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A Ten Day Trip to the Depot Inn & Suites.

by Chris Guenzler

I was ticketed for this trip way back in early July at the start of my unemployment problems. Not being one to get down about such a thing, I just lived my life until the day of Christmas. On that day, I had a fantastic turkey dinner at home and opened up gifts. At about 4:25 PM my brother Jon drove me to the 3rd level of the parking structure at the Santa Ana Train Station and I walked over the tracks and put my bags on a bench. I bought my one way Pacific Business Class ticket from the Metrolink Ticketing Machine and then waited for my train to Los Angeles to arrive.

Surfliner 583 12/25/2009

The train came into Santa Ana and I boarded the empty lower level of Pacific Business Class and started writing the story. Anaheim and Fullerton passed quickly and soon we were making our final sprint to Los Angeles Union Station. The train arrived into LAUPT early and I walked over to Track 11 to wait for the Southwest Chief to La Plata.

Southwest Chief 4 12/25/2009

The Southwest Chief backed into Track 11 at 6:10 PM with a consist of Engines 151 and 167, Baggage 1211, Transition 39046, Sleepers 32078 Florida and 32118 Wyoming, Diner 38007, Lounge 33006 and Coaches 34001, 34013 and Snack Coach 35007. I had Room 2 in the 32118 and had Regina as my Sleeping Car Attendant. I put on my DVD of "Talladega Nights The Ballad of Ricky Bobbie" before the train left LAUPT on time. Since I had that great meal at home I skipped dinner and watched the movie and about half of the extras before I called it a night outside of Victorville.


I woke up at Winslow and headed straight to the Dining Car for a breakfast of French Toast and sausage patties. I was seated with two ladies heading first to Gallup and then onto New Jersey along with a man heading to Newton, KS. I returned to my room and watched the rest of the extras of "Talladega Nights" for my first thing of the morning. Next I put on my DVD of "Ian Anderson Plays Orchestral Jethro Tull" which took me into New Mexico.

The first view with my new Nikon D3000 Camera of a mesa in New Mexico on the way to Grants.

Another mesa off to the north.

Mount Laguna off to the north along our route. These three pictures above are with my new camera.

Our train passed four freights and here are the first BNSF eastbounds that were waiting for us.

Rio Grande River. The Ian Anderson DVD took me all the way into Albuquerque which we arrived at 11:21. I walked into town and my usual store was closed. Two blocks further west I found a place and got a Klondike Ice Cream Bar and more Coca-Cola to get me to La Plata. It was twenty-seven degrees out so I didn't stay outside too long. I put on my new Monty Python DVD Set "Monty Python Almost the Truth, The Lawyer's Cut" and we left Albuquerque on time.

North of Albuquerque, the mountains to the west of the Rio Grande.

Mountains behind Santa Fe.

The Santa Fe Southern was in Lamy when we arrived there today.

Later coming down the east side of Glorieta Pass, Starvation Peak was seen across the valley. I put on the second Monty Python DVD as the train made its way north to Las Vegas.

After Las Vegas and Shoemaker Canyon the high plains on the way to Raton.

View of the mountains northwest of us on the way to our next fresh stop, Raton. I finished the second Python DVD and now will sit in my room with the lights out until I'm called for my 6:30 PM Dinner Reservation. I enjoyed a steak and vanilla ice cream with a lady from Las Vegas heading to Kansas City. After dinner I put on my DVD of "Uriah Heep The Magician's Birthday Party" that took me to La Junta. I made up my bed and called it a night.


I woke out of bed at 6:20 and headed to the Dining Car for my French Toast breakfast sitting with a lady returning home to Kansas City. The train was refueled at the BNSF Argentine Yard fueling pads before we arrived into Kansas City early on this snow covered morning. The Southwest Chief left Kansas City on time and headed to its next stop of La Plata.

Leaving Kansas City.

Kansas City Terminal Railroad engine from the BNSF flyover leaving town.

Crossing the Missouri River.

Later the steam engine in Marceline.

The former Santa Fe Marceline Station is now the Walt Disney Museum. The train then sprinted the rest of the way to La Plata where it pulled into the station a few minutes late. It had been a great Amtrak trip here now time to relax.

La Plata Depot Inn & Suites 12/27/2009

Shelli picked me up and took me to the Depot Inn & Suites where I checked in and got my key to the Pullman Suite. After I stored my luggage in the Pullman Suite I headed out in the van out to the bridge near Riggs. Unfortunately when I parked the left front wheel sunk into the mud under the ice. I tried to get it out but had no luck. I called Bob Cox who was in Sedelia, MO this morning who then called Tom Marshall. My Verizon Phone never rings but I got a call from Kelly Marshall who had just sat down for lunch at the Red Rooster and said they would be out to get me out after their lunch and to enjoy the trains while I waited. It was cold and windy as I waited but I then heard a horn and knew I had an eastbound coming.

The eastbound BNSF piggyback train came and then I continued to wait. Just about noon Tom and his family showed up in their truck and pulled me out. They followed me back to La Plata where I headed out to the Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point. I parked and was going in when I heard the crossing gates at Owensby Street.

Another BNSF piggyback train with a stack car tucked in behind the power. After that I went back to the Depot Inn and Suites and took a sauna tub bath before I caught up on the story. I relaxed the rest of the day before I went to the Red Rooster for a hamburger. I then returned to the Pullman Suite for the night.


I woke up and put on warm clothes then picked up my breakfast and walked out to the Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point. I took my Lap Top with me and put on my CD of Metallica "Death Magnetic" as I went through e-mail and checked out things on the web. I missed a westbound because I could not hear it approach. I checked the ATCs Monitor and knew I had a westbound coming in about twenty five minutes so I would not miss it.

The scene on this cold December morning.


The westbound BNSF stack train with two DPU's on the rear end.

Amtrak eastbound Southwest Chief arrived into La Plata a few minutes early. I walked back to the Depot Inn & Suites and waited for Amy Cox to pick me up as I had agreed to help sort books and magazines at Show Off Photography. I went next door and thanked Tom Marshall for pulling me out yesterday. When Amy went home for lunch I planned more details for tomorrow's trip to Iowa. I returned to the Depot Inn & Suites later and visited with Maria and Sally before working on this story some more. That was followed by a Sauna Tub Bath in my Pullman Suite. Later I went to the Red Rooster for a steak dinner before I relaxed for the rest of the evening. Tomorrow Bob Cox and I will be visiting Iowa but alas that is the next part of this story.

Click here for the Railfanning Trip to Iowa