In July - August 2019 I made the Southwestern Circle Trip beginning in Denver, with an added segment to Seaside and Portland, Oregon for reunions (and to see lots of water). I was able to remain on the planned itinerary shown in the following message, with nothing but the usual delays, not missing any connections. On Train 14 and then on Train 11 the UP dispatchers followed in the old SP tradition: the train ran within minutes of on schedule until approaching the last stop, where a substantial delay reminded us whose railroad we were on. In brief, the Southwestern Circle starts in Denver, to Emeryville, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Fort Worth, Oklahoma City, Newton, Raton, and back to Denver. There are a number of other combinations, depending on one's interests. That is particularly true between Emeryville/San Francisco and Los Angeles. Some notes: + Yes, we were mooned by Colorado River rafters and saw eagles on the California Zephyr. But we had no salads for the duration of the trip, as a commissary foul-up left the lettuce behind in Chicago. + So during the layover in Sacramento I went to a nearby sandwich chain - the station Starbucks was closed already on my arrival - ordered the tuna sandwich with lots of salad items - and got a burst of diarrhea that was brief but almost certainly linked to that meal. Next time I'll try the Chinese dinner place nearby. + Rumor is that Portland's employee-initiated Metropolitan Lounge will be renovated. Its hours have been extended to serve all of the train departures with Business or First Class. (Previously it closed when Train 28 departed.) + Enjoyed walking around downtown San Jose, for the first time since 1974. On that previous visit it looked like a condensed version of postwar Berlin (but with palm trees) as a result of a badly handled urban renewal project. There are still some traces of that in the form of surface lots between the station and the Guadalupe River, but there are numerous post-1970's buildings as spillover from Silicon Valley. + Had a fabulous lunch at Hotel de Anza (1931 art deco / mission style) in San Jose. + California Amtrak Thruway buses stop for lunch in King City. I took the Thruway/Pacific Surfliner connection rather than Train 11 because I wanted to have more time for a connection in LAUPT. + A highlight on the Coast Line bus trip is the stop at Cal Tech in San Luis Obispo. Architecture worth a trip back to see it in more detail. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Polytechnic_State_University + A boxed snack pack on the Pacific Surfliner. + Starbucks food in the beautiful LAUPT fountain court. Splashing water in fountains drowned out for a while by an angry fellow trying to express himself in Spanish regarding the unfairness of Guerra de Estados Unidos a Mexico (“War of the United States Against Mexico”). Unfortunately he had to revert to English in order to shout obscenities. Eventually a mellow security guard turned up and asked me if I saw him harass anyone. Some women had complained. I explained that he was just expressing political views, sort of like the president of the United States does, and we noticed that the appearance of the security guard was all that it took for him to calm down. After the guard went on his way, the now-subdued young man busied himself washing his shirt in a fountain and the court benches filled with passengers enjoying the peace that the architects had intended. + I wanted to go in Train 422 from LA to Fort Worth, but the through coach was oversold and so the check-in clerk put me in Train 2 to San Antonio. That meant that I would be scheduled to alight from Train 2 at 4:50 a.m. and board Train 22 at about 6:40 a.m. + Saw the desert in detail due to freight delays and track work. However, sunset was just as beautiful as old SP advertising claimed. Passengers in the observation lounge couldn't put down their cameras and smart phones. + The delay helped reduce the wait in San Antonio and I found the convoluted station operation required to switch cars and get passengers on the right trains in a station that was not set up for that to be interesting. [Chicago trains split off of the Sunset Line in El Paso in Golden State days before Amtrak.] + With all the rain earlier, central Texas was greener than I expected. An engineering highlight is the approach into Austin from the south. + In Fort Worth I tried the "Black Forest" ham sandwich from the same national chain as in Sacramento. No problems. I had visited Fort Worth Intermodal once before and in terms of service available it has only gotten better. + The Heartland Flyer consist was a Superliner Coach and a Superliner Snack Coach. It was sold out. Station dwells getting everyone in and out were added to by a PTC start-up failure and by freight delays, but I did have a few minutes to appreciate the work that has been and is being done on the Oklahoma City station. No signs point to the Thruway bus loading out front, but the security guard showed me the way. + The bus connection cleverly does several things in one round-trip. For my purposes it went well and it was easy to snooze. + In Newton, Train 3 was marked up on time, Train 4 was over an hour late, making for a bleary-eyed group of eastbound passengers. + On Train 3 I could appreciate the track work that has been done and noticed segments that need replacement. In the observation lounge informed passengers were horrified to discover that the narrow road parallel with no shoulders between La Junta and Trinidad was US350, planned future route of the Chief bustitution. + Lunch in the friendly Enchanted Grounds Coffee House in Raton. A table of regulars reminded me of a German stammtisch except that they did not invite me over to be interviewed; Raton is on I-25 so they are used to visitors. http://enchantedgroundsraton.com + Despite the optimistic sign, there is no agent in Raton and no sign indicating where the Greyhound Amtrak Thruway buses stop. The Greyhound agent / snack bar has gone out of business. Luckily there were two others waiting for the 1:15 p.m. Dallas - Raton - Denver bus when I arrived and with some detective work one could deduce where to wait -- and wait. + In the interim before the bus arrived, three uniformed police and a man in plainclothes converged on one of the waiting passengers who had strewn out parts and possessions while assembling his bicycle. He did not speak English. I'm not sure how he got to Raton, but the police wanted him to leave. The problem was that he had too much baggage for either Greyhound or Amtrak and with no agencies he couldn't ship some of the stuff. + The bus came 90 minutes late and lost more time while the driver rounded up a bilingual passenger willing to interpret a discussion of checked baggage rules. We had to leave the bicycle tourist behind, with some helpful hints about getting his stuff repacked in order to get onto the following Raton - Denver bus. + The driver did a great job, but nevertheless he was hassled by a lady who boarded in Colorado Springs complaining that we were going to miss her Kansas City connection in Denver. Then she went back into the station to use the restroom! The driver waited for her and we arrived in Denver while the Kansas City connection was starting to board. The last I heard of her she was complaining that the bus said "New York City" on the destination sign and that this was not right because she was only going to Kansas City. [A supplementary sign at the gate includes Kansas City.] + Home sweet home. A preview of Texas in Wilsonville, Oregon. Do you know the way in San Jose? El Paso in a happier day. Fort Worth Intermodal TEX to DFW departs. Heartland Flyer lays over while Oklahomans frolic in Fort Worth. Fun with PTC.