Facebook Page

Trips I took while being unemployed until I got my new job!

by Chris Guenzler


I finished the school year at Jefferson in June 2009 only to have that job cut by budget cutting. I thought SAUSD had lost their minds again and I knew I would be missed by the Jefferson Elementary School Staff, a bunch of great people. I really liked working with the kids at that school and have many fond memories of being Crossing Guard, Librarian and the like. It was a good experience while it lasted and now what? I had applied for many jobs including three at SAUSD and interviewed for one with no luck. Unemployment payments were a hassle in the beginning but payments now come every two weeks. I tried to get a job with the La Plata Schools but had no luck with that either. I feel at times no one cares about me but luckily my train riding has kept me going on a daily basis.

After being laid off I made a trip back to La Plata and a stay at the Depot Inn & Suites. While there Bob Cox and I made a trip to Kansas for a ride on the Abilene & Smoky Valley Railroad plus the Atchison Railway Museum on the way there. Bob turned me on to Death Magnetic by Metallica on the trip back to La Plata. I had a good trip home. July was a busy month for Chris. It started off with a visit with my brother Bruce and family in Sacramento before I headed to Emeryville. There I boarded the eastbound California Zephyr as it detoured across Wyoming. After a night in Denver I got my Enterprise Rental Car and drove to Silver Plume where I finally rode the Georgetown Loop Railroad and over the Devils Gate Viaduct. I had always wanted to do that trip. Next it was onto the Colorado Railroad Museum to take pictures of their excellent equipment both standard and Narrow Gauge. From here I drove north to Hermosa on Sherman Hill and Laramie that night. The next day I visited Union Pacific freight trains. At 11:00 AM I boarded a bus for the Union Pacific Steam Shop Tour part of the Union Pacific Historical Society Convention. The next day as part of the convention I rode the Union Pacific City of Yoder to Yoder and beyond. I had tried to ride this line years ago but that time the UP had parked coal trains on it blocking our access to it. The next day I was back at the Colorado Railroad Museum for their 50th Birthday Party and not only did I get to photograph the parade of trains but also got to ride behind the Rio Grande 346. Following that I finally rode the Platte Valley Trolley before driving to Colorado Springs through one of the worst rain storms of my life. The next day I finally did the Leadville, Colorado & Southern Railroad which I highly recommend and later that afternoon rode the two foot gauge Cripple Creek & Victor Narrow Gauge Railroad. The next morning I finally got to the top of Pikes Peak on the Pikes Peak Cog Railroad. I took the Thruway Bus from Denver to Raton and had an eight hour wait for the Southwest Chief for home. The train was behind the California Zephyr that killed a car load of people and the car knocked down a signal bridge against the side of the train damaging some of its cars. I used the late running to my advantage photographing the route from Williams Jct to Los Angeles all in Daylight. After a few days of rest I headed east again to Chicago and then Metra to Golf for the night. That night I learned that I needed to apply for a SAUSD job that I did not get. The next morning I took Metra north to Glenview and caught the commuter train action there for an hour and a half before I took Amtrak to Milwaukee and then back to Chicago. There it was Gold Coast Char Dog time. Later that day I boarded the Blue Water for Flint where I met Matt Melzer who took me to the Super 8 there for the next four nights. The next three days Matt, Randy and I would drive to Owosso, Michigan for TrainFestival 2009. Day One I caught the Southern Pacific 4449 leaving Owosso for Alma before I found Bob and Elizabeth and we rode behind the Little River 110 on the first of the hourly trips during the festival. Matt and I then drove to the Huckleberry Railroad for a ride there behind Rio Grande 464, the Mudhen. I had wanted to ride this train for years. Next we headed to Saginaw for a visit to the Saginaw Railroad Museum. Back at Owosso I photographed the Little River 110 going and coming before at 4:30 PM I finally got inside the TrainFestival 2009 grounds and shot all of the equipment. That evening I had a steak at the Lone Star with Keith Schimdt and friend. Day two I meet Bob and Elizabeth for a ride behind the Nickel Plate 765 to Alma subbing for the Pere Marquette 1225 which had boiler tube problems which sidelined it during TrainFestival 2009. The Friends of the 261 later sent thirty boiler tubes to repair the engine for its runs in the Fall. I guessed I would have to come back and ride behind the PM 1225 later in the Fall. The highlight was the triple photo runby each trip the big engines pulled a train done in a park in Italca. That evening Bob, Elizabeth and I had dinner at Lefty Steak House in Owosso. Day three was another great trip behind the NKP 765. Special thank you to Jason Johnson, the entire SRI Crew and everyone who helped make TrainFestival 2009 the steam event of the decade. The next morning Matt dropped me off at the Flint Amtrak Station and I boarded the Blue Water back to Chicago. The Southwest Chief trip home was the worst Amtrak trip in years. No water in the Dining Car delayed Dinner. No dessert that night. The next day climbing on Glorieta Pass the lead engines brake's locked up and had to be removed from the train. The next morning no ventilation in the Dining Car meant no breakfast and I was more than happy to get off of this disaster at Fullerton taking Surliner 578 home.

On August 3rd I left on the Coast Starlight and Empire Builder for my pre NRHS Convention Trips in Wisconsin and Minnesota. I got a rental car at the Midway Amtrak Station and headed to Spooner, Wisconsin for a trip on the Wisconsin & Great Northern Railroad. After that I drove to Ladysmith finding several things to suit a visiting railfan. The next day I did the Camp 5 Lumberjack Train and later I found two train stations in Shawano, Wisconsin before visiting New London Historical Village and the train display there. That night was spent in Janesville. The next morning started with heavy rains and a stop by the Wisconsin Southern yard for a quick picture. Next I drove to Brodhead and the Railroad Display at the old Milwaukee Road Station. I headed north towards Madison on Wisconsin Highway 213. It was on this road where the sky turned the blackest I had ever seen in my life and it was almost like I was driving in the middle of the night. I checked the sky for funnel clouds but did not see any before I entered a wall of heavy rain that the wipers even on high could not get rid of the water. At Evansville the Main Street was a river but I did get across. By the time I reached US Highway 14 I came out of it. Nicer weather took me to The Mid-Continent Railway Museum, a place I had wanted to visit for years. After that I drove north to Wisconsin Dells and rode The Riverside & Great Northern Railroad which was incredible. More rains as I drove north but ended as I got to the Colfax Railroad Museum. From here it was short drive to Hudson for a stormy night. Flashes of continuous lightning across the sky was the light show of my life. Back in Minnesota I finally did the Excelsior Streetcar Line in Excelsior before checking in to the Best Western in Plymouth and did my laundry. The next morning I visited the Milwaukee Road 261 Shop seeing my old friend in a stripped down condition plus the SP 4499 was laying over at the shop. I visited the Minnesota Commercial Railway before stopping at Bandana Square. Next I visited the Jackson Street Roundhouse before driving north out to Chisago City and a visit to the Iron Horse Central and a ride on the Bumblebee. I drove back to the Midway Days Inn for that night. The next day was the start of the NRHS 2009 Convention with a Twin Cities to Duluth special train. Due to track work our train headed east to St Paul before taking the old Northern Pacific Freight Route across the top of the Twin Cities to reach the normal route to Duluth. That was some real rare mileage. That evening in Duluth I was aboard the NRHS Vista Cruise Line Dinner Tour of Duluth Harbor and out onto Lake Superior. The next day I did the NRHS Iron Range Bus Tour & Trolley Ride which included the Hull Rust Mine, Minnesota Mining Museum and the Minnesota Discovery Center once known as Ironworld and got to ride the trolley there. This was a real educational trip for all of us on it. The following day was two trips. Number one was the NRHS "The Arrowhead Vacationer" pulled by the Soo Line 2719 from Duluth to Two Harbors and return. After that we were bussed to West Duluth for the NRHS "Skally Limited" Lake Superior & Mississippi Railroad Trip. This railroad I wanted to ride on every trip to Duluth but was never running while I was visiting there until now. Fridays are always NRHS Meeting Days so I did the Duluth North Shore Scenic RDC Trip to Two Harbors with Bob and Bart Jennings. The real rare mileage trip of the convention was the NRHS "The Duluth & Grand Rapids Express" to Grand Rapids, Minnesota. The last trip was the return trip to the Twin Cities. Dennis Larsen picked me up and we went out touring ending up down in Red Wing for dinner. He returned me to the Empire Builder Lounge where I waited for the Empire Builder to return me to Portland. Then I took the Coast Starlight to LAUPT and a Surfliner home. I came home still no job so I did on a round trip to El Paso and an El Paso Historic Railroad Tour which was really interesting.

In early September I made a return to La Plata to see new things to see there then did the Steam Engine Corn Maze. At the Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point I got an idea and used the Depot Inn & Suites van to drive to Mount Pleasant for the 60th Annual Midwest Old Thresher Reunion Steam Train and Trolley Rides. This is a fantastic event and should not be missed by anyone who likes steam engines of all kinds. The Southwest Chief trip home was eventful. First the conductor did not have a manifest and even after the sleeping Car Attendant told him he did stop the train at the second to the last coach and made me walk through most of the entire train hurting my back in the lounge car trying to get through the crowd of people in there with my luggage. The next morning it was the worst French Toast I had ever had on Amtrak. I had applied again for another job with SAUSD and while waiting to hear took a trip to Cold and Wet Albuquerque. In October I flew to Detroit where I met up with Bob and Elizabeth and we drove to Mount Pleasant, Michigan for our two night stay there. The next day we rode the Cadillac Fall Colors Steam Limited Alma to Cadillac behind the Nickel Plate 765 and Pere Marquette 1225. We did an excellent set of photo runbys on the return trip. The next day we drove to Dearborn to visit the Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village and a ride on the Weiser Railroad. This place was incredible and you got to see and witness over 400 years of American History right before your eyes. I had wanted to visit this place for years and I want to thank Bob and Elizabeth for letting me tag along. Chris Parker and I drove to San Luis Obispo for the Central Coast Railroad Festival and the Bitter Creek & Western Live Steamers was a fascinating place to visit. We stopped off at the Goleta to see the South Coast Railroad Museum housed in the Former SP Goleta Station. The next trip was the Barstow Flyer and I rode the Tioga Pass Private car most of the way there on the back platform and the newly restored Silver Splendor Dome Car back to LAUPT. Near the end of October I took a train trip to see the Alice Cooper Theater of Death Show with Chris Parker. In November I went via the San Joaquin to Oakland and spent the night at the Jack London Inn. The next day I boarded Trains and Travel Tours Feather River Express that did mostly the old Western Pacific routing to Portola. I stayed at the Pullman House in Portola for two nights a railroad themed B&B. The second day a seven car California Zephyr was run around the Western Pacific Railroad Museum's balloon track. On the way back to Oakland we stopped on the Keddie Wye where 100 years ago that day, the Golden Spike was driven completing the Western Pacific Railroad as a complete route from Oakland to Salt Lake City. After that trip I went to Sacramento for the night then the San Joaquin and Metrolink Train home. I did the LA Gold Line East Los Angeles Extension Pre Opening Excursion Trip and the next day did the A Rare Mileage Trip on the Santa Paula Branch Line of the Fillmore Western Railway getting new mileage between Santa Paula and Saticoy. Now I just need over to Montalvo to be done with this line. December started off with a trip back to La Plata and a drive to Marion, IL for a trip on the Crab Orchard and Egyptian Railroad. I stopped off for pictures at the St. Louis Iron Mountain & Southern Railway. I helped out with the 20th Century Train Club of Chicago members visiting La Plata before taking the Southwest Chief home. I worked and got my 1,200,000 rail mile and 2,000,000 Kilometer passing both before Christmas spent at home. Christmas night it was back aboard the Southwest Chief to La Plata for a ten night stay and rung in the New Year at the Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point.


I started the year of 2010 at the Depot Inn & Suites on New Year's Day. The weather turned much colder than normal with minus 8's every morning for the rest of my stay. Nathan, Bob, Elizabeth did the coldest ever Lets Talk Train show from the Silver Rails Gallery. I was glad to leave La Plata for the warmth of Southern California on January 5, 2010. I stayed home doing mostly local riding through the rest of January before starting my next trip on February 3rd. I took the Coast Starlight to Portland and then rode the entire new TriMet Green Line. The next morning I rode the new TriMet's Westside Connection Trip and then took the Talgo to Seattle. There I met Bob and Elizabeth who drove me out to the Snoqualmie Casino where we enjoyed a Buffet Dinner. Bob and Elizabeth then headed back to Seattle to see South Pacific at the 5th Avenue Theater. I stayed at the Casino and saw the Queensryche Cabaret Show which was excellent. Bob and Elizabeth picked me up and we drove to their house in Lynnwood for the night. The next morning we went to the Heritage Park in Lynnwood and saw the Seattle Everett Mt. Vernon Bellingham Railway Car 55 on display there. Next we took the Seattle Streetcar known locally as the Slut before riding the entire Seattle Light Rail. The next morning Elizabeth and I rode the Talgo to Vancouver while Bob drove and met us at the VIA Station in Vancouver. We rode the new Canada Line and the demonstration Olympic Line and the whole Skytrain. The next morning we went to the Southern Railroad of British Columbia Shops and visited Robert Bank. That same day we took the Royal Hudson Trip to White Rock my first trip behind this great engine then the bus back to Vancouver. We drove back to Lynwood for that night and then next day I took the Coast Starlight and Surfliner home. March bought the usual trip to Stockton where at the Friday Night Railfan and Railroading Pizza Party & Slide Show I showed my Winter La Plata Trip and Saturday we did Winterail 2010. Sunday we did the Niles Canyon Railway Winterail Steam Special which was excellent. I covered some of the Last Runs of some Metrolink Trains before I returned to La Plata to see the Silver Rails Gallery in La Plata where you can buy some of my photographs if you ever want to. Back home I finally wrote a story on the Angel's Flight "The World's Shortest Railroad" and then spent a day at San Clemente Beach taking pictures of trains. One of my pictures of a Metrolink Train was used by Channel 4 in Los Angeles as their weather picture of the day. In April I went back to La Plata and used the hotel van going to Sedalia, then saw the MOPac Heritage Unit on display in Osawatomie, KS. The next morning I went to the Great Plains Transportation Museum and afterwards I rode a trip out of Winfield, KS on the South Kansas & Oklahoma Railroad. The next morning I chased the UP 844 back towards Kansas City getting many great pictures of that fine engine. I drove back to La Plata and after a couple more days there I headed home. In May I got to chase of the Santa Fe 3751 with Bob, Elizabeth and Chris Parker on Saturday then took them on the Sprinter and on Sunday got to ride in the Nenana behind the Santa Fe 3751 San Diego to Los Angeles. The next Saturday I rode behind the Santa Fe 3751 to San Bernardino then took Metrolink back to Los Angeles.

Later in May I headed east to do the Southern Appalachia Railway Museum "Connect the Dots Rare Mileage Trips". I took the Southwest Chief to Chicago with Randy Jackson boarding in Albuquerque. It is always weird passing through La Plata instead of getting off there. We took the Lake Shore Limited to Albany then got a rental car. We stopped by the Strucca Viaduct, something I had always wanted to see on the way to Scranton for that night. The next morning we stopped by the Tunkhannock Viaduct on the way to the town of Tunkhannock where we boarded the Reading Blue Mountain & Northern 425 Trip to Jim Thorpe through the Lehigh Gorge. After that trip we drove to Danbury for that night. The next morning we took Metro North into Grand Central Station and I went back to Danbury to see the Danbury Railroad Museum. I stopped by the Bull's Covered Bridge on the way to picking Randy up at the Wassaic Metro North Station. We saw the New Haven Railroad Station in Kent and visited the Connecticut Antique Machinery Association Sloane-Stanley Museum. We stopped at Kent Falls, saw the New Haven Station in West Cornwall, the West Cornwall Covered Bridge, the Housatonic Railroad in Canaan, the New Haven Station in Canaan, the Sheffield Cover Bridge and New Haven Station in Stockbridge. We stopped by the Berkshire Scenic Railroad and the former New York Central Station at Adams on the way to Lake George, NY for the night. The next day we did the first rare mileage trip on the North Hudson Railroad. From here we drove to Milford for the night. The next morning we did the Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad to the end of track in Cooperstown. After that trip we did the trackage down to Cooperstown Jct on a motorcar and trailer which was a lot of fun. The afternoon turned rainy as we drove to Arcade for the night. The next day we did plenty. We rode the Arcade & Attica Rare Mileage Trip then drove west stopping in Gowanda to see the New York & Lake Erie Railroad. Next we saw the Alco-Brooks Display Dunkirk, NY then visited the Lake Shore Railroad Museum East End, PA. After that we went by the Conneaut Railroad Museum in Conneaut, Ohio and then went to the Greenville Railroad Park in Greenville, PA and were given an excellent tour of the former Bessemer & Lake Erie Facilities. The next two nights we stayed at the Caboose Motel in Titusville, PA. The next trip was the Oil Creek & Titusville Rare Mileage Trip and then a restful night in a former B&O Caboose. The next morning we stopped by the Buffalo & Pittsburgh Shops then did the Kiski Junction Rare Mileage Trip. Randy and I then drove into Pittsburgh to do the Duquesne Incline, rode most of the Light Rail and then went to a Pittsburgh Pirates Baseball Game. The next two days were aboard a B&O RDC covering all of the Southwest Pennsylvania Railroad. After that Randy dropped me off at Greensburg to start my trip home to be with my brother Bruce for a night in Sacramento. The next morning I took a San Joaquin Train/Bus to LA and a Metrolink home. With that trip done I was home until I left on my 2010 NRHS Convention Trip.

I planned the NRHS 2010 Convention Trip for two people but Chris Parker could not do it so I did a solo trip. I did the Southwest Chief to Chicago and the Lakeshore Limited to New York City then PATH to the Jane Hotel where I would spend my next two nights in New York City. The next morning I took the Long Island Railroad out to Greenport and back, then took PATH to Hoboken to ride the NJT Boonton Line and then finished riding all of PATH. The next morning I taxied to Penn Station then took PATH back to Hoboken and rode NJT Spring Valley out and back. I took Amtrak to Wilmington and got the rental car then drove to Philadelphia where I stayed the night and I saw part of a Philadelphia Phillies Baseball Game. The next day at 11:00 AM I rode the New Hope & Ivyland Railroad, at 1:00 PM I rode the Black River Western Railroad and at 3:30 PM rode the Delaware River Steam Train behind the Delaware River Railroad 2-8-2 142 Walter G. Rich a Chinese built steam locomotive. From there I drove to Bethel where I checked into the Comfort Inn for my two night stay there. The next morning I visited Williams Grove to see the only active Pennsylvania Railroad Steam engine and then Harris Tower in Harrisburg. I rode the Middletown & Hummelstown Railroad, visited the Reading Museum in Hamburg and rode the Wanaker Kempton & Southern. The next morning I toured the Pioneer Coal Mine and Steam Train then drove to Scranton and visited Steamtown. The next day the 2010 NRHS Convention began in Scranton with the NRHS Susquehanna Limited to Sudbury. The next morning we did the NRHS Roots of American Railroad Trip from Homesdale to Lackawaxen and back in Scranton took the trolley for the NRHS Take me out to the Ballgame. The following morning we took the NRHS Pocono Express to the Delaware River Water Gap. On the NRHS Meeting Day I did the Anthracite Heritage Museum, the Electric City Trolley and the Scantron Iron Furnaces. The final NRHS 2010 Convention Trip was the NRHS Lehigh Rambler which took me to Jim Thorpe and then Port Clinton. From there I was bussed back to Scranton and drove to Winchester, Virginia for the night. The next morning I drove to Romney, WV and boarded the train though "The Trough" to Petersburg, WV for Train Festival 2010. I rode the hourly trip behind the New Hope 17 and got a ride on Flagg Coal 75. We went back north through "The Trough" before I drove to Lexington, Virginia for that night. The next morning I finally visited the Virginia Transportation Museum and got the complete Roanoke Tour. Next I drove to Clifton Forge to the C&O Historical Society Museum there and stayed at Summerville, WV for that night. The next day I went to Cass, WV and took the train to Bald Knob. I then drove back to Mechanicsburg, PA the night. The next day I rode the Strasburg Railroad again before I returned the Rental Car back at the Wilmington Amtrak Station. To get home it was the Acela Regional 125 to Washington, DC, the Capitol Limited to Chicago and the first Southwest Chief to go through the flash flood area that had shut the line down for over three weeks.

Back home I wrote the Metrolink Dispatching Delaying Surfliner 567 story that did a lot of good. That was before I flew to Tulsa then drove to Fort Smith to visit Fort Smith Trolley Museum. The next day we did the Arkansas & Missouri Rare Mileage Trip Springdale to Fort Smith and the following day did the Arkansas & Missouri Rare Mileage Trip Springdale north. In late September I went to Kansas City and got to railfan from the Freight House Bridge and go the KC Rail Experience before taking the train to St Louis. On October 1st I rode the Texas Eagle Detour Trip over the old CE&I. I made the Southwest Chief to La Plata by three minutes. I used the hotel van and chased the UP 3985 from Waverly east to Booneville. After a few days in La Plata I boarded the Southwest Chief. The next day nearing Albuquerque we learned that Tornados in Belmont, AZ had closed down the line and passengers would be bussed from Winslow to LA. A quick thinking Conductor Nancy Wolfe got me a room on the next day train so I stayed a night in Albuquerque with Randy and Marie. After a New Mexico Railrunner Trip to Belen and back I got an all rail ride home. I next went back to La Plata in November and rented the worst rental car I ever had. Got a ticket in Brookfield, Iowa on the way to Des Moines for the Chinese Rocket to Council Bluffs using the Iowa Interstate QJ Steam Engine 7081. Once in Council Bluffs I visited the Railswest Museum in Council Bluffs. The next cold, wet and windy morning I went across the Missouri River to first visit Kennifick Park and then finally did the Durham Museum in Omaha. I went back to Council Bluffs to see the UP 844 and QJ 7081 on display in Golden Spike Park before visiting the Union Pacific Museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa. That night this part of the country received their first snow fall of the year and the next morning I shot QJ 7081 in the snow before boarding the Chinese Rocket to Des Moines. I shot train stations on the way back to La Plata and took the Southwest Chief Home. Next I flew to Albuquerque and went with Randy and Marie through Abo Canyon and took a picture of a few trains and stations on the way to Lubbock. Here we did three days of rare mileage trips on the West Texas and Lubbock Railroad. Day 1 we did the Levelland Line and later that afternoon rode the Moose from Levelland to Whiteface. The Moose is a Ford Van that has railroad wheels and can take us on exempt track like the line to Whiteface. The next day we did the Seagraves Line out and back. The next morning I rode from Dimmet to the BNSF property line west of Plainview on the former FW&D line of the West Texas & Lubbock. Randy rode back to Dimmet before we headed to Hobbs, NM for the night. The Moose is moved by trailer from place to place. The final Moose Trip was on the Texas-New Mexico Railroad which we rode south from MP 100.6 to Monahans, Texas. Kathie picked us up and took us back to the car at MP 100.6. We drove back to Albuquerque via Roswell with alien faces painted on the street lights. I flew home the next day before Thanksgiving. December bought out the new Metrolink Rotem Cars on display and I saw them at LAUPT, Downtown Riverside and Santa Ana. Then it was back to the Depot Inn & Suites for another ten night stay.


2011 started with me still at La Plata before coming home. I applied for more jobs and I visited the Railway & Locomotive Society Southern California Fairplex Pomona Railroad Display on 2/12/2011. Steve Grande and I rode the First Run of the Pacific Surfliner Express on 563 2/15/2011 and I had my First Encounter with Amtrak Heritage Engine 145 on 2/20/2011. Chris Parker, Dave Abbott and I did the Winterail 2011 Trip with UP 7400, The California Merci Car, the History Train and more. Later in March I went to the Fillmore Railfest 2011 and visited Travel Town in Los Angeles on the way home. I then had my First Encounter with Amtrak Heritage Engine 156. I then covered the PRS 75 Year Excursion Tehachapi and Palmdale Cutoff Trip. Next it was the Coast Starlight Detour over Altamont Pass and Tehachapi Loop. I then wrote a story about the new Quiet Zone in Orange, California. I chased the Santa Fe 3751 to San Bernardino Railroad Days then rode home behind her. It was on this trip that I took a fall and injured my two left lower ribs. I covered National Train Day Los Angeles 2011. I took the train roundtrip to Utica, New York for two days of the Adirondack Rare Mileage Trips. Back at home I rode the first revenue Metrolink Train to use Track 4 at Fullerton. I next flew to Kansas City for the Little Rock Express Kansas City to Jefferson City and then took the Missouri River Runner back to Kansas City. In early June I rode the Northern California 2011 Explorer up the Feather River Canyon and then north up the High Line to Klamath Falls. For the NRHS 2011 Convention in Tacoma, I flew to Portland then rented a car. The first day Bob Riskie and I rode the Sumpter Valley Railway and then I drove to Pasco to see the collection of the Washington State Railroads Historical Society. The next day I met Bob and Elizabeth in Yakima and we rode the Yakima Trolley before going to the Northern Pacific Railroad Museum in Toppenish. I shot Northern Pacific Train Stations on the way back to Pasco. The next day I took a leisurely drive west down the Columbia River Gorge along the BNSF mainline back to Portland where I returned the rental car before taking MAX to the Days Inn at 82nd Street. The next morning back on the Max to Portland Union Station where later that morning I took the NRHS SP 4449 Portland to Tacoma Trip. After picking up my Tickets for the NRHS Convention I took the Tacoma Streetcar back to the Tacoma Amtrak Station where I boarded the Cascade Talgo for Edmonds where Bob and Elizabeth were waiting for me. After a quick tour of the model railroad in the Edmonds' Station Baggage Room we headed to their house where I would be staying during the NRHS Tacoma Convention. The next morning Elizabeth and I did the NRHS Pacific Northwest Railway Museum Train trip and I took Elizabeth on the Remlinger Farm Train after that trip was done. The next day Bob, Elizabeth and I did the Stevens Pass and Beyond Trip getting the full Empire Builder coming out of the Cascade Tunnel and then visiting the Pioneer Village and Museum in Cashmere, Wa. We caught the Eastside Freight Train on the way back to Lynnwood. The next day we drove to Canada to see the Trolleys at the Fraser Valley Heritage Railway 151 before we rode all of the Burnaby Central Railway. The next morning Elizabeth and I drove to Tacoma for the NRHS SP 4449 Stampede Pass Trip on the old Northern Pacific Mainline. The next day Bob and Elizabeth dropped me off at Tacoma for the SP 4449 Tacoma to Portland Trip while they chased the SP 4449 to Portland. There they picked me up and took me to the Oregon Electric Railway Museum. After we had a last dinner together they dropped me off at the Portland Airport and I flew home.

I then had my encounters with Amtrak Heritage Engine 66 at Los Angeles Union Station. I then left for my summer trip to La Plata and that first afternoon there I did the Coal Mine Museum and Northeast Missouri Old Threshers Steam Engine. The next day I did Let's Talk Trains in the Pullman Suite due to Gene and Nathan being on a late eastbound Southwest Chief. Once they got into La Plata we left and headed south to the Moberly Historic Railway Museum and Roshwell Park Magic City Line Miniature Train which I wrote a story about both. After we visited Mexico, MO we all rode the second run of the Columbia Star Dinner Train. Silver Rails Railfest Day 1 started with a BBQ at the Chris Guenzler Million Mile Lookout Point and railfanning locally both east and west of La Plata with our new friends Bill Choiniere, Dannah Choiniere and Jim Choiniere of Railfans Chasing Trains. On the Silver Rails Railfest Day 2 we first went to west of Ethel and railfanned from the four bridges west of there before heading to Marceline for lunch. We caught more trains including a BNSF special on the way back. The final day of the Silver Rail Railfest we photographed east as far as Wyconda before we headed back. For my first hosting of a railfan event I was pleased just how well it all went. Bob and Elizabeth arrived into La Plata late on that afternoon. The next day Bob, Elizabeth, Nathan, Gene and I did the Railfanning Drive to Rock Island. Highlights were the bridges at Argyle, Iowa, the Media Trestle and the crossover at Cameron. We all checked into the Moline Motel 6 for our stay there. The next day I got onto the grounds of Train Festival 2011 Day 1 early, got pictures of all the equipment and the first people entering the grounds. We got Nickel Plate 765 doing it street running in Davenport then Nathan and I headed to Galesburg, caught the Train Festival 2011 special with two of the Amtrak Heritage units on the point before we picked up Bob Riskie. I then developed Stage 2 Heat Exhaustion and recovered back in my hotel room. The night photo session that night was cancelled but I did get some pictures before the next thunderstorm came into Rock Island. The next day we did Train Festival 2011 Day 2 The Chase of Nickel Plate Road 765 and that day I was careful with the high heat and humidity and got great pictures of the unique steam engine and trains. That night we did the Night Photo Session with just two set ups: the NKP 765 and Nebraska Zephyr train set. I had a nice night of photography and shared my tripod with Nathan. The next day was full with the Train Festival 2011 Day 3 The Iowa City Steam Trip to the Homestead Wye and then the Celebration Belle Dinner Cruise which was a blast along with a fantastic sunset. The final day of Train Festival 2011 Day 4 started with Nathan and I driving Bob Riskie to Princeton to catch the Carl Sandburg to Chicago on a very stormy morning. Nathan rested at the hotel while the rest of us caught the Nebraska Zephyr in Moline, the Canadian Pacific at their yard and then the Nickel Plate 765 doing its street running in Davenport with great amounts of steam. Now with Nathan we went back to the Train Festival Grounds before we drove to the Central Park Avenue grade crossing for the passing of the Iowa Interstate QJ 7081 which put on a great show. After a final dinner, Gene flew back to Phoenix and the rest of us stayed the final night in Moline. The next day we made the Drive back to La Plata. We drove straight to Edelstein Hill catching an eastbound at the top and then a westbound NS Train at the Houlihan's Curve. We then got both stations in Chillicothe before we stopped by the Wheels O' Time Museum featuring the Rock Island 4-6-2 886. We next found the Tazewell & Peoria Railroad GP10 3000 which came by the Train Shed and old Rock Island Station in Peoria before we found the original Rock Island Station. Later we found the Chicago and Illinois Midland RR Depot in Pekin, the CB&Q Station in Canton and the CB&Q Wooden Station in Bushnell on the way back to La Plata. That night I put Bob, Elizabeth and Nathan on the Southwest Chief. I relaxed two more days in La Plata before I came home in style with Amtrak Heritage Engine 184 on the point of my Southwest Chief. I got home and applied for more jobs. I made a trip to Escondido to find a Santa Fe Station and then wrote about Metrolink's New Bicycle Cars. I also did a trip to ride San Diego PCC Car 529 and covered the Operation Lifesaver Unit 457. I hosted Let's Talk Trains several more times and did my Chris Guenzler 2012 Railroad Calendar now available at the Silver Rails Gallery. After that it took us to a raining Wednesday morning October 5, 2011. After I did a roundtrip to Solana Beach the phone rang and I was told to come to the district office, get finger printed and fill out a new W2 form with them. The phone rang again this time telling me I needed to take a typing test for another job. No jobs, now two jobs, when It rains it pours! The next day I took the typing test that I failed as I don't type but peck. I couldn't get finger printed as their machine was busted so that was rescheduled until Monday. For the other job I got my new W4 Form and then went and got my TB Test to be read Saturday afternoon. The next Monday I got finger printed. On Thursday October 20, 2011 I attended an orientation for my subbing job that I would be doing. I was told to call the system for a job on Monday after 4:30 PM but they started calling me Friday night and then Saturday morning but I couldn't take any of those jobs until I called in which I did later Saturday. Sunday night I got a call for my first job at one of my old schools McFadden on a 3.75 hour job for at least a week. I would take a train ride before driving down to McFadden to start my first day of work.

So in the next three parts of this story let us take a look back at the trips and pictures.

Click here for Part 2 of this story