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The Two-Day Drive To Albuquerque 9/15-16/2022

by Chris Guenzler

This trip's destination is Springdale, Arkansas and the Autumn Conference of the National Railway Historical Society, where Elizabeth will become Secretary of the Society's Advisory Council. On the way there, we will ride the Sandia Peak Tram (gondola), visit the Eureka Springs and North Arkansas Railway, take a river journey on the Showboat Banson Belle and ride the Branson Scenic Railroad. During the Autumn Conference, the Arkansas and Missouri will be ridden from Springdale to Van Buren train, a motor coach ride to the Fort Smith Trolley Museum and a shop tour of the A&M Railroad. September 25th, I will ride the Van Buren to Winslow turn while Elizabeth participates in the meetings. Sunday we will ride the rare Springfield to Monett trip.

On the way home, September 26th will find us at the Railroad Museum of Oklahoma then the next day, a ride on the New Mexico Rail Runner. We return to the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad on September 28th to ride from Chama to Antonio and the following day, ride Galloping Goose 5 from Antonio to Chama. September 30th will be the Four Corners National Monument and the drive to Williams before riding the steam train on the Grand Canyon Railway on October 1st. We return home the next day.

9/15/2022 After waking up and having a good breakfast, Elizabeth and I finished packing, checked the Internet and I watched "Perry Mason". At 10:00 AM we loaded the car and Elizabeth drove us north on CA Highway 55 then east on CA Highway 91 to Interstate 215, to Tnterstate 15 and Barstow. We visited the outdoors of the railroad museum but did not take photographs as we had been there in July 2020, then went inside the station/Harvey House to look around as we had not been inside before. They had a sizeable solar system/space exploration exhibition. Elizabeth then drove us to Interstate 40, where east of Daggett we switched drivers and I drove us east to Goffs Road where we stopped for the first train of the trip.

At West Goffs we caught BNSF 7509 West with DPU 4744. We drove through Goffs then at Ibis, I spotted a westbound train coming our way and set up for pictures of this train.

BNSF 4351 West with DPU BNSF 8158. From here we drove east though Needles and near the Park Moabi exit, I spotted another westbound train so exited and did not have long to wait.

BNSF Norfolk Southern 4448 West came by us at Park Moabi Road.

I crossed the road and just managed to get BNSF 5856 East with the guard rail, as this train silently snuck up on us. After that we crossed the Colorado River into Arizona and drove most of the way to Kingman, where we took the road through Kingman Canyon and had another train.

BNSF 7044 East went through Kingman Canyon. After that we went to Jersey Mike's for dinner then checked into the Best Western Wayfarer's Inn for the night.

9/16/2022 This morning, after our usual preparations, the two of us checked out and went to Black Bear Diner for an excellent breakfast. We drove old Highway 66 east and saw a pair of trains, but alas they could not be photographed. I drove us just short of Interstate 40 where Elizabeth took over.

The next train was BNSF 7175 West east of Bellemont. We continued eastbound and although there were no trains, I did find something else of interest.

The Meteor City historic trading post located on Route 66 west of Winslow. Despite the name, Meteor City was never the name of a town, but rather was a trading post. It was named in honor of the nearby Meteor or Barringer Crater and is the first of three Route 66-inspired roadside attractions located only a few miles apart along a 30-mile stretch west on Interstate 40 from Winslow to Flagstaff: Meteor City; the ghost town of Two Guns and the ruins of the Twin Arrows Trading Post/Diner and Gas Station, which now marks the turnoff for the new Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort.

Meteor City was first opened in 1938 and was operated as the Sharber Service Station, under the Texaco brand, by Arizona resident Joe Sharber. In 1941, an expansion of the property by a new owner, Iowan Jack Newsum, nicknamed "Lonesome Jack", included the addition of a trading post where visitors could buy gas, groceries and curios. At one time the sign upon entering the area once read, "Population: 1" and later "Population 2" when the service station's proprietor Joseph Sharber married Gloria. A geodesic dome, complete with a bright yellow faux Mohawk, was built in 1979 after the original building burnt down in the 1960's to house the curio shop which was stocked with a variety of items, including moccasins, postcards and Baja shirts.

In March 2017, Mike and Joann Brown purchased Meteor City and are currently working to restore the dome, as well as the surrounding buildings and property . Two former "quirky" tourist attractions on the Meteor City property were billed as the "World's Longest Map of Route 66", painted by American artist and cartographer Bob Waldmire, and the "World's Largest Dream-catcher", located out near the road in front of the dome. There are also five "tee-pees" on the property. The exterior wood fence the map was on has fallen down and has been placed into storage and the tattered dream-catcher will be repaired. The Browns also hope to restore the original Justice of the Peace building located just west of the dome. Infamous as "the wicked witch of Route 66", Newsum's wife, Goldie, serving as justice, issued speeding citations to unwary drivers on Route 66.

Elizabeth drove us to Holbrook where we again switched drivers and made our way to Albuequerque.

New Mexico mesas welcomed us to their state. We stopped for petrol in Grants then I drove us to the Cracker Barrel in Albuquerque for dinner after which Elizabeth drove us to the Sure Stay Best Western for our first try with this chain. I wrote this story after we arrived for the evening while Elizabeth did her things and we called it a night.