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The Two Day Trip Home from Cortez, Colorado 5/26-5/27/2021

by Chris Guenzler

Elizabeth and I started the day at the Days Inn in Cortez. After packing and checking out, we had breakfast at Beny's Diner. We left Cortez down US Highway 491 and headed south.

Chimney Rock was off to the east before we turned onto US Highway 160. We passed through a small corner of New Mexico and went by the Four Corners Monument which was closed as it was last July when we passed through.

Welcome to Arizona. Now enjoy the views along US Highway 160.

This route brought us just west of Kayenta, to what we were waiting to see.

The Black Mesa and Lake Powell Railroad tracks minus the catenary which had been removed since the railroad shut down in August 2019. This is a railroad I always wanted to photograph but never did. I put the zoom lens on my camera for the first time this trip to record these next two images.

This view shows you the coal loadout where the mine trains were loaded for the trip to the power plant.

This view shows you the route west to the power plant. We continued west along US Highway 160.

The route to US Highway 89. Yesterday, Chris Parker and I were talking on the phone and he suggested we go to the Grand Canyon. With my National Parks America the Beautiful Lifetime Senior Pass, I knew we could get in for free so Elizabeth and I decided that since she only seen a small part of the Grand Canyon during her visit here in 2002 at the National Railway Historical Society convention, I knew it would mean a lot to her if we did this. So we turned west on Arizona 64 and had to go through two construction zones and drive on the shoulder of the road for many miles to reach the park entrance. I held up my card to the Ranger and he asked me how many maps I would like and I responded two and that was all there was to getting in. From here, we drove to the first viewpoint as you come in from the east.

The Desert View Grand Canyon National Park sign.

The Desert Tower built by Mary Colter which was closed due to the pandemic.

The views at the Desert View viewpoint.

My lovely wife Elizabeth having a bad hair moment! We then

The northern view at the Desert View viewpoint.

The Desert Tower as we walked back to the car. We stopped at another parking area which did not have a name.

Views from the unnamed viewpoint along the road.

My loving wife at this viewpoint. Now we went to Navajo Point.

These are the views at Navajo Point.

Elizabeth looking beautiful in a most beautiful setting. We continued on to Lipan Point.

The views from Lipan Point.

Elizabeth is relaxed and enjoying herself. Our next stop was Moran Point.

These are the vistas from Moran Point.

Elizabeth is really relaxing at this point of her experience. A nice lady asked if we wanted our pictures taken so I gave her my camera and she took them.

Chris and Elizabeth at the Grand Canyon. I want to thank this lady because most people would not take my camera to take a picture of us in these pandemic times. Next we went to Grandview Point.

The views from Grandview Point.

Elizbeth dwarfed by the grandeur of the Grand Canyon. From here, I drove to the vistor's center and made phone calls while she found the visitor's center closed. But the Grand Canyon Conservancy was open and she bought a T-shirt, lapel pin and magnet. We then headed down to Williams. We were both looking forward to an early dinner at Rod's Steakhouse but they were closed for renovation and repair. So we went down the street a short way and found Goldies Route 66 Diner. The food was excellent but the service was lacking when we were standing at the cash register, waiting to pay because our waitress was feeding her baby and did not leave our check. Thus, we decided not to eat breakfast here the next day. We wanted to get pictures of the Black Mesa and Lake Powell engine I saw from the freeway on the eastbound trip so turned down a road and stopped when we saw a freight train coming.

BNSF 7862 East in Williams at the east end of the Peavine line before it gets onto the main line.

Black Mesa and Lake Powell E60 6001.

American Orient Express crew diner-sleeper "San Francisco" built in 1950 by Pullman as sleeper/lounge "City of Cleveland" 150 for the Nickel Plate. It was sold to Norfolk & Western then became Amtrak 3253, 5 double bedroom sleeper, same name. Later named "Montecito" in private ownership before being sold to American Orient Express. This car has two Presidential suites, two single bedrooms, a crew lounge and kitchen. Lastly, it was sold to Xanterra for their American Railway Explorer.

Southern Pacific NW-2 1317 and Santa Fe S4 1528 which belong to the Arizona State Railroad Museum. We checked into the Quality Inn and watched Steve Barry's Wednesday Night Slides Zoom program as my Pittsburgh Penguins were eliminated by the New York Islanders in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Elizabeth and I took advantage of the hotel's outdoor sauna tub before writing the Silverton story. After that, we called it a night.

5/27/2021 This morning after we did our morning preparations, we checked out and had breakfast at the Pine Country Restaurant, which was excellent. Elizabeth did an excellent job this whole trip for finding us great places to eat, whether they be regional chain restaurants or small, family-run establishments. I ate very well at every restaurant she chose (and she did too). I drove us down Interstate 40 into California.

I was very happy to see this sign after we crossed the Colorado River. We drove into Needles and I paid $5.11 for gas which was the most I have ever paid in my life. Elizabeth got me a Coca-Cola and we headed west. We decided to follow the railroad and when reached US Highway 95, we pulled when I spotted a train.

BNSF 7298 East at Ibis.

Norfolk Southern SD70ACe 1136 as the second unit.

BNSF C44-9W warbonnet 785.

The power going away. From here we drove through Goffs to Ferner but National Trails Highway still remains closed for over two years. San Bernardino County needs to get its act together to open this road. We drove almost to Ash Hill when we spotted an eastbound train. We set up along the normal eastbound track but train ran via Klondike because of a crew at Siberia.

BNSF 602 East at West Siberia with Kansas City Southern SD70ACe 4010 the second unit. From here, as we drove west, we saw the end of a westbound train at Ash Hill and knew that the front of the train most likely would be near the grade crossing, so we headed there.

BNSF 6579 West at the National Trails grade crossing east of Ludlow.

BNSF 7247 West at Ludlow.

Norfolk Southern SD70ACC 1821 was the second locomotive of this consist. We continued towards home, stopping at the rest area east of Newberry Springs. Once refreshed, I drove us the rest of the way home. We returned the rental car and I had driven it 7,504 miles over the twenty-two days of this trip. Elizabeth would have been happy to share the driving but with the Social Security offices being closed due to the pandemic, she could not get her Social Security Card changed to her married name and to renew her driver's license, all documents have to reflect the same surname. It had been a great trip and I cannot wait to take Elizabeth on more trips and adventures.