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The Return Trip from the Connect the Dots Rare Mileage Trip

by Chris Guenzler

Randy had dropped me off in Greensburg and I waited for Train 43 the Pennsylvanian to arrive. I learned it was thirty minutes late and enjoyed conversations with the other people waiting on the train. Finally a headlight and here it came.

I boarded the 2nd Amfleet Car and turned on the lap top and worked all the way to Pittsburgh. I went into the station, found an electrical plug and continued to work on the story. Soon I was joined by another mileage rider friend and after I had done as much as I could we went up into the cool nighttime air to wait for our train to Chicago.

Station scene in Pittsburgh.

The Capitol Limited arriving into Pittsburgh.

Capitol Limited 5/23/2010

This Capitol Limited had a consist of Engines 74 and 18, Amfleet Coach 82630, Baggage 1754, Transition 39016, Sleepers 32091 Minnesota and 32017, Diner Light 37001, Lounge 33008 with Coaches 34024, 34084 and 34002. I was in Room 8 of the Minnesota with Brian as my Sleeping Car Attendant. My bed was already made up so I stored my bags in the upper bunk and got into bed. The train left Pittsburgh twenty minutes late and I stayed up to see the train leave Pittsburgh before I called it a night.


I woke up east of Elkhart and had to sit in the Lounge End of the Diner Light Car where the server set a table up for me and a gentleman from Minnesota. I had French Toast and some crispy bacon. Back in my room I worked on the story all the way into Chicago which we arrived into 25 minutes early.

Chicago 5/24/2010

I went inside Chicago Union Station and stored my bags in the lounge. I used the wireless in the lounge and then finished and uploaded the story. I called Winston letting him know he could proof it. I got a pair of Char Dogs for lunch then started finishing this story. Winston send me the last proof just as they made first call for my train. I posted it on and then shut the machine down and walked out to the waiting train on Track 25.

California Zephyr 5 5/24/2010

This California Zephyr had a consist of Engines 156, 176 and 154, Baggage 1162, Transition 39035, Sleepers 32006 and 32003, Diner 38004, Lounge 33038 with Coaches 34103, 34064 and 31023. I have Room 3 in the 32006 Car with Juice as my Sleeping Car Attendant. On this trip I will be relaxing all the way back to California.

Looking out of Chicago Union Station as this train will be taking me to Sacramento. I put on Pirates of the Caribbean "The Curse of the Black Pearl" DVD to start the trip. The train left Chicago on time. The train ran to Naperville and after Aurora I knew of a picture I wanted to get.

Engines of the Burlington Jct Railroad. The movie took me almost to Galesburg and I relaxed until my 5 PM Dinner Reservation.

Illinois Country on the way to Galesburg. As there is no PA from the Dining Car I was told to come in at 4:55 PM. I was seated with a couple heading to Fort Bragg, Ca and a lady going to California who has lost her voice. I had the Steak and Vanilla Ice Cream. During Dinner we crossed the Mississippi River into Iowa and then after Mount Pleasant I took a nice shower. I then put on the bonus material DVD of Pirates of the Caribbean "The Curse of the Black Pearl".

Nearing Ottumwa I had the camera ready.

Burlington Junction Railroad engine. At Ottumwa we did an engine crew change and a fresh air stop.

The Ottumwa Station.

Two views of the California Zephyr at Ottumwa.

Another view of the Ottumwa Station.

CB&Q Steam Engine at Ottumwa. Once on the move I watched the end of that DVD before I made up my room and called it a night.


I got up before Fort Morgan and went to the Dining Car for breakfast. I was seated with a couple who were going home from Indianapolis to Reno and I enjoyed The French Toast and Bacon for my meal.

Three views of the old Colorado Rail Car Facility as the California Zephyr made its way into Denver.

The skyline of Denver.

An empty BNSF coal train waits for us to clear at Prospect Junction as we wyed and backed into Denver Union Station ten minutes late. I enjoyed the fresh air as I talked with the other passengers on the platform. Before we left I got On-line and cleared out my E-mail and kept the one from the Tioga Central. We left Denver twenty minutes late and then came to a stop just short of Prospect Jct before we were off on the old Moffat Route for the Colorado Rockies. I decided to work on my July Program for the Orange County Railroad Historical Society so I would take pictures as I worked west today.

Leaving Denver the Front Range of the Rockies could be seen. The train climbed the grade to Rocky before it took the Big Ten Curve and passed through Clay before it entered the Tunnel District.

The train climbed the grade through South Boulder Canyon to make is way to the Moffat Tunnel. Once the train exited the Moffat Tunnel we ran by the Winter Park Ski Resort lacking snow.

The view before our Winter Park/Fraser Station Stop which was a fresh air break.

The train on its way to Granby along the Colorado River.

After Granby the train headed for Byers Canyon.

The California Zephyr in Byers Canyon.

Later Gore Canyon.

Little Gore Canyon.

View forward as the train headed to Bond. They had an open call for lunch and I got a first seating as the train traveled through Red Rock Canyon. I was seated with a nice couple from Chicago and my friend with her voice beginning to return. I had an Angus Beef Burger and Vanilla Ice Cream. I rode in my room through Glenwood Canyon and tried but failed to get On-line in Glenwood Springs.

The CZ leaving Glenwood Springs.

Views of De Beque Canyon and after that we arrived into Grand Junction where I took a fresh air break on a warm afternoon. We left Grand Junction on time heading west to Fruita before we entered Ruby Canyon.

Views of Ruby Canyon.

Later views of the LaSalle Mountains.

Views of the Book Cliffs as we headed to Green River. At 5:30 PM I went to the Dining Car seated with a woman from Fremont and a couple from Martinez. I had the Steak and had good conversations at my table. Back in my room I got the story caught up before going back to work on my OCRHS Program with me listening to music on my computer with head phones on. The train made its stop at Helper and after Castle Gate I stopped working will have to tweak it a bit more tomorrow. It is a beautiful early evening crossing of Soldier Summit. I took a shower then listened to Elton John "Caribou" CD as we crested Soldier Summit and then dropped down the grade towards Provo, our next station stop. I made up my room and called it a night once the CD was finished.


I woke up at Winnemucca and went back to ride in the Lounge Car until the diner opened at 6:30 AM. I had French Toast and Bacon with the couple from lunch yesterday and a lady from Modesto. After that I just sat back and watched the miles of Nevada pass by outside of my window. The Union Pacific was busy sending many freight trains east this Wednesday morning.

The view after the train picked up the Truckee River.

The Truckee River which we followed into Sparks and Reno, our next fresh air break. The train stopped right before Sparks at Vista but I managed to get On-line during this delay. We passed the Union Pacific Sparks Yard before we entered the Reno Trench to the Reno Station. I took fresh air on a very cool Reno morning with it trying to rain. The train left Reno at 9:30 AM {8:36 AM} and headed to Truckee with me reading the USA Today.

On the way to Truckee.

A Flume along the Truckee River on the way to Truckee, our next station stop of the morning. From here we climbed up Donner Pass.

Views of the climb before the Donner Summit Tunnel known as the "Big Hole".

Exiting the "Big Hole" into a very late May Snowstorm.

Views as we dropped to Norden.

View of the Norden Snowsheds.

Views looking down the sides of the train as we stopped to let a Welding Rail Train go east.

View as we descend to Soda Springs.

The Ski Area at Soda Springs. The train dropped downgrade and by Shed 10 the snow had turned to rain. The train dropped through Yuba Gap also known as Yuba Pass and Emigrant Gap as we descended the western slope of the Sierra Nevada on a very wet day.

The clouds parted briefly and the American River Canyon can be seen in these views before the clouds returned.

Later the California Zephyr passed over the bridge across Interstate 80 prior to our arrival into Colfax 12:51 PM {11:48 AM}.

The former Southern Pacific Station in Colfax before we continued our descent to Roseville, our next station stop. The clouds lifted as we dropped into the Sacramento Valley below Auburn. The train arrived into Roseville at 2:04 PM {12:57 PM}. The train then made its sprint to Sacramento where I detrained at 2:26 PM {2:13 PM} and met by my Brother Bruce. I would stay at his home for one night before heading south down the valley tomorrow.

San Joaquin 702 5/27/2010

Bruce took me with him to work at the Sacramento Amtrak Station and I got On-line in the station with the wireless there. They opened up Train 702 at 6:20 AM and I took one of the rear single seats in the 8003 Coach. This train had Cab Car 8302 Mount Shasta, Cafe 8811 Antelope Valley, Coaches 8003 American River and 31934 Cedar Grove. The train departed on time and we headed south to our first stop at Lodi. From there we ran to the Stockton Ace Station before we headed to a rainy Modesto stop. Next came Turlock/Denair before sunshine returned as we closed in on the Merced Station. I had watched Jackie Chan "Police Story 2" up until that point. After some fresh air at Merced, I watched my Aerosmith Live DVD. At Madera we did the into the siding and back up move before we did our station stop there. The train took the siding at Figareden before we reached Fresno. I have seen plenty of BNSF freight trains on this trip. At Fresno a large group of school kids got on and this train crew was no help with boarding them. From here we headed to Hanford where the group of 44 kids got off. The train made its way to Corcoran. The train ran to Wasco before it made its final sprint to Bakersfield.

Thruway Bus 5802 5/27/2010

The bus left Bakersfield with a few of the passengers complaining about the noise the bus was making in the rear end. We went forward over Tejon Pass and hit some light rain coming down the south side of the pass through San Fernando. The bus arrived into LAUPT at 2:15 PM and I bought my Metrolink Ticket first, picked up my luggage and walked to Track 8 for my Metrolink Train home to Santa Ana. Taking this saves me almost two hours of waiting for Surfliner 582.

Metrolink 684 5/27/2010

The train left Los Angeles on time and made stops at Norwalk, Buena Park, Fullerton, Anaheim and Orange before dropping me off at Santa Ana on its way to Laguna Niguel/Mission Viejo. It was a fantastic trip on Amtrak, Reading Northern 425, Metro North, all the rare mileage trips and museums I visited this time around. My mother picked me up and I can honestly say "It's good to be home!"