You have seen the photos, the video, and read the reviews, but how about the rest of the story from someone who lived the journey for a week.
I was lucky enough to cover this train ride from Los Angeles to New York with a collegue for CBS Radio and it truly was an experience of a lifetime.
Martina McBride, her crew, and the crew from Amtrak were awesome in everyway. We were able to attend all the meet-and-greets, album listening parties, and eat all the peanut butter ice cream cups (inside joke) we could handle, with the goal being to provide you, the fan, the opportunity to live this experience through our eyes.
I am now going to give you a blow-by-blow recap of what went down.
Sunday: We took a flight out to Los Angeles, which was uneventful, but our shuttle ride to the hotel was nothing but. For the next 30 mins I had the opportunity to listen to a girl and her mother (and manager) talk about a pilot they were in town to shoot at Disney Studios (isn’t eveyone in L.A. an actor?). At this point I just wanted to get to a TV to check on my fantasy football. When we arrived at the hotel, and after finding out that I in fact won my fantasy football game, I could now relax and await our early morning departure.
Monday: We were greeted in the lobby of our hotel at 4:15am by J.D. Haas Entertainment who would be ensuring that we made it to the train, on the train, and everything in between. J.D. and Kathy were always on their toes and always ready to help, even providing sheet music for a sing-along on the shuttle bus. We arrived at 4:30am (on the dot, as JD promised), at Los Angeles’ Union Station downtown and got our first glimpse of the train and the media crush that would ensue at each stop.
After getting checked into our Roomette on the train, we then went outside for the opening ceremony, which would be our first glimpse of Martina. The cermony went on to truly kick off the cross country event, but not totally prepare us for what was in store.
Time to roll: The train departed from Los Angeles around 8am and we were on our way. Our first stop would be in Flagstaff, Arizona nearly 8 hours later. This was the time to eat, catch up on some work, sneak in a nap, and also attend the events that Martina had planned. In addition to myself and my collegue, the train included various contest winners, music industry people, and certain sponsors. Many left the trip and we picked up more along the way at various stops. The time on the train was a blast, very comfortable, and great scenery outside. We watched as the city of Los Angeles gave way to desert, desert to mountains, and mountains to red rock. We have arrived in Flagstaff.
Flagstaff: I wasn’t sure what to expect out of the crowd, the train station, or even the weather. However, when we did get off the train, the crowd was energized and glad to see Martina, the train station was cool and very “old west”-looking, and the weather was chilly. Someone from the crowd told me that it snowed last week. This cermony was one of the quicker ones, which included local radio stations, and more. Following that stop we were off to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Albuquerque: This was a long stretch of the journey, and the train had to stop a few times along the way, so we were running quite late to this stop. Low and behold though, when we pulled in at nearly 3am local time, there was a huge crowd on-hand (in again cold conditions, and my collegue from the trip notified me we were at about 7,000 feet) to see Martina perform for the first time on the tour. It was a magical performance that I was in awe of. Here is a performer that has been on a train for 8 hours, it was cold, and it was late (or early, depending on how you want to look at it) and she killed it. The crowd loved it. She performed 7 songs and we were again on our way, this time to Martina’s home state of Kansas.
Make sure you click page 2 to continue the story…
Newton, Kansas and Kansas City, Moussori: These were day 2 stops which included Martina’s home state of Kansas and Kansas City. The small town feel of the early stops were cool to me, as I have never had the chance to visit these places.
Chicago, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh: Now steamrolling into the third day, the morning took us to Chicago (my hometown), although it felt weird to know that I would still be going over 900 miles out of the way. Chicago was a performance stop and Martina did not disappoint. She belted out 5 songs off her new album, “Eleven”, including her latest hit, “I’m Gonna Love You Through It”, which shows family support for Breast Cancer Survivors, also one of the themes of the trip, as several representatives Susan G. Komen were on hand and on board, presenting each city with donation money and listening to stories of survivors. There is also a banner that is being taken around to all the stops, where people can sign their well wishes, and it will be placed on display when we arrive in New York City.