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January 18, 2006:

January 18, 2006:


            I woke up as the train was in Arkansas. I went to the Diner for breakfast. Soon, we stopped in Texarkana, which is divided by the Texas and Arkansas boarder. I took some interior shots of my coach, and the diner as well as the lounge throughout the day. After lunch, we stopped in Dallas, Texas. Bill was meeting some friends on the platform during the 10 minute stop. Bill had checked a bag to Dallas for his friends, though he was riding beyond Dallas. I also stepped out and took some photos of both the Texas Eagle and a DART light rail train also entering the station.


            We soon departed and a little while later, we backed into Fort Worth station. We had a long layover in the station so I got off the train and took some photos. I saw the Heartland Flyer’s consist in the station awaiting its departure to Oklahoma City. I tried to get a head end shot of the train, but the crew didn’t want me to go past a line. At one point, there where three P42’s on the Eagle which was certainly overkill for the 7 car train.


            Eventually, the first two P42’s were uncoupled and moved onto a siding. I also noticed an old trolley car at the station. A TRE commuter train came in, being pushed by an ex GO Transit F59PH, but I wasn’t in the right spot to photograph it. Another train was due in around the time the train was scheduled to depart. I got a glimpse of it, but the train was being led by an F59PHi that TRE bought new.


            Shortly after we departed, we were passed by the Chicago bound Texas Eagle, which I shot video of it passing. At one point, Bill and I were in the lounge car and we watched the train’s shadow which was so visible, you could see the wheels.


            I went to the dining car for dinner, and the sun went down as we left San Marcos. Bill and I took seats in the coach that was closest to the engine. By now, that car was empty. There were a few people in the coach behind it, and in my coach, it was pretty full since that coach and the sleeper behind it would continue to Los Angeles.


            At one point, we passed a yard with some old passenger coaches; include one coach in Amtrak’s Phase 1 livery. I bought a carton of milk from the café car before it closed. Soon we arrived in San Antonio. This was where Bill was getting off to transfer to a bus that would take him down to Mexico. This would be the mother of all smoking stops since the portion of the Texas Eagle continuing west would be coupled up to the rear of the Sunset Limited which wasn’t due in until 3:00 am, and the Eagle arrived at 11:45 pm. Most passengers went into the station. Soon, a woman who was traveling to Yuma, Arizona, Bill, and I went outside and saw two Amish men measuring one of the coaches. We joked that they were going to build a wooden Superliner coach. We soon started talking with these men who didn’t mind our joking around. They gave us their card. At one point, a Union Pacific freight train passed by. It had four diesels on the head end. The second and third diesels belonged to two Mexican railroads.


            Since the Texas Eagle arrived into San Antonio facing East, and the Sunset Limited would be taking the last two coaches west, the crew had to do a little switching to change the position of the last two cars. Bill and I watched the switch job. We wondered what would happen with the coach seats since I’d be riding backwards.


            At one point, Bill called to see the progress of Amtrak train #1, the Westbound Sunset Limited. The train normally originates in Orlando, Florida, but because of damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, the train at this time was originating in New Orleans. The train was running 13 minutes late.


Soon, the switching was completed and the last two cars were backed to the East end of the station. The rest of the train was spotted on the adjacent track. I went into the station and said goodbye to Bill and told him to have a good time in Mexico before I headed back to my coach for some sleep. The coach seats were still facing east. I was able to eventually get to sleep, despite someone snoring in the coach.


January 19, 2006:


            I woke up sometime after sunrise. We were moving. I knew I was now on my own for the rest of the trip. I went to the diner for breakfast. On the way, I passed through the other coaches which were both unrefurbished Superliner 1 cars, and the sightseer lounge which was a Superliner 2 lounge. The diner was a Superliner 1. After breakfast, I took some interior photos of the lounge and one of the coaches. I also took one photo during a smoking stop at Sanderson, Texas. We mostly traveled through the desert. We crossed the Rio Grande. At various points, we took sidings for Union Pacific freight trains. We were running on time.


As we approached Alpine, Texas, we were first told that it wasn’t a smoking stop, but the crew must have changed their minds as it became a smoking stop. Many passengers got off for a cigarette, but since I don’t smoke, I used the time to photograph the train.



In order to clear a railway crossing, the train was moved ahead about one train length. I took video of the move before I got back on. We were soon back in the desert. We were still running on time. At one point, we saw that we were paralleling Interstate 10 which we could see off in the distance. Several times, we took the siding for freight trains as well as the Eastbound Sunset Limited. I wondered if we would get to El Paso on time. We soon crossed into the Mountain Time zone. Soon, they started playing the movie “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” in the lounge car.


Despite having to take the siding for various eastbound trains, we arrived into El Paso on time. El Paso was a smoking stop, and many passengers stepped off for a cigarette. I used the time to photograph the train, some freight trains in a nearby yard, and some buses at a bus garage near the station.



After I got back on the train, I continued to watch the movie as we departed from El Paso, I took a couple more photos of the bus garage near the station. Before the movie was over, it was time for dinner. I had a steak in the diner while I had a conversation with a couple other passengers, mainly of train travel and experiences with little kids on the train. After dinner, they played the movie “Cinderella Man” which I had observed them filming a scene that didn’t make the final cut in the movie. I knew the train would arrive in Tucson around midnight, so I packed up my things and took some brief naps. We passed through the stops at Lordsburg, New Mexico, Deming New Mexico, and Benson Arizona.


Soon, the conductor announced we were going to stop in Tucson. I grabbed my duffel bag and headed downstairs to get my suitcase. It seemed to take forever as we stopped for several minutes by a railway yard east of the station. I was getting anxious to get off. Finally, we were on our way and we stopped at the depot on time. I got off and took a couple photos of the train.



After taking some pictures, I headed into the station where I quickly got a taxi that took me to the Super 8 hotel I was staying. After checking in, I asked for a wake up call, and called it a night.


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