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Hot dealing to Albuquerque 9/30/2004 -10/02/2004

by Chris Guenzler

Amtrak revised its web site dropping the Rail Sale feature. Fear not though, as they are still there but now you click on "Hot Deals". That will take you to a page that reads "Weekly Specials". Click on this link and you will get a list of trains listed on the Fare Finder." Every week, offers deep discounts on selected train routes, only when you buy on-line. Save up to 90% of the regular rail fare!" taken from Amtrak's new web site. Well it was time for me to take a trip so on September 22, 2004 after I had returned from ride back from Solana Beach I went to the new and improved Amtrak web site and found it was easier to use than before when I purchased my first "Hot Deal" trip on the Southwest Chief to and from Albuquerque. I picked up the tickets at Santa Ana. The next day I paid for my December trip on the Sunset Limited. I worked for another week at McFadden before the day of my trip arrived.

Surfliner 583 9/30/2004

After a hard day of work and coaching football, I went home to pack. After a fantastic home cooked steak dinner, I drove down to the Santa Ana Amtrak Station and parked my Geo in the parking structure. Following a brief visit with Marty, my wonderful night time Amtrak agent, I made my way out to the tracks. A few minutes later, 583 pulled into Santa Ana and I boarded for Los Angeles Union Station. Other than a wait at Santa Fe Springs for a BNSF freight to clear, we ran on time into Los Angeles Union Station.

Southwest Chief 4 9/30/2004

I walked from track 10 to track 12 and recorded our train's pre departure consist. We had P42DCs 48, 179 and 59, Baggage 1738, Transition 39042, Sleepers 32009 and 32039, Diner 38814, Lounge 33028 and Coaches 34015, 34028 and 31000. I boarded the 34028 taking seat 43 with a large window seat. The coaches were sold out so I had David who was going to Lamy sharing a seat with me. The Southwest Chief departed LAUPT on time as we pulled forward then backed onto our two Express Cars 71086 and 71215 with US Mail. With Amtrak exiting the mail and express business I wondered if this trip will be my final ride on a train with these cars?

David works as a set designer and is currently working on a Fall Replacement Show. We had a really great conversation to Fullerton. I checked the one Express Car number as I took it as we left Los Angeles rolling by it during the fresh air stop there. David and I continued through Santa Ana Canyon and out into the Inland Empire to Riverside and San Bernardino. I felt really tired as we climbed Cajon Pass so I called it a night. I got a pretty decent night's sleep as the Southwest Chief headed to Barstow before crossing the Mojave Desert then into Arizona.

10/1/2004 Found me awakening just before we arrived at Flagstaff. We were on time and it was predawn as I pointed out Canyon Diablo to the breakfast waiting passengers. I enjoyed a French Toast and Sausage with a couple from Ojai heading to Trinidad and a guy going to Santa Fe. I learned more about horse racing than I ever wanted to know during this meal. I enjoyed some music along with some orange juice as the Southwest Chief rolled into New Mexico. The Chief ran on time to Gallup and then I enjoyed the vistas east of there until Grants.

I napped until the line split at Suwanee and enjoyed our trek down the south main track and passed two eastbound BNSF freights. The BNSF is one extremely busy railroad these days. When the tracks came back together there were 2 more westbound BNSF freights waiting. At Dalies another westbound BNSF freight was waiting as we left the BNSF mainline into Albuquerque. The train ran to Iselta, crossed the Rio Grande River and arrived into Albuquerque thirty minutes early.

Albuquerque 10/01/2004

I paid to store my bag at the station then walked over to Century Theater to watch "The Forgotten" which was an excellent suspense movie. With more time to kill since being thirty minutes early allowed me to see that first movie, I then watched "Shark Tale". I returned to the station to reclaim my bag as the westbound Southwest Chief arrived into Albuquerque twenty minutes early.

Southwest Chief 3 10/01/2004

After I boarded coach 34114 taking seat 51, I detrained to get the consist. This version of the Southwest Chief was a little more interesting than the westbound that had brought me here. It had P42DCs 207, 99 and 82 with F69PH 450, deadheading Horizon Coach 54532, Baggage 1852, Transition 39046, Sleepers 32016 and 32110, Diner 38055, Lounge 33027. Coaches 31527, 34056 and 34114, Express Cars 71243, 71298, 71129, Express Trek 74055 and Express 71284. The Southwest Chief departed Albuquerque on time and I walked to the Dining Car to get me a 5:30 PM dinner reservation. I went to the lounge car to enjoy the scenery back to Dalies with a railfan and female friend. They called the 5:30's into the dining car and I enjoyed a New York Strip and ice cream sundae. My waiter was Paul, a former Lounge Service Attendant on the old San Diegan trains.

I enjoyed the scenery west to Gallup where a tired Chris called it a night.

10/02/2004 Our on time departures continued through the night and at Barstow we sat for quite a while waiting for scheduled departure. We climbed Cajon Pass in the darkness and at 5:00 AM I went into the dining car for a breakfast of French Toast and Sausage as we descended into San Bernardino. We made a stop a few minutes later at Riverside before making our predawn sprint through Santa Ana Canyon. I decided to detrain at Fullerton and wait an hour there for Surfliner 564 instead of going all the way to Los Angles and wait for Surfliner 564 back to Santa Ana. We had arrived right on time into Fullerton and the Southwest Chief then arrived at LAUPT at 7:21 AM, 59 minutes early. After almost an hour wait with no trains, 564 arrived into Fullerton and I boarded for the two stop trip home to Santa Ana ending another great but short Amtrak adventure.