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The Big Circle Back to La Plata Part 2

by Chris Guenzler

During our layover in Grand Junction, after I got an ice cream bar, a view of the California Zephyr alongside a BNSF power set.

A down on view from balcony.

Union Pacific SD-40-2 3657 was then added to the point of the train.

Across the street DRG&W narrow gauge box car 3091 on display. It was really hot outside so back on the train I took an hour nap and got up after De Buque Canyon. I put on my CD of Yes "Open Your Eyes".

On the way to Glenwood Springs west of Grand Valley siding. Right before Glenwood Springs we paused to let the westbound California Zephyr pass by on its way to California before we pulled into the station for a fresh air break.

The CZ at Glenwood Springs ready to pass through Glenwood Canyon once we depart.

The Glenwood Springs Station.

The hotel and complex across the Colorado River and Interstate 70. The train departed Glenwood Springs at 4:12 PM {1:15 PM}.

The train ran through Glenwood Canyon. I put on my DVD of Queensryche "Video Mind Crime". That took me from Glenwood Canyon to Dotsero and on to Red Rock Canyon where they called us in for dinner.

The train ran through Red Rock Canyon.

Scenes on the Dotsero Cutoff along the Colorado River.

The Union Pacific power leading the California Zephyr.

The train ran by interesting rock strata.

I had the Flat Iron Steak and Vanilla Ice Cream as the train stopped by this rapid to wait for a UP freight train. I ate a whole meal stopped at this same place on the Desert Wind years ago at Bond.

Our train was still running along the Colorado River.

The train ran through Little Gore Canyon.

The train was running near Azure.

Looks like Gore Canyon will mostly be in the shadow on this trip.

The train ran through Gore Canyon.

The train running along the Colorado River.

Colorful Colorado!

The train ran through Byers Canyon. The train then continued on to Granby and Winter Park. In the last twilight of this day, the train entered the Moffat Tunnel for 12 minutes of darkness. Exiting at East Portal, only a little light was left and it quickly turned into blackness. The trip all the way down the Front Range would be in darkness until the Big ten curve where the lights of the Denver area and way out on the plains could be seen. The train made its way down through North Yard before it was wyed and backed into Denver Union Station arriving there at 10:08 PM {7:43 PM}. I detrained for some well deserved fresh air. The UP 3657 was taken off in Denver and Amtrak 65 was added to the point and a Denver to Chicago Sleeper 32051 was added to the rear. The California Zephyr departed Denver at 11:04 PM {8:10 PM} and the train headed east across the plains. I made up my room and called it a night.

8/13/2008 A PA Announcement about the Dining Car being opened woke me up and minutes later a tired Chris was at a table seated with a couple from outside of Cleveland and a women from Wisconsin. I had French Toast and Sausage Patties along with some very interesting breakfast conversions. Back in my room, I watched the passing Nebraska countryside turn in the city of Lincoln.

The Nebraska State Capitol Building in Lincoln before we arrived for an extended fresh air break.

CB&Q 4-6-0 610 on display at Lincoln, Nebraska.

Box cars painted in all the former premerger railroad colors that made up the BN System.

The Lincoln Station caboose.

A look down the line of cars. The train departed Lincoln at 8:58 AM {4:47 AM} and headed to Omaha.

The train ran through the typical Nebraska countryside.

Later the train crossed the Platte River.

At Linoma, NE their tower as we passed through that town before we dropped down to the Omaha Amtrak Station, our next fresh air stop of this trip.

The California Zephyr at Omaha.

The old CB&Q Station in Omaha.

The Union Pacific Station now the Western Heritage Museum. The train departed Omaha at 10:17 AM {6:14 AM}. I put on my CD of Jon Anderson of Yes "Latin America 1993".

About twenty minutes later, the train crossed the Platte River again for the second and last time today before we turned east.

The train did the Missouri River crossing and the CZ entered Iowa. After a few miles in Iowa we came to a stop next to an eastbound BNSF coal train. After we sat for fifty minutes, the conductor announced that two coal trains ahead of us that their engines are have serious problems with their engine's computer and that BNSF management was on the scene. The best guess is that once we can move, we would follow coal train 2 ahead of us to the next siding and then get around train number 1, the cause of all this, on double track. Train 3 next to us would follow us east. Another fifty minutes of delay or more is expected. I put on my CD of Rush "Snakes and Arrows." Sometimes I wonder why I keep on traveling on Amtrak? See America! Right now I had a view of a coal car COLX 6098 since we are sitting and I must say I am curious as what is on the other side of him. Is some young lady out in her yard sunning herself? I would never know. I almost always say "Every Trip is an Adventure!" but there are times when I now wondering why do I put myself through this. I guess I am tired and a little bored by this long delay. At 12:58 PM we started moving again after a two hour delay.

More of the fantastic western Iowa scenery.

More views of scenic Iowa. I put on my DVD of Queen "Queen on Fire, Live at the Bowl" which put me in a much better mood. The train stopped in Creston then Osceola.

Corn fields is what Iowa is known for.

Albia, Iowa which will be our destination for Saturday's Rare Mileage Trip that I will be riding. Later the train pulled into Ottumwa, our next fresh air break. At 5 PM they started to feed the coach passengers Beef Stew car by car and told the Sleeping Car Passengers to hang tight. The train stopped at Mount Pleasant then ran on east to Burlington.

More corn of those Iowa corn fields.

There is even a house and silo in this corn field. At West Burlington we had to wait for Train 5, the westbound California Zephyr and an eastbound BNSF freight train to cross the river before we could pull down into the station. For dinner I had a steak that came with rice and they did not offer any dessert and the train did not budge. The train finally headed down to the Burlington Station, our last stop in Iowa.

The CB&Q 4-6-2 3003 is on display. The train departed Burlington but did not go far. Another westbound BNSF coal train had a problem climbing the hill west of here and is blocking our exiting the Hawkeye State. Our train started moving again at 7:20 PM.

The CZ crossed the Mississippi River into Illinois.

After entering Illinois, we passed through the area that had been washed out back in late June shutting down this route for about a week until the BNSF could make repairs.

A glorious cumulonimbus cloud in the last light of day. The train headed next to Galesburg. I put on DVD of Alice Cooper "Live at Montreux" and took a break for the last brief fresh air stop of this trip at Galesburg.

CB&Q Caboose 13593 on display at Princeton and we left there for Naperville. After that stop the CZ headed to Chicago Union Station arriving there at 11:18 PM {3:50 PM} ending a very long but interesting trip aboard Amtrak's California Zephyr.

Chicago 8/13/2008

I taxied to the ChinaTown Hotel SRO LTD about two miles from Union Station for the night.

8/14/2008 After a good night sleep, I checked out and walked to the CTA Orange Line Station and took it one stop to Roosevelt Road where I mistakenly got off. That made my walk back to Union Station much longer but I got rewarded with an extra picture.

The old Dearborn Station used by the Santa Fe Railway and other railroads before Amtrak was formed in 1971. I made my way to Chicago Union Station. I stored my luggage in the Metropolitan Lounge before I headed to McDonald's for breakfast.

There is a fountain across from the ticket counter. Later I got a pair of Char Dogs which I bought back to the lounge and got my luggage back. The lounge now has wireless which is really fast. I worked on the story and relaxed the rest of the time until I board the Southwest Chief to La Plata.

Southwest Chief 8/14/2008

Not much to say. I boarded coach, rode over five hours as we got stuck first at Cameron trying to get onto the old Santa Fe and the barge at the Mississippi River, called the Depot Inn & Suites from Fort Madison and I detrained back at La Plata about half an hour late. The Depot Inn & Suites picked me up and I was in the sauna tub in the Pullman Suite ten minutes after I got in the room. I was sure great to be back in La Plata!