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The Millionth Amtrak Mile Trip Part 1

Pre Trip Departure Party and First Two Nights Aboard the Southwest Chief

by Chris Guenzler

The Trip Finally Arrived

I packed and stopped by the store for some things for the trip. Jeff Hartmann called and said he wanted to leave his car at the station so we would have transportation when we returned. He would be by at 2:15 PM to pick me up. Since my Amtrak mileage was perfect from Fullerton to La Plata for the big event there on Monday, Metrolink would be taking us to Fullerton. I did some last minute chores around the house then watched VH1 Classic 40 Greatest Heavy Metal Songs. Jeff showed up right on time and we drove to the Santa Ana Train Station and parked in the parking structure up on the third level due to the fact they had the northeast parking lot closed off every weekend from Friday to Monday morning. I thought this was a Transportation Center not some Friday and Saturday night event center. I went to the Amtrak Ticket Counter to get a parking permit then walked back to the structure to fill it out. On the way to the bridge to Track 1, I went down to the Ticket Counter to turn in the parking permit before we got down to Track 1. Jeff bought our Metrolink Tickets to Fullerton and we sat down to wait for our train to start this trip.

Surfliner 578 arrived into Santa Ana.

A late running Surfliner 577 then pulled into Santa Ana. I joked with the engineer about the fact that I could not get on his Amtrak train or else it would screw up my Amtrak rail mileage. Jeff's parents then came down to see us off. The Metrolink signs then flashed and the message came over that "The Train going to Los Angeles is running up to 15 Minutes late." About ten minutes later the crossing gates went down and soon a pair of track inspection trucks rolled through the station. Once they had past, we heard a horn and here came Metrolink 657 into Santa Ana.

Metrolink 657 4/5/2008

Metrolink 657 arrived into Santa Ana with a familiar face at the door. Jeff and I said goodbye to his parents and we boarded the train posing for pictures in the door.

Conductor Bert Lucia and me. The train took off making its first stop in Orange.

An OCTD Bus with a Metrolink train painted on it in its artwork. The train then took us to Anaheim and onto Fullerton. We said our goodbyes to Conductor Bert who wished me luck with my trip.

Metrolink 657 departing Fullerton for Los Angeles. We sat on the bench along the platform to watch trains but alas no one came by while we were waiting. We waited over by Knowlwoods for Steve to arrive to store our bags in his van while we attended the departure party.

Pre Departure Party Knowlwoods, Fullerton 4/5/2008

The party guests arrived and Steve brought some of the new table clothes, napkins and cups with the Empire Builder crossing the Two Medicine Bridge in Montana. I ordered a Hot Dog, Fries and Chocolate Shake.

Amtrak Conductor Lawerence Dixon and Bruce Jacobs.

Bruce Jacobs and Dan Dalke.

Chris Parker, Ken Ruben and Fred Kingdom.

Chris Parker and Bob McMillan of Vahalla Video along to film this event for us.

The group at another table.

Anton at another booth.

Steve, Barbara and Tom who did these great T-shirts again for this trip.

Carol Walker. We all enjoyed each other's company but soon it was time to head over to the station. We walked over and waited for Steve to arrive with our luggage.

Metrolink 659 arrived into Fullerton.

Metrolink 659 leaving Fullerton.

The group at Fullerton waiting on the eastbound Southwest Chief.

Members of the Orange County Railroad Historical Society who had come down to see me off. We spotted the headlight and I went up the stairs to my vantage point on the landing on the Pedestrian Bridge. A special Thank You to all of you who came to see me off on my Millionth Amtrak Mile Trip.

Southwest Chief 4/5/2008

The Southwest Chief arrived into Fullerton. I took the elevator down to the train. This train had a consist of Engines 113 and 11, Baggage 1161, Transition 39018, Sleepers 32085 Kentucky and 32115 Wisconsin, Diner 38044, Lounge 33020 with Coaches 34039, 34037 and 34045 with Jeff and I having Room 5 in the Kentucky. Our Sleeping Car Attendant never offered her name and Jeff got on the wrong car but I went a retrieved him. Chris and Larry got dinner right after they got on because they had a good sleeping car attendant. All our attendant could say was "Wait till the last call!" By that time it was too late to eat. The train made its way to Riverside and San Bernardino where I took some fresh air. Jeff and I went to the lounge car for the trip over Cajon Pass and after Summit we returned to the room. I made it up with Jeff taking the upper bunk and myself in the lower bunk. After the train left Victorville we called it a night.

4/6/2008 I woke up at Flagstaff and waited longer than normal for the Dining Car to open for Breakfast. We stopped in Winslow before they finally open up the Dining Car for Breakfast. I had the Chef Marketplace Special of a Waffle and Sausage Links. We all returned to the Lounge Car and soon were joined by Tom and Jonathan.

Chief Yellowhorse welcomes me to New Mexico.

Red Mesas of New Mexico.

Chris and Jonathan.

Bob enjoying his trip.

Mount Taylor.

Bob brought his railroad maps to figure out where we are along our route.

Jonathan and Chris listening to Bob and Larry.

Chris, Larry and Bob decide where we are on the map.

Tom Anderson decided he needed a much deserved nap back in his coach. I checked on Jeff finding him suffering from a headache this morning.

Winston Walker, my excellent proof reader, finally made it into the Lounge Car just before the train reached Dalies. A few minutes later, Jeff joined us in the Lounge Car as our train crossed the Rio Grande River and headed straight into Albuquerque.

The Southwest Chief arrived into Albuquerque at 11:30 AM so first I walked down to take a picture of our train here. Next Tom, Christy, Jonathan and I went to Coldstone Creamery for my usual ice cream. We left Albuquerque on time with me in the Lounge Car.

Me enjoying the trip.

L.B. Chris and Jeff enjoying our trip aboard the Southwest Chief.

Tom and Jonathan.

Chris and Bob were talking about their flying experiences.

Jeff Hartmann enjoying his new mileage since Albuquerque.

Looking north towards Santa Fe.

A unique home on the west side of Glorieta Pass.

Chris Parker getting his lunch served.

Bob and Larry eating there lunch.

After the train reached Glorieta Summit, I returned to my room for Alice Cooper DVD "Live at Montreux".

Starvation Peak. Near Las Vegas I touched base with Steve Grande to see how their flight to Kansas City was and to tell him how we were doing.

Wagon Mound, New Mexico.

View on the way to Raton, our next fresh air stop.

The Southwest Chief took the Wooten Ranch Curve.

The Santa Fe Railroad Dick Wooten Ranch Santa Fe Trail Sign. After 6 PM we got called into the Diner so Tom, Jeff and I had dinner together. I enjoyed the Flat Iron Steak and Vanilla Ice Cream for dessert.

Interesting clouds off to the north after dinner.

Sunset at the end of a great day of train riding. We ran in the twilight the rest of the way to La Junta which we arrived into early. I gave the friendly Amtrak agent here one of our T Shirts since she was so nice to me on my La Junta Turns I made to reach this point.

A view looking down the engines to a green signal that we would later leave on.

Only the low headlights make for this interesting view of our train in La Junta.

Two views of our train looking back towards the west. Back onboard I put on Yes "Magnification" as Jeff read the Arizona Daily Sun. The Southwest Chief left La Junta on time and headed out into the night after I had made up the room for sleep. The train went to Lamar then out across Kansas during the night as I slept.

Reaching My Millionth Amtrak Rail Mile