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Back to the Depot Inn & Suites Once-more!

The return of the Steaks!

by Chris Guenzler

To say I was looking forward to this trip would be the absolute truth. I had not been on a long distance train since I came back from the 2007 NRHS Convention so I could not resist a chance to go back to the Depot Inn & Suites in La Plata. When I booked this trip our Southwest Chief was I scheduled to have the Grand Lux Cars on the rear of our train but that did not work out so I could have a rear door view if I wanted it. I worked hard at McFadden Intermediate and slowly the day of the trip finally arrived. I went home from work, finished packing before my Mother drove me down to the Santa Ana Train Station and bought a ticket home from Los Angeles. I used the elevator to get to Track One just as the Metrolink train heading to Los Angeles was departing. A few minutes passed before I heard the horn of my approaching Surfliner to LAUPT.

Surfliner 583 12/13/2007

The train pulled in almost on time with Surfliner Cab Car 6908, Coaches 6453 Pacific Beach and 6406, Cafe/Coach 6303, Pacific Business Class 6807 with Engine 450 pushing. I boarded the Cab Car and settled in for my trip to Los Angeles. Before we stopped in Anaheim I took a picture. We stopped in Fullerton before we made the final sprint into Track 12 at LAUPT a few minutes early.

Southwest Chief 4 12/13/2007

This Southwest Chief backed into LAUPT with Engines 135 and 95, Baggage 1164, Transition 39030, Sleepers 32091 Minnesota and 32078 Florida, Diner 38004, Lounge 32028 and Coaches 34049, 43038 and 31020. I had Room 4 in the Minnesota and my Sleeping Car Attendant was Henry. I was watching Kissology Volume 2 as we left Los Angeles on time and headed to Fullerton. There a man helping his mother onboard did not follow Henry's directions and was still in her room as the train left Fullerton. He got a train ride out to Riverside and had to taxi back to Fullerton. Conductor Alex P stopped by for visit. He holds the record for being the conductor on the most routes I have ridden on. At 7:30 PM I went into the Dining Car and found the Flat Iron Steak back on the menu which I ordered and it was fantastic. For dessert I enjoyed the return of Ice Cream as I had chocolate.

The New Dining Car Menu

Breakfast- Today's Omelet Selection, Scrambled Eggs, Railroad French Toast, Chef's Morning Marketplace Special which was a Belgium Waffle that I enjoyed, Bacon and Sausage.

Lunch- Appetizers- Chicken Wings, Chips and Salsa (Sleeping Car passengers pay for these on this menu}

Build Your Own Burger, Chef's Luncheon Special was Roast Beef and Mashed Potatoes, Cold Sandwich which was Turkey, Specialty Fresh Salad.

Dinner- Appetizers- Chicken Wings Chips and Salsa Shrimp Cocktail (Sleeping Car passengers pay for these on this menu)

Flat Iron, Seafood Selection, Roast Game Hen, Vegetarian Special, Chef's Marketplace Special was Braised Beef, Build your own Burger.

Desserts- Server will describe, Ice Cream Chocolate or Vanilla.

Dinner lasted until San Bernardino as I dined with a couple from Albuquerque. I returned to my room for more Kiss as the train climbed Cajon Pass. After that I made up my bed and called it a night.

12/14/2007 I woke up just after Canyon Diablo and went straight to the Dining Car having the Chef's Morning Marketplace Special off the new National Menu which was a Belgium Waffle and Pork Sausage Patties. I returned to my room for more of Kissology before starting work on editing the 2nd Cut of my Million Mile Trip DVD from last April.

Coming into a snowy New Mexico before we reached Gallup. I finished with the DVD notes just before we arrived into a 35 degree Albuquerque which we arrived into early.

The Southwest Chief just before a quick snow shower forced us all back on the train.

After the snow shower had passed.

I saw a New Mexico Railrunner before I returned to the train for more of Kissology. The Southwest Chief left Albuquerque on time. At 1 PM I went to the Dining Car for lunch having the Chef's Luncheon Special which today was Roast Beef and Mashed Potatoes. Any Appetizers on this new menu you must pay for even if you are in a Sleeping Car. I was back in my room by a white Lamy before we passed through Apache Canyon in a light snow. The snows continued to the top of Glorieta Pass and at Fox we passed the westbound Southwest Chief in the siding there. I enjoyed more of Kissology as we crossed the Pecos River and then took the "S" curves before we reached Las Vegas.

The train ran through Shoemakers Canyon on a dark overcast late afternoon as the train headed to Raton, our next fresh air stop of this trip.

It was a cold evening in Raton. Back aboard the train, I watched more of the Million Mile Trip DVD until about 6:15 PM when I had a repeat of last night's Flat Iron Steak which took me past Trinidad. I finished up the Kissology just before La Junta where I stepped off into the very cold breezy night air for some shots around the station.

La Junta was busy which we left on time and headed for Kansas. I set the watch ahead an hour before I made up my room for the night.

12/15/2007 I woke up at Topeka and visited the Lounge Car for a cinnamon roll. We lost time last night while I slept due to a broken rail that had to be replaced before we could proceed. As I rode at a table in the lounge car, the train stopped at Lawrence, Kansas before it made its way to Holiday and the BNSF mainline. We stopped at the Argentine Fuel Pads to refuel the engines.

A BNSF train was refueling at Argentine Yard. After that we arrived into a very cold Kansas City where I detrained for pictures of the Kansas City Southern Holiday Train on display here for the next two days. I walked very carefully into the station then made my way out to the north parking lot where the train was located.

The power on the point of the Kansas City Southern Holiday Train was KCS 3 and KCS 2.

I hi tailed it back to the Southwest Chief which today made a very short stop at Kansas City. Back in the room, I stripped off the warm clothes before I put on my Emerson, Lake & Palmer "Beyond the Beginning" which I would watch most of the way to La Plata.

Some bridge over the Missouri River that was important to me back on April 27th, 2007. I was glad it was a sunny day when I broke my Million Rail Mile back on the great day of my life. I will relive that moment every time I cross the bridge eastbound on the Southwest Chief. I relaxed the rest of the way to La Plata. The Southwest Chief pulled into La Plata just under an hour late ending an excellent trip aboard the train. Harold of the Depot Inn & Suites was there to pick me up and drive me to this fantastic railroad themed hotel.

Depot Inn & Suites 12/15/2007

I checked in and got my room in my old friend, The Pullman Suite. I dropped off my bags before walking out to my lookout point. I went outside and made my way down to the ex Wabash Line grade.

All the tree branches are covered with ice and make interesting sounds as I walked down the snowy path.

My first view of the now enclosed all weather "Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point" with restrooms off to the right.

The back side of the new building.

There is the Chris Guenzler Lookout Point Bulletin Board.

My name sign is on the new building.

The view from inside the enclosed all weather "Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point". The Trainweb and Train Party Com building is across the tracks to the left in the view looking east.

The view looking east, the trees are scheduled to be removed.

I went inside the lookout point and you can see it has a heater to keep one warm on a day like today.

The old Wabash Bridge foundation was still across the BNSF mainline.

A westbound BNSF freight passed my location.

Then it went by the Trainweb building. From here I walked back to the Depot Inn but wanted to show you the Amtrak Handling Cars that will house the future Exhibition of Amtrak History. The two express cars sit out in back of the hotel.

The two cars sit out in back of the hotel.

Ramps and doors have been added but railing will be next.

I returned to the warmth of the Pullman Suite. I listened and called Lets Talk Trains and will relax here the next three nights.

I watched Asia "Fantasia" before heading to the Red Rooster for a Porterhouse Steak Dinner. After dinner I talked with Kelly Marshall about their trip out to California ten days ago. I took a bath in the wonderful sauna tub which really relaxed me. I started watching my Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy "The Curse of the Black Pearl" before watching the weather channel and calling it a night.

12/16/2007 I enjoyed a nice breakfast at the Depot Inn & Suites before I walked out to the "Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point".

It was another cold windy morning in La Plata. I had four BNSF freights before a railfan from Kirksville joined me. After we wondered where Amtrak was he headed to the La Plata Station while I stayed at the heated Lookout Point. It warmed up so well it fogged up the window which made sense since it was only 14 degrees out this morning.

Amtrak Southwest Chief finally arrived over an hour late. I watched a little NFL before Tom Marshall came to get me to show me a few things for the future of La Plata. We drove into downtown La Plata to the old Wheatcraft Motor Company, a company that moved into the building in 1924 that will soon house the new La Plata Event Center.

The building from the east side.

The old Wabash Railroad Grade through La Plata.

The old loading dock from the old La Plata Wabash Depot.

The front of the Wheatcraft Motor Company the future home of the La Plata Event Center.

These grain silos will be removed and parking will be around three sides of the building. Tom and I then went inside the building.

The interior is extremely spacious. A new concrete floor will be installed as well as a stage. A new lobby will be created with a coat room and new bathrooms added. A kitchen and bar will fill out this new Event Center.

This historic item will be kept intact in the new Event Center.

A door had stained glass from the original building owner, the WC Arnold Lumber Company built in 1910. We next visited Tom's shop where he does his woodworking business. He gave me a tour of his company. Next we headed back to the Depot Inn & Suites but I had Tom stop for a pair of pictures.

"The Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point" from the southeast. Back to the Inn for get a key to our next stop, the cars that will house the future "Exhibition of Amtrak History".

The outside of the cars.

The inside of the future "Exhibition of Amtrak History" cars waiting for work to commence on installing displays. This Exhibit and the Event Center will both be opening to the public on February 23, 2008 with grand openings planned for both. I will be back here to cover both events. We returned to the Depot Inn & Suites and I showed Tom the French Turbo Train Cars I found in Indiana. Later I got a call from Tom to get to the Lobby to get another picture.

Santa Claus talks with a child in the lobby of the Depot Inn and Suites. From now until I leave Tuesday morning I will be relaxing at the Depot Inn and Suites in La Plata.