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Two Trips to La Junta 1/31/08-2/10/08

by Chris Guenzler

As I worked on my Millionth Amtrak Rail Mile, not to be confused with last year's one millionth rail mile overall, I needed some longer trips to be taken in order to reach it. I would make two La Junta roundtrips to help me reach my next goal. After that a trip north to Sacramento to see my brother Bruce and family. That would be followed by an airplane to Kansas City then be driven to the Depot Inn & Suites in La Plata for the Grand Openings of the Exhibition of Amtrak History and La Plata Event Center. A train trip back will help with my total. After that one more trip to and from Albuquerque and then all of my local Surfliner riding should do it. This story will cover the two roundtrips to La Junta.

Surfliner 583 1/31/2008

The train pulled into Santa Ana about five minutes late and I took a seat in the Cab Car. As I put on my Uriah Heap "Sailing into the Sea of Light" DVD we met Surfliner 582 on the new section of double track in north Santa Ana. The train stopped in Anaheim and Fullerton before the final sprint into the Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal. The train arrived into LAUPT almost on time and I waited on the Track 12 Platform for my train to La Junta to arrive into the station.

Surfliners wait at LAUPT.

Southwest Chief 4 1/31/2008

Conductor Alex P. came up onto the platform and if on cue the Southwest Chief backed into LAUPT with Engines 77 and 36, Baggage 1212, Sleepers 32077 District of Columbia, 32014 and 32099 New Mexico, Diner 38019, Lounge 33024 and Coaches 34091 and 34038. My Sleeping Car Attendant is Joan with me in Room 9 of the New Mexico. As I waited for the on time departure, I watched the bonus concert on the Uriah Heap DVD "Live at Sofia" which took me to our first fresh air stop of this trip at Fullerton. After that I started watching the Rolling Stones "Ladies and Gentlemen, the Rolling Stones" DVD before I was called into the Dining Car for Dinner. I was seated with Francisco, Nicole and Sonya all going to Lamy. I had the Flat Iron Steak and Chocolate Ice Cream for dessert. Back in my room I watched the rest of the Stones DVD before I made up my room for the night after the train crested Cajon Pass.

2/1/2008 I awoke east of Flagstaff and headed to the Dining Car for breakfast. I enjoyed French Toast and Sausage Patties.

After breakfast it was time for the "Zappa in Barcelona" DVD that would take me into New Mexico riding in the Sleeping Car New Mexico. The train stopped before reaching New Mexico due to freight train interference. The Zappa took me well beyond Gallup to where I took a nap.

I woke up after Dalies and at Isleta we passed a BNSF freight waiting for us to clear to follow us into Albuquerque.

Before we arrived into town we crossed the Rio Grande River. The train arrived into Albuquerque a few minutes late.

Our train and the New Mexico Railrunner ready for its trip to Belen.

Amtrak has moved into the Alvarado Transportation Center. We departed New Mexico's largest city at 1:10 PM {12:55 PM} and I put on "Queen Live at Wemberly" DVD the two DVD set. I stepped off at Lamy for some cool fresh air as the large group detrained there. The train left Lamy at 2:25 PM {2:00 PM} and we passed through Apache Canyon before we met Train 3, the westbound Southwest Chief, tucked away in the siding at Canyoncito.

Later the train at the top of the Blanchard "S" curves.

The train went by Starvation Peak. I was watching the DVD of the 2007 NRHS Convention in Chattanooga before I switched to Disc 1 of Kissology.

The train went by the little canyon outside of Las Vegas right before we had to stop to inspect the train.

We ran by a herd of Elk.

I saw the mountains to the east of Raton as we lost the last light of the day. As we arrived into Raton I was seated in the Dining Car with Jan going to Pittsburgh and Roland heading to Newton. The train sat in Raton for over fifteen minutes due to police activity in the front sleeping car. I had a Flat Iron Steak and Chocolate Ice Cream. I finished with dinner as our train descended Raton Pass towards Trinidad. I went back to my room and put on Disc 2 of Kissology II. The train made the final sprint to La Junta arriving there at 8:32 PM {8:13 PM}.

La Junta 2/1/2008

I walked over to the Mid Town Motel and checked in getting my usual Room 20. They have wireless Internet so I was able to catch up with a few things. I watched the end of "Laura Croft, Tomb Raider Cradle of Life" before I took a shower and called it a night.

2/2/2008 I showered, checked the Internet before checking out of the Mid Town Motel. I headed to Love's Gas Station for snacks on the way back to the Amtrak Station. Our conductor took my ticket in the Waiting Room as I waited for the train to arrive. I talked with the Amtrak agent who I would see again Sunday morning.

Southwest Chief 3 2/2/2008

The train pulled into La Junta with an interesting consist of Engines 93, 168 and Cascade 469, Baggage 1203, Transition 39044, Sleepers 32015 and 32083 Iowa, Diner 38036, Lounge 33041, Coaches 34041 and 31114 and deadheading Surfliner Coach 6404.

The Surfliner Coach 6404 bringing up the markers on this train.

I am in Room 14 with Mike as my Sleeping Car Attendant. We left on time with me listening to Kiss "The Elder" as I read the Pueblo Chieftain. That was followed by Aerosmith "Permanent Vacation" that took me to Trinidad and beyond as I read Classic Trains. As the train climbed Raton Pass, I put on my "Rare Mileage Trips" DVD. It had the Port of Tillamook Bay Trip, Chehalis and Centralia Steam Charter and Tacoma Rail Trips by Joe Harper. I detrained at a chilly Raton for a fresh air stop.

The Raton Station.

Skating away on the thin ice of a new day! Next I put on the "Buckeye Rail 2006" another DVD by Joe Harper covering the NRHS 2006 Convention in Ohio that I was at. I called Lets Talk Trains, the Internet Radio show, from south of Las Vegas until I lost the cell signal. Later I put on Kissology II, Disc 3. The train finally met the eastbound Southwest Chief, Train 4, at Nuevo. The Southwest Chief arrived into Albuquerque at 3:40 PM for a nice long fresh air break.

Cascade 469 visiting Albuquerque. I visited with Randy Jackson for twenty minutes before I tried WiFi here but again had no luck. I put on Kissology II Disc 3, the Auburn Hills, Michigan show. The train left Albuquerque on time and headed out into the setting sun. At 6PM I went to the Dining Car for dinner seated with Peggy, Don and Jim all headed to San Diego. I had a Flat Iron Steak with mash potatoes with Chocolate Ice Cream for dessert. I returned to my room and watched "Pirates of the Caribbean, At World's End" which took me from snowy Gallup and took me almost to Flagstaff where I met Danny known as Proamtrak on I then made up my bed and called it a night.

2/3/2008 I was in bed until west of Riverside before I got up on this dark and rainy morning. Conductor Dave Arthur stopped by for a visit and we got caught up on things as we made a fast trip to Fullerton. I stepped off in rain glad I was not transferring south today as there was not a dry spot before we made the final sprint to Los Angeles Union Station arriving early at 7:46 AM {8:15 AM}.

Surfliner 566 2/3/2008

I boarded the train for a quick on time trip to Santa Ana. Through the rain we headed to Fullerton and Anaheim before we paused at Orange before I was delivered home to Santa Ana ending La Junta Trip One.

I would ride daily getting more miles during the week and a few more local pictures would be taken.

The reef at San Clemente.

San Clemente Pier from 785 on Sunday 2/3/2008.

Surfliner 583 2/8/2008

I rode down to San Diego five times this past week and continued my hard work I do at McFadden Intermediate. I got home on Friday, relaxed before repacking my bags for this trip. My mother drove me down to the Santa Ana Train Station and dropped me off at the northeast corner of the parking lot. I used the Santa Ana Blvd crossing to access the east platform to wait for my train to Los Angeles. I boarded the lower level of the Surfliner Cab Car and the train left for LAUPT right on time. At Anaheim I chatted briefly with Randy, another excellent Amtrak agent, before we ran onto Fullerton. From there it was another quick trip to LAUPT arriving there three minutes early on Track 10. I walked over to a waiting Southwest Chief on Track 12.

Southwest Chief 4 2/8/2008

I was greeted at the door of the 32012 Sleeping Car by the ever smiling Andria. I had Room 6 in this car. This Southwest Chief had Engines 178 and 40, Baggage 1203, Transition 39044, Sleepers 32012 and 32064, Diner 38040, Lounge 33041 with Coaches 34041 and 34093. I tried to play my Monty Python DVD but the color drive chip in this computer gave up the ghost. So there would be no DVD's for this trip. Thank God I always carry plenty of Rock n' Roll CD's with me. The Southwest Chief departed LAUPT right on time with me listening to Kiss "The Elder" and a 7:30 PM Dinner Reservation. I took a fresh air stop at Fullerton then waited to be called into the Dining Car which happened at 7:55 PM. I was called by name into the Dining Car seated with James heading to Kansas City, Mary to Lamy and Erin going to New York City. I had a Flat Iron Steak and Chocolate Ice Cream. My meal lasted to almost Cajon Jct. The train took the south track tonight to reach Summit where I made up my room for the night.

2/9/2008 I woke up east of Winslow as the train approached Joseph City running at track speed. I made my way to the Dining Car where I was seated with James again and Jim going to Galesburg. I ordered the Belgium Waffle with Sausage Links. Later back in my room I put on Queensryche "Empire" that took me into New Mexico and to Gallup.

Red Mesas on a beautiful morning as we entered New Mexico with me reading the Arizona Daily Sun.

The train ran by the Red Mesas. Ted Nugent "Full Bluntal Nugity" was the next musical selection that took me over the Continental Divide down to Marmon. Next it was Yes "Talk" which took me into New Mexico's largest city. The toilets went out in this Sleeping Car so we had to use the ones in the Transition Car. The Southwest Chief arrived in Albuquerque fifty minutes early as I was on the cell phone to Lets Talk Trains, the Internet Radio Show, about this trip and my future trips before my one millionth Amtrak rail mile trip in April at La Plata as I step off the train there on April 7th from Train 4. Remember we are having a sendoff party at 5 PM that afternoon on April 5th at Knolwoods in Fullerton before I board that trip to La Plata. I walked over to the Coldstone Creamery for some ice cream on this fifty degree afternoon.

The Southwest Chief at Albuquerque before they swapped out the motive power.

The engines 178 and 40 going by the train.

While the 178 was being fueled the 40 was cut off and the 46 was added to the power for our train. Once the engine was returned to the point of our train and head end power was restored, they worked on the toilets but had no luck. The train departed Albuquerque at 1:07 PM {12:55 PM}. Duran Duran "Greatest" took me north to Lamy.

I saw the Mission before we stopped at the Station at Lamy. I took a nap to north of Las Vegas then put on Elton John "Caribou".

High Plains Drifting south of Wagon Mound.

Six baby Pronghorn Antelope as we closed in on Raton our next fresh air stop.

Raton fresh air stop.

On the hill the Raton Sign and Flag of the USA. Next the Southwest Chief went up and over Raton Pass into Colorado. At 6 PM I was called into the Dining Car and was seated with Michael going to Philadelphia and Bob going to Kansas City. I had another Flat Iron Steak Chocolate Ice Cream for dessert. After the most excellent meal I returned to my darkened room for some Jethro Tull "Best of the Acoustic". The trip in my darkened room was incredible with that star filled sky. The train took the final miles into La Junta arriving there early at 7:49 PM.

La Junta 2/9/2008

I walked over to the Mid Town Motel as it was little warmer tonight than last week. I checked in, my usual Room 20 before I checked the Internet and my e-mail. That night I had a strange dream about an Egyptian Prayer being said wrong in a classroom and the kid vanished before our eyes. I repeated what the kid said and I then vanished back to the ancient times of Egypt. Finding the lost child I repeated the prayer correctly and we returned to the present. Crazy dream or what!

2/10/2008I woke up and lounged in bed before I showered and checked out.

I walked back to the Amtrak Station on a much chiller and windy morning and stopped at the Love's Gas Station for some snacks on the way there.

Southwest Chief 3 2/10/2008

The train pulled into La Junta right on time at 8:15 AM with Engines 179 and 121, Baggage 1705, Sleepers 32097 New Hampshire and 32115 Washington, Diner 38058, Lounge 32019 with Coaches 34046 and 31016. I was in Room 3 of the New Hampshire with Towana as my Sleeping Car Attendant. The Southwest Chief left La Junta on time with me reading The Sunday Chieftain and Star Journal as I listened to more of the Jethro Tull from last night. We headed west in the low cold fog for about twenty miles before we busted out in the clear cold morning.

The front range of the Rocky Mountains.

You could see the whole front range of the Rocky Mountains with Pikes Peak was off to the north. The toilets went out in our Sleeper and the ones in the Transition Car did not work this time. I napped for a while just before Las Vegas.

I saw those beautiful mountains north of Las Vegas. The Spice Girls "Spiceworld" took me south as did my Sudokus puzzles. Peter Cetera "Live in Salt Lake City" took me to Glorieta Pass.

Looking at the mesa the train runs along to reach Glorieta Pass.

More beautiful mountains to the north as we neared the summit of Glorieta Pass. I rode the lounge car from just before Glorieta down to Lamy through Apache Canyon after we met Train 4, the Southwest Chief, at Canyoncito. After Lamy we sprinted the miles into Albuquerque arriving there at 3:31 PM {3:55 PM}.

The toilet tanks were pumped out during our servicing stop and caused a big stink.

Southwest Chief at Albuquerque. The train left Albuquerque on time with me listening to Jethro Tull "Catfish Rising".

The train did the crossing of the Rio Grande River.

More New Mexico vistas.

The Red Mesas of New Mexico. They called us in early for our 6 PM Dinner Reservations. I was seated with Deanna going to Laguna Niguel and Kelly going to Flagstaff. I enjoyed another Excellent Flat Iron Steak and Chocolate Ice Cream. After dinner it was the Partridge Family "Greatest Hits" as we went past Gallup. I next put on ABBA "Sweat Dreams are Made of This!" Now the toilets in the Dorm and next Sleeper went out so it would be a four car walk back to the coaches to do my business. With that "Good News" I made up my room and called it a night.

2/11/2008 I got up at San Bernardino and went to the Lounge Car for the views while my room was being made up. We sat in Riverside while we waited for Metrolink 702 to leave for LAUPT in front of us.

Mt. Baldy was seen from just west of the West Corona Metrolink Station. We left Fullerton at 7:30 AM with me listening to Blackmore Nights "Fires at Midnight". As we neared LAUPT I called Amtrak Customer Service about the toilets on this trip. We arrived into LAUPT at 8:04 AM {8:15 AM} ending yet another relaxing Amtrak trip aboard the Southwest Chief.

Surfliner 566 2/11/2008

I was still on the phone as the doors opened with me still on hold but soon had the whole matter settled. This train had Engines 454, Pacific Business Class 6800, Coach/Cafe 6352, Coaches 6411, 6408 and 6412 with Cab Car 6908. The train left LAUPT right on time and headed south to Fullerton, Anaheim and Orange before it dropped me off at Santa Ana ending another excellent Amtrak Trip.