I am truly not a fan of flying. I love traveling, it’s just the getting there that is such a pain. I attended the Christian Communicators Conference in North Carolina the end of August – flying both ways, uneventful trips, wonderful week – absolutely marvelous week – of fellowship, learning, overcoming, and prayer.
It happened that this year ACFW was to be in St. Louis. Since I live in central Kansas – thirty miles from a rail line, and an old railroad brat anyway, it seemed advantageous to take the train. Not!
Life can be very interesting. It seemed appropriate for the family to take me to Hutchinson to catch the train to get to St. Louis for the ACFW Conference. We came down early and took Linda, my sister-in-law, to supper at Braums . They make a good hamburger. That way, she could take me to the train in the small hours of the morning and be back at her house less than a mile away, quickly.
The Hutchinson station is an unmanned station, so there was no place to wait except in the car.
The eastbound #4 Southwest Chief was scheduled to stop in Hutchinson at 2:19 am. We arrived at the station plenty early. Sure enough at 2:19 an eastbound train came through. But it was a freight a mile and a half long and did not stop.
So we waited. It rained off and on and about an hour later the westbound #3 Southwest Chief came through. The conductor told us #4 would be by in about 20 or 30 minutes. Making it 4:00 am before we left Hutchinson.
Of course, I needed to connect with #314 the Missouri River Runner in Kansas City. The Chief is scheduled to get into Kansas City at 7:43 – virtually impossible with a 4:00 am start from Hutchinson. And the River Runner is scheduled to leave Kansas City at 8:15. We’d be lucky to make it.
If we miss that connection, there’s another train for St. Louis that leaves at 4:00 pm which would make me get into St. Louis late in the evening. I don’t relish the thought of having to take a cab to the hotel at 10:00 pm. I had really planned for this to be a little more leisurely.
Thank goodness the conference doesn’t start really until Thursday.
4:21 am. And we’re in Newton. It doesn’t look like there is much traffic here so it should be a fairly short stop. And 4:23 and we’re moving again. Half a dozen people got on here. All headed for Chicago it seems.
A young man boarded the train with me in Hutchinson – also headed for St. Louis and Fort Leonard Wood. I hope we make the connection. Please God…
We seem to be making good time. Stops have been short, and we’re rocking right along. It’s not yet 5:00 am. Maybe we’ll make it.
At 7:54 we are stopped in the Argentine freight yard. The train must be refueled before we can proceed to Kansas City which is about fifteen minutes away. A small moment of panic ensues while I contemplate trying to call someone from Heart of America Christian Writers Network to see if they know someone driving to St. Louis who will be leaving after 9:00 am.
Briefly I entertain the thought of seeing if there is a flight out of KC to St. Louis. About that time, the speaker comes on again and says they are holding #314 for our arrival. All we need do is to exit our car and cross the platform to the next rail and enter the train.
At 8:17 #314 leaves the station – a mere two minutes late. Praise the Lord – He took care of us again.
So here I am, safely ensconced in my room at the Hyatt Regency at the Arch. I’ve registered and gotten my packet. I had a late lunch in the Brewery on premises here. (Po Boy Fish sandwich – home made chips – and chipotle tartar sauce. Yum!) I’ll go down and see if there is someone to hang out with this evening.
New update on ACFW tomorrow.