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My return to La Plata to see the new things there

by Chris Guenzler

After that quick weekend trip to El Paso, I decided not to sit at home and wait for Santa Ana Unified School District to get its act in gear and start hiring. The latest job I applied for closes on the afternoon of September 5, 2009 so there was no point waiting for a call or e-mail that wouldn't come until next Tuesday. I decided to go back to La Plata for the Soybean Festival and the Steam Engine Corn Maze plus getting to see the new deck added to the Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point. Getting the tickets for this trip became comical at several points but in the end it all worked out. I packed the bags and headed to the Santa Ana Train Station and stopped in to say hello to Marti, my excellent night time Amtrak agent and went across the bridge to wait for a late running Surfliner 583.

Metrolink trains meet in Santa Ana while I waited for my train.

Surfliner 583 9/01/2009

Surfliner 583 came into Santa Ana with the low level set with the Great Dome. I boarded, left my luggage and went into the Great Dome.

Leaving Santa Ana for Los Angeles.

I wished Amtrak took some pride and washed the windows of the Great Dome.

With all of the brush fires, the sun was an eerie sight on the trip to Los Angeles where we arrived at 6:28 PM, 43 minutes late. A Red Cap took me over to the waiting Southwest Chief.

Southwest Chief #4 9/01/2009

I was ticketed for the Transition Car but this train did not have one assigned to it. I was put in the 32053 Sleeper and given Room 8. My Sleeping Car Attendant is Angee. This Southwest Chief had Engines 83 and 69, Baggage 1245, Sleepers 32009 George M. Pullman, 32053 and 32022, Diner 38044, Lounge 33025 with Coaches 34008, 34092 and 31044. The train left LAUPT on time and tonight I wasn't hungry so I skipped dinner. I watched Jackie Chan "Police Story 2" and I took a break at Fullerton. That movie took me almost to Victorville where I made up my room and called it a night.


I woke up just as the train came into Winslow. I went back to the lounge car and waited for the Diner to open which it did at Holbrook. I had my usual French Toast and sausage patties before I returned to my room to read the USA Today Newspaper.

After we entered New Mexico, we made our station stop at Gallup. My DVD player on my computer isn't working this morning so I put on Metallica "Death Magnetic" CD to listen the miles away too. After that the CD of Alice Cooper "Along came a Spider".

A BNSF piggyback train waiting for us at Isleta. That Alice Cooper CD took me the rest of the way into Albuquerque which we arrived into almost an hour early. During my visit, I got a Hot Dog from a vendor and a Coke from the station. I called Richard of Midcom and he walked me through a system restore that might fix the DVD.

I got to enjoy this screen for a little while as the computer did its thing. The train left Albuquerque on time with me watching my DVD's of Emerson, Lake & Palmer "Beyond the Beginning" and with me being a happy train rider once more.


Views of clouds on the way to Lamy.

Later the Southwest Chief on the "S" Curve near Blanchard.

Starvation Peak.

Two views just south of Las Vegas, New Mexico.

Shoemaker Canyon. No one has come around to give me a Dinner Reservation and I have had my door open all afternoon waiting to get one. I went to the Dining Car to get one and was told to come back when he makes his first announcement. Is this the proper way to treat a Sleeping Car Passenger? I think not! I told Conductor Nancy Wolf my problem and she said she would try to fix it which she did getting me a 6:00 PM Dinner Reservation. After Raton and passing through the Raton Tunnel I went to the Dining Car for dinner and was seated with a Grandmother from Twin Lakes and her grand daughter from Kenosha, both in Wisconsin and a gentleman going to Chicago to see his family. I had the Braised Flat Iron Bordelaise and Oreo Dessert. After dinner, I put on my DVD of Frank Zappa "We don't mess around" and enjoyed that on the way to La Junta. I hoped off in La Junta for some fresh air then made up my room and called it a night.


I woke up after the fueling stop at the BNSF Argentine Yard and went to the Lounge Car to get a Cinnamon Roll for after Kansas City and we arrived there at 6:45 AM. I got off to look around this overcast morning.

I walked through Kansas City Union Station and out the back door where there was a line of private railroad cars plus the KCS F-unit 34 on display there.

Union Pacific Promontory Point 800724.

Santa Fe Diablo Canyon 800379.

Rock Island Jane Marie 800541.

Santa Fe Pullman Vista Canyon 800504.

Pullman Federal 800713.

Creative Charters Sleeper Evelyn Henry 800149.

Creative Charters Dome-Lounge Warren Henry 800148.

Santa Fe Chico 37 800145.

Kansas City Union Station from down below.

Kansas City PCC.

The Southwest Chief at rest at Kansas City before the on time departure. Next stop for me will be La Plata with me watching my DVD of Blackmore's Night "Castle & Dreams" on the way there. The Southwest Chief arrived into La Plata early this morning ending yet another fantastic trip aboard Amtrak.

La Plata 9/03/2009

I was met by Bob Cox, Steve Grande and Ray Burns among others this morning. After they had put Steve's relatives aboard the train, we drove to the Depot Inn & Suites where I was dropped off. I saw Andrea at the counter and she gave me the key to Room E. I stored my luggage in that room and then saw Maria who gave me the key to the golf cart and keys to the new model railroad display in the other ex Amtrak Express Car. I drove the golf cart there first to show you this new exhibit.

Train Layout 9/03/2009

This train layout was designed and built for the Depot Inn & Suites by Darrell Reinwald, President Trains Across America. Now I will show you the views of this new layout here in La Plata.

I hoped you enjoyed these views of the new model railroad layout in the north ex Amtrak Express Car behind the Depot Inn & Suites in La Plata. I returned the key to Marie and then drove out to the Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point to see the new feature added to it.

The path to it is as nice as ever.

The sign is gone off of the roof.

The decking doesn't allow direct access from the west side.

All deck access is from the east side of the lookout building.

These views show you the decking that puts you closer to the BNSF rail action then before in a more safe environment for watching trains.

The RailLookout.Com is still there.

Down below is the official sign of the Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point.

On the slope is this new BNSF no trespassing sign. Stay on the deck and have no problems. Now lets see a few trains.

This BNSF eastbound stack train had a CN unit in its consist.

We passed this single unit BNSF bare table train on my way here this morning.

I really like the path to the lookout point because it makes you feel like you're out in nature someplace. My next stop is just east of the trees, the new La Plata Flower Garden.

The flowers in the new La Plata Flower Garden. I returned to the Depot Inn & Suites and would relax for a few hours but later I would return to the Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point where I helped but in the next new feature to this unique railroad watching location.

ATCS Monitor being put into the Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point.

First this Union Pacific westbound came by the lookout point.

The ATCS Monitor on the table in the lookout point.

The box on the north wall which will house the unit when installed.

The hard working Randy who I helped put the ATCS Monitor in this afternoon.

I took time out for an Amish Buggy break.

The Monitor came to life.

Next after Randy used the mouse, the ATCS Display was on the screen.

Randy shrunk the info boxes to display only the ATCS Screen.

ATCS working in the Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point. I returned to the Depot Inn & Suites and relaxed before I joined Steve Grande and his extended family at Dinner at the Thousand Hills Lakeside Restaurant west of Kirksville in Thousand Hills State Park. After a great dinner, we all returned to the Depot Inn & Suites for the night.