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New Orleans, LA To Los Angeles, CA On Amtrak's Sunset Limited
  Around 8:00am, I arrived at New Orleans Union Station, having taken a taxi there from the hotel. I checked in with one of the ticket agents who gave me a 4-digit coded to access the Magnolia Room. The Magnolia Room is a lounge for Sleeping Car passengers only. Well, the lounge had a good size crowd in it and featured lots of lounge chairs and coffee as well as danishes and cinnamon rolls though only one was left when I arrived there (and of course I didn't wanna be the guy who grabbed the last one, wouldn't want all the unnecessary "dirty looks"!). Overall, it was nice having a private lounge but it could use a few more amenities to make it more of a true "First Class Lounge". I would chat with a few passengers including a couple from Oregon who were travelling all over the country on what was likely a USA Rail Pass (Amtrak offers these for cross-country travel that are valid for a certain number of days as well as number of trains). I also chatted with a former engineer who used to work for Conrail, SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority), and Amtrak. I knew there wouldn't be breakfast served on this train so I picked up three candy bars in the gift shop at the station (gotta wake up somehow!). I eventually would get in line as our boarding of the train started around 8:30am. ID's were checked along wit the scanning of tickets by the conductor as we headed outside to the platform. I noticed we would have a private car on the train today as well! I would get the consist of the this train as I walked the platform. The consist for today's train is shown below:
  I was ticketed in Roomette #2 of the "0130" car which was Superliner II Sleeping Car #32111. I put my bags in my room then headed back out to the platform to get some more photos and the rest of the consist. I swear, P42 #48 must be following me as it was the same engine that brought me here to New Orleans yesterday! One thing that hit me right away was the level of humidity we were experiencing. To put things in perspective, it felt like being in a sauna, and I was outside, rather than in an enclosed room! The humidity was so high, my camera lens fogged up immediately after I took off the lens cap. I had to keep cleaning the fog off the lens which eventually subsided after a few minutes. The temperature this morning was in the high 70's with very high humidity. Later on today, we would ride through the rain left over from Hurricane Patricia which made landfall in central Mexico yesterday and would end up just being a lot of rain over eastern Texas by the time we got into the Lone Star State!
  With private car "Yerba Buena" bringing up the markers (this car would ride with us to San Antonio), we departed on time at 9:00am and would head over the Huey P. Long Bridge over the Mississippi River and head out of the Crescent City of New Orleans. What a phenomenal work of mechanical engineering in this impressive bridge! I would take a bunch of photos while we now headed west and would come up to our first stop at Schriever, LA at 10:37am and depart at 10:41am, running 11 minutes late. It was at Schriever that we started to see our first rain of the trip and it would rain on and off. I spent most of the time in my Sleeping Car taking photos wherever and eating candy bars I bought in the station before we departed. One thing I saw a ton of here were sugar cane fields, very interesting! We made our next stop at New Iberia, LA at 12:07pm and departed at 12:11pm, running 15 minutes late. I had a 12:30pm lunch reservation so I headed over there when my time was called and we made our next stop at Lafayette, LA at 12:33pm. This was a designated smoking/fresh air stop though I didn't participate in it as I was in the Diner about to have lunch. We departed Lafayette at 12:39pm, still running 15 minutes late. I would have the Panko-Crusted Breast Of Chicken with mashed potatoes and an onion gravy with a side salad and a Diet Pepsi with strawberry cheesecake for dessert. Good conversation was had between myself and the other three passengers.
  We made our next stop at Lake Charles, LA at 2:02pm and departed at 2:06pm. Eventually, we crossed the state line, leaving Louisiana and entering Texas. All that we would really see from this storm was the rain, as the mountains in Mexico sheared the storm apart (and it's late October, towards the end of hurricane season so storms don't tend to hold themselves together too well) and most of the wind elements of it were gone by the time it moved this far north anyway. At 3:25pm, we arrived at our next station stop of Beaumont, TX. We ended up arriving there early thanks to some schedule padding so passengers could get off the train and smoke or get some air, or in my case, more pictures! Beaumont is also a crew change point for the train. After getting some "wet" photos due to the steady light rain that had been falling here (having to protect my camera from the rain by holding it under my hoodie), we departed Beaumont with a new crew at 3:48pm on time.
  Things would start getting interesting shortly after departing Beaumont. We would come to a stop just two miles west of the Beaumont station where a decision was made to do a backup move and then take an alternate route to Houston. This decision would result in no issues for passengers missing any stops as there are no stops between here and Houston. We ended up doing a 1.5 mile backup move so as to move to this alternate route at CP-LF282. Once we cleared a couple crossings and backed up far enough, we proceeded onto the alternate route. The alternate route is a former Missouri Pacific line now known as the Union Pacific Beaumont Sub whereas the route we were on was a former Southern Pacific route, now known as the UP Houston Sub. I would find out later that the reason why we took the alternate route was because a car had spun out by a railroad crossing ahead of us and landed on the tracks. Considering where we were, Union Pacific requested we take the alternate route which I would also find out was the normal eastbound route for this train between the two cities. Amtrak crews are qualified on both routes so no UP pilot was needed when we took this route. At 5:30pm, my dinner reservation was called and I headed to the Dining Car and was seated with a passenger from Los Angeles and another from Washington, DC. I would have the Amtrak Signature Steak with a vegetable medley and mashed potatoes with tiramisu for dessert and a Diet Pepsi. I swear, we must have the best chef on Amtrak on this train! Everything was absolutely delicious!!! We began making another backup move so as to actually get to the Houston station while still at dinner.
  We arrived in Houston, our next stop at 6:26pm, running only 8 minutes late. Thankfully, the rain has not had any negative impact on this train so far. Union Pacific maintains their physical plant (the tracks and right-of-way) very well and so we would just plug along. The emergency window in my sleeper however was leaking around the bottom of it, but it had no negative impact for me other than a soaked pillow which I had replaced. While at Houston, passengers could get off the train and get some fresh air and/or smoke if they want to. I grabbed the camera and put on my hoodie to keep it dry (as much as possible) and stepped off and took some photos. I didn't bring an umbrella on this trip, thinking I wouldn't need one, maybe next time I should remember to do so!
  At 6:56pm, running 1 minute late, we departed Houston. I decided to get out my computer and continue writing this travelogue. An announcement was made that the Cafe portion of the Lounge Car would remain open until 11:00pm tonight but that "quiet time" would commence in the coaches, so anyone who needs to use a cell phone is being asked to do so in the Lounge Car. It was now long-since dark out so I really couldn't see much outside and I had almost two days worth of travelogue to catch up on writing anyway! I would then spend the next couple hours writing this travelogue further, checking up with the Weather Channel to see how the forecast looks as we continue the way west. It appeared by around 10:00pm, that San Antonio was almost in the clear from this so a good chunk of it was now behind us, though there would still be a little more rain left. We ended up coming to a stop somewhere near Kingsbury, TX because we had a freight train ahead of us that had issues with a piece of tarp flapping in the wind that set off a detector. We also had another freight train in the siding trying to go in the other direction (towards us) so the freight in front of us (the one setting off detectors) moved forward and we were given permission by the dispatcher to essentially park directly behind him where we sat and waited. The freight on the siding then left once we cleared the switch behind us and we then backed up, then proceeded into the siding to get around the problematic train in front of us. A member of that train's crew eventually secured the tarp that was loose and all told, we lost 62 minutes during this delay. We would later stop in Kirby, TX in the Union Pacific yard there to refuel the engines before arriving in San Antonio at 12:51am, running 46 minutes late.
  Upon arrival in San Antonio, we were met with more rain, but by now, it was more the tail end of it! I decided to take a shower at this point as I wanted to try to do a good night photo of the train here if the weather would clear out so I figured I'd get that out of the way first. The water coming out of the shower was extremely HOT (at least it wasn't cold)! I did let the attendant know and decided to just use the shower in the other sleeping car. Train #21 - The Texas Eagle from Chicago was delayed getting into San Antonio due to a freight derailment in the Dallas area, having not arrived in San Antonio until 1:31am, 3 hours and 36 minutes late. The private car that had been on the rear end of our train since New Orleans was cut off at San Antonio (its destination) and now it would appear that there would be a rather lengthy process necessary to break up the Texas Eagle so as to pull out the Sleeping Car and Coach that would be added to our train. I didn't see any of this as I went to bed around 2:00am as I was now very tired but despite the weather, this trip so far has actually been excellent. The onboard service from the crews has been top notch! Delays in getting the two cars from the Texas Eagle added to this train caused us to depart San Antonio late. We departed there at 4:06am, running 1 hour and 21 minutes late.
 I woke up just before the station stop at Del Rio, TX. We arrived there at 8:05am and departed at 8:09am, now 2 hours and 20 minutes late. This kinda reminds me of this train's old schedule when we would pass through Del Rio after 8:00am! We would pass the Amistad reservoir and cross over the Pecos River on the tallest railroad bridge in the country! I eventually had breakfast and was seated with a couple from Austin, TX who were riding to Alpine, TX to go to Big Bend National Park. Breakfast today would be the Railroad French Toast with pork sausage patties, orange juice and a Diet Pepsi. We would pass a couple Union Pacific freights along the way. It looked very much like UP was giving us the railroad today as I counted at least 6 or 7 trains that we passed that were on sidings (there may have been more).
  The next stop would have been Sanderson, TX but this is a flag stop on the train and there were no passengers on the manifest that were getting off here or boarding here (and my assumption was there was nobody waiting for the train at the station), so we didn't stop in Sanderson, but passed through there around 10:32am which would have made us about 2 hours and 8 minutes late. We were told via an announcement of no stop in Sanderson and that the next stop would be Alpine, TX in about an hour and 40 minutes. Another announcement was made by the Cafe Car LSA that there was to be no alcohol sold in the state of Texas until noon on Sunday so as to comply with state law! We made our next stop at Alpine, TX at 12:08pm. Alpine was a designated smoking stop for the train so I made my way to the back of the train to get roster photos of the two cars that were added on from the Texas Eagle. The train would make two spots at Alpine and we would reboard once the train made its second spot. With a new crew onboard, we departed Alpine at 12:25pm, having made up some time, now down 1 hour and 47 minutes.
  I heard a quote on the radio just before we departed Alpine from who I think was the dispatcher, we were told we had "nothing but air and opportunity", as the dispatcher didn't have any work areas to advise us of (it is Sunday of course), so it would appear that Union Pacific was giving us the railroad!!! So with that, let's get to El Paso already! The ride there was absolutely uneventful, with UP putting freights in the hole to let us pass so we could try to make up time! I would go have lunch at 12:45pm. Today, I was seated with three passengers who were al visiting the United States from England! Two were a married couple who were here for three months and the third was here visiting and I believe was on her way to see relatives. Excellent conversation was had by all and I would have the Angus Steak Burger with bacon and kettle chips with a side salad and strawberry cheesecake for dessert with a Diet Pepsi. Excellent burger on Amtrak! After lunch, I headed back to my Sleeping Car and would just relax and take a few photos along the way. At 2:42pm, we arrived at our next stop of El Paso, TX. We would pick up a new crew here and this was another smoking/fresh air stop. The train crew even announced that the lady who sells burritos on the platform may be there. I never checked to see as I didn't know how long we would be here since we were running late. I got photos of the train and we departed El Paso at 3:09pm, running 1 hour and 22 minutes late. Thanks to more schedule padding and some generosity from Union Pacific, we were making up time!
  An announcement was made that the Dining Car would be operating on Pacific Time for dinner service. We were also previously told to set our watches back one hour by the Dining Car crew when we left Alpine as we were closing in on the Mountain Time Zone. We wouldn't be actually entering what was otherwise Pacific Time until we crossed into Arizona, and we were just about to leave the Lone Star State of Texas and cross into the Land Of Enchantment that is the State of New Mexico. We stopped in a UP yard somewhere west of El Paso so our engine crew could pick up some water. We would then cross the Rio Grande River into New Mexico and could now see Mexico and the "fence" at the border! The views across that fence looked very sad, with a lot of poverty visible. Our next stop was coming up at Deming, NM which we arrived there at 4:45pm. The station in Deming is near a road crossing and has a small shelter you can wait under along with a board with station information. We departed there at 4:47pm, running 1 hour and 29 minutes late. It was not getting a bit cloudy in the area but no rain to be seen as this really is all open desert here! As we made our way closer to the next stop at Lordsburg, NM, I noticed several "budget hotels" in the area and strangely, most of them looked to be closed! We made our next stop at Lordsburg, NM which has a similar station setup to Deming, at 5:36pm and quickly departed at 5:37pm, running 1 hour and 24 minutes late, having made up a few more minutes here.
  With that, time for dinner! I was seated with three passengers, two of which I had eaten other meals, one from Washington, DC, and one from Los Angeles along with a third passenger who was riding in the coach who was also from California. Great conversation had by all, including with passengers sitting across from us and I would have another Amtrak Signature Steak with rice and veggies along with a side salad and tiramisu for dessert with a Diet Pepsi. Another absolutely delicious meal in the Amtrak Diner! Amtrak, if you're reading this, give the chef a raise on this train!!! After dinner, I headed back to my Sleeper and would eventually take a shower, using the shower in the Transition Sleeper as four rooms in that car were sold as revenue rooms on the train so the car other than the "Crew Only" section was accessible to Sleeping Car passengers. We made our next stop at Benson, AZ while I was in the shower at 6:34pm, (now in Mountain Standard Time since Arizona doesn't observe Daylight Savings Time, so for the lack of a better word, we're on Pacific Time). We departed Benson at 6:38pm and it was now dark out so no photos were taken of this station. We were now running 1 hour and 20 minutes late, trying still to make up time!
  We made our next stop at Tucson, AZ at 7:32pm. This would be a fueling/service stop for the train and a crew change point as well. I got out the tripod and tried to take some night photos of the train while we refueled and chatted briefly with a local railfan who was at the station as well as with a few passengers. We departed Tucson at 8:15pm, now only 40 minutes late so things are getting better regarding timekeeping. I decided at this point I should just call it a day because of our very early scheduled arrival into Los Angeles tomorrow morning. I set up my room for sleeping and would call it a day, and another great day it was!!!
 I woke up finally at 4:15am and we made our next stop at Ontario, CA at 4:22am. Ontario is a drop off-only stop so no new passengers would board here. WE departed there at 4:24am, now 30 minutes late. We quickly made our next stop at Pomona, CA which is also drop off-only at 4:32am and departed there at 4:33am, now 29 minutes late. Announcements were now made about our upcoming arrival at Los Angeles Union Station which was about 40 minutes from the stop in Pomona. I now had everything packed up and would just hang out in my Sleeping Car which I had switched back to day use and would listen to the radio. We would pull into Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal on Track #12 at 5:15am, running 20 minutes EARLY!!! Yes, we have made it from the Crescent City to the City Of Angels!!! Thanks to very generous schedule padding and a very nice host railroad in Union Pacific, the bad weather between Houston and San Antonio ultimately ended up not being much of a factor at all. The crews on this train overall were great and I gave my attendant a tip before grabbing my bags and walking up to the head end to try to get a night photo as it was well before sunrise here in Los Angeles. I walked around to the platform on Track #13 (the platforms here do run around the ends of each track) which had no train on it and I got a gorgeous night photo of the train there! (You'll see it shortly). After getting the photo, I put the tripod and camera gear away and headed inside to the Metropolitan Lounge in the station as I would be riding on Pacific Surfliner Train #564 to San Diego at 7:25am. Once I got into the lounge, I grabbed a Diet Pepsi and continued writing this travelogue as well as showed this website to a few other passengers who I just arrived here with from the Sunset Limited. Before we head out to San Diego, check out some great photos taken along this iconic journey!!!