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I decided to take the 3.5 day train run out to Lincoln, NE. We left pretty much on time and made good progress throughout the day as far as I could tell. Since there are no animals on this long run, we will not be stopping to refill the water tanks (because screw you humans!). This will save us travel time and probably some $$ too. Partway through the afternoon an announcement was made that we were approaching the Altoona Horseshoe Curve, a rare stretch of rail that allows one to see the entire circus train! There were many people taking footage of us so I hope those railfans will share it soon! Here is the video I took, and you can also CLICK HERE to watch Rob's (GM) as his is from a really good angle.

The next day was much the same. I woke up in a confused state thanks to the time change...I looked at my clock and it said 8am, so I went back to sleep...about an hour later I looked again and it said 8:02?? Whaaaat. Then, remembering the time change, I got up :P It was rainy and foggy so no good morning pics, but the weather cleared later. I took a video of our train crossing the Mississippi:

Later on, I thought I was getting good photos of the sunset but Nikki's put mine to shame.

(photos courtesy Nikki R.)

Chris (elephant crew) is riding the train for possibly the first time as a passenger. He's probably ridden it before while working with the elephants, but he would've stayed with the animals 24/7 and wouldn't have had time to relax on the vestibules. So I think this was a bit of a new experience for him! At some point he got a startling video of our train passing another moving train. He said the wind was so strong it almost knocked him over. This is why you don't stick your head out on the rail side. Safety first. CLICK HERE to watch. PS I'm sorry I can't embed this video, LiveJournal is being ridiculous.

It was a beautiful run and I was glad to be on it :)
We arrived pretty much exactly on time! Since this is a new train yard for me and everyone, I got a little picture-happy. My car is on "waterfront property"!

I have always seen these huge purple thistles from the train, but never got to see them close up before! They're so big! And they smell pretty nice!

There were also these big dandelion-looking things, which I found out later are a type of edible plant in the sunflower family called salsify.

While I was poking around, train crew was working.
Here are some of the circus wagons being unloaded from the flatcars:

Opening day was good. This is a very nice new arena, just three years old. We enjoyed some great climate control, working elevators, and other such amenities that are often not available in older venues :)

There's a big walking bridge that will take you over the tracks or into the downtown area. You can look down and see the animal open house area when you're on it.

(photo courtesy Rob L.)

The band has contract negotiations coming up, and as union steward I've got to make sure we're all on the same page as far as what's in our contract, what can be changed and what we should expect going into negotiations. After the opening day rehearsal, I held a meeting to go over the contract with all members of the Red Unit band. I think it went really well. Now I'll reevaluate everything we talked about and confer with the Blue Unit steward before we begin negotiations.

Slick was the union steward before me, so I felt I had a lot to live up to! Hopefully he would've give me the thumbs up :)

Saturday, three shows. Once again I decided to visit the animal area. I'm begining to learn that the tigers are most active before the first show; between the other shows they prefer to nap. I'll have to start dropping by earlier! Here is a tiger taking a nap in the most adorable way possible. FYI, this tiger is not locked in a cage. He/She can choose between the shaded trailer or the outdoor run. Same for all the other tigers.

Meanwhile the miniature ponies were enjoying some grooming and snacks:

...and the camels were getting some love! Haha!

For those interested, here is the dog trailer (the dogs are privately owned by the Emelins so they're not a part of the open house). There are some pretty sweet kennels inside! But when the weather is nice the dogs spend much of their time outside.

The shows on Saturday went well, although I think we had pretty small audiences. Ah well.

On Sunday we only had one show in the afternoon, which is great because it gave us more time to enjoy Lincoln! The area near the arena seems new as well, with lots of trendy restaurants and some tourist-y shops. Jameson and I played a little Ingress, then went to Blue Sushi Sake Grill on the recommendation of Nikki (train crew). Here's my meal, the "roja": tuna, yellowtail, avocado, cucumber, cilantro, pink soy paper, and sriracha. Yum!

After the food we decided to relax at the hotel. Tomorrow we'll begin the drive to Colorado Springs. It's another repeat city, but I gotta say I won't mind living next to that lovely park again!

Other stuff:

The Big Apple Circus, a nonprofit New York City-based show, is in financial crisis. This circus has been around since the 1970s. Despite inflation, they have chosen to keep their ticket prices low so that poorer folks could still enjoy the show. BAC also always provides free entertainment for ill or disabled children. CLICK HERE to read more about the Big Apple Circus and its struggle, and if you'd like to help you can donate HERE.

The grid going up here in Lincoln:

(photo courtesy Applesauce)

When it comes to changing bolts, Nikki is just the right size to get into those tight spaces between the wheelset and the cars! You go girl!!

(photo courtesy Nikki R.)

I took this on the train run, to show some of the differences in the number of rooms on each train car. The photo on the left is of a car with only five rooms. Each room has bathroom facilities, and the laundry facilities are shared in the center space. On the right, a car with fourteen(!) rooms, shared bathroom facilities in the center, and laundry on one end near a door.