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Off to La Plata on the way to the NRHS Convention 2007

by Chris Guenzler

This year's NRHS Convention was going to take place in Chattanooga, Tennessee which had been a place that I always wanted to return to after a family camper trip back in the Summer of 1971. I had preregistered for the convention at the 2006 NRHS Buckeye Convention last year in Ohio. In April the convention booklet arrived and from Fullerton Railroad Days 2007 I mailed it off and got all of my convention train trips that I wanted. Now it was time to decide on what to do before the convention. I had toyed with the idea of arriving and departing from Atlanta but finally settled on Charlotte as my Amtrak jumping off and on point so I would not have to miss the start of the next school year at McFadden. Steve Grande of fame booked me two nights into the Depot Inn in La Plata and with that I decided to rent a car and go to the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad in Iowa. I would then reboard the Southwest Chief to Chicago then the Cardinal and Crescent to get me to Charlotte. My good and dear friend Chris Parker would fly in the day before and get us a room for the early morning when I arrive into Charlotte. Day One would be the Spencer Shops. Day Two would be riding the Great Smoky Mountain Railroad. Day Three would be riding the Southern Appalachia Railway Museum Train and some photography on the Rat Hole. Day Four would be a ride on the Big Fork Scenic Railroad and more of the Rat Hole. Day Six would get us Chattanooga with us doing all the local touristy activities. After all that would be three days of train riding at the NRHS 2007 Convention. The Friday Meeting Day would be a trip down into Georgia to ride the Stone Mountain Railroad, visiting both the Southeast Railroad Museum in Duluth and the Southern Museum of the Locomotive and Civil War in Kennesaw, Georgia. The final convention trip is the Steam Trip to Summerville, Georgia then we would make our return to Charlotte with me leaving that night. Chris flies home the next day. I return by the Crescent, Capitol Limited and Southwest Chief. On departure day, my mother drove me down to the Santa Ana Train Station and I made my way to Track One.

Surliner 583 8/10/2007

This Surfliner Train came in with Cab Car 6951, Coach 6402, Coach/Cafe 6352 {inactive} and 6361{active}, Pacific Business Class 6863 with engines 458 and 464. I boarded Pacific Business Class and stored my luggage downstairs before finding one of my usual seats upstairs. We waited for Pacific Surfliner 582 at CP Lincoln before we passed through the construction zone for the double tracking project. We made our station stops in Anaheim and Fullerton before we arrived into Los Angeles Union Station.

Southwest Chief 4 8/10/2007

The Southwest Chief was already in the station with engines 177 and 22, Baggage 1755, Transition 39029, Coaches 31043, 31041 and 34032, Lounge 33046, Diner 38025 and Sleepers 32072 Arkansas and 32000. I was in the 32000 Sleeper room 9 at the very rear of the train. We left Los Angeles Union Station on time as I started my trip to La Plata.

Our train was leaving LAUPT.

I could see downtown Los Angeles out the back door window.

The train went by Mission Tower.

A Union Pacific Freight was running across the scenic Los Angeles River.

I saw downtown Los Angeles from the Los Angeles River Flyover. Conductor Dave Arthur stopped by for a visit.

The train ran through Atwood, California before we passed through Santa Ana Canyon.

The train ran through the West Corona Metrolink Station.

The train went through La Sierra Metrolink Station. I watched a little of "Rush Live in Rio" until it was time for dinner at 8:45 PM. I detrained at San Bernardino for a fresh air break.

The Metrolink Fleet at rest.

We finally got called into the Dining Car and I was seated with Victor, an Amtrak Conductor, his father Victor, an Amtrak Machinist and Ken. The three of them are taking this train to Chicago, then the Lake Shore Limited to New York followed by the Queen Elizabeth 2 to South Hampton. I had the Pork Chop and Chocolate Cake. Dave and I talked for a bit before we came into Barstow. I made up my bed and called it a night after we left Barstow.

8/11/2007 I was up for some fresh cool air in Flagstaff then slept to past Winslow. The four of us had breakfast together with me enjoying the French Toast and sausage patties.

A New Mexico Mesa on the south side of the train as we neared Gallup New Mexico. I put on the "Tuxedo", a Jackie Chan Movie to watch this morning. After the movie I watched all of the extras on this DVD.

Later another New Mexico Mesa.

The train crossed the Rio Grande River right after the DVD finished. We arrived in Albuquerque way early at 11:30 AM. I called Lets Talk Trains, the Internet Radio Show, to let them know about the four new stories on my web site. I tried to call from the platform but the noise from the engines drowned me out so I went inside the station to call with better results. Next it was off to Coldstone Creamery for some ice cream on this 94 degree afternoon before returning to my nice cool room on the train. I put on the Milwaukee Road Scrapbook DVD before we left Albuquerque on time and enjoyed it all the way through Apache Canyon. At Lamy I had a nice surprise!

The Santa Fe Southern mixed train was in Lamy and then left while we waited on time. Next I watched the Minnesota Steam Spectacular DVD.

We met the westbound Southwest Chief at Sands siding. After that we crossed the Pecos River heading towards Las Vegas, New Mexico.

The top of the "S" curve at Blanchard.

Next I watched some of the Led Zeppelin DVD.

I got my Semaphore fix for this trip. The Zeppelin lasted until almost Raton where I took a fresh air break. We picked up one hundred Boy Scouts at Raton. The train climbed Raton Pass to the Raton Tunnel.

The train climbed Raton Pass to the Raton Tunnel.

We exited the Raton Tunnel and passed the State Line Marker before we descended to Trinidad.

After we left Trinidad, I could look back down our route about thirty miles out of town.

Great looking thunderheads as we headed for La Junta. The four of us had dinner together with me again having the Pork Chop and chocolate cake which were excellent. We arrived into La Junta over an hour early and detrained into the warm evening air. I returned to my nice cool room and worked on the story before watching more of the Led Zeppelin DVD. We departed La Junta on time and I called it a night after Lamar.

8/12/2007 Ken and I had a breakfast of French Toast and sausage patties as we entered the BNSF Argentine Yard.

The train stopped to be refueled in the BNSF Yard on the mainline.

There was some interesting power of this freight this morning.

Our train was rolling along the south side of BNSF Argentine Yard.

The train ran through Santa Fe Junction.

Our train went through Stateline Junction as we entered the State of Missouri.

The Kansas City Southern 34 was at Kansas City Union Station which we left a few minutes late at 8:13 AM. Next a trip across the Kansas City Flyover.

Just before the flyover we passed this eastbound BNSF stack train.

The train crossed over the BNSF Line to Springfield.

Our train crossed over the Kansas City Southern mainline.

The train came off the flyover and it was time for a Coca-Cola this morning.

Later the train crossed the Missouri River Bridge where I passed the One Million Rail Mark on April 27, 2007. From here I relaxed the last few minutes until we arrived into La Plata a few minutes late this morning. It had been a really good trip for this first segment of my trip to the NRHS Convention.

La Plata the Depot Inn 8/12/2007

I was picked up and driven over to the Depot Inn & Suites. My room was not ready yet, so I got a golf cart and drove out to the Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point. There I found two couples, one from St Louis and the other from St Joseph. We all talked for a while until they both had to head home. I stayed but alas no trains passed by my location. The temperature when I passed the bank was 90 degrees with high humidity, a good practice for the deep south later this week.

The Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point and the golf cart that brought me here this late morning.

The new restrooms and information board. I stayed out there until noon before I returned to the Depot Inn and Suites to get into the Pullman Suites. I would relax in here and the swimming pool for the rest of the afternoon. For dinner it would be a meal of Top Sirloin at the Red Rooster with it being 98 degrees when I walked there.

After dinner I walked out to the new track that was laid for the Amtrak Express Cars that were bought to house the Amtrak Museum but have yet been delivered to La Plata. I used the golf cart again and went back to the Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point.

The westbound Southwest Chief running a couple of minutes late at this point. After that it was a quiet night in my suite. Tomorrow the Bonne and Scenic Valley Railroad but that will be another story.