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Another Return to the Depot Inn & Suites

by Chris Guenzler

Before Chris Parker and I did the NRHS 2008 Convention plus trip to Fort Worth, Amtrak Conductor Bob Riskie purposed a trip to Colorado to ride steam trains plus the Royal Gorge Train. When it turned out that I did not get a Summer School assignment, that meant that I would have all summer off. I contacted Bob telling him to count me in and then Chris Parker decided he would go. To make this easy since Bob would be coming west on the Southwest Chief from visiting relatives in North Dakota, I would go spent three days and two nights at the Depot Inn & Suites and then board the westbound train Bob would be on. Chris Parker would fly to Albuquerque then take the Southwest Chief to La Junta and spend the night at the Mid Town Motel there. The next morning he would board the Chief and the three of us would get off at Trinidad where we would pick up the rental car from JJ Motors and start the trip. We would be visiting the Royal Gorge Route Railroad, Durango & Silverton Railroad, Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad and the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad. The only new trackage for me would be on the Royal Gorge. Carol of Belle Vista Travel took care of all my hotel reservations and after contacting all the railroads I was set. Bob took off for Bend on Monday and I waited to leave on Friday afternoon on what should be a unique trip to Colorado.

7/11/2008 I was up early to take Metrolink 683 to Fullerton to meet Steve Grande who had the latest discs on both of my Million Mile Trips, both overall and Amtrak. Steve and Barbara were headed to Portland on the Coast Starlight and I headed over to Track 3 to wait for Metrolink 600 to take me back to Santa Ana. I stopped at the store for a few trip items before I went home and watched the DVD of those trips. They did a fantastic job with the new material and then I decided to call Bob McMillian to see if I would get the stuff he shot on the Amtrak Million Mile Trip. I said if he could put it on discs he would meet me at Anaheim. I watched "War Games" before finishing up packing for this unique trip.

Surfliner 583 7/11/2008

The Surfliner 583 came into Santa Ana with Surfliner Cab Car 6908, Coaches 6410 and 6404, Coach/Cafe 6851 Tecolate Canyon, Pacific Business Class 6801 with engine 450. The train left Santa Ana a few minutes late and when it stopped at Anaheim there was Bob McMillian of Vahalla Railroad Videos who had the two discs that he shot on my Amtrak Million Mile Trip back in April. I put it on as we headed to Fullerton then watched about ten minutes of Disc 2 as the train made its way to Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal. We came into LAUPT on Track 10 and I walked over to Track 11.

The Pacific Patrol 10021 at the end of Track 12. I walked down to a bench and waited for the Southwest Chief to back into the station.

Southwest Chief 4 7/11/2008

At 6:10 PM the Southwest Chief backed into LAUPT with a consist of Engines 178 and 10, Baggage 1756, Transition Sleeper 39034, Sleepers 32050 and 32060, Diner 38019, Lounge 33044 and Coaches 34044, 34029 and 34117. I boarded the 39034 with Room 19 for my trip to La Plata. The Southwest Chief left Los Angeles on time and headed to its first stop of Fullerton. I started watching Emerson, Lake & Palmer "Live at Montreux 1997". At Norwalk they opened the Dining Car for dinner and I walked back to be seated with two ladies, one going to Chicago and the other heading to Albuquerque then onto El Paso. I enjoyed a Flat Iron Steak and finished before West Corona.

I returned to my room for more ELP as the sun was beginning to set as we ran along the Riverside Freeway.

My last view of the sun on what had been a very good day of my life.

The Southwest Chief arrived into Riverside as the day began to turn into night. The train made its way to San Bernardino where I took a fresh air break. The Southwest Chief then made its way to Cajon where we had a red signal for the BNSF 7737 West. As the ELP DVD finished the train headed up the south track only to stop at the next red signal. With that, I decided to make up my room and call it a night as we followed a freight up to Summit and started our descent down Cajon Pass.

7/12/2008 I woke up after a good night sleep just past Darling, Arizona as the train sprinted east towards Winslow.

The Arizona High Desert. I went to the Dining Car for breakfast. I was seated with a trio going to Albuquerque and I enjoyed French Toast and pork sausage patties. After that good meal, I went back to my room to edit Bob's DVD and finished right after Gallup.

Red Mesas of New Mexico. To celebrate my finishing I put on Nirvana "Nevermind" on the computer and would now relax.

The train ran by the basalt capped mesas after Grants as we head to Albuquerque. The Southwest Chief arrived into Albuquerque early and waiting on the platform was Randy Jackson, a friend and fellow train rider who had come down to see me. Randy and I got caught up on our future trip plans and I always enjoy seeing him. I put on Joe Harper's "Steam Highlights of 2007" DVD and enjoyed that for almost the next two hours. The Southwest Chief left Albuquerque on time.

The future New Mexico Railrunners Route to Santa Fe which when done, I will come back to ride this new service and mileage. The train stopped in Lamy before it passed through Apache Canyon and then over Gloreita Pass. The Southwest Chief then took the siding at Fox and we waited for the westbound Southwest Chief to pass by. I next put on my DVD of "ABBA The Movie" which I always enjoy. The train passed as ABBA sang Tiger.

Starvation Peak off across the Pecos River Valley beckons the Southwest Chief to reach it.

The train crossed the Pecos River. Something told me to call home to see if I got a layoff notice after 25 years of service to Santa Ana Unified School District and I left a message. Knowing that I would be in a no cell area it was not until I got near Las Vegas, New Mexico that I got a signal and my mother had called with the news that I did. I called her back and she told me what the letter said and that I should go for Option 1 which would be to use my bumping rights whatever that meant. To say that I was in a bad mood would be an understatement and I was downright mad! Since the letter had to be in their hands on the 21st of July by 4 PM I will have to call Monday to see if a letter from me would work since I would not be home until July 21st. Is this going to be a case of "Everything works if you let it" or "I'm screwed!" The ABBA movie finished as the Southwest Chief headed to Raton as life goes on! There I took a fresh air break. Once we left Raton they called the 5:45 PM Dinner Reservation and I was seated with a couple going to La Junta and a train rider going to Naperville. I had the Flat Iron steak and Chocolate Ice Cream for dessert. I watched a few minutes of Alice Cooper "Live at Montreux 2005" before switching to Bob's DVD of us talking going over Raton Pass which I laughed my head off watching. That got me to La Junta and now in a good mood some fresh air.

The Southwest Chief at rest at La Junta.

A green signal will take us east out of La Junta on time and out into the night. I listened to the Poxy Boggards "Lager for Life". I then made up my room for night and called it a night.

7/13/2008 I awoke just before Holiday and was in the Dining Car when we got there. I was seated with a couple going to Chicago and a Boy Scout leader going to Princeton. I had the usual French Toast and sausage patties as the train got delayed in the BNSF Argentine Yard. Later at the fueling racks five BNSF Business Cars were added to our rear. I put on my Jethro Tull CD of "This Was".

Once on the move again we passed the BNSF Engine Facility at Argentine Yard.

Soo Line 6056 at Argentine Yard before we headed to Kansas City Union Station.

The Southwest Chief at rest in Kansas City.

The Western Auto building watches over the Southwest Chief during its servicing stop in Kansas City. We departed Kansas City at 9:25 AM {7:45 AM} and headed to my stop at La Plata. Cheap Trick "Germany 83" was my next DVD choice of the trip.

Those five BNSF Business Cars at West Sibley.

The Southwest Chief heads out across the Missouri River Bridge at Sibley, Missouri. After some slow running the train raced across northern Missouri flying through Carrollton and Marceline before we arrived in La Plata at 11:47 AM {9:57 AM}. This ends a very emotional filled trip to La Plata aboard Amtrak's Southwest Chief.

The Southwest Chief departed La Plata with those five BNSF Business Cars on its rear end.

The Depot Inn & Suites in La Plata, Missouri

I had called Brock at the Depot Inn & Suites yesterday to make sure I would be picked up when the Southwest Chief arrived into La Plata. No one showed up. I called the Inn and she did not know I was arriving. She said that she would call Tom to see if he would come get me. With time I took a quick look around.

Naturescape display in front of the Amtrak Station. I moved my stuff over by the crossing gate in case any trains would come by during my wait. A minute later Tom and Kelly along with their son were returning from church saw me and took me to the Depot Inn & Suites. After a few more minutes I checked in and got my usual Pullman Suite. After checking e-mail, I decided to walk to Santa Fe Lake for the first time for a look around.

Views of Santa Fe Lake. Santa Fe steam engines once took water from out of this lake. I hiked down the track back to the Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point.

The Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point. Now let us go inside and see all the people I know who have signed the wall of this unique Lookout Point starting with my two.

Chris Guenzler Millionth Rail Mile April 27, 2007.

Chris Guenzler Millionth Amtrak Rail Mile on April 7, 2008.

Ray Burns of and

Steve Grande and Barbara Cupinko.

Anton Lazzaro.

Tom Anderson.

Chris Parker.

Tom Marshall.

Larry Boerio.

Bob McMillian, Vahalla Video.

Bob and Joyce Manning.

Jeff Hartmann.

While I was here I saw this westbound BNSF stack train plus two eastbound BNSF manifest trains.

I walked back down the former Wabash Route grade back to the Depot Inn & Suites. I worked on my story before I walked over to the Red Rooster and had a Chicken Dinner. I came back to my room and checked a few things on the Internet before going back to the Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point to wait for tonight's westbound Southwest Chief.

The first eastbound BNSF piggyback train passed below the Lookout Point.

Then the first BNSF stack train came by my location.

Next a second BNSF stack train passed below the Lookout Point

The Southwest Chief came into La Plata 25 minutes late with an Amfleet Car tucked into the consist. I walked back to the Depot Inn & Suites for the night.

7/14/2008 I slept in for the first time in quite a while. After a continental breakfast at the hotel, I walked over to Trainweb to meet with Ray Burns. He had not arrived yet, so I sat outside watching a few freight trains and a local rabbit. Ray soon arrived and I gave him Bob's DVDs so they could be copied and then the originals could be sent to Steve Grande back in California. After a few minutes of visiting with Ray, I excused myself as I needed a picture of this morning's Southwest Chief at the La Plata Station.

La Plata Amtrak Station.

The Southwest Chief arrived into La Plata. This would be my train tomorrow night. I walked back over to Trainweb and visited with Ray. I contacted my brother Jon by cell phone asking his help in this whole employment mess. Once the Disc's had been copied Ray and I went to the Red Rooster for lunch. After lunch I learned from my brother Jon that a fax could be used to get the district what they needed. I called home but had to leave a message. I checked e-mail then I decided to visit the Exhibition of Amtrak History to see what was new.

The outside has remained the same since my last visit here.

Inside the front door to the right is this plaque about my Amtrak Millionth Mile.

The view looking at the center of this unique exhibition.

An Amtrak Millionth Mile picture plus the Trainriders group trip picture in Oceanside from the last time we rode the last Amtrak Full Length Dome Car.

One of the Amtrak Millionth Mile Trip T-shirts is also included. I returned to the Pullman Suite and relaxed the afternoon away. My brother Jon faxed me the needed form and I faxed it back to the district. I then called my Union who were going after the school district big time over these layoffs. I went to the Red Rooster for dinner and had Grilled Chicken Breasts. After watching the new Millionth Amtrak Mile DVD footage on that big screen TV in the Pullman Suite, I went back to the Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point and waited for the westbound Southwest Chief. This time I borrowed one of the Inn's Mountain Bikes for the first time.

An eastbound BNSF stack train.

A westbound BNSF stack train with DPU's on the rear end.

Another eastbound BNSF freight.

A nice Moon out on a pleasant evening.

The westbound Southwest Chief running 35 minutes late this evening. I biked back to the Depot Inn & Suites, worked on this story before taking a Sauna Bath and calling it a night.

7/15/2008 I slept in late and after a light breakfast at the Inn, I moved out of the Pullman Suite and into the Conference Room for the reminder of my stay at the Depot Inn & Suites. I went out to the Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point to wait for the eastbound Southwest Chief to arrive into La Plata this morning.

First this eastbound BNSF double stack train came with DPU's on the rear end.

Next another westbound BNSF stack train passed below the Lookout Point.

The eastbound Southwest Chief arrived almost on time this morning and stopped to do its station work.

The Southwest Chief leaves La Plata for Chicago. I walked to the Casey Gas Station for some supplies for my trip to Colorado and headed back to the Depot Inn & Suites.

Guess what was parked out in front of the La Plata Bank? An Amish buggy. I returned to the Conference Room to work and do my washing as I packed clothes for just seven days not the whole trip. I checked the Internet and I had a message from Kelly at the school district about my bumping rights. I am entitled to an Administrative Aide position in the district. I asked if my old job at MacArthur was still there but she did not know. She would call me with my options once all the responses were turned in on the 21st of July. I thanked her but hoped it would not be necessary if the Union comes through. So I relaxed at the Inn most of the afternoon and got a call from Chris Parker that he was on the train in Albuquerque and on his way to La Junta. For dinner I made one more trip to the Red Rooster for Filet Mignon. Back at the Inn I listened to music before we headed down to the Amtrak Station to wait for a 45 minute late Southwest Chief. It had been another excellent visit to the Depot Inn & Suites in La Plata.

An eastbound BNSF freight passed the La Plata Station.

Next a westbound BNSF freight passed by my location.

Another great Moon as I waited.

Next another BNSF freight passed by me.

Still another westbound BNSF train went by the La Plata Station. Once the westbound signal turned green again, eight minutes later the Southwest Chief showed up.

Southwest Chief 3 7/15/2008

The Southwest Chief that will take me to Trinidad had a consist of Engines 203 and 165, Baggage 1754, Transition 39035, Sleepers 32022 and 32073 California, Diner 38004, Lounge 33008 and Coaches 31039, 34094 and 34064. I boarded the 32022 Room 14 with Dee my Sleeping Car Attendant. As the Southwest Chief headed to Kansas City I soon found Bob Riskie and we got caught up on things before we called it night. I made up my room and slept until western Kansas.

7/16/2008 I was awake and in the Lounge Car before the train had reached Dodge City with its Boot Hill. I had French Toast and Sausage Patties in the Dining Car seated with a lady going to Albuquerque and a gentleman going to Las Vegas for a bridge tournament. Back in my room, I caught up the story before changing clothes to officially start my day. I put on some more of the Million Mile DVD which would take me all the way to La Junta, the next fresh air stop where Chris Parker should be waiting. That was until we neared Lamar and we went stop and go losing time. I called Chris Parker who was being driven to the Amtrak Station. I told him to go to the cafe up the street from the depot and have a good breakfast. After we left Lamar I called Chris again to let him know we were on our way as we resumed our fast running to La Junta.

The Southwest Chief before it departed La Junta an hour late. I went back to the Lounge Car to say good morning to Chris Parker.

Chris Parker along with Bob Riskie in the Lounge Car. I joined them for about forty minutes before I returned to my room in order to pack it up and be ready to detrain at Trinidad.

We arrived into Trinidad and were meet by JJ of JJ Motors who had the rental car ready for our use.

Trinidad to Canon City 7/16/2008

We got on Interstate 25 north but got off at the next exit when we saw a BNSF coal train stopped waiting for a new crew.

Later near Pryor we caught up to this BNSF northbound coal train heading back to the Powder River Basin in Wyoming. We stopped in Walsenburg at a Carl's JR for lunch before we headed to Pueblo for a stop at the Well's Forgo Bank for Bob and then the Pueblo Railroad Museum.

A quick visit to the Pueblo Railroad Museum