Out and About – Week of December 4th

On November 18, we traveled to Owosso, Michigan, where we boarded the Polar Express. The Polar Express is a train that runs from Owosso to Ashley several times during the Christmas holiday season. Reservations were made last March, due to the popularity of this family experience. Our scheduled departure time was 5 PM. We were told that we could pick up our tickets at will call at 4 PM. This sounds reasonable, except for the fact that we arrived at the departure point early and ended up waiting out in the cold rain for forty-five minutes. Again, not that unreasonable, but I hadn’t dressed properly for the weather and ended up boarding the train with cold and wet feet. Entirely my fault, because we had been advised to dress for inclement weather.

The one-hour train ride to Ashley was extremely memorable. Hot chocolate and the festive atmosphere on the train made the time pass much too quickly. Besides, I really didn’t have a chance to properly warm up.

Arriving in Ashley, we were met with townspeople dressed for the event. Everyone waved to us as we pulled into the station. Ashley had closed several of the streets and had plenty of shops open for us to venture in and purchase a variety of holiday wares. Restaurants were also available, so we had a wide selection of foods to choose from during our two-hour visit.

At 8 PM, the train’s whistle signaled it was time to board the train for our return trip back to Owosso. Getting nine hundred people back onboard takes more than just a couple of minutes. It wasn’t long before we were waving good-by to the citizens of Ashley.

The return trip was a little busier than the trip over. We were kept busy singing Christmas carols and playing games. I was amazed how many families dressed for the occasion. Moms, dads and their children had matching pajamas. This really added to the family atmosphere.

I would guess there were about twenty cars making up the train. At least two cabooses were near the locomotive. Those wanting to ride in a caboose, paid top dollar. The locomotive itself was, for a lack of a better word, magnificent. It is the Pere Marquette 1225. It was built in 1941 by Lima Locomotive Works. It had been refurbished to its original condition over the years. It weighs 440 tons, has a water capacity of 22,000 gallons, a coal capacity of 22 tons, uses 150 gallons of water per mile, and goes through a ton of coal every 12 miles. A ton of soft coal costs $200.

If you ever have the opportunity to travel the Polar Express, please don’t pass it by. If you have children or grandchildren, try to share this experience with them. I promise that it will be an adventure you’ll never forget.

At a recent City Commission meeting, the topic of Medicinal Marijuana was discussed. A motion was made, and it was voted to have two public forums before a decision was made on the issue. The first of the two forums will be at tonight’s City Commission meeting. The second will be Tuesday, December 19. If you are interested in this topic, this is the perfect opportunity to let your opinion be heard. Please don’t wait until after a decision has been made and then come forward and complain. There is a reason to have these public forums.

This week’s “Myth Buster”: You should leave the lights on because it takes more energy to turn them back on than you’ll save by turning them off. FALSE. Fluorescent lights do take a small surge of power when turned on, but this is significantly smaller than the amount saved by turning them off. It used to be that starting them shortened their life, but again this is not significant. It’s always better to turn off modern lights if leaving for more than a minute.

The highest reward for a person’s toil is not what he gets for it, but what he becomes by it.

There are only four words in the English language which end in “dous”: tremendous, horrendous, stupendous, and hazardous.

See you Out and About!

Submitted by Norm Stutesman

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