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D.P. Roberts

Southwest Chief LAX-CHI Live-ish Blog

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After Albuquerque we went to lunch. I had my first Amburger of the trip, and it was actually not too bad. The patties usually taste very premade and frozen, but they were better this time. My wife got the entree salad, which she especially enjoyed since they got her order right - this diner crew has not been great with special requests. I ordered the cheesecake for dessert, which was once again presented upside down. Perhaps someone in the galley likes it better that way?

 

Here's the part where I lament not having my camera with me, and attempt to describe the great photos I could have taken. I never bring my camera to the dining car, but I wish I had this time. We spente a fair amount of our lunch time at Lamy, which is a beautiful little stop. It's about 1100 feet higher in elevation than Albuquerque, and is more of a pine forest than the scrub & shrubs of the lower elevations. Several old train cars are parked there, including one that appears to have been turned into a residence (it has a little wooden patio attached to one end). There's a little picnic area right by the track in a grove of trees, strung with decorative lights. While we were parked there someone was setting up decorations for a party. It looked like a very pleasant place to spend the afternoon.

 

From Lamy, the Chief ascends another thousand feet or so to the small town of Glorieta. While it's not an Amtrak stop, there's a little station there that has been turned into a post office. The town sits at 7400 feet, but the mountains in the background clearly ascend much higher. It's a lovely little area, but you'll just have to take my word for it.

 

We were just moved to a siding to allow the westbound #3 to pass. I was all set up to take a great photo of the train passing us, but I just missed it. I'd post my photo of the side of a Genesis locomotive for you, but you can probably picture what a plain grey and blue slab looks like. Not having a great photo day, but hopefully it will get better!

 

Speaking of getting better, we left Lamy only 20 minutes late, and when we passed #3 it was less than an hour late. Things are looking up schedule-wise.

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To make up for my lack of photos today, I'll add some from roughly this portion of the trip last week. The Ute Park Fire started the day we left, and was really starting to spread the moring we went through New Mexico. Since it was fairly new & we were stuck on the train we hadn't heard about it, and were wondering what was going on with the dark brown skies. At first I thought it was a sandstorm, but the cause eventually revealed itself. As of now the Ute Park Fire is 77% contained and has burned about 35,000 acres, so I wonder what it will be like when we go through that area later today.

 

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Love the photo report! Keep up the good work. One of these days if they have 100% reliable internet onboard, I might take the LD trains more often. I can work from my roomette but reliable internet is critical for that. I guess the only way that will happen is if they installed a satellite system like the new fast ones used on cruise ships.

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You may want to print out time tables to carry or have in pdf for viewing. I do the same with the Route Guides.

 

I do print out the Route Guides and never thought I would need to print out the time table. Thanks for your good suggestion!

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We just left Las Vegas, NM, and I got yelled at over the intercom!

 

On our way west we had several minutes to stop at Las Vegas. I got out then & took several photos. At this stop they didn't mention whether it was a "smoke break" stop or not, so I headed downstairs & asked our attendant before stepping off the train if it was okay to take a few photos. She pointed far down at a group of people who were boarding our car, & she said that as long as I got back on the train when they did it would be okay. So, I ran out, took a few photos, and followed those passengers right back into our car (I was literally standing right behind them waiting to board). As I was walking up the stairs, they made an announcment addressed to "the gentleman who got off the train", telling me not to do that. They then made an announcement chastising our car attendant too!

 

That was not the first time they used the Almighty Microphone to do that. They've told "certain individuals" that it was time to stop sleeping in the lounge car, and then yelled at others for taking up too much space in the lounge with their "stuff" for too long a time, asking them to be more considerate to others.

 

I've worked in customer service for a long time, and I really hate that sort of passive-aggressive behavior. If a whole bunch of people need to hear a rule, then feel free to use the intercom. If you're addressing an individual or a small group, talk to them IN PERSON. If you do that, you have a chance to find out WHY somebody did what they did, have an actual conversation about it, and address it PRIVATELY, instead of berating people in front of a crowd!

 

So anyway, I'm very annoyed. These two photos are the ones that put me in the doghouse - a building under renovation that looks like an old Harvey House. Enjoy!

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We just left Las Vegas, NM, and I got yelled at over the intercom!

 

On our way west we had several minutes to stop at Las Vegas. I got out then & took several photos. At this stop they didn't mention whether it was a "smoke break" stop or not, so I headed downstairs & asked our attendant before stepping off the train if it was okay to take a few photos. She pointed far down at a group of people who were boarding our car, & she said that as long as I got back on the train when they did it would be okay. So, I ran out, took a few photos, and followed those passengers right back into our car (I was literally standing right behind them waiting to board). As I was walking up the stairs, they made an announcment addressed to "the gentleman who got off the train", telling me not to do that. They then made an announcement chastising our car attendant too!

 

That was not the first time they used the Almighty Microphone to do that. They've told "certain individuals" that it was time to stop sleeping in the lounge car, and then yelled at others for taking up too much space in the lounge with their "stuff" for too long a time, asking them to be more considerate to others.

 

I've worked in customer service for a long time, and I really hate that sort of passive-aggressive behavior. If a whole bunch of people need to hear a rule, then feel free to use the intercom. If you're addressing an individual or a small group, talk to them IN PERSON. If you do that, you have a chance to find out WHY somebody did what they did, have an actual conversation about it, and address it PRIVATELY, instead of berating people in front of a crowd!

 

So anyway, I'm very annoyed. These two photos are the ones that put me in the doghouse - a building under renovation that looks like an old Harvey House. Enjoy!

Sounds like typical Amtrak the way they handled the situation. :rolleyes:

Last December when we were on the CS, the dining car LSA on the intercom like every 10-15 minutes telling people to stay at the door until they are seated. When you got into the dining car, mind you just stepped inside, his hand would go up like a traffic cop with "stay there until your seated." It was too much. Sounds like the conductor on your train likes his intercom a little too much like our dining car LSA did.

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Love the photo report! Keep up the good work. One of these days if they have 100% reliable internet onboard, I might take the LD trains more often. I can work from my roomette but reliable internet is critical for that. I guess the only way that will happen is if they installed a satellite system like the new fast ones used on cruise ships.

It hasn't been 100%, but probably 90%+. I've mostly used my own hotspot because it's a touch faster, but it has been getting just as good a signal every time I checked it. I've had something going on the internet almost constantly since I woke up about 12 hours ago, and I've only been maybe 10-15 minutes without a signal.

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Crazy Intercom Person is at it again. Let's just say I would NOT want to be the people in seats 37 A and B in the coach car behind the lounge right now! Between their personal belongings stashed in the wrong spot and their "fake" seat check, I'd be afraid to go back to my seat if I were one of them! Seriously, she went ON AND ON for about 10 minutes! On the positive side, I think she has forgotten all about me...

 

We're now about an hour behind after an unexpected stop sign. We stopped briefly in Raton, and I made it a point to not be the last person from our car to get back on the train. I took a few photos today, plus I added a few from last week.

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Enjoying your trip report. We always love riding the SWC. Sorry you have a rather relentless conductor. Perhaps the new ones will be better..smile

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Sounds like your conductor is a "gun and badge wannabe"....I suppose she'll be gone by LaJunta....

If you feel inclined, you might want to repeat your experience to the customer relation's office. If she's had enough complaint's from other's, they might instill some 'correction' to her...

Edited by railiner

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Wow. You venture a lot farther than I do. :) I've never been brave enough to walk beyond the station in Raton, even when we have ten minutes.

 

I have tons of pictures of those old train cars in Lamy. The first time I saw them, they reminded me of a children's book series called "The Boxcar Children". They were some of my favorite books when I was a kid.

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Thank you for your photos. I have enjoyed seeing what you captured, especially that someone is actually fixing up the old Harvey House.

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Thank you for your photos. I have enjoyed seeing what you captured, especially that someone is actually fixing up the old Harvey House.

 

 

I googled it afterwards & found out that the guys who are restoring it hope to reopen in another year or so:

http://www.santafenewmexican.com/life/features/new-life-for-la-casta-eda-in-las-vegas-n/article_d221c794-fc03-5aab-8b12-ec0bc8fe6377.html

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The first time I saw them, they reminded me of a children's book series called "The Boxcar Children". They were some of my favorite books when I was a kid.

Oh my god. I loved those books when I was little. I had totally forgotten they existed until just now. Ah, memories...

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So where was I? Oh yeah, dinner last night. I would have posted it last night but the internet connection in Kansas is NONEXISTENT. Every other state has been great, but Kansas gets a big fat F.

 

I had the gnocchi for dinner, followed by the raspberry tart. Both were still pretty good, but for some reason the gnocchi didn't taste as good as last time. My wife's steak was an epic failure - she asked for medium, but got blue to rare. She sent it back - this was the first time either of us has ever sent a meal back on Amtrak. They promptly microwaved it into oblivion - not only was it well done, it had that microwaved consistency to it. Another passenger we ate with previously said that he always orders his steaks well done, as they're always undercooked. Is this an Amtrak thing now?

 

I got a few photos of Trinidad before the sun set and the internet disappeared.

 

 

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So where was I? Oh yeah, dinner last night. I would have posted it last night but the internet connection in Kansas is NONEXISTENT. Every other state has been great, but Kansas gets a big fat F.

 

I had the gnocchi for dinner, followed by the raspberry tart. Both were still pretty good, but for some reason the gnocchi didn't taste as good as last time. My wife's steak was an epic failure - she asked for medium, but got blue to rare. She sent it back - this was the first time either of us has ever sent a meal back on Amtrak. They promptly microwaved it into oblivion - not only was it well done, it had that microwaved consistency to it. Another passenger we ate with previously said that he always orders his steaks well done, as they're always undercooked. Is this an Amtrak thing now?

 

I got a few photos of Trinidad before the sun set and the internet disappeared.

 

 

Beautiful pictures and sad to hear that you're steak was so disastrous. I've had the gnocchi I think four times so far, and I've always loved it. The most recent time was on the SL/TE in February. The one time that I've sent a meal back on Amtrak was on the LSL in February, when my french toast was so undercooked that the inside had the consistency of wet play-doh. I'm usually pretty lenient with that kind of stuff, but I just couldn't bear that texture. I gave it back to our server and asked for him to cook it a bit more, and when we got it back, it was perfect inside and tough as leather on the outside. Not my best meal.

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Thank you for your photos. I have enjoyed seeing what you captured, especially that someone is actually fixing up the old Harvey House.

 

 

I googled it afterwards & found out that the guys who are restoring it hope to reopen in another year or so:

http://www.santafenewmexican.com/life/features/new-life-for-la-casta-eda-in-las-vegas-n/article_d221c794-fc03-5aab-8b12-ec0bc8fe6377.html

 

 

Thank you for the link. I think this restoration of the three buildings and the square will be a major boost for Las Vegas as it was in La Posta.

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I woke up this morning shortly before we arrived in Kansas City. I usually sleep very well on the train, but not so much on the Southwest Chief. I think it's for two reasons: very rough tracks, and the constant horn. I don't mind the sound of the train's horn, but on the SWC the sleepers are in the front so it's rather loud, and we're crossing roads almost constantly. I think many of the other routes are smoother and quieter.

 

We walked about for a bit in Kansas City - our train is now running a little early, so we had plenty of time. We were both a little paranoid to actually go into the station, but we took a few photos before heading off to breakfast. We had the pancakes & continental breakfast, which were fine.

 

Okay, the wifi has been terrible today. I find it amusing that it really broke down by state, coming and going almost exactly on state lines. I'd grade them as follows:

 

California: A+

Arizona: A-

New Mexico: A-

Colorado: C-

Kansas: F

Missouri: F

Iowa: n/a (it's only one stop & I wasn't using it then)

Illinois: A+ (so far)

 

You can't see much of Kansas City from the station, but I tried. The last shot is of the Missouri River, seen later.

 

 

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Edited by D.P. Roberts

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We had lunch somewhere near Galesburg. I got the Amburger again, and for the first time in my Amtrak life they actually warmed up the bun! I love that. Melting the cheese & warming up the bun makes a huge difference to a cheeseburger. I can't say much for their steak cooking skills, but these chefs are better with burgers than most.

 

Not much else to report - it's kind of a dreary day, with corn as far as the eye can see. We also noticed that humidity has returned - it's strange how much of a difference that makes. I prefer not having humidity, but so does everybody else...

 

I have a bunch of other pictures from Arizona and Nevada that I hadn't posted yet, so I thought I'd add them in here. I'm not precisely sure where they are, but these scenes are a lot more interesting than corn.

 

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We had lunch somewhere near Galesburg. I got the Amburger again, and for the first time in my Amtrak life they actually warmed up the bun! I love that. Melting the cheese & warming up the bun makes a huge difference to a cheeseburger. I can't say much for their steak cooking skills, but these chefs are better with burgers than most.

 

Not much else to report - it's kind of a dreary day, with corn as far as the eye can see. We also noticed that humidity has returned - it's strange how much of a difference that makes. I prefer not having humidity, but so does everybody else...

 

I have a bunch of other pictures from Arizona and Nevada that I hadn't posted yet, so I thought I'd add them in here. I'm not precisely sure where they are, but these scenes are a lot more interesting than corn.

 

Some of that scenery reminds me a lot of the Sunset Limited - and that's a good thing! The desserts with the mountains and rock formations in the distance are so nice. Keep 'em coming!

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You have so many great photos. I usually create a coffee table photo book of the best of my photos for each of my trips. I have books for the CZ, SL, EB, CS, etc.which have opened many discussions about traveling by train. My Hematologist and I discussed traveling with family, so after I loaned him a few of the books, he and his wife took their two kids on a train trip instead of flying both ways. I enjoy the conversations on my trips. After every trip, my Saturday morning christian men's breakfast group always has me give a detailed account of my train trip, some have traveled by train as a result.

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Okay, the wifi has been terrible today. I find it amusing that it really broke down by state, coming and going almost exactly on state lines. I'd grade them as follows:

 

California: A+

Arizona: A-

New Mexico: A-

Colorado: C-

Kansas: F

Missouri: F

Iowa: n/a (it's only one stop & I wasn't using it then)

Illinois: A+ (so far)

 

 

 

It pretty much corresponds with cell service in the area. Were I to grade cell service in those states, my grades would be similar.

 

With so many people trying to use the wi-fi, I don't even bother.

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You may want to print out time tables to carry or have in pdf for viewing. I do the same with the Route Guides.

 

I do print out the Route Guides and never thought I would need to print out the time table. Thanks for your good suggestion!

 

You definitely want to print the schedules. I went through Chicago in June and they no longer have the printed schedules available at all.

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You may want to print out time tables to carry or have in pdf for viewing. I do the same with the Route Guides.

 

I do print out the Route Guides and never thought I would need to print out the time table. Thanks for your good suggestion!

 

You definitely want to print the schedules. I went through Chicago in June and they no longer have the printed schedules available at all.

 

 

 

I just returned from a visit with family in the D. C. area. I rode Metro Rail to Union Station to do some reconnoitering prior to my Winter trip from there on the Silver Meteor. Seeing no Amtrak timetables available, I asked the pleasant woman at the Information Desk about their availability. She confirmed that one needs to download both the timetable and route guide for one's train as neither are available, either on board or at the station any more.

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