On Saturday and Sunday, October 6 and 7, 2007, The Steam Railroading Institute will be conducting its fall excursion from Kawkawlin to Grayling, Michigan.  Amateur Radio has been asked to play a significant role in this event.
   During the 2005 excursion, it was discovered that cellular coverage along the route was very problematic.  Therefore, Amateur Radio operators are being asked to provide periodic reports of train location and handle any operational traffic or emergency communications that might arise during the excursion.  Our plan is to place two radio amateurs on-board.  One would be equipped with a handheld radio (and spare batteries!) and the other with a portable VHF (two-meter) radio, mag-mount antenna, and power supply.  Communications will be provided through assigned stations monitoring excursion progress via VHF repeaters along the route.
   "Shore" stations must be willing to place periodic telephone calls and should have some real experience handling third-party traffic.  As this event occurs on SET weekend, ARES groups supporting the excursion by providing this service can count the activity toward their SET points.
   The Saturday excursion leaves Kawkawlin at 8-AM and is scheduled to arrive at Grayling at 4-PM.  However, one should allow extra time for any delays, which may arise.  The Sunday excursion leaves Grayling at 4-PM and is scheduled to arrive at Kawkawlin at 8-PM.  Again, volunteers should allow for delays. We can set this up for two teams, one team for each day, or, if one team wants to spend the night in Grayling and return the following day, we can accommodate this as well.  Grayling will be holding a big event that weekend, with plenty to do in the area.
   This is an ideal opportunity for an ARES or NTS member who is also a rail fan!
   A safety certification briefing will be conducted at Owosso in advance of the event for those who will be riding the train.  This will take place before the event, most likely in September.  This briefing is required for insurance purposes and to insure both volunteer and passenger safety.
   If you are a rail fan or enjoy railroad history, you will not want to miss this opportunity.   If you would like to volunteer for this event, please contact Jim Wades, K8SIW at: wb8siw@charter.net
   For those interested in railroad matters, the excursion will be pulled by the famous Pere Marquette 1225 steam locomotive.  The 1225 was built to haul fast freight between the steel mills of Indiana and Illinois and the "arsenal of democracy" (Detroit) during the war years.  The 1225 is, in many respects, the pinnacle of steam locomotive technology, having been designed and built at the close of the steam era. Movie fans will recognize the 1225 as the authentic "Polar Express" locomotive utilized for the initial filming and modeling of the animated Christmas move "Polar Express" starring Tom Hanks. A link to the train's routes can be found at http://www.mi- arpsc.org/images/Kaw-Gra.gif


A Washington, DC, airport ticket agent offers some examples of why our country is in trouble...
1. I had a New Hampshire Congresswoman ask for an aisle seat so that her hair wouldn't get messed up by being near the window. (On an airplane!)
2. I got a call from a candidate's staffer, who wanted to go to Cape town.  I started to explain the length of the flight and the passport information, then she interrupted me with, "I'm not trying to make you look stupid, but Cape Town is in Massachusetts." Without trying to make her look stupid, I calmly explained, "Cape Cod is in Massachusetts, Cape town is in Africa. Her response - click.
3. A senior Vermont Congressman called, furious about a Florida package we did. I asked what was wrong with the vacation in Orlando. He said he was expecting an ocean-view room. I tried to explain that's not possible, since Orlando is in the middle of the state. He replied, "Don't lie to me, I looked on the map and Florida is a very thin state!"
4. I got a call from a lawmaker's wife who asked, "Is it possible to see England from Canada?" I said, "No." She said, "But they look so close on the map."
5. An aide for a cabinet member once called and asked if he could rent a car in Dallas. When I pulled up the reservation, I noticed he had only a 1-hour layover in Dallas. When I asked him why he wanted to rent a car, he said, "I heard Dallas was a big airport, and we will need a car to drive between gates to save time.
6. An Illinois Congresswoman called last week. She Needed to know how it was possible that her flight from Detroit left at 8:30 am got to Chicago at 8:33 am. I explained that Michigan was an hour ahead of Illinois, but she couldn't understand the concept of time zones.  Finally, I told her the plane went fast, and she bought that.
7. A New York lawmaker called and asked, "Do airlines put your physical description on your bag so they know whose luggage belongs to whom?" I said,"No, why do you ask?" She replied, "Well, when I checked in with the Airline, they put a tag on my luggage that said (FAT), and I'm overweight.  I think that's very rude!" After putting her on hold or a minute while I looked into it (I was laughing). I came back and explained the city code for Fresno, CA is (FAT - Fresno Air Terminal), and the airline was just putting a destination tag on her luggage.
8. A Senator's aide called to inquire about a trip package to Hawaii.  After going over all the cost info, she asked, "Would it Be cheaper to fly to California, and then take the train to Hawaii?"
9. I just got off the phone with a freshman Congressman who asked, "How do I know which plane to get on?" I asked him what exactly he meant, to which he replied, "I was told my flight number is 823, but none of these planes have numbers on them."
10. A lady Senator called and said, "I need to fly to Pepsi-Cola, Florida.  Do I have to get on one of those little computer planes?" I asked if she meant fly to Pensacola, Fl. on a commuter plane. She said, "Yeah, whatever, smarty!"
11. A senior Senator called and had a question about the documents he needed in order to fly to China. After a lengthy discussion about passports, I reminded him that he needed a visa. "Oh, no I don't. I've been to China many times and never had to have one of those." I double checked and sure enough, his stay required a visa. When I told him this he said, "Look, I've been to China four times and every time they have accepted my American Express!"

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