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Our Trip to Florida on Amtrak

by Chris Guenzler

Elizabeth and I decided that we would participate in the late January Trains Magazine photo charter featuring US Sugar 4-6-2 148, in Clewiston, Florida on its first such event after restoration. To get to Florida, we would ride Pacific Surfliner to Fullerton, Southwest Chief to Chicago then the Capitol Limited to Washington, DC and finally the Silver Star down to Miami. We planned to fly home on January 31st in time for Elizabeth's 50th birthday party two days later.

1/20/2021 Elizabeth and I woke up at our apartment in Santa Ana and we had a day of packing at our leisure before Marty Smith picked us up, drove us to the Santa Ana Amtrak station and helped us over to track one where we waited for our train to arrive. Marty then left and we sat in the warm mid-January sunshine.

While we waited, Amtrak Pacific Surfliner 580 arrived in Santa Ana bound for San Diego. A few minutes later we started to hear the horn of our first train of the trip.

Pacific Surfliner 581

Pacific Surfliner 581 arrived and we boarded the lower level of the second car for our trip to Fullerton. The train took off, crossing Santiago Creek into Orange before we made our way through this town then crossed the Santa Ana River and stopped at Anaheim. The train then took off again and made a fast trip to Fullerton where we detrained. We walked over to the Santa Fe Express Cafe where I bought a Coca-Cola as I had to watch the luggage as Elizabeth was going to have her dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory since we did not know what time our dinner reservation would be. I called David Aten and a few minutes later he joined me, passing the late afternoon with me until Elizabeth returned well-fed. After 6:00 PM we took the speedy elevators over to Track 3 and we all waited for our train to arrive this evening.

BNSF 7889 East came through Fullerton tonight with a Canadian Pacific unit in the number two consist location.

Next Pacific Surfliner 785 for Goleta arrived then departed.

1/20/2021 Our train for Chicago would be the next train into Fullerton.

Southwest Chief Train 4 came into Fullerton. We boarded Car 430 for this trip to Chicago and Elizabeth and I settled into Deluxe Bedroom C then Conductor Marty Draper then scanned our ticket. This train had a consist of engine P42DC 158 and 29, Sleepers 32076 Delaware and 32001, Diner 38060, Lounge 3022 and coach 34038 with Coach Baggage 31035, along with Pacific Surfliner 6800 dead-heading to Beech Grove for repairs. I received a 7:30 PM dinner reservation from our sleeping car attendant Toni. The train ran through Santa Ana Canyon and out into the Inland Empire to our next stop at Riverside. They called in the 7:30 PM dinner reservations and I was seated at a table by myself and I ordered a signature steak and a chocolate torte for dessert. It was excellent and a great return to true dining car service aboard Amtrak. The train stopped in San Bernardino and as we departed, I saw the second Arrow train set at the shop. Good friend Erik Thompson called me and we had a good talk. The meal lasted over an hour so I enjoyed the trip over Cajon Pass while eating my dinner. I returned from dining, finding Elizabeth in the room enjoying the night-time views as we made our way. At 9:30 PM Toni made up our room and we called it a night a short time later and I slept the night away.

1/21/2021 I awoke just east of Flagstaff and at 6:30 AM I dressed and went to the dining car for breakfast. I enjoyed the Railroad French Toast with pork sausage and orange juice. After breakfast I sat in the lounge car and enjoyed the views through sunrise to Winslow where I met Elizabeth who coincidentally enjoyed the same breakfast.

Clouds to the north as we left Winslow.

A pond before Joseph City.

Coming and going views of the Joseph City coal firing plant. The train then ran on to Gallup where I took a quick fresh air break.

Mesas of New Mexico.

Later we crossed the Rio Grande River before we arrived in Albuquerque.

The Southwest Chief at rest at Albuquerque. We were called into the dining car with our 12:00 lunch reservation. I had the Angus Beef Burger plain with potato chips and a chocolate torte for dessert while Elizabeth had the Caesar Salad which she enjoyed although it was more filling than she expected. The train left Albuquerque and headed to our next station stop at Lamy in an hour. After Lamy we climbed through Apache Canyon then crossed Glorieta Pass then went down to the Pecos River. We climbed the grade en route to Las Vegas.

The Las Castenada Hotel at Las Vegas, a place where I would like to stay sometime. We met the westbound Southwest Chief before the first surprise of the trip.

We saw plenty of elk along our route. We travelled north the rest of the way to Raton where we took a fresh air break. Back on board the train climbed the grade to the Raton Tunnel and upon exiting, I showed my most wonderful wife the state line marker in twilight. About three quarters down the grade to Trinidad, they called us in for our 6:00 PM dinner reservation. The two of us sat at our now usual table with me having a signature steak while Elizabeth had salmon with tea and carrot cake for her dessert. We stopped next at La Junta where it was mixed rain and snow so we stayed aboard. We started our journey to Kansas and called a night.

1/22/2022 Elizabeth and I slept all the way to Kansas City Union Station where we arose and went to the dining car for breakfast. As we departed, I enjoyed French Toast, pork sausage and orange juice while my most beautiful wife enjoyed an omelette, pork sausage and an orange juice. After breakfast I listened to Alice Cooper's "Paranormal" CD to La Plata while Elizabeth watched the scenery and read magazines in the Sightseer Lounge.

On the way out of town, the Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point.

One of the Exhibition of Amtrak cars has been moved to its new home. I enjoyed the crossing of northeastern Missouri from our room.

That ended as we crossed the Des Moines River to enter Iowa.

We crossed our small piece of Iowa passing a frozen lake. We made our way to the Amtrak's new station in Fort Madison which is housed in the former Santa Fe station.

Santa Fe caboose 999235 on display taken from the train before I ventured out into the 32 degree air.

The former Santa Fe station in Fort Madison is now the Amtrak station for this town.

A crossing wig-wag signal and a postion light signal on display. We departed Fort Madison and headed to the bridge across the Mississippi River.

The frozen Mississippi River this morning. We headed next to Galesburg, the next stop for this train.

Two views of BNSF 6834 East with a loaded coal train heading east at Cameron.

BNSF Business Car 32 at Galesburg before the station stop.

The Galesburg Chicago, Burlington and Quincy station before our station stop.

CB&Q Pullman Car "Meath" on display during our station stop.

CB&Q Railway post office car 1945.

CB&Q 2-6-4 3006 as we were leaving the station.

The former Santa Fe Railroad line at the Railfan House that we visited in 2007. The train ran to Princeton then Mendota before running the miles toward Naperville.

At Aurora, a plethora of Metra engines and trains await their next trip.

Illinois Railway GP35 3500, originally Southern Pacific 7722. Illinois Railway is an Omnitrax subsidiary and one of four such lines in the state.

Metra F40PH-2 162 pulling a train out to Aurora as we neared Chicago.

The skyline of the Windy City of Chicago came into view as our train trip was nearing its end. We arrived into Chicago twenty minutes early at 2:30 PM and we then walked into the station, stopping at the baggage check and Elizabeth checked our large suitcase all the way to Miami. We then entered the Metropolitan Lounge and stored our luggage. Elizabeth then went for a walk around the inside of the station while I watched the computers and then it was my turn to go for a walk. I returned and updated my rail mileage as did Elizabeth. We waited until it was time to board Train 30 and we rode out with a Red Cap to the train.

Capitol Limited 30 1/22/2022

The conductor scanned our tickets before we boarded and the Red Cap put our luggage on the lower level racks before we moved them upstairs to Room D. We settled in to our Deluxe Room and the train left on time and headed out into the night. Phil was our sleeping car attendant for this trip to Washington, DC. Our consist was P42DC 182, Sleeper 32048 formerly "Cape Cod", Diner-Lounge 37007, Coach-Baggage 31023 and Coach 34035. The train ran out to Hammond-Whiting, our first station stop of the trip. We stayed up and at 8:00 PM then Phil made up our room. We went to bed after 9:00 PM and I slept soundly through the night.

1/23/2022 Elizabeth joined me in the bottom bunk as being right behind the engine, she could not sleep due to the excessive horns. We cuddled for a few minutes before I went back to sleep. We awoke at 7:30 AM and Elizabeth went downstairs for a shower since she could not turn the water on, while I got dressed. She returned and we had our room made up for day use while we went back one car to have breakfast. On this limited menu, called Flexible Dining, we both had French Toast, bacon and orange juice which hit the spot. We returned to the room and I shaved before getting on line with off and on Internet service from Elizabeth's hot spot.

Icicles were abundant but trying to get a picture was difficult.

It was really cold out there. We reached Sand Patch and went through the tunnel.

The big curve with the church.

The stream we followed down to Cumberland.

A Christmas Tree farm outside Cumberland. We went through the Narrows and saw the tracks of the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad that we rode in 2018 at the NRHS Convention. The train did a double stop at Cumberland before we departed. We took a nap most of the way to our next station stop of Martinsburg.

The old Baltimore and Ohio tower at Martinsburg built in 1900 and is the R or Miller Tower from Cherry Run.

The old B&O Roundhouse and shop complex built in 1866 and owned by the Berkeley County Roundhouse Authority. The train ran on the Harpers Ferry.

The Potomac River.

The B&O Shenandoah Branch on its bridge at Harpers Ferry.

The old advertisement on the cliff aboard the tunnel. The next stop is Rockville.

Baltimore and Ohio's Point of the Rocks station.

The Tower at Point of the Rocks. The train ran to Rockville before the running to Washington Union Station.

The only other delay since we awoke this morning was waiting for this MARC train before we could enter Washington Union Station where we detrained.

Washington Union Station 1/23/2022

We took the elevator up and into the station and were buzzed into the Acela Lounge by the attendant. He asked us what train we were taking and Elizabeth replied with "Silver Star" and he welcomed us in. We stored our luggage before going to find lunch. We tried Jersey Mike's but they were out of roast beef and tuna until tomorrow which did us no good. He suggested Pot Belly Sandwiches upstairs in the food court off the Main Mall. They had eveything we needed and we walked back to the food court and had our linner. It was most excellent. We returned to Club Acela and I put the pictures into the story. That took most of the time so Elizabeth went and got our luggage while I finished. She then got into line for the Silver Star and I joined her. We were taken to the escalator and went to the same platform we had arrived on. The sleepers on the Silver Star are on the rear of the train and Elizabeth knew that she would sleep much better tonight.

Silver Star 91 1/23/2022

The Car Attendant Matt asked us what car we were in and Elizabeth replied 9100 and he said "Welcome Aboard!". We did and when we entered Room B, we were surpised that this car was a brand new Viewliner Sleeping Car so we saw all of the differences between this and the Superliner cars. I was very impressed to be aboard for my first time riding a Deluxe Room in a Viewliner Sleeper. The consist of this train was P42DC 10 and 18, Coaches 25094, 25079, 25039 and 25053, Amlounge 28009, Viewliner Diner 68014 Viewliner 2 "Jackson" 62509, Viewliner 2 "St John River" 62033, Viewliner 1 "Scenic View", 62512 Viewliner 2 "Saluda River", 62029 Viewliner 1 "Hopatcong River" and 62520 Viewliner 2 "Tiffin River: with Viewliner Baggage Viewliner 2 61044. The train left Washington Union Station on time and headed through the Capitol Tunnel with my most beautiful wife getting new rail mileage to Miami.

The long hallway of our Viewliner 2 Sleeper.

The Jefferson Monument as we went by it.

Crossing the Potomac River on a very cold day.

Hope Springs Marina.

Accokeek Creek.

This Viewliner has a extra windows like other ones.

Tonight we were treated to an excellent sunset. Later we had the room made up and I was in my bed as we aproached Raleigh where I called it a night.

1/24/3022 We awoke about an hour south of Jacksonville and we went to the dining car as the train stopped at Deland.

A palm tree along our route welcoming us to Florida. I ordered French Toast and Elizabeth ordered the omelette. The attendant said, "You got the last French Toast on the train". I was very happy to hear this. A few minutes later though, he returned to tell me no French Toast. What gives? So I would have to have Fruit Loops instead with bottled water since they were also out of orange juice. I was not a happy camper.

The table area of the Viewliner Diner.

The St. John River.

Cattle in a field.

A nursery along our route.

A lake along our route.

Another river along our route. After breakfast we went to the Lounge Car and got on the Amtrak Connect wi-fi and we both checked our e-mail and the other sites we do. At Winter Park, I returned to the room and caught up the story as I charged my phone and camera battery. Elizabeth remained in the lounge car, reading a magazine. She returned while I was playing Solitaire on my computer. At noon I went to the dining car for lunch.

The menu for lunch where I enjoyed the Slow Braised Beef Short Ribs with a roll and bottled water plus a Blondie for dessert. Elizabeth would have the same minus the Blondie at 1:00 since she was not very hungry. The train went around the Yarbor Wye before we backed into Tampa Union Station where I detrained and Elizabeth went and had her lunch. We arrived into Tampa for a fresh air break.

The view from the platform towards the station.

Our dining car in Tampa.

Our sleeping car.

Our engines in Tampa.The train departed on time.

CSX AC4400 511 and AC44CW 354.

Orange groves along the route. The train then made all the southern Florida stops until we reached the last stop of Miami. We both detrained, feeling very happy to be here.

The Silver Star at rest in Miami. From here we went inside the station and waited just a few minutes for the case we checked in Chicago. From here the two of us walked to the TriRail station but that is in the next story. Sorry for the delay in this story but my laptop's screen did not come on at the hotel so I could not finish this until the computer was fixed.