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Rail Sale: Destination Deming on the Sunset Limited

by Chris Guenzler

I continued to coach a winless but with one tie JV football team. I had a great time with a group of "Never say die kids". On October 15th, I learned that one of my favorite students of all time, German Quevado, had passed away on October 8th. I will never forget my little red headed student and all the unique moments we had shared together. My favorite moment with German in Mrs. Angle's 7th Grade Science Class was when she asked "What is a recessive gene?" German stood up and said " Me!" What is funny about all of this was on the 8th, the day German had died, I went on the Amtrak web site to purchase rail sale tickets for this trip and another on the Coast Starlight in November. I had put the 25th as my westward trip date and all the way through the reservation up until I had finished had the 25th date. When I printed the conformation letter it had the 22nd as my date. No conformation e-mail was sent so I knew something was wrong with Amtrak's computer system. I called Amtrak and after explaining to two agents who said there was nothing they could do about it and I would have to eat the price of the ticket since it was non-refundable or not allowed to be changed, I pleaded with a supervisor who after I provided some evidence of what I thought had happened she gladly refunded my money. I rebooked it with no problems and received a conformation letter. The days went by with really needing a trip at this point of my life so I could not wait for the date to arrive.

Surfliner 587 10/25/2002

On the first rainy night in a very long time, I drove the Geo down to the Santa Ana station to wait for Surfliner 587 which would take me to Los Angeles. The rain let up as the train arrived and I took a seat on the lower level of a Surfliner coach. The always pleasant Mishi took my ticket and I settled in for a very relaxing trip to Los Angeles. We stopped at Anaheim where the stadium is dark waiting for tomorrow night's World Series Sixth Game between my Anaheim Angels and the San Francisco Giants with the Angels down by one game with a possible two to play. The train made a brief stop at Fullerton before running to Los Angeles arriving early. I went down into the station and as usual I started the line for the combined Sunset Limited/Texas Eagle doing my usual word fill in puzzles to kill time.

Sunset Limited 2 10/25/2002

I led the way to the Sunset Limited with Sarah from Australia. Once we reached the train no employee knew which car that we were supposed to board. That really made me wonder about Amtrak! I took my usual right hand large window seat and set up for the night. The Sunset left the platform on time then backed to pick up its mail and express which made us a twenty two car train before heading east into the night. I was very happy to be off on another adventure and after a few minutes I turned in for the night.

10/26/2002 I woke up off and on at Ontario, Palm Springs and Yuma before finally getting up west of Gila Bend with the desert skies providing a brilliant show of lightning. At Shawmut amidst the Saguaro Cactus I went to the lounge car to wait for breakfast. Seating me was Stefan, who used to be an extra board employee on the San Diegan a long time ago and now a dining car steward. At Casa Grande we changed crews as I started to enjoy my Pancakes and Sausage breakfast. After my meal, I returned to my coach seat to listen to the Scorpions "World Wide Live" and managed to get through half of it before the Sunset arrived at Tucson. I detrained, shot pictures of Southern Pacific 1673 on display under cover before I walked to Greyhound to get the Arizona Daily Star. Amtrak in Tucson no longer uses the station building but now is housed in a pre fab structure.

The Sunset Limited left Tucson a mere forty minutes late as every freight train I had seen up to this point had been waiting in the siding. Credit the Union Pacific dispatchers for an excellent job of train handling. East of Tucson, our train took the low grade line from Vail to Mescal before we dropped down to Benson for a short two spot passenger stop. We crossed the Santa Cruz River prior to attacking the grades of the Dragoon Mountains. Once over this divide, the Sunset sped across the Wilcox Playa. I went to the dining car for lunch having a Black Angus Steak Burger which took me almost to New Mexico. My lunch table mate was on a circle trip of America by train and we had an excellent conversation during lunch. Our train entered New Mexico at Steins and made the way to Lordsburg as I continued to relax which is what I really needed. We made the rest of the way to Deming under a mostly cloudy sky after we crossed the Continental Divide. We arrived at Deming just an hour late and as I detrained, the conductor told me that Train 1 should be here right on time.

Deming 10/26/2002

Once I was off the Sunset limited, I heard a rumbling coming from behind the depot and when I walked over to have a look, it was a Southwestern Railroad's train pulling to a stop. After a quick picture of it, I managed to get a picture of it, the depot and the tail end of the Sunset Limited departing in a hurry. That was followed by roster shots of the four Southwestern Railroad units there including their GP-30 28.

A further walk netted me a BNSF SD-70 MAC in BN Brunswick Green. Next it was two UP freights with the westbound in the siding. I took a short walk to the Texaco Gas Station for a couple of Coca Colas and post cards. I inquired about a rock shop so I could get some more rocks for the science teacher I try to take care of on trips and was given directions to one a mile north of town. I walked out to it but it had closed a mere five minutes before my arrival. Their loss was my gain as I felt I needed some exercise at that point of my day.

Back to the depot where I wrote all the Deming stuff, read the USA Today I had bought, watched the parade of UP freight trains and to wait for mine to take me towards home.

Sunset Limited 1 10/26/2002

I boarded the train with three other people as the Sunset Limited had pulled in right on time. I found a seat and noticed that there were six very loud and obnoxious people sitting behind me in this car and I did not want to put up with them all the way to Los Angeles. When the conductor came to take my ticket, I asked about upgrading to a room. After a call to the head conductor for a price that was for my liking, I purchased Room 8 in the 2130 car. Once I was settled in my room, I went to the dining car for a dinner of Filet Mignon which was prepared excellently. My table mates were traveling from Chicago to Pomona and had a great conversation dealing with trains. I returned to the privacy of my room listening to John Cougar with the lights out to enjoy the mood. I love riding the train at night in a room and the descent from the Dragoon Mountains with Benson lit up far below was spectacular with the stars and lightning coming from the clouds. We ran without delay to Vail where we waited for two eastbound freights before we crossed over to reach Tucson where I went to bed ending another great traveling day.

10/27/2002 After midnight since it was the Fall time change, the Sunset Limited crept at several points so it would stay on schedule. Getting up at 5:00 AM so I could have breakfast, I found the dining car tables stripped of everything and my only choice was a continental breakfast of things that I could not eat. Last night they said breakfast would be served in the dining car started at 5:00 AM with a last call before Pomona. What bothers me is that I was entitled to a full breakfast and they used the excuse that we were going to be early so they would not have to do their jobs. Think about this, are not those employees getting paid for their time while they are on the train? This will be another phone call to Amtrak.

I went to the lounge car for a cinnamon roll and tea to take back to my room. In San Timiteo Canyon near El Casco the train was stopped by a dragging equipment detector so our crew had to inspect the length of the train which took about fifteen minutes. We made it delay free to our next two stops of Ontario and Pomona. From El Monte to Los Angeles, we travelled via San Gabriel and Alhambra which was just fine with me as we had left east via the Metrolink line {State Street}. I mean is not variety the spice of life. The last time I had come this way was on that Janesville Jaunt trip. Going through the concrete trench at Alhambra was a preview of the future Placenta trench to eliminate grade crossings there. They sure do not like whistles in Placenta in Orange County, California. At the throat of the LATC {Los Angeles Transportation Center} we came to a halt due to congestion ahead in the station. {On a Sunday morning?} We sat for twenty nine minutes for a UP power movement and the express cars to be taken off the Southwest Chief. We should have been in early but we arrived just eleven minutes late and I made Surfliner 566 by nine minutes.

Surfliner 566 10/27/2002

I settled into a lower level seat and relaxed before departure. Once Lisa Post {formerly Washington} took my ticket, I visited Anthony in the cafe car for a box of Krispy Kreme donuts and a cup of mint tea. He answered a question for me that I wanted to know since last night, who won the World Series game? The answer, the Angels in a comeback 6-5 win. Back to my seat I was a happy train rider so I enjoyed my snacks as 566 {ex 560} took me home to Santa Ana. I stepped off the train ending another excellent Rail Sale Trip.

Footnote In Game 7 of the World Series on 10/27/2002, the Anaheim Angels defeated the San Francisco Giants 4-1 to become the World Champions of Baseball for the first time in their 42 year history.