To The Land Of Enchantment October 19-25, 2012 the St. Louis Chapter NRHS ran a private railcar trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico – our first trip to the western US since going to Salt Lake City in 2005.
On Friday night, October 19, sixteen passengers boarded the ex-Frisco Pullman car Cimarron River in preparation for the six day trip west. Amtrak was running the St. Louis to Kansas City trains two hours earlier than normal due to track work by the Union Pacific, so we originally expected to depart St. Louis at 7:15 am. However, UP finished the work early and the Kansas City trains were back on their regular schedule by our departure date. Thus after boarding in the Amtrak yard Friday evening we were switched into the station where we remained until departure at 9:15 am.
Saturday morning we left right on schedule. Amtrak picked up over 100 passengers at Kirkwood bound for Octoberfest in Hermann. It was overcast leaving Kirkwood but the clouds cleared by the time we reached Hermann. Upon arrival in Kansas City the passengers had about seven hours to enjoy the sights and tastes of Kansas City before we would depart at 10:50 that evening on Amtrak train 3 – the Southwest Chief.
Daybreak Sunday morning found us at La Junta, Colo., where we were able to step off the car for a few minutes before departing for Trinidad. From there we would start up Raton Pass and then race across New Mexico to Las Vegas, where we would make our way over Glorieta Pass and then down into the Rio Grande valley and Albuquerque. There were no delays as our train was the only traffic on the line. The cottonwood trees glowed bright yellow in the sunlight as we continued to get closer to Albuquerque.
Amtrak used the protection locomotive kept at Albuquerque to take us around the wye about two miles south of the station. Once that was completed Cimarron River was parked in the Amtrak station along with the Amtrak locomotive. This would be our home base for the next several days.
Our time in Albuquerque was spent touring the city, Old Town, riding the Rail Runner commuter train to Santa Fe and Belen, and of course sampling the great Southwestern cuisine. Bud Moss even got in a game of golf. The weather was gorgeous the entire time we were there.
On Wednesday the 24th it was time to be added to the eastbound Southwest Chief for the ride back to Kansas City and St. Louis. The weather was pleasant over the passes and into southeastern Colorado. After that the weather turned cold until we got to Topeka, where it was windy and in the low 70s. This weather system stayed with us until about an hour after we arrived in Kansas City when the temperature dropped into the 40s with rain. Our arrival in St. Louis was on time, concluding an excellent trip to the Land of Enchantment.
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