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To the La Plata Spring 2012 Railfan Event

by Chris Guenzler

After cooking and sweating at the 2011 Railfan Event last summer in all of the heat and humidity before Train Festival 2011, I wanted to run another event and picked my Spring Break which would definitely be a lot cooler. Winston Walker and his daughter Christy would join me in La Plata so we planned to ride the Columbia Star Dinner Train and visit the Disney Museum in Marceline before the event. I would have to leave Thursday night in order to be there on Saturday morning. After working as a substitute for the last five months, I needed a break. The last time I had been to La Plata was after Train Festival 2011 last July, so it would be great to be returning to my other home on this planet.

The morning of the trip, I rode Metrolink round trip to Oceanside, worked at Santa Ana Valley High School, came home and waited to be driven to the Santa Ana station by my mother.

My luggage for the trip waits at Santa Ana.

Pacific Surfliner 583 3/29/2012

Pacific Surfliner 583 arrived on time and I took a lower level seat in the Pacific Business Class car for my trip to LAUPT. I was given a bottle of wine (which I would give to the manager of the Depot Inn and Suites) and a USA Today as the train headed to Anaheim. Things were going well until we neared CP La Palma where we stopped. The conductor made an announcement that I could not understand then she opened the side door and I saw why we were stopped.

Some how a SUV had maneuvered onto Track 2 and was sitting between the rails but we managed to get by it and ran to Fullerton. After that the train made its way into LAUPT with no other delay, coming into Track 12 for once.

The view as we waited for the Southwest Chief to reverse into LAUPT.

Southwest Chief 4 3/29/2012

At 6:28 PM, the train finally reversed into the station with a consist of engines 61 and 821, baggage 1730, sleepers 32111 "Texas" and 32068, diner 38068, lounge 33019 with coaches 34095, 34113 and 31046. I had Room 6 in the 32068 with Chuck as my Sleeping Car Attendant. We were delayed because of a bad-ordered coach that had to be cut out of the train. We deprted at 6:49 PM, 34 minutes late and headed to Fullerton. I received a 7:45 PM dinner reservation and listened to the first CD of "Jethro Tull Nightcap" until my dinner time. I took a fresh air break at Fullerton and we continued on to Riverside. Before we arrived there, I was called into the dining car and sat with a couple from Erie and a young lady going to Ohio. I enjoyed a New York Strip and vanilla ice cream then returned to my darkened room for a three train meet as we climbed Cajon Pass above Devore. We had an eastbound train on Track 1, westbound on Track 2 and our train on Track 3. We climbed the 3.3 percent grade south track from Cajon to Summit tonight as the BNSF was trying to help us make up time. Once we reached Summit, I made up my room and called it a night.


I arose halfway to Winslow and took a picture of the sunrise. At 6:30 AM, I was in the dining car seated with a gentleman who was returning home to Albuquerque after a train trip to Vancouver, British Columbia and I enjoyed French Toast and the pork sausage patties, which were excellent. After changing my clothes and making up my room, I watched the Lady Gaga "Monster Ball Tour at Madison Square Garden" DVD that took me into New Mexico this clear morning. After we stopped at Gallup, we took the south track to Gonzalez, passing both an auto train and a grain train and we crossed over to the north track there. That DVD took me about 25 miles east of Grants and I put on my second CD of Jethro Tull's "Nightcap".

As the BNSF dispatcher continued weaving us around the BNSF freights out on the mainline this morning, we ran with no delays to Dalies and I want to thank the him for keeping us moving. The train went down to and then across the Rio Grande River then sprinted north to Albuquerque, our servicing stop on this trip. We arrived there about ten minutes late and I took some much needed fresh air. For this stop I went on-line to clear out my e-mail watched a very talented young lady with her hula hoop performing on the station platform. The train left 11 minutes late as I watched "Pirates of the Caribbean On Stranger Tides".

Just before we arrived into Lamy, Santa Fe Southern GP16 93 was sitting on the BNSF interchange track. Due to several slow orders, we departed here at 1:31 PM {1:17PM} then climbed Glorieta Pass and at Fox, on the east side of the pass, is where we met the westbound Southwest Chief but had to wait 14 minutes before it ran by us. Next it was more slow orders which cost us more time. I think Amtrak needs to reroute this train to the Southern Mainline. The "Pirates" took me down to the Pecos River as we continued on to Las Vegas, our next station stop of this trip. Next I put on my DVD of "Cheap Trick Live in Germany 1983" and we departed Las Vegas at 3:40 PM {3:03 PM}. That DVD took me to Springer where I listened to my "Keith Emerson Band" CD and I received a 5:30 PM dinner reservation.

I took a fresh air break at Raton and then was called into the dining car, beings seated with a couple going home from Albuquerque to Topeka and a beautiful young woman going home from Los Angeles all the way to Quebec City. I enjoyed another steak and vanilla ice cream. After dinner it was back to my room for Chicago's "If you Leave Me Now" CD that took me almost to La Junta where I took my last fresh air break of the day. We left there and I made up my room for the night.

3/31/2012 I woke up at Topeka and at 6:30 AM, went to the dining car and was seated with a gentleman who was heading back to the Bronx. I had French Toast and pork sausage which was excellent then changed into a new set of clothes before the train was refuelled at the BNSF Argentine Fuel Pads. From there we departed for Kansas City, our next station and fresh air stop of this trip and after that, I just relaxed the rest of the way to La Plata, where I arrived at 10:19 AM, finding Bob Cox waiting for me.

La Plata 3/31/2012

Aaron Thomas picked me up in the Depot Inn & Suites van, took me to the hotel then checked me into the Pullman Suite for my stay. Winston and Christy were in the lobby, having arrived the day before, and after checking E-mail, we headed out in our rental car to the old bridge west of Gibbs.

The views from the bridge west of Gibbs.

The bridge.

Christy and Winston.

BNSF 4772 West.

BNSF 7900 West.

BNSF 7450 West.

An unknown westbound BNSF freight stopped and sat at Gibbs for well over an hour.

BNSF 7405 East.

BNSF 7507 East.

The crossing at Banner Road. We waited here for the westbound BNSF for a while then gave up and returned to the Depot Inn & Suites. I worked on finishing this story before getting ready to drive down to Columbia and the Columbia Star Dinner Train tonight.