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On the Railroad towards the Millionth Rail Mile.

by Chris Guenzler Southwest Chief 3 4/25/2007

The Southwest Chief pulled into Fullerton on time as I took a picture from up on the bridge with Maureen. We said our goodbyes as we reached the ground before I went to my luggage.

C.M. Richard and Jeff just after the train pulled in.

C.M. Pat and Jeff train side.

With my luggage in hand, I gave my ticket to George, my sleeping car attendant before I went to Room 8. I went back down to the door to wave goodbye to everyone on the platform who could not join me on my unique trip toward a million rail miles. The Southwest Chief had Engines 165 and 182, Baggage 1234, Transition 39010, Sleepers 32111 "Texas" and 32016 "Pennsylvania", Diner 38025, Lounge 33019 and Coaches 34057, 31041 and 34050. I set up my room, putting the Orange County Register article and the front page of my website in the window, as I usually do when I travel in a Sleeping Car.

C.M. Sunset from the rear door at Corona.

C.M. Steve Grande downstairs In the Texas before the toilets failed in this Sleeping Car.

C.M. Andy Smith, who kept updated on our trip/

C.M. Carl Morrison, who travels with all sorts of electric equipment. I met our group in the lounge car and before Riverside, said goodbye to Bob Manning who detrained to return home to Palm Springs. At 8:15 PM, Chris Parker, Anton and I went to the dining car and were seated with Dave from Brighton, England. Ken Levinson, our dining car steward, was making his final Southwest Chief round trip before retiring. Ken and I go back to the cafe cars on the San Diegans and he has served me many excellent meals over the years. I enjoyed a Pork Chop which was very good. We returned to the lounge car for the trip over Cajon Pass then down to Victorville, where I called it a night.

4/26/2007 I woke up early and went to the lounge car before we arrived at Williams Junction to start writing this story. Jonathan soon joined me for the rest of the ride to Flagstaff

I detrained for a walk in the cold, crisp morning air and photographed Southwest Forest Products 2-8-0 25 on display. I had French toast and sausage patties for breakfast with the Walker's and Larry. Back in my room, I finally had a chance to look at the cards the McFadden students had made for me, while I listened to Aerosmith's "Permanent Vacation". The children did a really excellent job in creating the cards and it was very hard for me to select the top three but after 45 minutes, I did. I then went back to the lounge car to enjoy the morning and were joined by Carl, Tom and Larry.


Entering New Mexico.

I then went back to the lounge car to enjoy the morning and were joined by Carl, Tom and Larry. After a large group boarded in Gallup, we all enjoyed the New Mexico red mesas and I jokingly named one of them the 1,000,000 Rail Mile Red Mesa.

Later in the diner, I spotted Barbara Sibert and Dave Abbott of the Pacific Railroad Society, who just happened to be on the same trip. What a coincedence!

Chris Parker in the Dining Car.

Carl, Tom and Larry in the Lounge Car.

A New Mexico Red Mesa.

A 1,000,000 Rail Mile Red Mesa.

Ken Levinson then walked in, taking lunch reservations.

I noted Mount Laguna still had snow on it this late April morning.

More New Mexico beauty.

I went down to use the bathroom in coach 33019 and found a Beech Grove rebuild patch, another example of the excellent work that the Beech Grove shop team does working with Amtrak passenger cars. The video crew came in and filmed as we were in the lounge car. Between Suwanne and Rio Puerco, we passed seven eastbound BNSF trains, which once again showed really impressive train handling by the BNSF dispatcher.

Later the train crossed the Rio Grande River.

The train reached Albuquerque where the M-190 was still on its flat cars.

The Southwest Chief arrived early and Randy Jackson was waiting for me with 7-UP in hand. I led the way to Coldstone Creamery then returned to the nice warm air at train side.

The New Mexico Railrunner run through the station on its way to Belen.

C.M. Our group in Albuquerque during the layover.

I met our conductor, who was very impressed that I was about to break the Million Rail Mile mark tomorrow. I checked my e-mail on Andy Smith's computer, who had been updating our progress on the Amtrak Board of We left Albuquerque thirty minutes late and I was taken to the Transition Crew Lounge where I did a video interview for the documentary being made about my Million Mile Rail trip. The Southwest Chief next stopped in Lamy and I tossed the friendly Amtrak agent a T-shirt as she was so kind to me when I was stuck in Lamy for hours a few months ago. We finished up this part of the interview and I went to the dining car to ride beyond Glorieta Pass. I returned to my room for Jethro Tull's "Best of Acoustic" and some Sudoku puzzles. As I listened to Tull, memories started flowing through my mind. The -42 C in Lynn Lake, Manitoba, boulders on the tracks in Copper Canyon, daylight running along the Gulf Coast, the Inside Gateway, catching the United States Mail in Osceola, Wisconsin, riding out onto the ore dock on the Erie Mining Railroad trip, Union Pacific 3985 setting Utah on fire, my fall colors trip, Southern Pacific 4449 trip to Bend and the Beech Grove Shop Tour! I had been one very lucky person to have experienced all this and so much more! See America Fares, All Board America Fares, Canrail Passes and the North America Rail Passes had all helped me get almost a Million Rail Miles. I could not believe my goal is almost within reach.

The train stopped in Las Vegas, New Mexico and I returned to the lounge car visiting with Tom, Anton and Steve. Believe it or not, this was the first time Steve and I had ever traveled on a long-distance train together.

Later, we enjoyed the fresh air stop in Raton before they called us for dinner. Richard, Anton, Chris Parker and I were seated together, with me enjoying the Pork Chop and chocolate cake. Our meal lasted nearly to La Junta where I made a run to the Safeway for some Coca-Cola for my big moment in the sun tomorrow, if all goes according to plan the rest of he way to the bridge. We departed La Junta on time and Richard then had me as a guest on the Internet radio show, The Travel Hub, where I talked about completing a million rail miles. After Lamar, I told some John Cleese jokes in the lounge car before calling it a night, in anticipation of my big day tomorrow. I slept extremely well.

Special thanks to C.M.= Carl Morrison for the use of his photos in my story.

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