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