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The Drunkard Experience

by Chris Guenzler

This trip was going to be the run of the first Transcontinental Sunset Limited eastbound out of Los Angeles. I had talked my friend Bill into taking the trip with me. He also wanted to go to Kansas City to photograph trains and attend a baseball game at the Royal's Stadium. Bill has a goal to attend a game in every single major league ball park. I always wanted to see a game there because of its fountains and being designed by the same man who had designed Anaheim Stadium where the California Angels play. That was the goal of the trip but you will read how my drinking behavior on this trip nearly destroyed a friendship as well as my transcontinental goal.

San Diegan 583 4/4/1993

We left Santa Ana on time on my usual San Diegan for Los Angeles. I had couple of drinks before leaving home and one on the trip to Los Angeles. I had a policy of having one drink on every train which I travel on. The trip was quick and we went down into Los Angeles Union Station to wait to board our Friday night Sunset Limited.

The Sunset Limited 2 4/4/1993

We boarded and took the second set of seats behind the bulkhead by the stairs. The train left on time, tickets were taken and I went off to the lounge car for a couple more nightcaps. I sat there watching the train pass out of the Los Angeles Basin on its usual route. I sat in the lounge car over Beaumont Hill where on the climb Bill joined me and we talked watching the night time scenery go by. We both decided to get some sleep so we called it a night as the Sunset Limited headed east out into the night.

4/5/1993 Saturday morning arrived with the train nearing Phoenix. I got up and changed clothes. At Phoenix I detrained to stretch my legs and enjoy the morning air. Reboarding for points east, I was off to the lounge car for my morning screwdrivers and rode the lounge car until Tucson watching the Saguaro Cactus stand guard along the tracks. At Tucson I had another stretching of my legs and then backup to the lounge for another pair of screwdrivers before repeating the process. There is a grade out of Tucson east so our train took the lower track following the wash as I downed another one before we crossed under the westbound line. The train was making good progress and after Benson I downed two more screwdrivers to finish the morning. The train continued to roll east while I enjoyed the climb over the Dragoon Mountains and our trip across the Wilcox Playa. The train sped through Bowie and near San Simon I went and got my usual hot dog lunch with chips and a soda. The train entered New Mexico and another of my drinking rules came into play as I had to have a drink every time the train crossed a state line with this time being into New Mexico. With it now being the afternoon, I switched to my usual whiskey and seven. The train made stops in Lordsburg and Deming then made a beeline straight for Texas during my personal happy hour when I downed three more drinks. I had a drink entering Texas. With our arrival in El Paso I stepped off for some air. I could care less how the train was doing with its scheduled running. I was having a great time. With the crew change and the inspection of the train completed we headed off into West Texas. I did my usual nightcap thing and went back to my seat to pass out.

4/6/1993 Sunday morning started when I came to with me having a hangover! I went to the lounge car for my usual screwdriver to bring me back to my normal state, but I was told since it was Sunday morning and Texas Law prohibits the serving of hard liquor anyplace on Sunday. I thought, "Now that is a stupid law!" so I asked about getting a beer. The attendant said, "You will have to wait for the churches to close." I asked, "What time is that?" "Eleven!" he responded. I bought an orange juice instead and went back upstairs to watch the Texas scenery pass as my whole body was in pain. My watch is not moving fast enough for my liking and all I want to do is to get out of Texas. I'm trapped inside a train in Texas with nothing to drink. To make matters even worst we were running over two hours late which translated into two more hours in Texas on a Sunday. Finally enough of Texas had gone by and the clock finally stuck eleven so I went downstairs and ordered a beer. "What kind would you like?" "Anything will be fine!" I walked back upstairs but instead of enjoying the beer, I downed it like drinking water. I went and got two more and drank those a little slower. Houston came into view and I was on my fourth beer when we pulled into the station. I got off for some fresh air and watched a private car being added to our train.

The train departed Houston so I went back downstairs for another round. We traveled for about half an hour before we came to a stop. It turned out that a freight train running in front of us had hit a car and killed the passengers. Their train could not be moved until the coroner releases the train. Needless to say we sat for two more hours and I downed three more beers. We finally started moving and after a stop in Beaumont, TX we crossed the Sabrine River leaving Texas behind for the first of my new states on this trip Louisiana. With the bonds of Texas released, I switched back to whiskey and continued the new state tradition. Bill came into the lounge car, took one look at me and realized I was "Shit Faced". I finished my drink and went downstairs to get another one and the attendant refused to serve me, so I went back upstairs through the lounge car back to my coach seat and passed out.

Much later I came to feeling very sick to my stomach and disoriented. I got up to get downstairs to the bathroom but started to vomit first in the aisle then the train rocked and I managed to get it on a couple of people as I stumbled to the stairs and made it to the bathroom where I continued to throw up. Somebody who had seen Bill and me traveling went to the lounge car and found Bill. Bill returned to the coach finding several passengers cleaning themselves off with towels and our coach attendant trying to clean up my mess I had made, I went back upstairs and sat in the wrong seat. Bill was told by the conductor that he was thinking about throwing me off of the train in New Orleans so Bill took me back to the bathroom and talked down to me like a child telling me to stay in the bathroom. I argued with him telling him I was fine but he told me if I leave the bathroom the conductor will kick me off of the train. Bill went to the lounge car to try to get some coffee or ginger ale but the lounge car and the dining car were both closed. He returned with a clean shirt out of my suitcase and I went back up to my seat knowing what was about to happen to me.

New Orleans 4/6/1993-4/10/1993

The Sunset Limited pulled into New Orleans where two Amtrak police officers boarded to escort me off of the train. At first they were going to remove Bill too but he convinced them that he was sober and that I could take care of myself when I sobered up. Bill asked them if they could get me a taxi to the nearest hotel and they agreed. He asked me for his ticket back from Hollywood, Fl to New Orleans which I gave him. Then the four of us walked off the train through the station where they put me in a taxi cab and the driver drove me away. The taxi cab driver took me to the nearest hotel which wants nothing to do with me as its Final Four NCAA Basketball Final Weekend. I sat down thinking of what I was going to do when the bell boy came up to me wondering what was wrong. I told him my sad tale and he said he was once in a situation like mine so he would call around for a room for me. He made one call and told me there is a room at the Le Meridian waiting for me but it will cost me a hundred and fifty six dollars a night. The taxi cab driver comes in and I told him the new plan and he drove me to the Le Meridian. We pulled up at the hotel and out to the taxi rushed a bell boy who took my bag and escorted me to the front desk. I said, "Hello, I am Chris Guenzler and I believed a call was made on my behalf." "Yes, Mr. Guenzler, we have a room for you and how many nights would you like to stay with us?" "Three!" I said and they booked me in for a three night stay. A bellhop took me up to my room and I excused myself for the evening. I needed to sleep to recover from my drunkenness and my stupidity.

I woke up that next morning realizing where I was at and what I had done. I laid in bed just thinking about what happened to me and what I could do to change things. I stared up at the ceiling thinking about where Bill should be now and what he must think of me. I am really depressed. I decided I needed to talk to someone about it so I called a Lutheran Church and asked to speak with a Pastor. I was told he would make a call at my hotel room in about thirty minutes so I got up, showered and changed into some new clothes. He arrived and we talked for about twenty five minutes. He ended with, "You see your mistake clearly that you made, plan a change and now go out and enjoy New Orleans." I thanked him for his words and time before I sat back down and started thinking. It was really quiet but I was hearing bells, almost like trolley bells so I went outside to investigate. Around the corner on the next street was the St. Charles Street Car Line, that at least explained the bells I was hearing. I rode out to the end and the driver told me about the Riverfront Street Car Line to which he sold me a day pass so I could ride both as often as I wanted.

That led me to discover the Aquarium and the Riverwalk with the shops along the Mississippi River. I really was enjoying the sunny weather on this surprise visit to New Orleans. On my walk back to the hotel I witnessed Final Four Madness with fans selling T-shirts and whatever in the support of their favorite teams. Tickets for the final game on the streets were cheap and I almost bought one. The reason they are so cheap is because the people whose schools lost in the semifinals do not want to go see the team that beat their school. So on my three nights in New Orleans I really enjoyed myself. I limited my drinking and saw a lot of the city. I watched the NCAA Final Game in my room and just relaxed.

4/10/1993 Checking out that final morning the Le Meridian Staff thanked me for coming and all hoped I would come back soon. The final thing about all of this is that I would have never experience New Orleans at all had it not been for my bad behavior on the Sunset Limited getting here. In my state I arrived in I just fit right in with the happenings in New Orleans. I went back down to Union Station and waited for Bill to arrive on the Sunset Limited. He walked off the train and I flagged him down. I could see that he was very upset with me so I did not press the issue. We talked like two strangers who hardly knew each other, not friends. I guessed I was going to have to live with my actions and the effect they had on him. He told me about his trip to and from Hollywood. The eastbound arrived really late at Hollywood, FL and he had to take a dangerous walk to the Howard Johnson after eleven P.M. He told them that I would not be coming and got a room. He spent the next morning at the Hollywood Amtrak Station watching TRI Rail Trains pass before the westbound Sunset arrived and sat in the exact two seats we had shared going east. He left his luggage with me while he went to get something to eat. Returning we sat quietly ready to board the train.

The City of New Orleans/River Cities 58/358 4/10/1993

This train was going to serve two purposes to get us to Kansas City and an entire route of new mileage. We boarded the last car a heritage low level coach for our trip to Kansas City. This car would be cut off at Carbondale and would run as a one car train to St Louis before being added to the Kansas City Mule for the rest of the trip to Kansas City. The car is a sell out as Kansas was one of the teams in the Final Four. The City of New Orleans is a low level train with an Amdinnette serving tray meals, a lounge car and three Amfleet cars intermixed with two dome cars in front of our car. Up front behind the engines was a baggage car and two sleepers. We left New Orleans on time.

The conductor walked through collecting tickets and I headed up into the Dome to the right hand front seat. Off to the right is the City of the Dead, the large above ground open cemetery. Once past the airport the train headed out along Lake Pontchartrain with people out on the lake on this Spring day. We crossed the north end of the lake before we sped to our first stop at Hammond. The railroad we were on was the famous Illinois Central which ran the legendary City of New Orleans and Panama Limited. The line used to be double track from Chicago to New Orleans but a cost cutting measure by the IC has resulted in the single tracking of most of the mainline. This was once a racetrack until the removal of the ATS (automatic train stop) speeds have been lowered.

Heading north, the train passes through forest, crossing many streams and a few fields. This is the lowland area adjacent to the Mississippi River which is off to the west by about sixty miles. We stopped at our first stop in Mississippi at McComb and I can cross that state off my list of states to visit. McComb, Brookhaven and Hazlehurst all have very nice station buildings. The Dome seat gives me advance views of upcoming signals so I know when we have a green or if we are going to go into a siding. I took a short break to go to the lounge car and get dinner. I returned to my Dome seat with the meal in a box just in time to watch a southbound Illinois Central freight train pass by on the left side. Nearing Jackson the sun was setting with the sky taking on a whitish gray texture caused by the mid level clouds. Our next station stop was Jackson which is the state capitol of Mississippi and we switched train crews. In the last light of day we headed out of town back into the forest and by the fields of Mississippi. The top of the Dome is dark providing a good view of passing homes and industries along the line which were all lit up on this dark night. The signals are green before the rain gets there, then turned red as it passed only to be heading for another distant green signal. The train was making that rocking motion and clicking sound which I really love as it speeds through the night. I love riding in Dome cars and with Amtrak planning to make this a Superliner train in the near future, I was glad I was making my trip now!

During the early evening, the train made stops at Canton and Grenada stopping just briefly before it continued its nightly dash. Since Jackson we have been on Illinois Central's passenger line so we had it all to ourselves. The IC freight trains take the line that runs through Yazoo City between Jackson and Memphis. Yazoo City now that is an interesting name. The IC wants to downgrade the line we're riding on and if Amtrak pays for its upkeep the train will continue to travel this route via Canton. I believe the train will be rerouted through Yazoo City in the near future saving Amtrak that expense. The evening moved right along just like the train does. I was totally enjoying my Dome experience on this route as I watched the lights of Memphis coming into view. Since I am in Tennessee this makes the third new train riding state of the trip. I had never been to Louisiana and Mississippi before this trip. We pulled into the Memphis Train Station right on the mark and the train was serviced for fifteen minutes. This break gave me a chance to study the Memphis skyline and the view looking towards the Mississippi River. The area near the river has been redeveloped from factories and warehouses into hotels and other new developments. There were sure a lot of neon lights over there!

Leaving Memphis right on time, I watched the city's lights fade into the darkness of the country from the back of the Dome as I continued my gaze looking at passing lights, places and signals. My eyes have become heavy but I was determined to make it through Kentucky and across the Ohio River into Illinois. The countryside had turned hilly as we made our way to the state line and entered Kentucky. We made our lone stop in the state at Fulton where the streets were empty due to the lateness of the hour. With a few more miles we crossed the Ohio River and passed through Cairo, IL. I had visited Cairo in 1971 after it was torn apart by race riots. It did not seem any different to me on this night and with that thought I headed back to the darken coach for some sleep.

The River Cities 358 4/11/1993

At Carbondale I was awoken by the sound of the train's uncoupling. Our last car was dropped off of the City of New Orleans and within minutes an engine is attached. We are now officially the one car train called the River Cites and will remain this way until St Louis. We left Carbondale ahead of the City of New Orleans. While we were stopped at Centralia waiting on a Norfolk Southern freight train to pass the City of New Orleans flew by on it is way to Chicago. Leaving Centralia I fell back asleep and stayed in that state only as far as Bellevue which we stopped at. We descended onto the Mississippi River floodplain and then slowly negotiate the maze of tracks which led us through the rail yards of East St. Louis. I got up and walked the length of our one car train. First I walked right up behind the engine before I walked out and stood on the rear vestibule platform. This will be most likely the only time I ride a one car Amtrak train, but this route did give me new mileage over the ex Southern Railway line. We headed up the grade to cross the Mississippi River and I got my first ever glimpse of the St. Louis skyline. You have the river, the Gateway Arch and downtown St. Louis all laid out in front of you. It is an impressive sight. We are high above the Mississippi River when we crossed into Missouri. The train moved slowly down the grade, passing through several railroad junctions, glided past Bush Stadium before arriving in front of something which resembles an elongated trailer which has a sign on it which reads, "Welcome to St. Louis! Thanks for riding Amtrak." Our one car train trip is over as the engine cuts off to retrieve four more cars and we now become the Kansas City Mule with our car piggybacking to Kansas City. I detrained, bought a newspaper and looked around the very small station before I reboarded for our trip west.

The Kansas City Mule 301 4/11/1993

Departing St. Louis right on the money, within minutes we passed the former train sheds of St Louis Union Station. From a video that I own this was a beehive of activity with all of the passenger trains which used to use it. St Louis is the second most important railroad city in the United States after Chicago and was a major crossroads of the Midwest. The train shed was the largest in the world. Only the north end is used anymore as it is a hotel complex along with a small railroad museum. We then followed the almost completed Metrolink Light Rail Line before we started up the grade to leave the Mississippi River floodplain. Near the top of the bluff is the elegant station at Kirkwood. About five miles west of Kirkwood is the National Museum of Transportation and some of its collection can be seen to the north of the train. It is a place which someday I will visit. We then proceeded through the hills and forests of eastern Missouri passing the occasional UP freight train as we headed towards Kansas City.

We made our next station stop at the tiny town of Hermann where two passengers detrained. We then ran along the Missouri River beneath the bluff on the south side of the tracks. This is my first time along the Missouri River on a train and it was not what I had thought it would be like. I saw the mighty Mississippi River and thought the Missouri River would be as grand. Well it was still a nice river and as the train passed along it, birds flew out of the right away from adjoining trees. We slowed for our next stop and I saw the capitol building of the State of Missouri at Jefferson City which is only the capitol because of its geographical location. St. Louis thought it should be the capitol since it was the state's major city in the east. Kansas City thought it should be the capitol since it was the major city in the west. The battle went on for some time before someone came up with the brilliant idea of putting the capitol halfway between both of them, thus Jefferson City was born.

Leaving Jefferson City we ran along the Missouri River for a few more miles before the river swings off on a more northerly trek. We are passing fields and farms. This is only my third trip ever to Missouri having passed though the southern part of the state in the camper in 1971 and across the northern part of the state at night on the Southwest Chief. This area is relatively flat in comparison to my camper memories of the rolling Ozarks so our train just zipped right along. Off to the south I saw the weed grown tracks of the former Rock Island Line. A railroad which once ran the Rockets now is just a memory but one which will always have a fond spot in my heart. Near Sedalia another station stop the Union Pacific line which we had been riding on splits with the main freight line following the Missouri River to Kansas City while we take the passenger line which has a grade from Independence to Kansas City. During the remainder of this morning's trip we stopped at Warrensburg, Lee Summit and Independence. These are some of the most interesting plain towns that I have ever seen. I do not know if it was just my first time looking at them or what, but suddenly I am thinking about small town America and John Cougar Mellencamp songs are echoing through my head. Leaving Independence, reminds me of a holiday we headed down the grade to Kansas City. This is where the trip gets really interesting to me as once we reached the river level of the Missouri River we switched onto the tracks owned by the Kansas City Terminal Railroad used by the Santa Fe and a few other railroads. We crossed the Union Pacific, Kansas City Southern and Burlington Northern tracks all at major railroad junctions at grade. Kansas City is the third largest railroad center in the United States and is a very busy place. We passed the industries and neighborhoods before reaching the Amtrak Station in Kansas City ten minutes early.

Kansas City 4/11/1993-4/15/1993

Amtrak uses a small station under a highway bridge located in the shadow of the once mighty Kansas City Union Passenger Station. Bill and I walked inside where I got to watch the bags while he went to the airport to get the rental car. We then spent the next four days photographing trains around Kansas City. One night we went and saw the Royals play the Minnesota Twins at Royals Stadium. I really enjoyed the game and the ball park. The fountains were all I thought that they would be and the kids doing the Hokey Pokey between innings were a blast. It was a really nice facility.

The train photography went well with us shooting the Kansas City Southern, Union Pacific, Southern Pacific, Burlington Northern, Santa Fe, Norfolk Southern, Soo Line and Chicago Northwestern. A lot of great action and Bill found so many wonderful locations. The last day was capped by the heaviest thunderstorm of my life producing great amounts of water and a movie at the Hallmark Center.

The Southwest Chief 3 4/15/1993

We boarded the Chief at 1:00 A.M. and I fell right to sleep. I woke up as daylight began with us in western Kansas and Dodge City that cattle drive town. We sped west stopping only for moments in Garden City, KS and Lamar, CO. I sat in the lounge car enjoying the bright sunny morning. La Junta allowed a chance to stretch my legs and a choice of a morning paper. Speeding west once more splitting the semaphore signals at 90 mph brought us to the BN crossing in Trinidad, the Chief's next stop. Leaving here began the most difficult portion of the Southwest Chief's route the crossing of Raton Pass. We started the climb up the twisting and turning tracks up to the Raton Pass Summit Tunnel. I always love Raton Pass because of the steep grade and how I can see both ends of the train constantly. After stopping at Raton we sped off south to Las Vegas, then over Glorieta Pass, Apache Canyon, and came to a stop in Lamy. The afternoon skies were darkening as we arrived in Albuquerque to change crews and service the train. Then we were off into the sunset and a long night.

4/16/1993This trip was uneventful as I had a good night's sleep and a sunrise on the east side of Cajon Pass where I awoke to discover we were an hour and a half late. The trip down Cajon Pass was fast and after a station stop at San Bernardino it was a quick trip down the 2nd district for Pomona, Pasadena and Los Angeles. At Los Angeles we missed train San Diegan 572 thus missing that connection to home. We waited for Train 774 for the quick trip home to Santa Ana where I drove Bill home and went to work at MacArthur for a week before my next part of this trip.

San Diegan 581 4/19/1993

Bill decided not to go on the second segment of the trip which will be to Chicago on the Southwest Chief and my first ride on the Texas Eagle. Since I will be ticketed with two seats, I won't have to share a seat with anyone on this trip. I took the usual and totally uneventful San Diegan to Los Angeles to connect to the Southwest Chief.

The Southwest Chief 4 4/19/1993 Unexpected Detour and Destination Joliet

The train left Los Angeles on time and headed out the usual way through Pasadena. I stayed up over Cajon Pass before I retired for the night.

4/20/1993 This trip was providing me no surprises and it was a normal quick trip to Albuquerque. We passed through Lamy, went through Apache Canyon, climbed Glorieta Pass and descended its east side. The train went through the "S" curves at Chappele, passed Wagon Mound, and completed the afternoon with Raton Pass where darkness took hold on the descent to Trinidad. I had a late dinner of a New York Strip and went to sleep after La Junta.

4/20/1993 Early the next morning all of a sudden we came to a stop at four thirty in the morning and minutes later I saw the crew outside the train. I got dressed and went to the Sightseer Lounge Car for a better view when the conductor walked in and I asked, "What happened?" He told me, "Because of the rains last night which were very heavy, a flash flood has washed out the tracks near Saffordville and cut our route to Emporia fifteen miles away. The Santa Fe has agreed to reroute us via some branch lines to their Southern Mainline so we can continue our trip east. If you wanted some new trackage to ride this morning you will sure be getting it." I thanked him and walked back to my bag to get my Santa Fe employee timetable so I could at least know where I am. I do not want to be like Dorothy was in the Wizard of OZ. As I walked back to the lounge car I was thinking that I may be the only person on the train who is happy with our new situation.

We backed the train to Strong City where the engines ran around the train before we ran the sixty miles back to Newton. Santa Fe put two locomotives on the rear of our train to pull us down the branch line to reach the Southern Mainline. While I was enjoying the experience of riding these new routes the only problem is we were doing it all in the dark. We headed backwards to Mulvane on the Arkansas City Sub but since I am in the lounge car it does not make any difference and made good time doing forty miles an hour. We slowed for Wichita where we headed east into the twilight. Total trip was forty-two point seven miles to Ellinior where we joined the Southern Mainline Emporia Sub for one hundred eight point four miles and finally reached Emporia with the sun in the sky. We were three hours late but I must say I did enjoy that detour but my chances of reaching Chicago for the Texas Eagle are now off. Wait a minute, the Texas Eagle serves Joliet as does the Southwest Chief. I could make my connection there.

Leaving Emporia back on the normal route we made our way to Topeka where east of town we followed close to the banks of the Kansas River. The nice thing about this eastbound trip is I am passing through the countryside I had only passed westbound in the dark. We passed through Lawrence then viewed the waters over the banks flooding the low lying farmlands. We rejoined the freight mainline at Holiday and traveled through the vast Argentine yard of the Santa Fe. The yard is full of trains waiting to head west and we arrived at Kansas City. Right before we made a quick departure they announced that anyone connecting with the Texas Eagle should be off the train. We departed Kansas City three hours late with me staying on for Joliet.

We headed east on the Kansas City Terminal Railroad passing switchers with local trains before we returned to Santa Fe owned trackage. The lounge is totally full of people waiting for lounge service to resume. By the time we had reached Sibley and the crossing of the Missouri River we were back into the rain. It was a very heavy shower maybe even the same cell which dumped all that rain at Saffordville last night. We traveled through the downpour for over an hour before reaching Walt Disney's hometown of Marceline, MO, with its very attractive red brick station. It is easy to see how Walt Disney came up with the idea of Main Street, USA at Disneyland. After lunch we stopped at Fort Madison our only stop in the state of Iowa before we crossed the Mississippi River on the joint highway/railroad bridge. We crossed the hills and plains to Galesburg. Near Chillicothe we crossed the Illinois River then climbed some hills before we rounded the famous Houlihan's Curve, site of many Santa Fe publicity photos over the years. We stopped at Streetor where the Conrail freight connection is to bypass Chicago before we arrived at Joliet at 5:24PM or three hours late where I detrained from the Southwest Chief.

Joliet 4/21/1993

I had seen pictures taken at Joliet but I never thought I would be getting off an Amtrak Train here. I had just over an hour of time to kill before the Texas Eagle was scheduled to arrive so I went and explored the Joliet Station. I returned to the platform just in time to see a Metra Rock Island Line commuter train pull in. This gave me a chance to examine the engine and the inside of these commuter cars. I decided right then that one day I will ride a Metra commuter train from Chicago to Joliet. I photographed a solid set of Santa Fe Warbonnets on a hot freight train just when I saw the headlight of the Texas Eagle.

Texas Eagle 21 4/21/1993 My First Winged Experience

I boarded the Texas Eagle leaving the home of Joliet Jake of the Blues Brothers fame and upon telling the conductor that Los Angeles was my destination, he escorted me back three cars to the empty through coach to the Sunset Limited and the West Coast. After settling in, I walked forward to the dining car and enjoyed a chicken dinner while watching the setting sun. Upon the return to my seat, the early morning I had on the detour had my eyes barely able to stay open so I gave in and fell asleep across my two seats.

4/22/1993 I slept well and awaken finding myself in the State of Arkansas for my very first time on a train. Looking out the window I saw nothing but forest. By looking at the timetable we should be closing in on Little Rock and as we crossed the Arkansas River they announced, "Our next Station stop is Little Rock, Arkansas." This gave me a chance to step off and stand on the ground or platform if you prefer in the Arkansas. Little Rock is the Capitol city of the state. We left Little Rock right on time and after passing the urban landscape we returned to the pine and hardwood forest. Our next stop has the unique name of Arkadelphia and it makes me wonder about the origin of its name. About fifty minutes later we crossed the Red River which has its unique red color. We arrived in Texarkana with it being the only station located in two states Arkansas and Texas.

I had photographed trains around eastern Texas with Bill so the landscape looked very familiar to me. On the outskirts of town we passed the ex Missouri Pacific tie plant and lots of maintenance of way equipment. For the next hour we traveled through the rolling green hills of eastern Texas before arriving at Marshall with its nice depot. Heading westward now, we passed the rich oil fields as we headed in to Longview. At this point my through car only has thirteen passengers in it and according to the attendant who was going as far as Austin the state capitol of Texas, it should stay light all the way to Los Angeles. We were now paralleling a highway Bill and I drove out of Dallas, and in a short time the skyline of Big "D" dominates the horizon. I looked at the buildings and thought of J.R. Ewing of TV's Dallas Fame. We pulled into Dallas and I had time to look through Dallas Union Station before I reboarded the Texas Eagle to continue my trek towards home.

The weather was turning stormy and nasty as we approached Fort Worth. We backed into the station for a crew change before we headed south into the twilight of the night. We were now traveling on the Santa Fe and after Celbrune I went to the dining car for a steak dinner. While I was eating darkness took full hold and I started feeling a head cold developing. After the meal I returned to my coach seat where I laid down but my nose was so stuffed up I had to return to a seated position. At Temple we switched onto the rails of the former KATY {Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railway} where over the course of the next two hours we stopped in Taylor, Austin and San Marcos before we pulled into San Antonio fifteen minutes early. Here the through coach and sleeper for the Sunset Limited were cut off from the Texas Eagle. Before I turned in for the night, two workers came into our car and turned all the seats so they would be facing in the right direction of travel thus putting me at the front of the near empty car. When they were done with their work, I fell quickly asleep.

The Sunset Limited 1 4/23/1993

Waking up, my head cold was worse and I started to smell cigarette smoke in the car. During the night and since my car was nearly empty the train crew made the last six rows of my car the smoking section of the train much to the chagrin of the passengers who were sitting here. The conductor walked through but their protests fell on deaf ears and we were stuck with having the smoking area in our car all the way to Los Angeles. Even though the smoking is limited to the last six rows, the car's air circulation system distribute it evenly throughout the car so we were all in danger of second hand smoke. With me not feeling well I was counting off the miles. I did see the Pecos High Bridge for the first time ever in daylight and I spent most of the afternoon at the back door of the train watching the miles of West Texas fade into the distance. After Alpine and Paisano Pass I returned to my seat and slept until El Paso where I get some much needed fresh air. I returned to my seat, napped until I woke hungry for some dinner so I went to the lounge car and ate a hot dog along with a seven up before I returned to my seat to fall into a deep sleep which lasted the night.

4/24/1993 I woke up in California with the Sunset Limited running an hour and a half late climbing Beaumont Pass with me feeling like my old self. We descended into an overcast San Bernardino Valley, passed through West Colton Yard on the south side due to freight train congestion thus giving me a good look at the engine facility and fuel racks along with the crest {hump] and the inbound holding tracks. This provided a nice diversion to the normal route through West Colton. We stopped at Pomona, then made a quick forty-five minute trip into Los Angeles Union Station. I detrained tired smelling of smoke and I boarded the San Diegan with the conductor asking me if I had taken up smoking. "Are you kidding me or what? You are smelling the Sunset Limited being taken home with me!" The San Diegan 572 was an uneventful trip and I arrived at Santa Ana ending another interesting Amtrak adventure.

My last team I coached at MacArthur was with Jeff Rosen and was Varsity Baseball which went 6-0. This was the finest baseball team that I would ever coach. I lost my job after 11 years at MacArthur due to budget cutting.