Sunday, February 21, 2021

A Trip to Morehead City

One of the very few pictures I took on that trip

On February 20, 2007 I learned of an opportunity to ride a special train from Morehead City, NC to New Bern, NC the weekend of May 12 and 13 celebrating the Morehead City Sesquicentennial. Not a particularly long ride but one that interested some friends including Rick from Chicago and I so we began to make plans. I would fly into Raleigh on Thursday, May 10th and check into a hotel for the evening. Rick had to work the night of the 10th and would fly in from Chicago on the morning of May 11. From there we'd make our way to Morehead City, ride one of the excursions the next day, then head back to Raleigh and both fly home either that Saturday night or Sunday morning.

Then on April 6 the organizing committee sent out a notice that made the trip even more interesting. They were offering a chance to ride the train on May 11 from Goldsboro, NC as it came into Morehead City for the celebration. This seemed workable with our original flights so we signed up.

Then I asked myself the obvious question "how and when would the train be getting to Goldsboro?" So on May 8 I reached out to a friend at Amtrak and learned that the train would be heading unoccupied from Raleigh to Goldsboro, leaving around 1pm on May 11. The friend was able to arrange for Rick and I (and a few others) to ride the deadhead move.

The trip to Morehead City could not have worked out much better. I flew in, as planned, on Thursday afternoon and met up with friends John Arbuckle and Murrel Hogue. I rented a car to be dropped downtown the next day and checked into my hotel and then had a (not very good) BBQ dinner. Then John took the car and checked into his hotel down the road.

Friday morning Rick called me when his plane landed. John picked him up and brought him to my hotel where he sacked out for about 90 minutes. John then went back to the airport, picked up Dave Smetko and his girl friend and took them and Murrel to breakfast and then dropped Dave and friend downtown. He then picked up Rick and I and the four of us drove to the Hertz location near downtown and they dropped us all at the Amtrak station. (The car came to about $9 a person so it was a bargain compared to taxi.)

The Amtrak person who had arranged for us to be able to ride out of Raleigh had given me the name of the road foreman who gave us instructions as to where to wait to board the train (which was sitting in the station when we arrived at about 12:20pm.) John and Murrel had also talked to the person at Amtrak. A small group of us (including the above mentioned six people plus John Emery and Mark Entrop and a few locals ... not sure how or even if they arranged things) boarded just prior to 1pm and sat in the car right behind the food service car. (Five Amfleet I's...2 coaches, food service, 2 coaches with an engine on each end.)

A portion of the train prior to departure from Raleigh

The ride was reasonable quick to Selma (the start of "new" mileage) and on to Goldsboro where we arrived sometime after 2pm. Rick and I took a walk around town looking for signs of an old depot...we did not find it but it turns out there was one...just not near where we were looking. Then we got back on the train awaiting the buses from Morehead City. The five buses arrived around the expected time and the other passengers boarded. No one ever checked that we were ticketed, but I did manage to meet Patricia (the woman on the organizing committee I had worked with) and introduce myself. Nice lady. On board they had given every four people a box meal that included cucumber sandwiches, some shrimp and sauce, some cheese, grapes, and probably some other things I'm missing. They also passed some delicious Chicken Satay and Scallops wrapped in bacon. There was also ample soft drinks, water, beer, wine, and mixed drinks on board. A very nice operation. (The first part, with just the handful of us, was much nicer because it was quiet.)

The train operated a bit late (left late) and did not make up time. Near New Bern we passed an old civil war battlefield where they stopped the train so that we could see a reenactment instead of the rest of the line in daylight. We arrived pretty close to 9pm. Friend Ed Graham who had ridden the bus out of Morehead City had agreed to take us to our hotel which was near his.

On Saturday Ed also gave us a ride to New Bern (where he was headed anyway) so that we could pick up our one way rental car to Raleigh. After a nice drive with Rick taking pictures of depots along the way, and a good lunch we turned the car in and both Rick and I flew to Chicago. (I went to see my Mom for Mother's Day and my Dad who had been in the hospital earlier in the week.) I returned to Pittsburgh the evening of May 15.

A great memory.

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