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The Chris Guenzler 2009 Year in Review

by Chris Guenzler

I last left you in La Plata where I spent my New Years Break from Jefferson. It had been a great year in my life for most things except work. Most importantly everyone in the Guenzler family is doing well and may God keep us all going strong in 2010. I finished the school year at Jefferson only to have that job cut by budget cutting. I thought SAUSD had lost their minds again and I knew I would be missed by the Jefferson Elementary School Staff, a bunch of great people. I really liked working with the kids at that school and have many fond memories of being Crossing Guard, Librarian and the like. It was a good experience while it lasted and now what. I had applied for many jobs including three at SAUSD and interviewed for one with no luck. Unemployment payments were a hassle in the beginning but payments now come every two weeks. I tried to get a job with the La Plata Schools but had no luck with that either. I feel at times no one cares about me but luckily my train riding has kept me going on a daily basis.

Bands I saw this year have been Jethro Tull, Alice Cooper Theater of Death Tour which I wrote a story about on my web site, Miley Cyrus, Brain Salad {Leonard's ELP Tribute Band} plus Which One's Pink {Pink Floyd Tribute Band} and Dennis DeYoung formerly of Styx. Thanks to Maureen at Jefferson I saw plenty of Anaheim Duck Games last season.

I still belong to the Orange County Railroad Historical Society and do many shows of my trips for them. I belong to the National Railroad Historical Society and always attend their conventions every year. I am a member of the Train Travel Group in Fullerton that meets the 4th Monday night of the month and sometimes we take trips together. I have good friends in each of these groups and I feel very lucky to be a member of in each one of these groups.

Now where in the United States has Chris Guenzler been in the year 2009? Returning home from La Plata in early January, I did another Coast Starlight detour trip over the Tehachapi Loop, February took me back to New Mexico and a ride on the New Mexico Railrunner new line to Santa Fe and then a ride on the Santa Fe Southern Plaza Santa Fe Dome Car back to Lamy. A trip was made out to Riverside in February to ride the Live Steamers and Perris to ride behind the Ventura County Steam Engine 2. Our Train Riders Group did the entire San Diego Trolley System the last day of that month. March was a trip to Stockton, California for Winterail 2009. We took pictures of train stations coming and going. April started with a Trip to Albuquerque and being picked up by my dear friend Randy for the drive to Stafford, Az. On the way there we stopped at The Very Large Array of Radio Telescopes which was incredible to see. This started two days of Bart Jennings Rare Mileage Trips on the Arizona Central Globe and Clifton Lines. Barts trips are always fantastic and well worth the money one pays for them. Back on the Southwest Chief to La Plata I didn't check into the Depot Inn & Suites but got a rental car in Kirksville for the next part of that trip. I drove through the Lake of the Ozarks to Springfield, MO to visit the Railroad Historical Museum there. The next morning I rode the Branson Scenic Railway and that afternoon I rode the Eureka Springs & North Arkansas Railroad. The next morning I boarded the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad which had been on my list of trains to ride for years, I did the Springdale to Van Buren trip plus the Winslow Turn. After a night at the Depot Inn & Suites I returned home. May brought rides on the ex New Jersey Transit Comet I Cars that Metrolink leased from the Utah Transit until their new passenger cars arrive sometime in the future. I worked a table at National Train Day at LAUPT before I flew to Kansas City via the Twin Cities and drove to Des Moines for the Chicago Northwestern Historical Society Convention. We did two excursion trips at this convention. The first one was on the Union Pacific from Des Moines up the Spine Line to Nevada then west on the old CNW Mainline across the Kate Shelly High Bridge. We got to get off the train there and walked out onto the new high bridge being constructed for pictures of our train on the old bridge before we headed back to Boone. On the bus trip back to Des Moines we stopped at the old Minneapolis & St Louis Railroad Dallas Center Station. The next day was a trip on the Iowa Interstate from Des Moines to Atlantic, Iowa and back. I flew home via Memphis. In June I started with an Overland Trail Father's Day Flyer trip to San Luis Obispo then made a trip back to La Plata and a stay at the Depot Inn & Suites. While there Bob Cox and I made a trip to Kansas for a ride on the Abilene & Smoky Valley Railroad plus the Atchison Railway Museum on the way there. Bob turned me on to Death Magnetic by Metallica on the trip back to La Plata. I had a good trip home.

July was a busy month for Chris. It started off with a visit with my brother Bruce and family in Sacramento before I headed to Emeryville. There I boarded the eastbound California Zephyr as it detoured across Wyoming. After a night in Denver I got my Enterprise Rental Car and drove to Silver Plume where I finally rode the Georgetown Loop Railroad and over the Devils Gate Viaduct. I had always wanted to do that trip. Next it was onto the Colorado Railroad Museum to take pictures of their excellent equipment both standard and Narrow Gauge. From here I drove north to Hermosa on Sherman Hill and Laramie that night. The next day I visited Union Pacific freight trains. At 11:00 AM I boarded a bus for the Union Pacific Steam Shop Tour part of the Union Pacific Historical Society Convention. The next day as part of the convention I rode the Union Pacific City of Yoder to Yoder and beyond. I had tried to ride this line years ago but that time the UP had parked coal trains on it blocking our access to it. The next day I was back at the Colorado Railroad Museum for their 50th Birthday Party and not only did I get to photograph the parade of trains but also got to ride behind the Rio Grande 346. Following that I finally rode the Platte Valley Trolley before driving to Colorado Springs through one of the worst rain storms of my life. The next day I finally did the Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad which I highly recommend and later that afternoon rode the two foot gauge Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad. The next morning I finally got to the top of Pikes Peak on the Pikes Peak Cog Railroad. I took the Thruway Bus from Denver to Raton and had an eight hour wait for the Southwest Chief for home. The train was behind the California Zephyr that killed a car load of people and the car knocked down a signal bridge against the side of the train damaging some of its cars. I used the late running to my advantage photographing the route for Williams Jct to Los Angeles all in Daylight. After a few days of rest I headed east again to Chicago and then Metra to Golf for the night. That night I learned I needed to apply for a SAUSD job that I didn't get. The next morning I took Metra north to Glenview and caught the commuter train action there for an hour and a half before I took Amtrak to Milwaukee and then back to Chicago. There it was Gold Coast Char Dog time. Later that day I boarded the Blue Water for Flint where I met Matt Melzer who took me to the Super 8 there for the next four nights. The next three days Matt, Randy and I would drive to Owosso, Michigan for TrainFestival 2009. Day One I caught the Southern Pacific 4449 leaving Owosso for Alma before I found Bob and Elizabeth and we rode behind the Little River 110 on the first of the hourly trips during the festival. Matt and I then drove to the Huckleberry Railroad for a ride there behind Rio Grande 464, the Mudhen. I had wanted to ride this train for years. Next we headed to Saginaw for a visit to the Saginaw Railroad Museum. Back at Owosso I photographed the Little River 110 going and coming before at 4:30 PM I finally got inside the TrainFestival 2009 grounds and shot all of the equipment. That evening I had a steak at the Lone Star with Keith Schimdt and friend. Day two I meet Bob and Elizabeth for a ride behind the Nickel Plate 765 to Alma subbing for the Pere Marquette 1225 which had boiler tube problems which sidelined it during TrainFestival 2009. The Friends of the 261 later sent thirty boiler tubes to repair the engine for its runs in the Fall. I guessed I would have to come back and ride begin the PM 1225 later in the Fall. The highlight was the triple photo runby each trip the big engines pulled each day done in a park in Italca. That evening Bob, Elizabeth and I had dinner at Lefty Steak House in Owosso. Day three was another great trip behind the NKP 765. Special thank you to Jason Johnson, the entire SRI Crew and everyone who helped make TrainFestival 2009 the steam event of the decade. The next morning Matt dropped me off at the Flint Amtrak Station and I boarded the Blue Water back to Chicago. The Southwest Chief trip home was the worst Amtrak trip in years. No water in the Dining Car delayed Dinner. No dessert that night. The next day climbing on Glorieta Pass the lead engines brake's locked up and had to be removed from the train. The next morning no ventilation in the Dining Car meant no breakfast and I was more than happy to get off of this diasater at Fullerton taking Surliner 578 home.

On August 3rd I left on the Coast Starlight and Empire Builder for my pre NRHS Convention Trips in Wisconsin and Minnesota. I got a rental car at the Midway Amtrak Station and headed to Spooner, Wisconsin for a trip on the Wisconsin & Great Northern Railroad. After that I drove to Ladysmith finding several things to suit a visiting railfan. The next day I did the Camp 5 Lumberjack Train and later I found two train stations in Shawano, Wisconsin before visiting New London Historical Village and the train display there. That night was spent in Janesville. The next morning started with heavy rains and I stop by the Wisconsin Southern yard for a quick picture. Next I drove to Brodhead and the Railroad Display at the old Milwaukee Road Station. I headed north towards Madison on Wisconsin Highway 213. It was on this road where the sky turned the blackest I had ever seen in my life and it was almost like I was driving in the middle of the night. I checked the sky for funnel clouds but didn't see any before I entered a wall of heavy rain that the wipers even on high couldn't get rid of the water. At Evansville the Main Street was a river but I did get across. By the time I reached US Highway 14 I came out of it. Nicer weather took me to The Mid-Continent Railway Museum, a place I had wanted to visit for years. After that I drove north to Wisconsin Dells and rode The Riverside & Great Northern Railroad which was incredible. More rains as I drove north but ended as I got to the Colfax Railroad Museum. From here it was short drive to Hudson for a stormy night. Flashes of continous lightning across the sky was the light show of my life. Back in Minnesota I finally did the Excelsior Streetcar Line in Excelsior before checking in to the Best Western in Plymouth and did my laundry. The next morning I visited the Milwaukee Road 261 Shop seeing my old friend in a strip down condition plus the SP 4499 was laying over at the shop. I visited the Minnesota Commercial Railway before stopping at Bandana Square. Next I visited the Jackson Street Roundhouse before driving north out to Chisago City and a visit to the Iron Horse Central and a ride on the Bumblebee. I drove back to the Midway Days Inn for that night. The next day was the start of the NRHS 2009 Convention with a Twin Cities to Duluth special train. Due to track work our train headed east to St Paul before taking the old Northern Pacific Freight Route across the top of the Twin Cities to reach the normal route to Duluth. That was some real rare mileage. That evening in Duluth I was aboard the NRHS Vista Cruise Line Dinner Tour of Duluth Harbor and out onto Lake Superior. The next day I did the NRHS Iron Range Bus Tour & Trolley Ride which included the Hull Rust Mine, Minnesota Mining Museum and the Minnesota Discovery Center once known as Ironworld and got to ride the trolley there. This was a real educational trip for all of us on it. The following day was two trips. Number one was the NRHS "The Arrowhead Vacationer" pulled by the Soo Line 2719 from Duluth to Two Harbors and return. After that we were bussed to West Duluth for the NRHS "Skally Limited" Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad Trip. This railroad I wanted to ride on every trip to Duluth but was never running while I was visiting there until now. Fridays are always NRHS Meeting Days so I did the Duluth North Shore Scenic RDC Trip to Two Harbors with Bob and Bart Jennings. The real rare mileage trip of the convention was the NRHS "The Duluth & Grand Rapids Express" to Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The last trip was the return trip to the Twin Cities. Dennis Larsen picked me up and we went out touring ending up down in Red Wing for dinner. He returned me to the Empire Builder Lounge where I waited for the Empire Builder to return me to Portland.Then I took the Coast Starlight to LAUPT and a Surfliner home. I came home still no job so I did on a round trip to El Paso and an El Paso Historic Railroad Tour which was really interesting.

In early September I made a return to La Plata to see new things to see there then did the Steam Engine Corn Maze. At the Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point I got an idea and used the Depot Inn & Suites van to drive to Mount Pleasant for the 60th Annual Midwest Old Thresher Reunion Steam Train and Trolley Rides. This is a fantastic event and should not be missed by anyone who likes steam engines of all kinds. That Southwest Chief trip home was eventful. First the conductor didn't have a manifest and even after the sleeping Car Attendant told him he did stop the train at the second to the last coach and made me walk through most of the entire train hurting my back in the lounge car trying to get through the crowd of people in there with my luggage. The next morning it was the worst French Toast I had ever had on Amtrak. I had applied again for another job with SAUSD and while waiting to hear took a trip to Cold and Wet Albuquerque. In October I flew to Detroit where I met up with Bob and Elizabeth and we drove to Mount Pleasant, Michigan for our two night stay there. The next day we rode the Cadillac Fall Colors Steam Limited Alma to Cadillac behind the Nickel Plate 765 and Pere Marquette 1225. We did an excellent set of photo runbys on the return trip. The next day we drove to Dearborn to visit the Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village and a ride on the Weiser Railroad. This place was incredible and you got to see and witness over 400 years of American History right before your eyes. I had wanted to visit this place for years and I want to thank Bob and Elizabeth for letting me tag along. Chris Parker and I drove to San Luis Obispo for the Central Coast Railroad Festival and the Bitter Creek & Western Live Steamers was a fascinating place to visit. We stopped off at the Goleta to see the South Coast Railroad Museum housed in the Former SP Goleta Station. The next trip was the Barstow Flyer and I rode the Tioga Pass Private car most of the way there on the back platform and the newly restored Silver Splendor Dome Car back to LAUPT. Near the end of October I took a train trip to see the Alice Cooper Theater of Death Show with Chris Parker. In November I went via the San Joaquin to Oakland and spent the night at the Jack London Inn. The next day I boarded Trains and Travel Tours Feather River Express that did mostly the old Western Pacific routing to Portola. I stayed at the Pullman House in Portola for two nights a railroad themed B&B. The second day a seven car California Zephyr was run around the Western Pacific Railroad Museum's balloon track. On the way back to Oakland we stopped on the Keddie Wye where 100 years ago that day, the Golden Spike was driven completing the Western Pacific Railroad as a complete route from Oakland to Salt Lake City. After that trip I went to Sacramento for the night then the San Joaquin and Metrolink Train home. I did the LA Gold Line East Los Angeles Extension Pre Opening Excursion Trip and the next day did the A Rare Mileage Trip on the Santa Paula Branch Line of the Fillmore Western Railway getting new mileage between Santa Paula and Saticoy. Now I just need over to Montalvo to be done with this line. December started off with a trip back to La Plata and a drive to Marion, IL for a trip on the Crab Orchard and Egyptian Railroad. I stopped off for pictures at the St. Louis Iron Mountain & Southern Railway. I helped out with the 20th Century Train Club of Chicago members visiting La Plata before taking the Southwest Chief home. I worked and got my 1,200,000 rail mile and 2,000,000 Kilometer passing both before Christmas spent at home. Christmas night it was back aboard the Southwest Chief to La Plata for a ten night stay and will ring in the New Year at the Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point.

The year started with 5,097 Days of Sobriety on January 1, 2009 and ended with 5461 Days of Sobriety on December 31, 2009, my 52 Birthday. The Rail Miles was 1,115,008.3 on January 1, 2009 and ended with 1,203,557.5 on December 31, 2009.

My each of you have the best holiday season and may next year be one of the best in your life. Take care of each and everyone of you, be safe and until next year, goodbye!

Chris Day 5461