Discussion in 'Travelogues / Trip Reports' started by iliketrains, Jul 8, 2019.
Thanks for the idea! Why had I not thought of doing so?
Yes it worked!!!
Ok the train was running almost 3 hours behind. As a result my relatives asked me to get off one stop ahead of LA Union Station to help them avoid morning rush hour traffic. So I didn’t get pics of Union Station. Here are the last pics I took.
I can’t remember exactly but it had to be in New Mexico or maybe just getting into Arizona because I fell asleep somewhere after Deming and didn't wake up until Tucson. It was dark when we arrived in Tucson.
Yippee! Enjoyed your description and photos. Thanks for taking us along.
I have a question on #1/421 going west, when did you start to notice the shift from darkness to daylight start to occur at? Was it in Arizona before you hit Yuma, or after that point somewhere in California?
Also, were these 2 pics( https://discuss.amtraktrains.com/attachments/27df1250-20a7-44a7-8219-915fde00b3c4-jpeg.14459/ , and https://discuss.amtraktrains.com/attachments/f0e8ebba-bb67-4a1b-adaf-fe0dd49fef56-jpeg.14460/ ) on the Pecos River Trestle in western Texas? I should know where that is along the Sunset Limited route, for whenever I take that train through there someday.
Also, that's interesting over 100 people boarded in Tucson! So, sounds like the claims that Sunset doesn't have a lot of popularity among people out there through Texas to California, is BS for sure. Yes I won't deny that Sunset doesn't have the ridership of say the California Zephyr, Coast Starlight, etc., but still it's a route that shouldn't be cut. And if anything(a la the Cardinal), the service level should at minimum increase from 3 days a week operation, to once a day running. Glad you had such a great trip on Sunset Limited, even if you had to get off early before hitting LA.
Are you taking Sunset/TX Eagle back home when you're done with this trip, or taking other Amtrak trains to get back home?
The link did not work but from looking at his earlier photos, those were taken from the High Bridge over the Pecos River. This impressive bridge is between Del Rio and Sanderson (closer to Del Rio). As I recall it is about a half hour or forty-five minutes west of the Del Rio but others may have more accurate information. Since the stop in Del Rio is fairly early (around dawn as I recall, many people miss this site (as I did on my last trip on No. 1). Eastbound the Sunset crosses the bridge well after dark. Prior to the schedule change in 2012, the eastbound train crossed this bridge late afternoon.
That's too bad to hear. Guess that'd be one possible reason where you should keep whatever things you do off the train in San Antonio short, so that you do wake up in time on #1/421 to see the Pecos River Trestle. If not also see Del Rio's train station. That's too bad about the 2012 schedule change, where you no longer see that bridge on #2/422 till after dark.
There are some nice views of the lake shortly after leaving Del Rio westbound. As I recall the track must be quite straight on both sides of the approach to High Bridge so you don't really get a view of the bridge, just a view from the bridge. The lounge car would provide a good view of the river on both sides. I suppose it would be interesting to view the bridge crossing from the rear window of the Texas Eagle sleeper at the rear of the train but I imagine that you would primarily be seeing the bridge deck and not much of the river. The High Bridge is near Langtry where Judge Roy Bean presided at his Jersey Lily Saloon (if I have the name correct).
I am impressed that Iliketrains was able to get these nice shots from the High Bridge. You don't get much notice that you are approaching the bridge. Perhaps someone told him about this location so he was ready for it.
There is an interesting location somewhere in the vicinity of High Bridge where the track appears to go along the base of a cliff and there are rock outcroppings which overhang the train. I can't recall if this is east or west of High Bridge.
Most significant schedule changes are a mixed bag. With the schedule change in May 2012 you went over the High Bridge after dark eastbound but you picked up some very nice scenery east of Tucson which had previously been in the dark. As I recall under the old schedule, the eastbound Sunset left Tucson about 1-2 a.m., got to El Paso around breakfast, Alpine late morning or noon, and Del Rio at dusk. It seems to me that Houston was about 4 or 5 a.m. and New Orleans was mid-afternoon. I can't recall if the westbound schedule was changed at that time or not.
I think the plan would be to try to be awake at Del Rio to enjoy the scenery going west.
I have a question on #1/421 going west, when did you start to notice the shift from darkness to daylight start to occur at? Was it in Arizona before you hit Yuma, or after that point somewhere in California? The train was about 3 hours behind schedule and if I remember correctly, I noticed daylight creeping at about Palm Springs, CA.
Also, were these 2 pics( https://discuss.amtraktrains.com/attachments/27df1250-20a7-44a7-8219-915fde00b3c4-jpeg.14459/ , and https://discuss.amtraktrains.com/attachments/f0e8ebba-bb67-4a1b-adaf-fe0dd49fef56-jpeg.14460/ ) on the Pecos River Trestle in western Texas? I should know where that is along the Sunset Limited route, for whenever I take that train through there someday. To be honest, I'm not great at geography but someone commented earlier that this was the Pecos River.
Also, that's interesting over 100 people boarded in Tucson! Yes the conductor had to announce as we arrived in Tucson that a high number of people would be boarding and everyone had to have a seat mate. I inquired and was told over 100 people were boarding. I watched as they boarded them in groups!
Are you taking Sunset/TX Eagle back home when you're done with this trip, or taking other Amtrak trains to get back home? This impromptu trip was my way "sneaking" in an Amtrak trip. I have a relative that was driving from LA area to Texas alone for our family reunion whom I did not want to be on the highway alone. I asked if I could help him drive to Texas and the response was immediately YES. LOL. He does not need my assistance in getting back to LA. Interestingly driving back, from LA to El Paso the highway takes nearly the same path as the train. I will be seeing the same sights but from an automobile. I'm planning more trips so stay tuned!
Thanks for answering all those questions. And I thought of one last question I forgot to ask earlier, if you're riding either in #421's coach area or in sleeper, are those attached to the rear of the combined Texas Eagle/Sunset Limited when it goes west and leaves San Antonio, or are the thru coach and thru sleeper from TX Eagle attached in the front? I remember when I rode the Empire Builder east(#7/27), that the Portland cars are on the rear of the train. I think they're in the front when going west, but can't remember for sure. I didn't pay as much attention to train car assignments, when riding west since sleeper that way(#7/27) was too much to upgrade to. Though thankfully, it wasn't as expensive going east(on 8/28), so I upgraded that way on my trip going back from Glacier NP to Chicago.
And funny enough, I pulled off a similar such 'sneaking in' Amtrak trip in May, riding the Cardinal one way east(to a cousin's wedding), then went back to Chicago in car with the rest of my family. Always wanted to ride that route once, and glad I finally did.
If this Sunset schedule is any indication( http://web.archive.org/web/20050512134918/http://www.amtrak.com/timetable/mar-apr05/P01.pdf , bonus that it shows times east of New Orleans before Katrina hit, and it was sadly permanently scaled back to starting/ending in NOL), it looks like the eastbound #1/421 used to hit the Pecos River Trestle(IF on time) sometime just before 6pm(Del Rio 1/421 arrival time was 6:37pm in 2005). Also I see some differences with the old schedule that would be in some ways disadvantageous, i.e. for westbound #1/421 Tucson passengers that the train didn't arrive there till 12:59am. Now it arrives at 6:45pm, under the new schedule. The eastbound 2/422 time was even worse into Tucson, arriving at 2:20am. Also 1/421 didn't hit LA until 10:10am, and that regularly would've not allowed Sunset passengers to do a same day transfer to the Coast Starlight #14 going north(which IIRC leaves at 10:10am!). In a way, I can see why they adjusted the schedule for Sunset/TX Eagle the way they did, so that same day connections between this train and Coast Starlight would be easier to do. BTW, the old schedule has the eastbound Sunset(#1/421) leaving LA at 2:30, and the current schedule has it leaving at 10pm.
Finally per this link( http://web.archive.org/web/20110129...ontentServer/Page/1237405732505/1237405732505 ) and clicking on the pdf, in 2010 before the major revision in 2012, the eastbound Sunset left LA at 2:40pm. Arrived in Del Rio going east at 5:42pm, and Tucson going east at 1:06am. Going west in Tucson, it arrived at 10:40pm. I guess in a way I see why Amtrak adjusted the times, so that it'd better serve Tucson boarding/departing riders?
We were on No. 2 leaving Tucson in May 2012 only a few days before the big schedule change. It was kind of a tedious wait at the station for No. 2 to arrive about an hour late at close to 2 a.m. I recall that station personnel at Tucson was anxious for the new schedule and thought it would result in more business at that station. I assume that the better times have done so but I have never seen any statistics to confirm this.
I have been on the 421/422 Texas Eagle sleeper eastbound and westbound. In my experience (which I believe is the normal routine), the Texas Eagle sleeper has always been the last car in the combined train west of San Antonio, both eastbound and westbound. As I recall the Texas Eagle through coach(es) are just ahead of the sleeper. Since I enjoy being in a sleeper at the rear of the train, I find this arrangement to be quite nice. I believe some people who travel by sleeping car do not like having to walk through coaches to access the lounge car and dining car but this does not bother me.
My 421 sleeper car was upfront and therefore close to the dining car before arriving southbound into San Antonio. At San Antonio, I de-boarded and watched the switch. My sleeper car and the 421 coach were detached, hooked together, and powered-up all before the westbound Sunset Limited arrived. When the Sunset Limited arrived the 421 coach was directly attached to the Sunset Limited, making my 421 sleeper the last car on the train. I went from an extremely short walk to the dining car to an extremely long walk to the dining car. It was great exercise that I needed to get the dining car and Sightseer lounge. Therefore I didn't complain.
Warning #1: My big warning to sleeper car passengers: Eating 3 full meals per day added a few pounds to my weight!! I normally eat small amounts of food throughout the day and get some exercise in which helps me NOT to gain weight (I might not lose but I don't gain either!). When I eat 3 full meals I tend to gain weight. With no opportunity to exercise on the train you might want to consider how you plan to drop those few extra pounds after a long Amtrak trip! Don't suggest skipping desert on the train because that ain't happening!!
Warning #2: During the layover in San Antonio it's safe to get off the train and most passengers on my train did so. However, as in any urban downtown area you can have slickers trying run game. One guy carried a backpack but I immediately could sense that something about him was not right. He looked extremely unkept and dirty. He pretended to be a passenger and went as far as to introduce himself and state he was going to LA. He eventually asked for money saying he left his on the train. When a group passengers starting pooling their money together to have a pizza delivered to the station he said his credit card wasn't working. We all saw through him and when he realized it he left. One lady pretended to be a passenger and kept inviting people to go walk with her to a bar. No one did. If you decide to leave the station I strongly suggest you catch a taxi or uber. If your guts tell you that something is not right please trust your instincts.
Having the #421 Sleeper as the last Car ( smililar to the Portland Sleeper on the Builder and the Boston Sleeper on the Lake Shore)) is a great way to exercise by "Walking the Train" during your Journey!
Also, it's a good idea to stay with others when venturing away from the Station, the Hustlers and Street People with Problems are always around the heavily visited River Walk/Alamo/ Hemisphere Area and the 24/7 Dennys on Commerce between the Station and the Riverwalk is the Headquarters for the "Night People".
All in all it's not real dicey, but like all Cities be aware of what's going on around you.
I hear you on that! We usually try to have just a light lunch, the salad with chicken or the mussels, in order not to feel too full and end up in a food coma. My wife will often request her dessert to go and will give it to one of the coach passengers we have befriended on the trip and that works out well.
I'm also not bothered by doing a long walk, as well. I will note for anyone who's never ridden the Empire Builder, that the Portland bound/coming from Portland sleeper(and sometimes 2, as was the case on my train in June and July 2019 last week) car(s) is always the rearmost car on that train. So yep just like if you're riding 421 or 422 west of San Antonio, you'll have a similar experience walking through so many coach cars and the sightseer/observation car if you're trying to get to the dining car, lol!
And yep, not surprised that I'm sure the Amtrak employees at Tucson welcomed the adjusted schedule, where that the Sunset no longer arrived after midnight in each direction. I would suspect that probably helped ridership, but would have to look at year after year Amtrak ridership before and after that 2012 change, to see if ridership went up in Tucson.
Thanks for posting this warning. Yep, I'm sure there are some bums/weirdos in San Antonio that try to pretend they are passengers, in the hopes they can steal money from passengers on the TX Eagle/Sunset.
It was pure luck. I was sitting in the sightseer car and saw the breathtaking view unfolding before my eyes. I had my iPhone in hand and starting snapping. I had no idea what was coming and had no idea of what I was seeing. I only knew it would make a great picture. Oh yea the train was traveling slowly at the time. That gave me some reaction time.
Thanks for this great write-up. I was actually on the Sunset Limited last Monday when I discovered this site and then found your post and was like "hey I think this guy is going to link up with our train in San Antonio." I signed up for an account but then by the time I got approved and had good Wi-Fi I was already in Los Angeles. I did see you in the dining car one of the lunches but you seemed to be into the conversation and I thought it might be weird to be like "hey I don't know you but I've read all your blog posts."
Interesting to hear about the hustlers in San Antonio. I'm not sure how much time our train the Sunset Limited had because we were late, but I was definitely thinking of going out and getting a quick picture of the Alamo. But, I ended up sleeping through.
After our time together on the Texas Eagle/Sunset Limited, I went up to Lake Tahoe for the weekend. Then took the Zephyr back and now am on the Lake Shore Limited to New York. Finally some wi-fi on these east coast trains so I can type on a computer and not my phone.
Glad your journey went well!
Did you notice any businesses near the Amtrak stop in Deming, NM? My sister lives in Silver City and at some point we might take the Sunset Limited. If so, we would get on at Deming. That blue plastic box doesn't look too inviting a place to wait for an Amtrak.
If you have Google Earth, look for Deming NM Amtrak. Zoom in and you will see the shed, it is 100' or so from a fairly large Chevron filling station and convenience store. There appear to be some businesses on the other side of the Interstate, but that's not really an option if you re on foot. When I get to the office I will try to upload a screen shot of the Street View as well as the overhead, unless someone beats me to it.
I think for the most part(per checking Google maps), any places to eat at will require walking under I-10 on Pearl Street, then go west or south of that intersection just south of the expressway. Looking at that area,it doesn't seem too bad for eating options,if you don't want to wait(or at least wait for much less time) in that crappy outside shelter. With a Denny's a few blocks west, several Mexican restaurants, and some sort of Chinese restaurant is on the other side of that expressway.
Hey it would have been too cool to meet you on the train!!!
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