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My Life and a Trip to La Plata

by Chris Guenzler

While I was away on the CNW Historical Society Trip, I received a registered letter telling me once more my job has been wiped out and I would be laid off as of June 30th. My last day is really June 18th so we will see what kinds of problems the wrong date will cause. On June 2nd, I received a letter of Reasonable Assurance of Continuing Employment which was sent out by mistake rubbing more salt in my wounds. I contacted my union who finally said the Santa Ana Unified School District hadn't violated the law but a letter in my behalf would be sent. Here I am a hard working employee and I have little faith in those people running SAUSD. We will have to wait and see what the next chapter of employment with SAUSD will be.

The Disney Train had a five hour wait so we could not go through the train. But here is the rear end of it with the Lambert Point owned by the Friends of the Milwaukee Road 261 leased to Disney for this train seen on May 25, 2009.

Before the Train Travel Group I belong to in Fullerton, California, I caught a pair of BNSF freights On Monday May 25, 2009.

I got to go with a 3rd Grade Class from Jefferson Elementary School on a Field Trip to the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Gardens. While the kids were eating their lunches, I walked down Baldwin Avenue for pictures of the ex Santa Fe Railroad Santa Anita Station.

I continued to ride Metrolink Comet Cars and here is the view from Saturday June 6th, 2009.

The new modified Metrolink paint scheme at Union Station on Sunday June 7th at LAUPT.

I continued to ride the Surfliners and here is a pair of views from Surfliner 589 on Wednesday June 10, 2009.

With the Anaheim Ducks out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, I had to support another team. That team was the Pittsburgh Penguins. I grew a playoff beard and here it was the day after the Penguins defeated Detroit Red Wings to win the Stanley Cup on Saturday June 13th, 2009. I worked the final four days at Jefferson and it was really hard for me to leave the great staff and kids at that wonderful school. I got home and filed for my Unemployement Insurance on line and with some help from my brother Jon, that was really easy. I rode down to Solana Beach on that Thursday, June 18th, Friday I made a round trip to San Diego in the morning and Saturday rode the Overland Trail from Los Angeles to San Luis Obispo and back.{ See the story below this one on the trip page!} Sunday was a pair of round trips to San Diego. The morning of this trip I made a round trip to San Diego then went home to pack for the first of my summer trips this one to La Plata with a driving trip out to Kansas for a train trip on the Abilene & Smoky Valley Railroad there with Bob Cox.

Metrolink 609 6/22/2009

My mother dropped me off at the bus stop on Santa Ana Blvd and I walked over to Track One. I bought my Metrolink Ticket To Fullerton and waited for the train.

It came into Santa Ana on time and I boarded the Cab Car. It was a quick trip to Fullerton where I detrained finding Steve Grande and Tom Anderson waiting for me. We put my luggage into Steve's Van and walked over to Knolwoods for our monthly meeting.

The Train Travel Group Meeting 6/22/2009

I enjoyed a French Dip Sandwich as the meeting was held. We had a good turn out but all too soon it was time to head over to the Fullerton Amtrak Station across the parking lot to wait for my train to arrive to take me to La Plata. Departure time came and went and I learned onboard the Automatic Train Stop {ATS} on the units weren't working so they stopped at the 8th Street Yard to get it fixed. Because they did fix it we could then run 90 MPH. With out it 70 MPH.

Southwest Chief 6/22/2009

I finally went up on the bridge to catch the train coming into Fullerton at 7:48 PM. It had a consist of Engines 76 and 14, Baggage 1716, Transition 39029, Sleepers 32076 Florida and 32075 Delaware, Diner 38059, Lounge 38020 and Coaches 34052, 34092 and 34111. I ended up with Room 8 in the Delaware with Peggy as my Sleeping Car Attendant. Bob Manning of Palm Springs rode out to Riverside with me and we showed my room to a lady who was interested in upgrading to a room. I said goodbye to Bob at Riverside and took fresh air at San Bernardino. I worked on the story before I enjoyed the climb over Cajon Pass. After Summit I made up my room and called it a night.


It seems like every June 23rd of each year that I am on a train and thus can only give my brother Jon a birthday greeting from afar. I took some fresh air at Flagstaff on a cool morning.

Station scenes at Flagstaff and we left there an hour late. I read the USA Today while waiting for the Dining Car to open at 6:30 AM. I enjoyed French Toast and sausage patties on this sunny morning. My table mates were a gentlemen going to New York who had also ridden to Lynn Lake, Manitoba like I did once with a great story of his trip and two guys going to Albuquerque then onto Los Lunes.

The Arizona scenery on the way to Winslow.

In Winslow I spotted an old friend of mine, the private car Pony Express. For my first DVD of the trip I put on "Pirates of the Caribbean, The Curse of the Black Pearl".

Later we entered New Mexico.

A scene after Gallup.

After watching some of the bonus disc, the Southwest Chief crossed the Rio Grande River and then into Albuquerque early at about noon. I detrained and went to see what became of the Coldstone Creamery.

I walked over to the Sweet Berry Gelata Italian Ice Cream Sandwiches & Coffee and bought a small chocolate ice cream to try it and it was very good. Back aboard the train I put on the next DVD of "Pirates of the Caribbean, Dead Man's Chest".

The Rio Grande Valley on the way to Lamy. Climbing Glorieta Pass I put on the final DVD of the three movies "Pirates of the Caribbean, At World's End".

Across the valley Starvation Peak stands out.

The Pecos River. Later at Ojita we met the three hour late running westbound Southwest Chief. The only Dinner Reservation I could get was at 5:15 PM which will still be when my movie is still going on.

Later nearing Wagon Mound. At 5:15 PM I went to the Dining Car for the Braised Flat Iron Bordelaise that was unique. I took a fresh air break at Raton before returning to the rest of "At World's End".

Old building foundations on the upper Colorado side of Raton Pass. That movie lasted past Trinidad where I started reading "What would Keith Richards do? Daily Affirmations from a Rock 'N' Roll Survivor" by Jessica Pallington West.

Scenes on the way to La Junta. I took a quick fresh air break at La Junta before I made up my bed and called it a night.


Woke up at the BNSF Fueling Racks at Argentine Yard in Kansas City and went to have French Toast and sausage patties. At Santa Fe JCT we stopped briefly for a northbound grain train before we pulled into Kansas City Union Station and a fresh air break early.

Missouri River Cities Service Train 312 leaves for St Louis and we left Kansas City on time with me watching the movie "Mama Mia".

The Missouri River. The train run the rest of the way to La Plata which it arrived into early ending yet another fantastic Amtrak adventure.

La Plata 6/24/2009

I stepped off to Bob Cox, the Amtrak Station Docent here in La Plata, who told me Maria from the Depot Inn & Suites would be here in a few minutes which she was. She drove me to the Depot Inn & Suites where I got the key to the Pullman Suites and Maria came with me to see if I could see what had been added to the suite. It turned out to be a railroad clock over the vanity area of the Suite. I picked up a Coca-Cola from the machine and got the key to the golf cart to head out to the Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point. It felt really good to be driving the golf cart out to the lookout point instead of walking. Once I got there I found a couple from Florida who was here staying at the Inn. It did not take long for the first train and then thunderstorms to show up.

First a pair of BNSF westbound stack trains came by with one on each mainline.

Next a Union Pacific westbound stack train went by my location.

An eastbound BNSF stack train came by next with twelve units on the point.

Another BNSF westbound stack train came through during the last down pour while I was out there. I returned to the Pullman Suite just before the next series of thunderstorms came through La Plata. I worked on the story and watched a little television. The Electrical storm knocked out the Internet in town and at the Depot Inn & suites. I went back out to the Lookout Point to try it there with no luck. At 4 PM I went to the Red Rooster for a Filet Mignon for dinner and they got the Internet back working after 5 PM.

Tonight was the first Managers Reception 5-7 PM Daily in the Reception Room. This event was listed in the Depot Inn & Suites Room Guide.

At the event there are drinks and popcorn. This is a way to get to know the other guests staying at the Depot Inn & Suites. I returned to my room and worked on this story while watching television.

I walked back out to the Lookout Point and caught one more westbound BNSF Stack Train. Amtrak was an hour and a half late tonight, so I took a man from Topeka back to the Inn and gave him a tour of the Exhibition of Amtrak History. I returned to the Pullman Suite and after a fantastic bath in the sauna tub, I called it a night. Tomorrow Bob Cox and I will drive west to the Abilene Smoky Hills Railroad to ride it but that will be another story.