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Monday, July 20, 2009

An early start again as I'm grabbing the 7:30 tour of Duluth.

Even before that, I wander down to the Duluth depot and museum for a look at GN 400 "Hustle Muscle".  Ron Erickson happens by and opens up all the doors for me.  Look at how clean that V-20 is!

Back to the hotel, we're all on the bus ready to go on time, but our guide from the Duluth Chamber of is nowhere to be found. Frantic phone calls can't get through their Byzantine voice mail. No matter. Bus captain John Tracy takes us on a WONDERFUL, off-the-cuff tour of downtown Duluth and their signature harbor lift bridge. John carefully points out the "gentleman's club" in downtown which I record for posterity.

I think that's one of our members going inside! Finally John gets hold of the C of C guy who apologizes and said he had us down for Wednesday! Well, thanks for nothing, then, "pal".

Off we go sans Duluth native to the Glensheen Mansion tour. Our busload is split up into different groups and we are assigned the rather fetching "Gina" as our tour guide.

Inside, you're not allowed to smoke, take pictures, eat, drink, or otherwise soil this lovely old heap. On first entering, it looks remarkably like the James J. Hill mansion in St. Paul (lots of dark wood everywhere). Since I can't show you any pictures, you'll have to check it out for yourself. How about online at:

Back to the bus we go and now it's lunch time (included) at the famous "Pickwick" restaurant. I have the Reuben sandwich which is very good, but unfortunately, I am seated right next to our cold-riddled bus driver who continues to hack and cough in my direction for the entire meal. As we exit Pickwick we find ourselves walking through a picket line! Uh-oh. Visions of 1930's movies of union thugs threatening replacement workers come to mind. It turns out, it's only an informational picket.

One of our members, Greg Smith, grabs a flyer and presents their demands:

Back to the hotel for the afternoon's presentations. I am getting a sore throat. Oh no. I decide to skip the afternoon's presentations and take a nap. I sleep 3 hours. When I wake up, I am on the verge of a major cold. Damn!

Still to come is the evening's train ride behind Hustle Muscle up to Two Harbors and back. I can't miss that. I gather a nest of Kleenex and suck it up.

We have a full train and first class is jam-packed into our assigned two cars. Bruce Barsness and I are momentarily sidetracked before boarding and as a result we both end up riding at the back of the 2nd car at a table with Jack and Anne Porzig. This is terrific as this part of the car has WORKING air conditioning. We took a walk back into the diner and lounge car and they are sweltering. Methinks it's hard to keep 60 year old equipment functioning!

Anyway, I'm glad I took the train trip. The dinner was loaded on the train just outside Duluth and we are among the first to walk through the buffet line.

After supper, we hang out in the baggage car and watch Ron Erickson run GN 400 around the train for the reverse move back to Duluth.

On the return trip to Duluth, I take a few more shots on the back of the observation car.

Halfway home, we stop for a unexpected photo runby!

It is getting too dark to take decent pictures, so I set my little camera on MOVIE and give it a try. It turned out pretty good!  Lindsay says, "Check it out!":

MY last picture (fittingly) is a picture of James J. Hill in the Lake of the Woods dining car. In the dark, we roll back into Duluth. My cold is getting worse, so I head straight back to the hotel and bed.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

It's 12:30 am. I can't sleep, my cold is so bad. A quick google search reveals a 24 hour Walgreen's drug store up on the hill above Duluth. I get in my rental car and head up there through the deserted streets for some Nyquil, Dayquil and a big box of tissues. Back in my room, the Nyquil really does the trick and knocks me out (at SLIGHTLY more than the recommended dosage).

My alarm rattles me awake at 6 am. There is NO way I'm gonna make it on an all-day tour of the Mesabi. I give John Tracy a call to let him know I'm too sick to be moved and go back to sleep.

There's nothing like a little virus to take the edge off a kid. I sleep all day. At 4 pm, I get up and catch me a nice, clean Subway sandwich and some chicken soup up near last night's Walgreen's. Mmmm...chicken soup. Grandma's penicillin.

By 8 o'clock, I'm feeling a little better. I head down to the Annual Meeting and President's Report.

There's not a lot of folks in attendance. The tour to the Iron Range ran a little late and I think a lot of people are still at dinner. From asking around, people seemed to enjoy the tour although it was a very long day for them. I find Bruce Barsness who went on the tour and he said he'll "swap pictures" with me for the convention. When I get his CD, I'll add his Iron Range tour pictures to this website.

After the meeting, I head back to bed. This is a bad cold, but I think after another night's sleep, I'll snap out of it.