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The Two Day Trip Home from Cortez, Colorado 7/8-9/2021

by Chris Guenzler

7/8/2021Elizabeth and I woke up at the Days Inn in Cortez and after our morning duties we checked out. We went to MacDonald's and were finally able to eat inside instead of the car as we did all of last and this year. I drove us south down US Highway 491 to Shiprock where continued south.

First we went by The Catheral. Cathedral Cliff is a 5,810-foot elevation volcanic plug located on Navajo Nation land in San Juan County of northwest New Mexico. It is a prominent landmark set alongside U.S. Route 491, approximately 13 miles south of the community of Shiprock, New Mexico. Cathedral Cliff is one of the phreatomagmatic diatremes of the Four Corners area, and with significant relief as it rises 400 feet above the high-desert plain. It is situated about 9.5 miles southeast of Shiprock, the most famous of these diatremes. Cathedral Cliff is set in the northeastern part of the Navajo Volcanic Field, a volcanic field that includes intrusions and flows of minette and other unusual igneous rocks which formed around 30 million years ago during the Oligocene. Its nearest higher neighbor is Table Mesa, one mile to the southwest, and Barber Peak is set 1.5 miles to the southeast.

Next we passed Bennet Peak.

Finally we went by Barber Peak. Near Gallup Elizabeth switched with me and I became the passenger. We then drove west on Interstate 40 and were sailing along entering Arizona.

Welcome to Arizona.

BNSF 6834 East near Chambers. We went through Holbrook and Joseph City before spotting something, exiting at taking Hibbard Road and parked.

Amtrak P42DC 117 having been set out by the Southwest Chief.

BNSF 8005 West at Hibbard Road. From Gallup to this point, we had seen forty trains as we travelled west i.e. the BNSF is one busy railroad. From here I drove into Flagstaff and we ate lunch at The Habit. We continued out of Flagstaff and hit the first rainstorm of this day with huge droplets of rain. The outside temperature dropped from 102 to 69 in a very short time. The rain stopped before Parks Road where we exited the highway and stopped at Maine.

BNSF 3979 West at Maine. A few moments later, an eastbound came through.

BNSF 7123 East with SD40-2 1610 as fourth unit. We drove west of Ash Fork and then I remembered that the Crookton Cutoff replaced the main line that ran along Old US 66. The Santa Fe constructed a new line between Williams and Crookton, bypassing the sharp curves and steep grades of the line via Ash Fork built by the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad in the 1880s. The $19.3 million realignment opened on December 19, 1960 and the old line was abandoned west of the Phoenix connection at Ash Fork.

The right-of-way along Interstate 40.

A culvert along Interstate 40. We exited at Crookton Road and took Old US 66 west.

Two more views of the abandoned right-of-way. We stopped at the bridge on Crookton Road across the BNSF mainline. With no trains in sight, we continued west only to turn around and head back to the bridge

The eastbound train on the way back to the bridge.

BNSF 6903 East at the Crookton Road bridge. We started to drive west again, past the same Burma Shave signs, and had to turn around and head back to the bridge.

BNSF 8343 East at the Crookton Road bridge. We continued west and did not see another train until west of Peach Springs at the new overhead cutoff where an eastbound BNSF train was negotiating that piece of track.

BNSF 7162 East of the Kingman Airport. We went to Jersey Mike's and had dinner then checked into the Best Western Plus Wayfarer's Inn. After doing our usual things on the Internet, I worked on yesterday's story while Elizabeth attended her monthly Fraser Valley Heritage Railway Society Board meeting via Zoom video conference. I finished the story, Elizabeth proofed it and we uploaded it before calling it a night.

7/9/2021 We woke up for the final day of the trip and after we did our morning duties, we checked out and drove to the Black Bear Diner for a very good breakfast. I drove us back into California and then out toward Goffs where we had our first trains to photograph.

BNSF 6585 West at Bannock as it had had two locomotives on the point and four DPUs on the rear, something I had never seen before. The engineer gave us a friendly long wave.

BNSF 6647 East with Norfolk Southern 8117 and 1175 at Bannock. We drove over the mountains on Interstate 40 and started seeing parked trains on the mainline. As we neared Daggett, we pulled off and found one special train.

BNSF 6772 West with Canadian Pacific 8627 in the consist. Elizabeth did a good job of driving through all the traffic as we made our way back home to our apartment in Santa Ana. It had been an excellent first anniversary trip to Utah and Colorado and we drove 2,945 miles over nine days. It is good to be home.