Itinerod Postal Circuit
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The Itinerod Postal Circuit, commonly known as the Itinerod, is an important mail train circuit that crosses the Trans-Antarctic Mountain Range to deliver mail to and from South Pole City.
The route was built by Eastshield and Trans-Antarctica. Oil to fuel the mail trains was provided by West Pengolia (Penghis Khan thought the plan sounded PWNsome), and all three states funded the entire project.
In 2004, the USA was booming. The country had fully recovered from the War of 2002 and was expanding rapidly. The economy was showering money, business were prospering, government was fair and just, and Mabel had not yet established herself as an annoyance.
However, there was one small snitch that might have halted all of this prosperous growth: commerce and communication.
The country's capital, South Pole City, was virtually inaccessible from the western states -- Trans-Antarctica, the Antarctic Peninsula, and the Sub-Antarctic Islands. The Trans-Antarctic Mountains blocked the way, forcing mail carriers to drive, ship, or fly their cargo all the way around the mountain range and to the capital. This made communication between the two areas very difficult.
In early February, the South Pole Council called a meeting to solve this postal problem. There had to be a way to get mail directly through the Trans-Antarctic Mountains and to South Pole City. Happyface, for one, suggested a portal. However, such a portal would have to be very powerful to hyperjump mail across hundreds of miles of mountain range -- and such a portal would be too expensive. Planes too could not be used due to the perpetual stormy weather surrounding the mountain range. Other suggestions, like using a giant catapult, or building a giant, pressurized tube to shoot packages across, were just plain silly.
Finally, the council agreed to build a train circuit. Cape Snowme, TA, a cozy little mining town in Trans-Antarctica, was chosen to be the starting point due to the Trans-Antarctican HQ of the US Postal Service being there. The tracks would have to be built before the sun set at Sunshine Fjord, or the project would have to be cancelled or postponed due to the freezing temperatures and perpetual nighttime during the Antarctic winter.
Amazingly, the construction teams were able to finish the project three weeks before the winter solstice, and they snagged a bonus, too -- free oil from West Pengolia to fuel the trains, provided by Penghis Khan, who thinks mail trains are almost as PWNsome as he is, since they carry his PWNsome decrees and bring him PWNsome cargo. The Itinerod was a major success, and the USA continued to prosper safely.
Looking at the map to the left, the small square in the bottom left is Cape Snowme, TA. The Itinerod route is the orange line, and the Antarctic Express and South Pole Council-GourdZoid Council mail route are both shown in red and blue, respectively. The dark brown spot is the OH NOEZ SCAR and the long, white canal is Howler Canyon. Hackzon Valley is the black pit at the bottom and the light blue river is the Sunshine River.
Itinerod Trains vary in length, depending on the amount of mail they carry. The official regulations of the US Postal Service state the following requirements and limitations in assembling an Itinerod train:
- There must be at least 10 mail cars, at least 6 for packages and envelopes, one for special deliveries, and the rest for fragile items.
- There must be at least two engines. The engines can run on any kind of approved fuel, and types of engines may be mixed under the board's permission.
- There must be no more or less than one fuel car for each engine that requires a fuel car.
- For every three creatures aboard (both operators and passengers), there must be one sleeping car and one passenger car.
- There must be no more than 45 mail cars.
- There must be no more than 10 sleeping cars and no more than 10 passenger cars.
- There must be no more than 6 engines and no more than 6 fuel cars. Who would want to go that fast, anyway?!
- There must be no more than 24 creatures aboard.
In total, the maximum amount of cars (including locomotives) allowed on an Itinerod train is 77.
Itinerod tracks are meant to blend in and adapt to the terrain on which they are built. Some of the features of the tracks are listed below.
- Sometimes the tracks run off stable ground and onto bridges (some of these -- like the ones in the Happyface Creek Cliffs -- being extremely high). These bridges are built with the sturdiest concrete available and have high railings to prevent the train from falling off.
- Tracks that make sharp turns are often tilted at angles to force the train to make a banked turn. This balances out the forces that would otherwise capsize the train, increases the train's speed, and prevents centrifugal and centripetal forces from damaging the train's cargo.
- Itinerod tracks are lined with salt and heated from within to keep them from freezing over.
- On steep, downhill grades, tracks are often lined with a small amount of rubber to slow the train down and prevent accidents.
List of Stations/Features
- Cape Snowme, TA # -- This is the starting point of the track. Cape Snowme is a cozy little mining town in the middle of Trans-Antarctica, somewhat east of Hackzon Valley (that's to the left of it on the map) and a bit south, too. It is named after the REAL Cape Snowme, a small cape on the northwestern coast of Trans-Antarctica, despite the fact that the town itself is not anywhere near the coast.
- Haven, TA # -- Further south and a bit west of Cape Snowme, Haven, as it's name suggests, is a prosperous city that makes its money by oil. The actual tracks run a little bit outside of the city, atop a hill overlooking northwestern Haven.
- XeXeXe Peak & -- A large mountain jutting out of the Trans-Antarctic range. The tracks spiral up the mountain, from the base to the Harkinian Notch, a small pass between XeXeXe Peak and Vegeta Peak. XeXeXe Peak is notable for being one of BOSS XeXeXe's prominent hideouts. It was also where he pulled off a major mail caper, somehow stealing every bit of postage within Trans-Antarctica's boundaries.
- Vegeta Peak -- Another, even taller mountain connected to XeXeXe Peak via the Harkinian Notch. The mountain's height is exactly 9,001 feet. The tracks traverse across the Harkinian Notch, circle the rim of the Whoop Cwm, and exit the mountain via a small groove in the mountain's southern face that leads to Elinz Plateau.
- Elinz Plateau -- An elongated, elevated plain that stretches from Vegeta Peak to the outpost of Steddersørblåser. This secretive area is the site of the impact of the Pumpkin Meteor. It shows, too; there are pumpkins stretching from this area, all the way to the Ohyuck Depot.
- Ohyuck Depot # -- A small depot in the middle of a field of Fat Weeds. The depot also has a McDoodle's next to it.
- Toolik Shack & -- A cheap motel in the middle of Nowhere Pass. Blizzards often blow through, burying the shack in snow.
- Steddersørblåser # & (place where the south wind blows in Penguinian) -- A small High Penguin mine, owned by Freezeland. The mine is located on a cliffside on the northern face of yet another mountain.
- Mergelin, TA # -- A small town near the end of Nowhere Pass. The tracks split into the western and eastern routes just outside of Mergelin.
- Gelato, TA # -- A town neighboring Mergelin, famous for its yummy frozen gelatos.
- Breezena, ES # -- Another neighbor of Mergelin, and the first Eastshieldian town the western route passes through.
- Topaz Mine -- A mega-mine, famous for its brilliant topazes. The track passes over the Sunshine River.
- Shatter Valley & -- A plain south of Mergelin and its neighbors, famous for its numerous train wrecks. The reason for this is that the tracks twist and bend, tying knots and doing hairpin turns, which is the only way to traverse the crazy hills, arches, and knolls inside the valley. Also, the low temperatures here cause thick frost layers to form on the tracks, requiring trains to hit the brakes when they arrive at this point in the Itinerod Tracks.
- Tern Islet, ES -- A small town in the middle of a small island in the middle of the Sunshine River, which is usually frozen at this point in its course. The tracks cross a bridge to get to and from Tern Islet. Apparently the builders didn't want to take chances with thin ice.
- Flufflin Plain -- A long plain that the tracks cross before heading on to Anvil Peak. The tracks are very straight and there is little risk of accidents happening, so most of the penguins operating the train take a nap at this point.
- Anvil Peak -- A high mountain named for the famous Anvil Cliff, a rock formation that juts out of the western face and looks remarkably like an anvil. The tracks go across Anvil Cliff while circumnavigating the mountain.
- Barkjon Pass -- A small pass going off Anvil Peak. Named after famed explorer Barkjon.
- Itinerod, ES # -- A small town famous for its maps. Half of the populace are cartographers. The town is located just off the eastern face of Anvil Peak and is the first fuel stop on the eastern route for miles.
- Opah, ES # -- The western and eastern routes converge at this small mining town known for its gold.
- Takota Inn -- A motel in the middle of Nowhere Plateau, a small plain rich with oil.
- McWrath Cirque ^ -- A cirque on the southern side of Nichole Peak. Many skuas nest here.
- Nichole Crossings # -- A small refueling station at the southern base of Nichole Peak.
- TEH OH NOEZ SCAR & -- A stretch of badland created during Khanzem, when pollutionm, trench-digging, and warfare in general destroyed this once-beautiful taiga. Over the past 100 years, the area has eroded into rocky badland. Landslides are common, and trains must traverse the area at low speed to prevent derailment.
- Ronald Junction # -- Another refueling station in the middle of a small plain, directly after the OH NOEZ SCAR.
- HappyFace Creek Cliffs & -- Part of the final stretch of mountain range in the Itinerod, this set of creekside cliffs, located in the middle of a set of mountains jutting out into Eastshield, are named for Happyface141, the famous governor of the Happyface State. However, the cliffs are ridiculously steep and require careful navigating, and, of course, really good brakes. One wrong slip, and your train could be wrecked. The cliffs extend through the stations Snowy Bwlch and Flipper Tarn, then the tracks leave them a few miles or so before arriving at Squetna.
- Snowy Bwlch (pronounced Snowy Boolch) -- After careening down a steep but perfectly safe cliff, the track arrives at this small mountain pass, the gateway to Snowy Peak, the final mountain left in the Itinerod.
- Flipper Tarn # -- This small tarn, carved out of the southern face of Snowy Peak by a glacier, is a small resting spot for trains before they head down the mountain and onto the plains of Polar County, the county containing South Pole City and its suburbs.
- Squetna, ES # ^ -- A small town located in Polar County. The track between Squetna and Yeti Junction are packed with Moo Penguins, and trains constantly have to stop to allow the shapeshifting cows to clear the tracks.
- Yeti Junction ^ -- The tracks head down from this junction into the beginnings of Howler Canyon, where South Pole City's two suburbs, Whiteout and Blizzardville are located.
- Conifer, ES # -- A medium-sized city at the rim of Howler Canyon.
- Whiteout, ES # -- After zigzagging down a pass, the tracks enter Howler Canyon, passing through Whiteout, a suburb of South Pole City.
- South Pole City, ES # -- After heading out of Whiteout, the tracks then turn south and begin heading out of Howler Canyon, back onto the plains, and up the foothills of Polar County until they reach South Pole City, their final destination.
# -- Diesel fuel available.
& -- Danger from the environment (e.g., dangerous terrain/climate).
^ -- Danger from animals (e.g., animal x-ings).
Various penguins inhabit the stations of the Itinerod, ranging from farmers to ice-cream makers.
Skuas and Moo Penguins are the primary villains. Herds of Moo Penguins tend to block the tracks from Yeti Station to Squetna, and skuas like to toss banana peels on the track or annoy the train operators, especially near their nesting place at McWrath Cirque.
Robberies and stowaways are very rare, since the track runs through some of the toughest terrain in Antarctica. If anyone DOES sneak onboard, they usually get found out and thrown off.
Mail. LOTS of mail.
- Parts of the track was built on the South Eastshield Crossing.
- The Itinerod Circuit is a four-lane track (i.e., it has four tracks laid out side-by-side), increasing the maximum amount of mail the Circuit can deliver. There are plans to build a fifth lane for passenger trains, as the tracks pass some very scenic locations.