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My first long distance Amtrak trip (Southwest Chief to California)

My first long distance Amtrak trip (Southwest Chief to California)

Written by Bob and Amy Cox, through the eyes of their daughter while on her first trip

Hello. My name is Karri Cox (age 9) and I want to tell you about the trip I got to take from La Plata to California last October. My daddy surprised mommy and I with this trip for an anniversary celebration. I was excited as I get to see the Amtrak everyday but I have never ridden it very far. My daddy works at the train station in La Plata and I help him out when I am not in school. I love trains too and have my own train set at home that I play with.

The day finally arrived for us to go to the station and start our trip. I was very excited as we packed and talked about the trip and all the great things we were going to see. We loaded up our van and drove down to the station. There it is!! There it is!! I was so happy to see it and I heard my daddy say, “It’s right on time (8:06 p.m.).” The train stopped at the third car from the engines and a really nice lady stepped of the train and asked if we were the Coxes. We all said yes and she helped us with our luggage and showed us to our room. Wow! It was big and there were four beds in there. I quickly looked around and asked, “Where do I sleep?” My mommy and daddy pointed to the top bunk and they helped me up. It fit me perfectly! Me and Susie (my dolly) just laid up there and watched as mommy and daddy arranged our things in the room I put on my jammies.

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When they were done, I climbed down from my bed and we went to the lounge car. We all got a Pepsi and sat down at a table and watched the lights of the night go by. We arrived in Kansas City and my daddy got off the train and took some pictures of it.

I stayed on the train with mommy as it was a little cold. After we left the depot, we pulled into a train yard and stopped. I asked my daddy why we stopped here and he said it was because they had to fill up the engines with fuel. I looked out my window and saw trains everywhere. There were a lot of things going on: there were engines pushing cars, pulling cars, and some just sitting. It reminded me of when we operate our model railroad at home. After the train was full of fuel we pulled out of the yard and into the darkness of night.

We all went back to our room and I climbed up into my bed again and before I knew it, it was morning. Boy did I sleep good! My mommy and daddy were happy I was able to sleep so well on the train. They told me that was a good thing because we will travel on the train again. After we got out of our jammies and brushed our teeth, we went to breakfast. This was great because it was my first time in the dining car.

I had French toast and bacon and it was good. While I was eating, I asked where we were and my mommy said we were in Colorado. After we ate breakfast, we went back to our room and I played with my toys for a bit. We stopped at a station where they let you get off the train for a few minutes. I stood by the door of our car and asked my daddy to take a picture of me.

We then walked around for a bit and got back on the train when the conductor called “All Aboard”.

The train left “On time” and we were on our journey through Colorado and New Mexico. On our way through Colorado, my daddy told me about Raton pass and the tunnel that is coming up. We all went back through the entire train to the back coach to get some pictures out the back window. The back coach was empty at the time, which was neat because Susie and I got to explore how it is set up. My daddy wanted to get some pictures of some old signals (he called them Semaphores) and some other views out the back window of the train. While he did that, mommy and I looked at the trees, creeks and the pretty scenery. You sure can see a lot more from a train than you can in a car. Here comes the tunnel, all of a sudden it was dark. (Wow, this is neat!)






The car kind of glowed and then before we knew it, we were in the daylight again. We stopped at another station in Raton, New Mexico. My daddy got all the photos he wanted of the signals and we went back to our room to prepare for lunch. Lunch was good also. Mommy had chicken and daddy and I had bacon cheeseburgers. While eating, we saw some neat stations, one of them had a passenger car parked beside it and there was a pretty church sitting on the hill that looked like it doesn’t get used anymore. After we finished eating we stopped at Albuquerque, New Mexico. My mommy and daddy told me about how we have time to do some shopping here as the Indians set up an open air market when the train is in. We really enjoyed looking at all the neat jewelry and my daddy bought us both necklaces. We then boarded the train for another on time departure. My daddy set up the laptop to play some music While mommy and I called nana and papa and the rest of the afternoon we relaxed and napped in our room, we also played some games and my daddy and I tried to build a domino tower but did not do too good because when the train hit a bump, the dominoes went everywhere. We laughed and picked them all up and tried again.

Dinner was really good, I had some chicken while mommy and daddy got the steak dinner. The best part was having ice cream for dessert. After dinner we went back to our room and watched a movie and then called it a night. The next morning we woke up and were in California. Wow I have seen so much and I can’t believe this trip is almost over. I helped mommy and daddy organize the room and we got our things together so we could get off the train.

My daddy said we were getting off in Fullerton, California and to look for someone we have seen in La Plata before. I asked them who and they said just to look and see if I recognize anyone. The train stopped at our station and we got off. “Mommy, Daddy, I think I see someone I know, it’s Steve.” I told her she was right as Steve Grande came up, greeted us, and helped us with our luggage. He then drove us to the place we were staying while we visited California.

Part 2 Our California Visit.

After we got settled in our room in California, Steve and Barbara came over and we all went to dinner. We had a great time eating and visiting and I told them about the fun I had on the train. Steve took us on a little tour of the area and showed us a unique Amtrak station that is in a caboose. We then went back to our room and called it a night. The next day we got up and Mommy and Daddy had a surprise for me, we were going to Disneyland. I was so excited I could barely get ready to go. We walked to a bus stop for our ride to Disneyland. I had a ball riding the rides except the roller coaster because it scared me. We also looked in all the stores and I got a set of Minnie Mouse ears with my name on it. I got to see Mickey and he kissed my hand. I blushed!! This was a great surprise and I thanked my mommy and daddy for the great time. We were all wore out when we got back to our room.

The next day we had more fun things to do. Mommy and I slept in while Daddy went out and railfanned with Chris Guenzler. Mommy and I stayed in our room because I had to work on some homework, (that was not fun) but soon Carl Morrison showed up and picked us up for another adventure. We picked up my daddy and then we all went to the beach. It was beautiful! I played in the ocean and the sand while mommy and daddy went and searched out the tide pools nearby. I came over to look at the tide pools, too; there were some critters moving around and things growing on the rocks. We watched the sunset and everyone took pictures of it; mommy also buried me in the sand.


After that, we all went out to dinner and then went to Carl and Sue’s house for apple pie and ice cream. I got to play with a beautiful doll house while mommy and daddy visited with Carl and Sue. I had a great time playing and I thanked everyone for letting me play. Then, Carl took us back to our room.

The next day we just relaxed in our room and got ready to leave. Steve and Barbara re-appeared to take us to the train station. We all sat down and had a light dinner and visited some before it was time to leave. I gave Barbara a hug as we left and told her and Steve thanks for the fun time.

Part 3 California to La Plata

We got on the train and this time our room looked different. This one had a shower and a bathroom in the room, I like this idea. Once again, I climbed up and checked out my bed while mommy and daddy organized the room. We all went to the observation lounge car and got a Pepsi and watched the sunset as we rolled down the track. After it got dark, we returned to our room and went to sleep. Again, I slept great and we got up in time for breakfast. I had the French toast again with lots of syrup! After breakfast, we went back to our room and I asked my daddy why this room was different than our other one. He told me about the different rooms that were on the train and took me to see the different styles.


Family Bedroom

Deluxe Bedroom

We also went to the diner when it was empty and looked around the observation lounge car.

Lounge Car and Diner

It was a fun tour of the train, as I have been so excited with the trip itself that I did not look at the train too much. We went back to our room where mommy was napping. She woke up when we came in and I told her about touring the train. We spent the rest of the morning playing and visiting until it was lunch time. A bacon cheeseburger and chips were lunch good and our dining car attendant used my name when he called for other people to come to lunch. He said, “This is Karri’s favorite Dining car attendant Sam…” and I don’t remember the rest cause I was giggling too much.

After lunch, we went back to our room for more games and play time. It’s neat how the room is a bedroom at night and a couch with a table and chairs in the day. We had a great afternoon looking at all the scenery as it passed by us. When we got to Albuquerque we got off the train and looked at the neat car on the rear of our train, my daddy said it was a private car. It sure looked pretty inside.

While we looked at the private car, a train went by with a bird painted on it. Mommy told me that was the Railrunner and it was a commuter train that runs out of Albuquerque. We did not go shopping due to the fact we did it on our way to California. We got back on the train after exploring the trains and the station. I got to watch a storm go by and then see a rainbow shortly after we left Lamy, New Mexico.

Dinner time: since this was our last meal on the train for this trip, I took Susie with me. We had a great dinner and Sam the dining car attendant stopped to talk with us and make sure Susie was behaving herself. We had a great meal again and went back to our room to watch a movie and then I got to try out this shower bathroom thing. That was a neat adventure, but mommy and daddy said I smelled clean so I guess I did a good job. With the train bouncing along the track its hard to stand up and shower so I found if easier to sit down and do it. After I got done with my shower it was mommy and daddy’s turn. After that we all went to bed for one more great nights sleep on the Amtrak. The next morning we slept in and did not have breakfast in the diner, Daddy went and got us a cinnamon roll from the lounge car. After we ate our rolls we got our things together so we could get off the train. We had to go home today so mommy and daddy could go back to work and I could go back to school (YUCK!). We arrived into La Plata on time and got off the train. It was good to be home but I sure did enjoy my first long distance train ride.

Karri Cox is the daughter of Bob and Amy Cox. They all live in La Plata Missouri where they wear many hats while helping out with the Silver Rails Country Venture’s. The entire family enjoys railfanning, model railroading, and taking railroad photography. This is their first story to be submitted to Trainweb. All photos by Bob and Amy Cox.  

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