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Segment 2 - Chicago To Fullerton

2002 Cross-Country Amtrak Trip:
The Southwest Chief - February 21st-23rd, 2002

Amtrak's Southwest Chief Seen In La Junta, Colorado
on February 22nd, 2002

February 21st, 2002 - Departing Chicago:

Once the boarding call for Coach Passengers was made, I was one of the first to board, but due to the huge crowd boarding in Chicago, they assigned all of us seats, lucky for me, I had a window seat in Superliner I Coach #34005. I'm glad my luggage had wheels on it because it was very heavy and tough to move because of that! After I boarded, I walked upstairs with both my suitcases and camera bag and found my seat. The consist of today's train is as follows...

Amtrak's Southwest Chief - February 21st, 2002
Heritage Baggage
Ex-Union Pacific #5525 Budd Coach (Baggage Convert)
Superliner II Transition Sleeper
Crew Dorm/Sleeper
Superliner I Sleeper
Sleeping Car
Superliner II Sleeper
South Dakota
Sleeping Car
Superliner II Diner
Dining Car
Superliner II Sightseer Lounge
Lounge & Cafe Car
Superliner I Coach
Coach/Smoker Coach - Former Coach/Baggage #31015
Superliner I Coach
Coach (My Car)
Superliner I Coach
Coach/Smoker Coach - Former Coach/Baggage #31041
MHC (6)
Road Railers (10)

   First, a couple notes on the coach: This was my first trip ever riding in a Superliner Coach! The coach was roomy and clean but the tray table was bent in such a way that it didn't sit down flat. Also the car had no electrical outlets at each seat so I couldn't plug in what was now my scanner with a dead set of rechargeable batteries! I ended up putting in a set of Duracell Alkaline Batteries to finish out the trip. The passenger who sat next to me, was on his way to Los Angeles from Boston, he told me he was a video game engineer and had done work with some software manufacturers who make video games for the X-Box and the Sony Playstation 2.
   After getting settled in our seats, we departed Chicago about 5 minutes late at 3:20pm. The photo to the right shows our train as taken from the window in my coach as we're leaving Chicago and heading west on BNSF's "Chicago Racetrack" to Naperville, Illinois. The original routing of the Southwest Chief had it traveling towards Joliet, Illinois on Santa Fe Trackage. The current routing of the train has it on Burlington Northern trackage as far as Galesburg, Illinois where it meets up again with its original Santa Fe routing to Fort Madison, Iowa and beyond.
   After leaving Naperville, the Lounge Car was open so I headed downstairs to the cafe and picked up a Heineken Beer for $4.25. Around 4:30pm, they started taking dinner reservations. I chose the 5:15pm First Seating. By the time we arrived in Princeton, Illinois, I was seated in the Dining Car with 2 women on their way to Los Angeles from somewhere in Ohio. I ordered the Steak Dinner and it came with Mashed Potatoes, Rice, a Dinner Salad & Roll for $16.50. I had a Diet Pepsi to drink. The steak was otherwise delicious but had a bit more fat on it than I had expected but overall a decent meal. The rest of dinner was good. Shortly after dinner, I headed back to my coach to change clothes. We stopped at Galesburg, Illinois and I headed back to the Cafe Car for another beer. I had a nice 20 minute conversation with 2 members of the train crew including the bartender. We all shared our ideas on how Amtrak can be saved. We were now on Santa Fe Trackage passing through Fort Madison, Iowa, around 7:25pm.
   Upstairs in the lounge, they were showing the movie "Bandits", also the movie "America's Sweethearts" showed later on that night. Every night on the Southwest Chief, they usually show 2 movies in the lounge. There were only a handful of people watching the movie and I was getting very very tired at that point so I decided to head back to the coach. One might ask, "Why am I so tired, its only like 8:30pm?", well simple, I've actually been traveling now since 1:30am this morning, counting the loss of one hour in the time zone switch, and the fact that I've been awake now since 10:30pm last night, so I've got about say, 23 hours straight with virtually no sleep under my belt, that should break a record set when I was in college!
   I went back to my coach, turned on my scanner (with an earphone attached of course). I also listened to a couple of MiniDiscs before realizing that some time had past and I'm still not asleep. (Maybe I got so tired I couldn't sleep, I don't know!!!) Ultimately, I did fall asleep, we passed through La Plata, Missouri at that time. I woke up again around 10:30pm just as we were pulling into Kansas City. We picked up passengers and the train took on water. Shortly after leaving KC, we were moved onto a yard track to pick up road-railers. I kept hearing the action on my scanner as we moved back and forth and back and forth again and again until the cars were connected and we could leave. All this time, I wondered why we had 4 locomotives pulling this train, I've seen Lake Shore Limited's carrying more cars than we had with half the power so this was interesting. I would come to find out later on that we needed every horsepower all 4 units could spit out to get over some of the coming hills. For the rest of the night, I slept, as we passed through Lawrence, Topeka, Newton, Hutchinson, and Dodge City, Kansas.