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A Rail Sale Trip to the Land of Enchantment Albuquerque.

by Chris Guenzler

Two nights after returning from my Railsailing to the Emerald City of Seattle trip, I went back on line to Rail Sale web site. I found the Southwest Chief on sale on Rail Sale and decided to make a roundtrip to Albuquerque, New Mexico. I booked my return first as I always do then bought my trip there. I picked the last weekend of February as my coaching of track would be hopefully done weather permitting. Sure enough we had a week of major rainfall and the night before the meet the largest storm of the season moved in dumping large amounts of rain. It passed through extremely quickly and the next afternoon we had our Santa Ana All District Track Meet for Intermediate Schools. The next afternoon found me at the Santa Ana Amtrak station waiting to board my train for Los Angeles and the connection to the Southwest Chief.

Surfliner 583 2/27/2004

I was up on the balcony waiting for Surfliner 583 to arrived. Following a quick picture and a fast trip down the stairs, I boarded 583 for Los Angeles. I settled in for my late afternoon trip before visiting the Cafe Car to pick up some cookies for my journey. I relaxed as the train made the trip to Los Angeles. We were delayed arriving into Union Station by a pair of departing Metrolink trains.

Following a picture of our train and a Gold Line train, I headed into Union Station to get into line for my train to Albuquerque.

Southwest Chief 4/27/2004

All passengers were led down the tunnel by an Amtrak employee carrying a flag with sleeping car passengers first followed closely by the coach passengers. At the entrance to the Track 12 Tunnel, sleeping car passengers went left and coach passengers went right to the two coaches on the train. I was seated in the 411 Car in seat 9. Minutes later, Robyn from Evansville, Indiana became my seatmate. She was heading for Chicago and hadn't been on a train since she rode the Super Chief as a little girl. We pulled from the platform on time prior to backing onto our mail and express cars for this trip. The Southwest Chief left Union Station but made a brief stop at the 8th Street Yard before leaving town for good. Our Train crossed the flyover over the Alameda Corridor and the Los Angeles River. A great view of the lit-up downtown Los Angeles skyline could be seen. All the rivers we crossed tonight were running strong with water from our recent rains. Those included the Los Angeles, Rio Hondo, San Gabriel and Santa Ana rivers after Fullerton. We headed to Fullerton and since the Southwest Chief was a non smoking train for this trip, we made our first fresh air stop. Robyn and I were sitting in the lounge car waiting for the movie, "The School of Rock" which we both enjoyed very much. That movie took us north of San Bernardino where I stayed up for the trip over Cajon Pass. I rode there until Lugo where I called it a night first at my seat and later across three seats in the lounge car for the rest of the night.

2/28/2004 I awoke to the snowy landscape of Williams Jct glad I was staying on the nice warm train so early in the morning. We slowed after our station stop to pass a BNSF freight that had broken into two. The snows deepened as we made our way to Maine at the top of the Arizona Divide and to next fresh air stop of Flagstaff where it was lightly snowing.

Once we left Flagstaff,the Southwest Chief headed east on this bright sunny last Saturday morning of February. The sunshine only lasted to West Darling.

The Southwest Chief traveled across Canyon Diablo and on to Winslow where I detrained for a picture and came upon a surprise on our train.

The second coach is an ex Santa Fe Hi-level Coach 39940 which had been rebuilt for the Heartland Flyer from Fort Worth to Oklahoma City. I rode on that car when I rode to Oklahoma City

To read about that Oklahoma Trip

Following a picture of the 39940, I returned to the warmth of the train and Robyn in the lounge car and we talked all the way to Gallup where I detrained for a picture of that station.

While Robyn took in the Indian Guide's program, I returned to my seat to listen to Cheap Trick Live from the Paradise Ballroom in Boston. The motive power on the freight trains had visitors from UP, NS, CSX and CN making for an interesting time each time we passed a train. I sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the views from my window as we made our way to New Mexico's largest city.

As we sped toward Albuquerque, Robyn and I called Lets Talk Trains until we lost cell service after the BNSF dispatcher routed us via the former westbound track. At Dalies we passed two eastbounds with a third westbound waiting for us to clear. The mountains looked beautiful to the east.

We headed northeast to Isleta, crossed the Rio Grande before we arrived in Albuquerque. I said goodbye to Robyn thanking her for her company and wishing her a safe trip home to Indiana. I detrained, called Lets Talk Trains back before getting the train consist as they were adding a coach that had been set out a few days ago. The Southwest Chief that brought me to Albuquerque had a consist of P42DC's 188,100 and 62 , Baggage 1024, Transition Sleeper 39032, Sleepers 32003 Edward L Ullman and 32050, Diner 38024, Lounge 33000, Coaches 34064, 39940 Hi-level ex Santa Fe and 34022 added at ABQ, Express 71261, 71283, 71175 and 71243, Express Trak 34101 and Road Railers 462192, 460169, 462133, 462017, 462029,462114, 462088, 462027, 462165 and 410125.

Albuquerque 2/28/2004

"Once I had the consist of the eastbound Southwest Chief, I took my luggage with me to the Century 14 Theater where both showings of "Passion of Christ" were sold out. I picked the next movie I could see which was "Confession of a Teenage Drama Queen" which was a surprisingly fantastic movie. I returned to the platform for the westbound Southwest Chief on what turned out to be a beautiful sunny 43 degree afternoon. A visit to Cheryl's Bus gave me a chance to get a new cassette player as my headphones were on their last moments.

Southwest Chief 2/28/2004

The train pulled into Albuquerque on time and I recorded the consist: P42DC's 200, 83 and 66, Baggage 1865, Transition Sleeper 39042, Sleepers 32033 and 32023, Diner 38036, Lounge 33024, Coaches 31335 {Smoking} and 34091, Express 71191, 71295,71234 and 71033, Express Trak 74051, 74090, 74022, 74010 and 74052 and Road Railers 462224, 460110, 462023, 462204, 460078, 462059, 462093 and 460265. I took a seat in the rear coach and soon my seatmate Kay, who was traveling home to Flagstaff from Chicago and Topeka, joined me.

We departed Albuquerque on time and starting chasing the setting sun but stopped a few minutes later by the BNSF yard. I went to the dining car and was seated with a woman formerly from Southern California but now living in Nova Scotia and enjoying a more peaceful lifestyle. Later we were joined by two Australian women. They had flown to Los Angeles to took the Sunset Limited to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. They next were headed to El Paso but spent 7 hours waiting for a bus because of a major Union Pacific freight train derailment. From El Paso they were bussed to Albuquerque this morning taking my train to Flagstaff. From there it would be on to Los Angeles, Canada, Europe and Russia before completing their around-the-world trip back home to Australia.

I enjoyeda T-Bone steak and a chocolate sundae as the Southwest Chief turned into a night train. I returned to my seat and I skipped tonight's movie, "School of Rock", for my version of all-night rock and roll. We arrived in Gallup after a fresh layer of snow had fallen. Kay returned from dinner and we talked the rest of the way through Winslow and onto Flagstaff where she detrained one happy person. I stretched across both seats and fell asleep like a light bulb being turned off for the night.

2/29/2004 Leap year day 2004 found the train running over a hour late as we made our way to Summit and then down Cajon Pass on a beautiful clear pre dawn morning. Sunrise came as we poked along Cajon Blvd into San Bernardino which we left at 6:51 AM {5:44 AM}. Next we were stopped at Colton Crossing by a pair of Union Pacific trains crossing in front of us before before reaching Riverside and leaving there at 7:17 AM {6:03 AM}. We made our way through Corona before heading into Santa Ana Canyon and rounded the Horseshoe Bend with a westbound BNSF train waiting for us to pass. We headed to Fullerton where I detrained at 7:59 AM {6:44 AM} since I would miss my 566 connection in Los Angeles. I went up onto the pedestrian bridge to watch the Southwest Chief depart Fullerton.

Fullerton 2/29/2004

While I waited for my 9:02 AM departure to Santa Ana, I had some time for railfanning.

The first train was a BNSF eastbound that stopped waiting for Amtrak.

The next train was westbound Surfliner 763 heading to Goleta.

Surfliner 566 2/29/2004

The train pulled into Fullerton early and soon we were off for Anaheim. Leaving there we crossed the Santa Ana River with the Pond of Anaheim to the left.

We arrived at Santa Ana on time ending another Amtrak Adventure.