We continue this narrative from the Metropolitan Lounge in Chicago. While we were there, a cart was wheeled in and a demonstration given for the new devices that can be rented and taken on the train for watching movies. I guess they are dropped off at the station where you detrain. Movies are no longer shown in the Superliner lounges. We weren't particularly interested in this, as we don't go on the train to watch movies.
The boarding call for the Southwest Chief was made about a half-hour before departure time. This would be our 10th trip westbound on this train. We settled into our roomette in Superliner II sleeper car #32090. We were on the south side of the train and next to the diner. Attendant was named George. We engaged him in conversation quite a bit, especially discussing how the Empire Builder train still has the older style of dining service. He spoke highly of the manager of that train, named (if I remember correctly) Brian Rosenthal, and how he had been able to get his way so far with Amtrak management people.
When on the Superliner trains, I like to spend time in the lounge. This train had a newly renovated lounge, where half of the upstairs has been fitted with tables. This makes it easy to spread out maps or newspapers. I had brought along some USGS intermediate scale topographic maps for parts of the route we'd be traversing in daylight (unfortunately limited on these winter trips). I also have the route guide booklet, the one with the tan and blue covers that can be read from either end, depending on whether you're traveling east or west. Mine is dated 1998 and is probably now a collector's item. Amtrak distributed them for a year or two, then went back to the small, paper guide.
The weather was cloudy with snow showers the next morning, but improved after Trinidad. I became aware that we had on the train several people from TrainWeb returning from a meeting in La Plata, MO. One man, Carl Morrison, was taking a lot of pictures and has posted them already on his website. One shows my wife sitting at a table in the lounge doing cross-stitch. I can be seen at a distance in a couple pictures (look for my white hair).
The afternoon part of the trip, after Las Vegas, NM, has some of my favorite scenery. As the train climbs toward Glorieta Pass, the steep slope of Glorieta Mesa is seen to the left. Toward the right is an expansive view over forested land.
Coming down the slope beyond the pass, we were halted near Canoncito by a disabled freight ahead. After a long wait, the freight pulled alongside us and stopped again. Three BNSF vehicles were seen passing us on a nearby road to attend to the problem.
Eventually the freight pulled away shortly followed by the eastbound Southwest Chief. We then proceeded, passing through narrow Apache Canyon where the cliffs look at times about a foot from the car windows.
I got off to walk the platform at Albuquerque. The new structure there looks like it should be a train station, but it is just for buses. When you enter it, you are soon stopped by a man who says you can't go in without a bus ticket. Amtrak is around in back in a smaller, unimpressive structure.
Since our train was now over two hours late, I thought we might miss our connection in Los Angeles. When you make a reservation on line, the system has you change from the Southwest Chief to the Surfliner in LA. The attendant said that we might need to change in Fullerton and that if necessary he would get out our checked baggage before that. This proved unnecessary because the train made up some time and there was padding in the schedule between Fullerton and Los Angeles.
Upon arrival at LAX, we were able to go right to an adjoining platform to await our connecting train. We had booked Business Class on the Surfliner and sat upstairs on the ocean side. Business Class there is a better deal than it is on the Boston train. After San Juan Capistrano, the train runs practically along the beach for a stretch. Surfers were apparent at many points.
We reached the familar Spanish style station in San Diego in due time and were met by our son and grandson. We would stay for a couple of weeks, starting our return trip shortly after Christmas Day.
Posts: 127 | From: Worcester, Massachusetts | Registered: Jan 2007
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