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A Trip Home from Chicago 5/30-6/1/2022

by Chris Guenzler

Elizabeth and I woke up at the Holiday Inn in Aurora and after our normal morning cuddling and the rest of our preparations, we walked across the Fox River to the Aurora Pancake House where my wife enjoyed banana nut French Toast and I a Belgian waffle with sausage links. We both had large orange juices. Back in the motel room I started the Metra trip to Elburn story after I checked e-mail. We then checked out and walked over to the Metra station where Elizabeth bought our final Day Pass ticket while I watched the bags. When I saw she was returning, I started loading the bags into the Metra coach which had a restroom so I knew there would be plenty of space for them. Elizabeth returned and we took Metra 2012 to Chicago Union Station.

Once there we checked into the Metropolitan Lounge and found seats, after which I tried to get another new Copper Fit knee support, going to Walgreen's which was closed this Memorial Day then walked five blocks to CVS who did not carry them. While I was gone, Elizabeth proofed the Mendota story and was rather restless, wanting to start the trip home as it seemed that time was moving slowly today. At 2:15 PM, we were called to line up for our train so collected our luggage and joined the line, stopping at the gate for about eight minutes before they turned us loose.

We boarded the Car 0330 with Pinky as our sleeping car attendant. This train had engines P42DC 79 and 139, baggage 61001, transition 38043, sleeper 32070 "Alabama", diner 38049, lounge 32022 and coaches 34103, 31018 and 35001. Our room was "B" and we settled in, with the train departing on time and the conductor scanned our ticket. Elizabeth then headed to the lounge car while I stayed in the room playing Solitaire on my computer and enjoying the views.

The flatlands of Illinois.

Chicago, Burlington and Quincy 2-8-2 4978 at Mendota.

The Santa Fe freight house here.

The watchmen's crossing tower.

The Milwakuee Road Mendota station.

More of flatland Illinois. This lasted until Elizabeth returned to the room after Mendota and we rode this way until we were called into dining car for dinner. We were seated with Susan and Margo from Bristol, England and Elizabeth had an immediate connection with them. She ordered the pan-roasted chicken breast and I the Amtrak signature flat iron steak, which were both excellent, with bottled water as our drink of choice. For dessert, Elizabeth chose the carrot cake and I had the flourless chocolate torte, which was a very nice way to end the meal.

During the meal, the Missisippi River came into view.

The train crossed the Mississippi River into Fort Madison.

After Fort Madison the train crossed the Des Moines River into the state of Missouri.

The wonderful state of Missouri. As we stopped at La Plata, we noticed the station is undergoing restoration then ran by the eastbound Southwest Chief, running eleven hours and forty-two minutes late, east of Carrollton, Missouri. Pinky made up the room and I went to the lounge car and called Greg Smith to give him an update on the trip, then returned to the room where Elizabeth tonight took the upper bunk and I slept in the lower bunk. I was soon off to dreamland.

5/31/2022 Elizabeth and I woke up at Garden City, Kansas and we cuddled in the lower bunk then went to breakfast where I had the worst French Toast of my train riding years as it was over-cooked. Elizabeth had the three-egg omelette which was excellent. Aftewards, we went to the lounge car both checked our e-mails and the Internet so I was able to upload the last two stories from Chicago. I returned to the room and updated this story as the train was running late. It arrived in La Junta where we both took a fresh air break and it was announced that the toilets in our sleeping car went out so we would have to use the ones in the car ahead of us.

The Southwest Chief at rest at La Junta, after which I passed my 1,732,000.0 rail mile east of Timpas, Colorado. We stopped at Trinidad then climbed Raton Pass at the usual slow speed before our stop at Raton where Elizabeth and I took a fresh air break. At noon they called us into lunch and we both had the natural Angus burger but Elizabeth had cheese on hers. After lunch I stayed in the room while Elizabeth went to the lounge car and caught up on reading our railway magazines.

Wagon Mound peak after we passed it. The community of Wagon Mound is named for the butte which was a landmark for covered wagon trains and traders going up and down the Santa Fe Trail. The shape of the mound is said to resemble a conestoga wagon.

Wolf Creek that runs along the tracks.

Later, the remains of Fort Union were seen, which preserves the second of three forts constructed on the site begining in 1851, as well as the ruins of the third. It became a national monument in 1954. We continued on our way to Las Vegas.

Starvation Peak. This peak's name comes from the legend that a group of hostile Indians drove 36 people to the top of the peak during the Spanish colonial period. The train met the eastbound Southwest Chief at Fox siding and we blew by him. The train climbed the rest of the way to Glorieta Pass before running down through Apache Canyon to Lamy.

After Lamy, the train made its final sprint into Albuquerque, at which we arrived at 4:22 PM. During a longer-than-normal break here, they worked on the toilets in our sleeper but to no avail. The train left this station at 5:30 PM and headed to Gallup then were called to the dining car at 6:00 PM and were again seated with Susan and Margo.

The train crossed the Rio Grande River. Elizabeth had the tortellini and I the flat iron steak and the same desserts as yesterday. The BNSF was busy with us psssing seven trains during dinner. We returned to our bedroom B and I played more Solitaire while Elizabeth relaxed and later had a shower, after it was announced that the toilets had been fixed.

Red Mesas of New Mexico and a BNSF train in the last two pictures. We stopped at Gallup but we both stayed on and headed into the sunset. We had Pinky make up the room and we were in bed by by Winslow, Elizabeth taking the uppper bunk and I the lower. I slept soundly my last night on the train.

6/1/2022 During the night I passed my 1,734,000.0 rail miles just west of Essex, California. I awoke at Pisgah and Elizabeth joined me for a cuddling session before we got dressed and went to the dining car for breakfast. Both of us enjoyed the French Toast and mine with pork sausage links. With no orange juice available, Elizabeth had apple juice and I enjoyed cranberry juice this morning which complemented our very good meals. I took a fresh air break at Barstow and at this point, we were running two hours and fifty-one minutes late. We then went to the lounge car and checked e-mail and the Internet on the way to Victorville where the train did a double stop.

Now it was the climb and descent across Cajon Pass and I noted that Summit Valley Road has been repaved and lined. It was good to see Joshua trees again as they unique to the California high desert and we had a great daylight trip over Cajon Pass into San Bernardino. After that we were on very familiar tracks to Riverside then forty minutes later, we arrived in Fullerton at 9:35 AM. We detrained, ending a fantastic trip aboard the Southwest Chief, and were met by Robin Bowers who, after we loaded the car, kindly drove us home to our apartment thus ending another rail adventure.