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Southwest Chief to and from Lamy with 900,000 Rail Miles on the way home!

Chris Guenzler

After I decided to do the Georgia trips, I needed a post Thanksgiving trip to take. I tried to leave Thanksgiving Night and go to La Junta but the train coming back was sold out. I then booked a Friday after Thanksgiving trip on the Coast Starlight to Sacramento and the San Joaquin home. The problem with that trip was I did not like the Sacramento middle of the night lay over with the Starlight's on time problems. I worked another week and then one morning a thought hit me straight between the eyes. Why not leave on Thanksgiving Night go only as far as Lamy then get on the westbound Southwest Chief that left Chicago on Thanksgiving Day. So after work that day, I went straight to the Santa Ana Amtrak Station and had Marty, my excellent night time agent, book my trip to Lamy and cancel the Sacramento Trip. Since I knew with a little bit of ride planning I could get my 900,000 rail mile on the westbound trip she booked me coach eastbound and sleeper westbound so I would celebrate 900,000 rail miles in style and comfort. I then had that great trip to Georgia doing the rare mileage trips sponsored by the Southern Appalachia Railway Museum on the Georgia Southwestern Railroad. I got home then made a Metrolink afternoon roundtrip to Riverside the day before Thanksgiving. On Turkey Day, I packed, had a wonderful Thanksgiving Meal at my sister-in-laws mother's house before preparing to leave on this Amtrak trip.

Off to the Station 11/24/2005

I drove down to Santa Ana and parked in the parking structure with plenty of time before my train arrived.

The future east elevator.

The east platform being worked on.

The future west elevator area.

Another view showing the spot where we will exit the building if you choose to use the future pedestrian bridge. I checked to see if Surfliner 583 was running on time, which it was, before I planted myself on the station platform.

A Metrolink Thanksgiving Day Special running Irvine to Riverside was making several round trips on this day. It pulled into Santa Ana first while Surfliner 583 held back.

The Metrolink train before it departed Santa Ana.

Surfliner 583 11/24/2005

The train pulled in with Cab Car 6900, Coaches 6408 and 6411, Coach/Cafe 6304, Pacific Business Class Cars 6802 and 6807 with engine 452 in the push mode. We left Santa Ana on time, met Surfliner 582 at CP Lincoln before heading to Anaheim and Fullerton prior to running to LAUPT early. Off the train and into the station for the line to board the Southwest Chief. The station people checked IDs and tickets for all who got into line early. The turkey I ate made me sleepy while I waited for a delayed train to be brought into the station from the yard. We did not board the Southwest Chief until after departure time which I thought was funny as this train set got to LAUPT twenty five minutes early this morning.

Southwest Chief 4 11/24/2005

This Southwest Chief had P42DCs 205, 36 and 51, Baggage 1264, Transition 39022, Sleepers 32030 and 32090 Michigan, Diner 38015, Lounge 33005, Coaches 34052, 34031 and 34065 with deadheading diner 380005 on the rear. I boarded the 412 car and my attendant give me Seat 55. We left LAUPT a mere thirteen minutes late. We ran to Fullerton where during our stop there I visited with Keith Johannes, our former McFadden Adaptive PE Teacher, who was here to put his son on the train. It was really good to see Keith again. The train made its way to Riverside and San Bernardino with us now on time leaving the later. As the train climbed Cajon Pass, I called it a night.

11/25/2005 Running on time I got up after the train had left Flagstaff as we rolled east under a Crescent Moon with a red twilight along the eastern horizon. I enjoyed a French Toast and sausage breakfast with a delightful couple from Cortez, Colorado taking this train from Riverside to Gallup. Back at my seat I thought this trip I would take you from the flat desert east of Hollbrook to the beautiful red mesa of New Mexico.

The flatness of Arizona.

The low laying rock strata began to make an appearance.

The rock strata begins to rise up out of the earth.

I love this route as it changes over the miles.

Interstate 40 follows our route.

The vegetation changes a little as we speed east.

I always look for animals as we speed east aboard the Southwest Chief.

Those truckers never have time to look at the beautiful scenery like we can on a train.

Nearing New Mexico it begins to get more interesting.

Even I get trucks in the way when I take a picture as we enter New Mexico.

Another truck is trying to block my view.

Chief Yellowhead tourist trap. They use to have "Buffy the Buffalo" for years. A sign along the highway once told us all about him. One trip the sign was gone. I hoped "Buffy the Buffalo" did not become "Beffy the Buffalo!"

More of "Yellowhead" joint.

Here you can see how a mesa rises from the valley floor.

This gives you a good view of how it is put together.

Good looking rock strata.

The interesting rocks.

As we got more into New Mexico the view changed.

Great looking rocks. The train stopped at Gallup before continuing on time east.

A nice reservoir reflects the red mesas.

A pointed rock off in the distance.

Interesting things continue to be seen as we rolled east.

All we need are some Indians on horseback for a really good movie location.

New Mexico is a colorful land.

Mesas and blue skies can't be beat!

One last view of a red mesa for this trip east. The Southwest Chief climbed the North Track to Throreau as I switched to the CD by Martin Barre of Jethro Tull fame called "Stage Left". That took me east to Grants. Queen "Day at the Races" was next with me feeling very relaxed and enjoying this trip.

More interesting rock formations. At Suwanee we took the south track to Dalies with me riding in the lounge car for that segment. I returned to my seat for the Young Dubliners "Real World" and more of my book for this trip, John Grisham "The Brooker" as the train sprinted for Albuquerque.

Crossing the Rio Grande River.

New Mexico Railrunner engine 101 and train of the future Railrunner commuter train service was seen as we pulled into Albuquerque at 11:31 AM MST for an extended stay. I walked over to Cold Stone Creamery for a bowl of ice cream. After working on my sun tan for a while, I decided to call "Julie" and I learned my westbound Southwest Chief was 2.5 hours late. That train had left La Junta at 11:02 AM MST. That gives me plenty of time for pictures inside the Lamy station. With twenty minutes before departure time I returned to my seat in anticipation of an on time departure from Albuquerque, which we did.

I relaxed the rest of the way to Lamy listening to Keith Richards "Main Offender" before we arrived into Lamy a few minutes early.

Lamy 11/25/2005

The Lamy Station ticket counter.

Note the train above the door.

The waiting room.

Pictures around the inside of the station.

The Santa Fe Time Table in the Lamy Station. I went outside for some station building pictures.

The views around the outside of the Lamy Station.

The Hamilton is an ex New York Central 20th Century Limited that the NYC sold to the Southern Railway where it was converted to business car service. At the time of the Southern Railway and Norfolk Western merger it was sold to a private owner.

I walked the Lamy station platform and soon discovered bricks were made with a stamp from the Coffeyville VB&TCo.

The Atlantic Coast Line Talladega being converted into a restaurant. The Lamy station agent kept telling people the westbound Southwest Chief would be arriving at 4:20 PM. I called "Julie" and she said 5:20 PM at the same time. At 4 PM, the agent changed his time to match "Julie's" time. I sat out in the cool fresh air on the west end of the Lamy station platform listening to the Moody Blues "Greatest Hits". The sun had set at 4:45 PM and the Moody Blues song, "I Know You're Out There!" now has a special meaning after I sang it on the platform. I watched the first stars appear in the clear sky as I waited for my train to arrive into Lamy.

Southwest Chief 3 11/25/2005

At 5:21 PM MST, the Southwest Chief pulled into Lamy two hours and fifty seven minutes late. This train had engines 66, 88 and 167, Baggage 1235, Transition 39026, Sleepers 32043 and 32039, Diner 38022, Lounge 33002, Coaches 35004, 34061 and 31025 with another deadheading Diner 38011 with BNSF BN 41 Flathead River, BN 45 Powder River and BN 44 Colorado River. I was given a 5:30 PM dinner reservation meeting Dave and Terry traveling from Milwaukee to Flagstaff. I had the "Flat Iron Steak" which was excellent along with a chocolate sundae. Andrew was my sleeping car attendant. We arrived into Albuquerque at 6:28 PM MST and I went back for a look at the BNSF Business Cars. Back onboard, I put on the first CD of the Ian Anderson "Plays the Orchestral Jethro Tull" set and we departed Albuquerque at 7:03 PM {4:45 PM}. After the first CD the activities of the last week began to catch up with me so I called it a night.

11/26/2005 At about 12:40 AM MST at MP 369.9 just east of Williams Junction I passed the 900,000 rail miles while I slept soundly in my sleeping car. I officially got up for some unknown reason at 3:30 AM PST just west of Needles. I must have set my watch the wrong way. The train sped west across the Mojave Desert. West of Ludlow I went back to bed sleeping until Victorville. I went to the dining car and was seated with Bill and Andrea traveling with their children from Garden City to San Bernardino. I enjoyed a busy Cajon Pass while having my French Toast and Sausage.

At San Bernardino, the Metrolink trains laying over for the weekend before we ran to Riverside. I finished the 2nd CD of the Ian Anderson "Plays the Orchestral Jethro Tull" west of La Sierra and then decided on Yes "Talk". We unloaded a large percentage of our passengers at Fullerton where I took my last fresh air break of this trip.

Our train on the flyover across the Alameda Corridor before we arrived into LAUPT at 9:08 AM PST {8:15 AM}.

Pictures of the BNSF Business Cars at LAUPT.

Picture of today's 572 that leaves LAUPT at 11:10.

Surfliner 768 11/26/2005

This train had engine 451, Pacific Business Class Car 6861, Coach/Cafe 6351 Tecolote Canyon, Coaches 6451 Ocean Beach, Pacific Business Class 6852 Elysian Park, Coach 6413 and Cab Car 6904. We left LAUPT on time and returned back to Fullerton the way we had just come. We then ran to Anaheim and on to Santa Ana where I ended yet another fantastic Amtrak adventure.

Orange County Train Travel Meetup Group Monday, November 29, 2005 Celebrates Chris Guenzler Completing 900,000 Miles of Rail Travel!

Our monthly Train Travel Group Meeting that was usually held at the Rail Restaurant had to be moved that day due to an electrical problem. I returned Steve Grande's phone call who told me of the problem. I suggested Stubrik's Steak House a few doors to the east. We had 16 people show up and did I get a surprise after dinner when they presented me with this cake that said "Congrats Chris 900,000.0 Rail Miles". I was very touched by this gesture but still had one more trip to take this year.

The beautiful cake they presented me with at the Train Travel Meetup Group Meeting.

Here I am looking at the wonderful cake they gave me.

Here is a group of us enjoying the cake. All the party pictures taken by Cathy Stanfill.

For more pictures of this event.