Getting In and Getting Out of Dodge.
The Mississippi River cruise now over, I’m returning home on a round-about route and, of course, by train. The first leg is the City of New Orleans back to Chicago. Highlight of this segment is the lady working in the dining car half of the diner-lounge. Friendly, efficient, flexible and obviously enjoying the interaction with the passengers.
I had one night in Chicago, which included a subway ride out to see the Red Sox defeat the White Sox 4-to-1. The White Sox have once again peddled the naming rights to their ballpark. This time around, it’s Guaranteed Rate Field. That sure evokes fond memories of Billy Pierce and Minnie Minoso and Larry Doby, doesn’t it!
The next morning, I took a train to Galesburg and spent several hours catching up on family news with my brother and his wife. Then, in the late afternoon, I boarded the Southwest Chief for the overnight ride to Dodge City, Kansas. I’ve often passed through the town and always thought that one of these times it would be fun to stop off for a day. This is the time.
The Chief arrives in Dodge City at 5:09 a.m., 16 minutes early. It’s still pitch black, but waiting on the platform is Kurt ready to take me to the Boot Hill B&B, run by him and his wife Enid. I was shown into the Wyatt Earp Suite where I spend a couple of hours checking emails and reading about the latest outrage coming from Washington. Then, descending the stairway and entering the breakfast room, I found Special Deputy U.S. Marshal Charlie Meade–“Special” in quotes–spinning tales of old Dodge City for three tables of B&B guests. After a while, it becomes apparent that Charlie holds both Sherif Wyatt Earp and Marshal Matt Dillon (aka actor James Arness, star of the long-running TV series Gunsmoke) in about equal esteem.
The Boot Hill Museum is close by and next to it is a “main street” with shops and a bar and a soda fountain and a photo studio where you can be costumed in western gear and have your photo taken leaning casually on a saddle. The museum is quite interesting, even the part about how the cattlemen finally found a way to induce the Indians to “relocate” to a reservation: they killed all the buffalo.
The railroad has always been vital to Dodge City, taking literally millions of cattle from here to stockyards in Chicago and other cities. On display across the parking lot from the museum and “main street” is a wonderful steam locomotive, number 1139, built by Baldwin in 1903. The trouble is, some well-intentioned person outlined this beautiful machine with white Christmas lights. I dunno … to me, that’s irreverent. And just down the road from the B&B is a steak house where I plan to have dinner tonight. I have no doubt their steaks are terrific.
Kurt says he’ll be happy to drive me to the station tomorrow morning. The Chief is due here at 5:25 a.m., but he says the westbound train is often early. No matter. I’ll board, settle into my roomette and, at 6:30, head for the dining car and breakfast. Not a bad way to get outta Dodge!