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Heading Home from La Plata

by Chris Guenzler

After the short ride to the station, we all went inside to wait for the late-running Southwest Chief.

The former ticket window in the La Plata Amtrak Station.

I took some photographs and noted that the former Amtrak pointless arrow symbol lives on in La Plata.

Views inside the La Plata Amtrak Station.

View outside of the La Plata Amtrak Station.

The inside of the former ticket office.

UFO's in La Plata. No, just another BNSF eastbound freight train. I looked at all the books in the station, most being of the romantic variety which caused me to do a series of pirate jokes. Aaagh! About 9:00 PM, we all moved our luggage outside just before Ray Burns and Steve Grande came down to see us all off on the Southwest Chief. An eastbound BNSF freight came through before our train slowly pulled into the station.

Southwest Chief 12/9/2006

The Southwest Chief arrived at 9:21 PM {8:06 PM} with Andy and I boarding the 331 car. I had Room 5 for this trip home. This train had Engines 198 and 4, Baggage 1242, Transition 32019, Sleepers 32034 and 32069, Diner 38001, Lounge 33005 and Coaches 34093, 34095 and 31030, with deadheading Lounge Car 33041 on the rear. Our Sleeping Car attendant for this trip was Lupe. After settling in our rooms, Andy and I walked back to the lounge car to talk with Greg, the Lead Service Attendant for the trip. Here we also met Steve, a former Surfliner engineer, who had ridden the California Zephyr eastbound and was now on the Southwest Chief. Later I returned to my room, made up my bed and called it a night as the train sped west across Missouri.

12/10/2006 I was in the dining car as the train rolled through Granada, Colorado. I was enjoying a breakfast of French Toast and Sausage Patties with Andy as the train arrived in Lamar. I walked through the train after Lamar to say hello to other members of our train riders group.

Scenery between Lamar and La Junta. At Casa, we met BNSF 5125 East, before we arrived early at La Junta, where it was warm enough for me to wear shorts.

We departed La Junta on time and Andy then showed me a video clip of yesterday's Grand Opening on the internet. Afterwards, I went to the lounge car to write the story of yesterday's events. By the time I finished, the train had passed Trinidad and was climbing Raton Pass.

Our group enjoying the climb over Raton Pass.

Rounding the Wooten Curve. I returned to my room after the Raton Tunnel for some Jethro Tull "Warchild" on my CD player. Lori, the Sleeping Car attendant in the next car, was giving interesting announcements about sights along our route, for which all the passengers were grateful. We had an extended fresh air stop at Raton since we arrived early. I napped most of the way to Las Vegas, New Mexico before riding in the lounge car with Tom and Dan to Lamy.

A few more scenes west of Lamy. After that, I finished up Warchild before switching to Billy Joel's "Stormfront" that took me to Albuquerque where we arrived early at 3:47 PM {3:55 PM}. Andy, Tom, Dan and I walked over to Coldstone Creamery for some ice cream.

The Coldstone Shop

The view from Coldstone looking back towards the Amtrak Station which is just one block away

The ice cream.

The toppings you can have added to your purchase. I had mint ice cream with toppings of Heath, Kit Kat and Butterfinger all mixed together. We then walked back to the train for more pictures on this 41 degree, mostly cloudy, late afternoon.

The Southwest Chief at rest at Albuquerque.

Freshly painted engine 198.

We departed Albuquerque on time with Ozzy Osbourne "The Ozzman Cometh" being my next musical selection this early evening.

An interesting cloud in the western sky.

The clouds became very interesting. Just before Grants, we slowed to a crawl as we moved from one flashing red signal to another. I visited with Tom in Room C and we checked before we met Dan and Tom in the dining car for dinner. I had the Pork Shanks along with a Chocolate Bundt Cake for dessert. Following an excellent meal, I took a shower before returning to my darkened room for an evening of music. I called it a night just before Winslow.

12/11/2006 Waking up east of Summit on Cajon Pass, I enjoyed a French Toast and Sausage Patties breakfast as the train descended Cajon Pass. I had one last fresh air stop at San Bernardino, still in darkness, before we headed to Riverside. My final sprint aboard this train was to Fullerton and I hoped we would arrive before Surfliner 562 did. We did not make it as we arrived at Fullerton at 6:55 AM {6:34 AM}, ending another fantastic Amtrak adventure on the Southwest Chief. Now it was time to catch the next train to Santa Ana. I went up and over the bridge to the south platform and found a train schedule.

Metrolink 682 12/11/2006

Metrolink 682 arriving at 7:11 AM would have me back in Santa Ana in time to go to work. I went to the Metrolink ticket machine to purchase a one-way ticket to Santa Ana. First, the machine ate my five dollar bill, but gave me a voucher for that amount. The machine then had a red sign that read "No Cash". I did a credit transaction and this time it charged me both for an adult and child ticket. I hoped that this was not the start of a bad day!

Metrolink 605 came into Fullerton on Track 1.

Metrolink 682 pulled into Fullerton at 7:19 AM. We stopped at Anaheim and Orange before running the final mile of this trip to Santa Ana. I detrained, got into my Geo Metro and drove to McFadden Intermediate School for a day of work.