Facebook Page

The Trip East for the 2012 NRHS Cedar Rapids Convention

by Chris Guenzler

With the National Railway Historical Society's convention switching to an online ticketing system {they still accepted mailed registrations), I purchased all my trips, plus the bus rides to get to trips and events, banquet and night photo session. I would also write the stories of the trips, as well as be a bus and car host, which meant I should be able to write as I went, thus getting them on my website in a much more timely manner. As long as I had power on the train or grounds, I could write and recharge the computer batteries as needed.

I reserved a two-bed motel room at Motel 6 in Cedar Rapids, two short blocks from the main convention hotel, which was the Clarion Hotel & Convention Center. Kansas City Nathan would be driving up and would share the motel room during his stay. To get there, my plan was to ride the Southwest Chief from Los Angeles to Chicago, have a two-night stay with Dave and Cathy Smetko, then take the westbound convention train from Chicago to Cedar Rapids. After the convention, the eastbound train back to Chicago, one more night with the Smetko's then the Southwest Chief first to La Plata, for a three-night stay as I would need to recharge my batteries with a little photography thrown in, and then home aboard the Southwest Chief.

I purchased baseball tickets for Nathan and I for the Saturday night, but alas the Women Roller Derby Team was out of town the whole time we were going to be in Cedar Rapids. I reserved a rental car for La Plata and then finished the school year at Santa Ana Valley High School one day early to start this great trip.

I worked that day before driving home, doing chores, worked on the Internet then finished packing. My mother drove me to the Santa Ana station and I took the elevators over to Track 1. Metrolink 609 arrived and sat with some problem for 12 minutes as I called Nathan to go over a few more things, then talked with Dave Smetko, who filled me in on Saturday's trip plans.

My luggage for this trip.

Metrolink 686 arrived in Santa Ana.

Pacific Surfliner 583 6/13/2012

Pacific Surfliner 583 arrived and I boarded the lower level of the Pacific Business Class Car, catching up the story as the train ran to Anaheim and Fullerton then made the final sprint to LAUPT, being delayed by following Metrolink 609. We arrived on Track 10 and I walked down, under and over to Track 11 to board the Southwest Chief.

Southwest Chief 4 6/13/2012

The Southwest Chief had a consist of engines 85 and 125, baggage 1160, transition 39018, sleepers 32117 "Wisconsin" and 32086 "Louisiana", diner 38066, lounge 33003 and coaches 34031, 34100 and 31006. I was in Room 8 in the "Louisiana" with Carl as my Sleeping Car Attendant. The train departed LAUPT on time and I received my dinner reservation tonight for 7:30 PM then listened to my CD of Rush "All the World's A Stage". We returned to the new bridge in Pico Rivera as the shoo fly is all but gone, and we also had a slow order at La Mirada for tie replacement and a delay due to waiting for Metrolink 707 to clear off Track 1 at Buena Park.

I retraced my route to Fullerton where I took a fresh air break then the train ran out to Atwood and followed Metrolink 810 out to Riverside on Track 2. But the dispatcher crossed us back over at Esperanza as we headed around the Horseshoe Bend and out through Santa Ana Canyon where we raced out into the Inland Empire, passing through Corona. I went to the dining car for my dinner, seated with a man returning to Lamy, a woman going to Garden City, Kansas and a lady going to Brooklyn, New York. I enjoyed a flat iron steak along with vanilla ice cream for dessert. The meal lasted beyond San Bernardino and I was back in my room listening to my CD of Jethro Tull "Thick as a Brick 2" as the train climbed up and over Cajon Pass. After a stop in Victorville, I called it a night and made up my room.

6/14/2012 I woke up just east of Flagstaff before sunrise and prepared myself for the day. I read USA Today in the lounge car then returned to my room and enjoyed the high desert to Winslow. After leaving there I went to the dining car and was being seated with a couple returning from Williams to Chicago and a lady going to a family reunion, so she was getting off at Albuquerque, then renting a car to get to Carlsbad Caverns. I had the French Toast and sausage patties. After that, I put on my DVD of Wayne Gretzky called "The Ultimate Gretzky" before we entered New Mexico heading to Gallup and stopped there.

Later, the red mesas of New Mexico.

Much later, the last mesa before dropping down to the Rio Grande River.

The train crossed the Rio Grande River before we arrived at Albuquerque early this late morning. Randy Jackson came down to visit me while I was here during our station stop. It was in the low 90's and soon I was back on the train listening to my CD of John Cougar "Scarecrow" as the train departed on time with Lilian as our new Sleeping Car Attendant. At 12:30 PM, I was called into the dining car and seated with a couple going to Branson, Missouri. I had the Angus beef burger, which was excellent, and vanilla ice cream. Slow orders were at the Devil's Spine and MP 850 with a 10 MPH speed restriction that the State of New Mexico had imposed while they were fixing the track. I put on my DVD of the Keith Emerson Band "Moscow" which took me to Lamy and beyond.

A Santa Fe Southern freight train at Lamy? More slow running was encountered above Apache Canyon then in siding at Glorieta was the westbound Southwest Chief as we started down the grade to the Pecos River.

Starvation Peak across the Pecos River Valley, after which we crossed the Pecos River.

The Southwest Chief starts up the "S" curves at Chapple. The Emerson DVD finished near Starvation Peak so I then put on my Poison DVD "Poison Live Raw & Uncut" that took me to Las Vegas and beyond.

Lone tree hill with the afternoon clouds off to the west as we closed in on Wagon Mound.

Elk and baby elk ran away from our train just before Wagon Mound. We were heading for a storm just as the Poison DVD finished so I switched to my new Railpace Magazine for the rest of trip to Raton, our next fresh air break. On the move again, we were stopped by a detector just short of the east switch of the siding on the south side of Raton Pass. Once underway, we went through the Raton Tunnel and exited into Colorado before descending the north slope of Raton Pass.

The Southwest Chief descending Wooten Curve on Raton Pass. At 6:15 PM, I was called into the dining car and was seated with two gentlemen going to Galesburg, Illinois. I had the flat iron steak and vanilla ice cream and finished my dinner by Trinidad then watched my Led Zeppelin DVD that took me over to La Junta.

The sunset tonight before La Junta, created interesting sky colors. Our next fresh air break of the trip was at La Junta after we passed through many more miles of slow orders. I made up my room and called it a night.

6/15/2012 I was up before Holiday at 7:00 AM and went straight to the dining car, being seated with a mother and son going to Chicago from Albuquerque, with the son only eating meat. I enjoyed French Toast and sausage patties and while the train was being fueled at BNSF's Argentine Yard, I went downstairs and shaved.

Canadian Pacific Railway power at Argentine Yard. We arrived at Kansas City at 7:50 AM and after some fresh air, departed at 8:11 AM {7:43 AM}. I would start my morning across Missouri with my Lady Gaga "Monster Ball Tour Live" DVD.

The Missouri River was crossed on the bridge where I passed my millionth rail mile on April 27, 2007. The BNSF and UP were certainly running heavy with traffic. The DVD took me to the Elmer and I relaxed the rest of the way to La Plata.

The La Plata station, where I did not detrain and it felt odd.

Bob Cox and the boarding coach passengers. We left here at 10:27 AM.

The Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point. The train headed east onward to Fort Madison and I had an 11:00 AM lunch reservation, sitting with a couple from Kirksville going to Chicago, and enjoyed the Angus beef burger, finishing just before Fort Madison and took my last fresh air break of this trip.

Two stations in Fort Madison, the former Santa Fe station, which Amtrak will move back into, and the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy station.

The train crossed the Mississippi River into Illinois and I put on my "Aerosmith Live" DVD. We ran to Galesburg then onto Princeton, where we sat just outside the station for ten minutes, and into Mendota as we were trying to get into Chicago on time, being 52 minutes late at this point. The Aerosmith DVD lasted almost to Mendota before I switched to my CD of Metallica "Master of Puppets" to get me further towards Chicago. After that I put on my CD Selena Gomez and the Scene "When the Sun Goes Down". The train stopped at Naperville before making its the final sprint to Chicago Union Station, arriving there at 3:40 PM {3:15 PM}, which ended another great trip on full route of the Southwest Chief.

Chicago 6/15/2012

I detrained and went straight to the Metra ticket office to get tickets to and from Hanover Park then walked out to a waiting Metra train to take me there.

Metra 2227 6/15/2012

I walked out to the waiting train and was lucky as this was an express train. After we left Chicago Union Station, we stopped at Western Avenue then ran straight out to Franklin Park, Mannheim, Bensenville, Wood Dale, Itasca, Medinah, Roselle, Schaumburg and then to my stop at Hanover Park. It was a quick run and I was stepping off there in no time. Dave Smetko picked me up and took me to his house for the next two nights, and had planned a very nice day trip we would make tomorrow. At 6:00 PM, we drove west to Barrington to have dinner at a restaurant called Chessie's housed in the former Chicago and North Western station which had been moved.

Chesapeake and Ohio wooden caboose 90803 built by Standard Tank Car in 1926. The Chessie System lettering was only on the street side.

A Metra train came through Barrington on the Metra Northwest Line.

Chicago and North Western Barrington station built in 1915.

Former Illinois Central trailer coach 1406 built by Standard Steel in 1926.

Former Illinois Central trailer coach 1425 built by Standard Steel in 1926.

Our party at our table.

After dinner, a rear view of Chessie's Restaurant. We returned to the Smetko's home for the evening.