I just got an email about an interesting seemingly UK-based travel blog site called My Life of Tr@vel.
All kinds of folks post pictures and journal entries about their current and past trips. Very cool, some with interesting insights and many with stunning photos.
While the ol' STL will always be home, I always want to travel more. So far, I've been to three continents, and twelve countries. I do have a little page I rarely update on VirtualTourist.com that lists most of the places I've ever visited with a handy little map highlighting the countries where I've been. You can create one of those pages, too!
In other news, I was excited to read that Amtrak will be expanding service in the State of Illinois.
The Illinois state legislature approved DOUBLING the funding to Amtrak (via IDOT), from $12 million to $24 million.
Amtrak already has routes radiating out from Chicago Union Station to St. Louis, Carbondale, Quincy, and Milwaukee. The additional funding will allow for more service on those routes.
It sure would be nice if the Missouri state legislature would consider such a move.
Meanwhile, we in the STL will get two more round-trip options for getting to Chi-town on the train ... and MO will not have to pay a dime.
Sometimes I think some of the outstate legislators would be quite happy if we'd just secede and join Illinois, anyway.
I would love to someday see Amtrak service funded by MODOT expanded with one additional trip each direction from STL to Kansas City.
An earlier westbound departure - say, 4:00 AM - would reach Jefferson City about 7:30 AM, providing another option for folks who need to spend a full workday in the Capital. As it is, the only morning train arrives in Jeff about 11:00 AM, almost lunchtime. Similarly, a later evening eastbound train would help many folks as well with more scheduling options.
Even better would be adding State-funded service along the routes currently served by the national Texas Eagle and Southwest Chief routes once daily. Between St. Louis and Poplar Bluff along that route are a number of towns that could benefit from Amtrak service: Festus; DeSoto; Potosi (via Mineral Point); maybe even Ironton. How about a stop at Jefferson Barracks, to provide better access to that historic military post as well as a convenient access point for South Countians?
None of those towns are served by Greyhound. Its only stop in the vicinity is off US 67 at Farmington.
And how about an Amtrak Thruway bus service connecting train stops at La Plata, MO or Quincy, IL to Hannibal, MO? That would enhance access to that historic river town.
Similarly, MODOT could finance restoration of service to Marceline, eliminated in 1997; and maybe add a stop somewhere like Carrollton, both on the Southwest Chief route.
Better yet: how about a new service corridor along the Mississippi River? That could become a tourist attraction in and of itself. The ride along the Missouri on the current route sure is stunning. A route next to the Mississippi could be very cool, like taking MO Route 79 up to Hannibal but without the driving!
It could run south-to-north from Fort Madison, IA, connecting with the Southwest Chief, then stop at Keokuk, IA (right across the border from Missouri), and Canton, MO (home of Culver-Stockton College), maybe somehow Quincy, IL (or perhaps that would be a more sensible northern starting point instead), Hannibal of course, charming Louisiana, even more charming Clarksville, maybe Winfield for eagle-watching and ferry-boat-riding, perhaps the Golden Eagle Ferry landing for St. Charles County resident access, somewhere in the Spanish Lake area for North County resident access, ending up in downtown St. Louis.
A southern route along the Mississippi could serve Kimmswick (come to think of it, doesn't the Texas Eagle go through there, too?), Ste. Genevieve, somewhere on MO 51 to serve Chester, IL and Perryville, MO, and end in Cape Girardeau. Down in the Boot Heel, trains don't run adjacent to the Mississippi. But perhaps some way could be figured out to connect that end with Poplar Bluff via Sikeston. It's hard to tell from a map whether any of the tracks in that part of the state connect that way; some may just cross-over one another because they're owned by different freight railroads.
I know, I know: we don't have the money for that kind of thing currently. And coordinating with the freights to allow passenger service to have better on-time performance is a serious concern. But I can dream, can't I?