Beer Can Museum Happenings

The mysterious inner workings of the mind of the Beer Can Museum curator.

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Location: Near Cape Cod, MA

I am constantly overwhelmed by the richness of life.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Steak on a Train

Before we left on our trip, I had done quite a bit of research on Amtrak overnight train travel. One thing that became a recurring theme was that the folks at Amtrak knew how to make a delicious steak. On the Silver Star heading south, steak didn't appear on the dinner menu, although the pork loin was quite yummy. Heading north on the Silver Meteor, steak suddenly appeared on the dinner menu (!) and three out of four of us ordered it. We were not disappointed. Mine was prepared medium, and went well with a nice glass of shiraz.

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Saturday, July 26, 2008


Rail service from NYC to Florida has been around for many years. A Google search will bring up some cool old pics of the Silver Meteor chugging through the Sunshine State in the 1950's. Obviously, many of the passengers on our train were heading to see that much-loved mouse in Orlando. While we were heading to Kissimmee, and avoiding the Disney theme parks, I was interested to watch the mass exodus at the Orlando station as eager vacationers streamed out of the train with visions of Cinderella's castle and character breakfasts dancing in their sleep deprived heads. As you can see, our destination station in Kissimmee was a little more quaint.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Silver Meteor from Kissimmee to NYC

Well, we're back home in New England after the vacation of a lifetime! The Silver Meteor brought us back to New York City with only 15 minutes worth of delays - not bad for a 22 hour trip! I'll post pictures and details soon but since I'm back at work I'll just leave a couple of Sanibel memory shots for today. The lighthouse was gorgeous and the alligator warnings on the island were real. We didn't see a gator on the resort property but those signs had us wondering!

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sea World, Orlando

Yesterday we took a seven mile canoe trip up the Weeki Wachee river and saw some unspoiled Florida wilderness. Manatees, including a mother and calf, cruised under us at times, giant spiders were spinning webs between palm trees, turtles sunned themselves on logs, and it was nice to see a part of Florida that wasn't overrun with tourists wanting a stuffed Mickey or a giant oversized pair of tighty whiteys that says "A Fart a day keeps the Wife away, Florida" - yes, we actually saw this today at a frightening flea market here in Orlando. Due to the very wet nature of yesterday's trip, we left the digital camera in the car and brought a disposable in a Ziploc baggie; so those pictures won't be ready for a few days. So, today I'm posting a few shots taken at Sea World last week. I really try to take time to savor the different flora and fauna of Florida; stuff we just don't see back in Boston. Some of these pictures are from exhibits at Sea World but some are just gorgeous wildlife and flowers we saw in the area. I hope you enjoy them.

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

No longer an American company

Well, I'm exhausted after canoing the Weeki Waachi river today and seeing manatees in the wild - very cool! Just a quick post to say that they need to change the sign at the Hospitality Suite at Busch Gardens in Tampa....I'm afraid it doesn't apply any more :-(
My brother-in-law and I still enjoyed the 2 free beers they gave us!
The bird gardens were spectacular, and I could've watched the flamingos all day. I also made a new primate friend, while my nephew made a new feathered friend!

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Birds of Sanibel

Sanibel Island really is a little slice of paradise, and if you're a birder (or bird watcher) it's even more so. We took the auto road through the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge and saw some great birds. The highlight for me, personally, was seeing 27 roseate spoonbills up the trees looking at us across the water. It was like something from a dream. Here are a few shots of birds that we saw on the island. The red shouldered hawk came swooping down right next to our car to grab a tasty crab for lunch! We appreciated the view.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

More glimpses....

I'm hoping these pics give you a sense of just how close you pass to some interesting sights while riding the rails. The fishermen seemed to be looking right at me (the windows are actually tinted so I could've mooned them and they never would've known - supposedly).

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Glimpses (Continued)

Glimpses from a train

I wondered before our trip how much of the country we'd actually see from a moving train. We could actually see more than I expected! Rolling through NYC, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., Richmond, Winter Park, and Orlando, we were able to see some great sights from our roomettes. We obviously saw a variety of trains passing by on the CSX owned tracks, but we saw some beloved American landmarks as well. Here is a sampling of some our glimpses from the train.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The space between....

The space between cabins (or 'roomettes') in the sleeper cars was a bit tight! Luckily, we knew what to expect heading into our rail adventure, thanks to our great friend Jim (also known as Ted Cox 4 President in the SoSH world).


A nice touch in the dining car

Even though we didn't have an official dining car (we had 'diner light', whatever that means), the flowers at the tables were a nice touch!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Additional Silver Star Pics

Just a few more Silver Star pics before I sleep and dream of tiny tree frogs (they're everywhere) and brown pelicans (also everywhere along Sanibel beach). Regarding the chess game...Andrew won handily, as he usually does.
And the white ibises are everywhere around here and pretty used to humans being nearby. Makes for great photo ops!

More on the Silver Star - NYC to Kissimmee, Fla.

Greetings from lovely Sanibel Island, Florida, where the exotic birds are plentiful and there's a sign outside our room warning us NOT to feed the alligators! I love this place. But let's flash back a few days to the Silver Star. Our sleeper cars were very comfortable in spite of the tight quarters. We were allowed to bring on one carry-on bag plus a laptop (my son and I each had ours), and we added an additional DVD player and nobody seemed to mind. During the day we had two recliner seats that faced one another, a fold out table which doubled as a chess or checkerboard, a fold down sink with 'potable water', and a toilet. Curtains with velcro strips gave us added privacy after we shut the cabin door and locked it at night. Antoinette helped Maryellen and Laura set up their bunks after dinner service, while Andrew and I handled our own an hour later. Sitting in the cabin can get a bit monotonous, so we tended to go for walks up to to see the baggage car, and then back to the rear of the train where many of the coach class passengers were sprawled out sleeping, tending to their kids, or playing cards. One guy had a full bottle of gin on his tray table and was clearly livening up that particular car. Yikes.

Our train was missing the regular dining car so we had a limited menu for our meals. Normally, we wouldn't have minded, but they handed us menus that tempted us with things like quesadilla appetizers and chocolatey desserts, only to tell us that only a couple of things were actually available. For lunch it was 'cheeseburger' or 'chicken sandwich', with something that was called a 'key lime tort' one minute, and then a 'lemon tort' the next. No chocolate cake. We saw lots of unhappy passengers complaining, but we were just thrilled to be eating on a train! The food was actually quite yummy. Dinner options were more varied. I enjoyed a nice merlot with my dinner (bbq pork rib) and my kids each ordered salmon which they gave a thumbs up, and Maryellen enjoyed a nice ravioli. Haagen Dasz ice cream made for a nice dessert. The next morning, the kids were just waking up when we realized it was 'last call' for breakfast. First class passengers are supposed to get all meals included, but when we arrived in the dining car to order up some eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, and croissants, we were told that the car was 'all full.' They had stopped serving the first class passengers and opened up the dining car to coach class and an unruly mob of sleep deprived passengers had filled the tables. Luckily, Antoinette came to our rescue, placing our orders and delivering them to our cabins. She even spread out white tablecloths in each of our cabins, handed us silverware, and made what could have been a frustrating situation into an Amtrak moment! Nicely done, Antoinette; and the food was delicious! Now I must sleep...I'm going shell hunting on the beach in morning before heading to the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge for a bird-filled (I hope) tram tour!

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Penn Station NYC

After taking an Amtrak regional train from Bridgeport, Ct. to Penn Station in New York City, we had an hour and a half to kill before the Silver Star left for Miami. Because we held first class (sleeper cabin - or roomette) tickets, we were told we could wait in the Acela Lounge, where we'd have complimentary coffee, juice, and pastries at our disposal, as well as newspapers, magazines, and comfy furniture. I was able to check e-mail, scan the latest headlines on Boston.Com, and upload pictures, all while sipping my free java and wolfing down a yummy and especially fattening cinnamon bun. Hey, it's vacation, I'll work it off when I get home, right? We settled in and thoroughly enjoyed the lounge. In the pictures you can see Andrew and Laura learning about the Penn Station of yesteryear in a vintage black & white photo...right before we headed into the lounge. And the Silver Star is listed on the big board as being on time. The receptionist in the lounge told us she would make an announcement when it was time to board - and she kept her word. The train would ultimately leave a half an hour late due to the train being on a track without a freight elevator and unfortunate Amtrak employees having to make extra long trips lugging luggage to the baggage car. But at 10:55 we were on board and settling into our cabins (rooms 5 and 6, directly across from each other) in car 9111, the first car behind the baggage car, which was directly behind the two engines.

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Silver Star - Penn Station NYC - Kissimmee, FL Pt 1

Well, there's much to tell and I will tell it soon...but right now I'm ready to drop into bed after carousing at Downtown Disney and the saucily named 'Pleasure Island' here in lovely Lake Buena Vista, Florida see pic which I just snapped minutes ago!). Suffice to say the train trip was fantastic and we actually arrived on time at our destination. Not too shabby, Amtrak! And many thanks to Antoinette, our wonderful attendant, who took very good care of us from NYC all the way to Florida. When does this poor woman sleep?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

To the Sunshine overnight train!

Greetings from the lovely Holiday Inn in Bridgeport, CT (home of the Bridgeport Bluefish) where it's a balmy 85 degrees and the herring gulls are soaring (over the hotel dumpster!). Our train adventure begins in the morning, but I wanted to check in and say that the first leg of our trip was a success: only one canoe in the middle of I-95 (dropped from a vehicle with an Alaskan license plate), a dozen turkey vultures - six of which were roosting on a high tension wire tower along the Connecticut River near Mystic, the famous blue bug in Providence, and my mother-in-law (we stopped to bid her adieu at Del's hair salon in Taunton - and she gave us money (!). This Bridgeport hotel brings back memories of my first job - at Harper's Furs in Bridgeport- back in the late 70's/early 80's - and all of the references to P.T. Barnum (including the PT Pub in the lobby, complete with carousel horses on either end of the bar) remind me of going to the Barnum Festival Air Show back in 1976, and the Barnum museum when visitors were in town. Onward to Penn Station in the morning...
Phineas T. says hello!

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