1985 I lost my job with a Pittsburgh startup. While I was looking for a new job Dave suggested that we go on a trip together to ride Amtrak's first Carolinian between Greensboro, NC and Raleigh, NC. This was a state-sponsored service that began in late 1984 and there was some concern that it would soon be gone. So we planned a trip to begin (I think) on Friday, April 20, 1985. As it happens I found a job that began on April 16 but my new (and current) employer was fine with me taking a day or two off for this previously planned trip.

At Charlottesville

That Friday I flew some sort of USAir (which became US Airways and then American Airlines) regional aircraft from my home of Pittsburgh to Charlottesville, VA and caught a taxi to the Amtrak station. I had some time to kill and had dinner while I awaited Dave's arrival on the Cardinal (due) at 5:30pm from Chicago. (Item: this was the first of two times I picked Dave up off the Cardinal...the second being in November 2009 when I picked him up in Charleston, WV enroute to Florida.) His train arrived in plenty of time for him to grab a dinner at a nearby Wendy's. Soon enough the Crescent (due at 8:42pm) arrived and we settled into our roomettes to get some shut-eye before our 12:30am (if we were on time) arrival in Greensboro, NC. (Item: as I write this my eyes are tearing up a little because ordinarily I could count on JDI's ever-present notebooks to provide exact arrival and departure times...but no more.) This was my second time detraining in Greensboro, the first being in the late 1970s when I got off an Independence Limit steam special and made my way quickly to the airport to barely catch my flight to Chicago. This time there was less drama as we simply caught a taxi to a nearby Red Roof Inn for the rest of the night.

The Carolinian at Greensboro

On Saturday, we got to sleep in a little because the Carolinian (technically I think the Palmetto/Carolinian at the time) wasn't due until 10:05am. We hung around the Greensboro station for a bit waiting for the train and along came this young green-eyed (ok, I exaggerate) reporter who knew Dave. And so I was introduced for the first time to Jim Wrinn who eventually became editor of Trains Magazine. (Dave was editor of Trains I think from 1987 to 1992. Jim became editor a number of years later.)

In Raleigh

After a quick trip to Raleigh arriving (if on time) 12:35pm we were met by Dave's old friend (he had friends literally everywhere) Wiley Bryan. Wiley spent the day driving us to railfan spots around Raleigh (Dave stopping us at once point to take a picture of an Art Deco movie theater marquee for friend Otto Dobnick) and to dinner at a favorite southern-style restaurant. (Can a restaurant be called southern-style in the South? Isn't that like ordering out for "chinese" in Bejing?) After dinner Wiley dropped us back at the Amtrak station where we waited for the Silver Star (due) at 8:25pm. Aboard the Star we again settled into roomettes for another short sleep for the relatively short ride to Savannah where it arrived at (due) 2:27am. While we awaited the northbound Silver Star due to leave at 3:48am we spent one or two hours in the middle of the night sitting on the platform watching a fleet of freights and a very impressive Auto-Train go through at speed.

Near Raleigh

Again we settled into roomettes, this time for a much longer sleep with the promise of breakfast and lunch in the dining car as we rode north to Washington where we were due at 3:25pm. This gave us 85 minutes to catch The Capitol Limited to Pittsburgh and Chicago which we easily caught, spending the intervening time taking photos of trains at Washington Union Station. Again we both had roomettes on this train as well, even though I was scheduled to detrain at 12:20am. After drinks in the lounge and dinner in the diner I said goodbye to my friend and shortly thereafter arrived in Pittsburgh where a short taxi had me quickly home. Dave went on to Chicago and eventually caught a Hiawatha to Milwaukee.

It was a wonderful trip with a good friend at a time when I really needed it. Remembering and writing about it today is something I also really needed.

Farewell my friend

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