The year 2008 started with me aboard the City of New Orleans heading to Chicago from Memphis where I had spent my 50th Birthday riding street cars there. When I started the year I never thought that I would not be working at McFadden and would now be at Jefferson Elementary. I felt blest that I still had a job and was at what I would call the best elementary school in Santa Ana. I have been working in their library and really love doing it. Sobriety started off at Day 4731 on January 1st and would end the year 2008 with 5097 days God willing. The family is doing well and everyone is enjoying life to its fullness. I am blessed with family and good friends and very lucky to be getting to do all I have in this last year.
I left Chicago on the Empire Builder and they had to set off the Dining Car in the middle of Montana, a first for me. The Coast Starlight got hit by that major storm and it was late enough to arrive into Los Angeles Union Station in time so I could take the first morning train home. I had my 13th year of Sobriety on January 15th. I did a Train Riders Group Trip to Grover Beach. Now the year goal would be a Million Miles on Amtrak after having completed the overall Million Miles on April 27th, 2007 at the Missouri River Bridge on the BNSF. With that I started with two trips to La Junta, Colorado. I then made an unexpected trip to Oakland since my brother Bruce had major plumbing problems at his house in Sacramento. The next trip was an airplane trip to Kansas City then being driven to La Plata for the Grand Opening of the Exhibition of Amtrak History. I did take the train home from La Plata. The next trip to get miles was to Albuquerque where my friend Randy Jackson took me to the Sandia Peak Tramway and then to the Belen Harvey House Museum. On the way to Winterail we stopped at Sassy Classic Cars in Hanford and the day after did a steam photo trip on the Sierra Railroad. I then went to Oceanside to ride the Sprinter for the first time. Next it was time to fine tune the mileage for the Amtrak million mile trip. I decided to break my one millionth Amtrak Mile as I stepped off of the train in La Plata. I made a mistake in my calculating that worked in my favor. It then became just 12 round trips to San Diego, one Los Angeles to Fullerton and an Orange to Anaheim. I did it all and rode on the Pacific Sands home from San Diego to finish my Amtrak mileage so it was perfect leaving Fullerton to reach my one millionth Amtrak mile as I stepped off the train in La Plata. It then happened I didn't have to ride an Amtrak train for a week. I took Metrolink to Fullerton to a Send off Party at Knolwoods before boarding the Southwest Chief to La Plata. Bob McMillian video taped the eastbound trip with me aboard the train. Thanks Bob! On April 7th I stepped off of the Southwest Chief with one million Amtrak miles. I received a plaque on the spot but Amtrak was a no show! I saw more of the La Plata area as well as the So Gifford CB&Q Station. They gave a dinner in my honor with Prime Rib at the Silver Rails Event Center. The next day we went to the Museum of Transportation in St Louis and then rode the entire St Louis Metrolink Light Rail System. I came home via Galesburg and the California Zephyr to Sacramento then the San Joaquin. My good friend Jeff Hartmann did the whole trip with me. Our train riders group rode the Amtrak Great Dome after one of our meetings. I worked the Trainweb Tent at Fullerton Railroad Day 2008. Tom Anderson and I rode the Coast Starlight on the first National Train Day and went through the Frazier Slide Zone the next day. Tom and I did a Talgo round trip Portland to Tacoma. On June 1st, I was aboard the Santa Fe 3751 first steam excursion trip to San Diego. The NRHS 2008 Convention was in Fort Worth so Chris Parker and I did the Fort Worth Miniature Railroad before I did BNSF Railroad Network Operation Center. We drove up to Oklahoma City and visited the Oklahoma Railway Museum. We did the NRHS Quanah Zephyr Trip before we drove to Temple visiting the Temple Railroad Museum the next morning before we did the Austin Steam Train with a RSD-15 Diesel pulling the trip. In July I went back to the Depot Inn & Suites then rode to Trinidad with Bob Riskie along with Chris Parker we visited the Pueblo Railroad Museum before we drove to Canon City to finally ride the Royal Gorge Railroad and afterwards did the Royal Gorge Park including the Incline Railway to the bottom and a walk across the Royal Gorge Bridge. The next day we rode the Durango & Silverton. The following day was the Cumbres and Toltec Railroad. The last train we rode was a steam trip on the Rio Grande Scenic. I returned home on the Southwest Chief. I did a trip to Seattle on the newly upgraded Coast Starlight. I returned to La Plata and the Depot Inn & Suites for the Passenger Train historical Society Picnic at the Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point. I made a big circle that took me on the Southwest Chief to LA then the San Joaquin to Sacramento, a Capitol train to Emeryville then the California Zephyr to Chicago and I returned to La Plata. I rented a car then drove up to Iowa for a Rare Mileage Trip on the Appanoose County Community Railroad. I then drove down to Baldwin City, Kansas for a trip on the Midland Railway and then went to Belton, Missouri for a ride on the Belton, Grandview and Kansas City Railroad. I started working at Jefferson but soon flew to Minneapolis for first a chase then to ride the Milwaukee Road 261 Circle Trip. The next Sunday I was aboard the AAPRCO Excursion with the Santa Fe 3751 to San Diego with 24 Private Cars. The train dropped the 3751 on the return trip at Hobart Yard then went down the Alameda Corridor down to San Pedro. In October I lost my wallet but got a new California Drivers License before I flew to Nashville after Steve Grande saved the trip so I could do it without a car. I visited the Tennessee Central Railway Museum and did the Monterey Super Fall Foliage Excursion Train. The next weekend I flew to Chicago meeting Bob and Elizabeth and we drove to the Quad Cities for the Iowa Interstate Steam Train for flood relief. We chased the Chinese QJ's steam engines breaking the 21st Century Tonnage Record. I then rode one of the Shuttle trips to Walcott and that night rode the Dinner Train. The next morning Elizabeth and I were aboard the double headed steam trip back to Iowa City while Bob chased. On the way back to Chicago we stopped by the Rochelle Railroad Park. That was followed by the Coast Starlight being detoured down the former Southern Pacific Mainline southbound and over the Tehachapi Loop. In November I rode aboard the Tioga Pass across the Tehachapi Loop and northbound over the former Southern Pacific Mainline to Sacramento. I took the San Joaquin to Bakersfield but the fires had Interstate 5 closed. Our only way home was on the bus to Oxnard and due to traffic it took over six hours. A steak dinner then the Surfliner home completed that trip. December arrived with a trip to Tustin for the Metrolink Holiday Express Train and the next day I finally rode the Santa Barbara Zoo Railroad. The last railroad trip will be back to La Plata leaving on December 29th arriving there on my 51st Birthday for a five night stay. The only major show I saw this year was with Heidi and we saw Poison. I was gone for the Jethro Tull show but did go see the Anaheim Ducks win a game at the Honda Center.
May each of you have the Best Holiday Season Ever and may all your dreams come true!
Chris Guenzler Day 5082