California, Here I Come

May 31 - June 11


This will be a chronical of an excursion much longer than my usual jaunts around central and southern Iowa.   A gentleman named George Faithorn and I have been corresponding by email for a number of years now, pretty much since the beginning of Virtual Train Watching in Iowa.  Over the course of these conversations we have become well-acquainted with each other and with each other's families.  George was an engineer on the SP, working out of Dunsmuir, CA, when I first "met" him and he now works for the UP out of Roseville.  An invitation to visit has been standing for some time and this summer I finally got around to accepting it.

This was my first such venture "alone" in 40 years.  As it turned out, I certainly wasn't so.  Many good persons looked out for me and made the trip much better than I'd ever imagined it could be.  My excursion included a stop at the Rock Island office in Fairbury, NE, another attempt to dine at the Zephyr Cafe in Holdridge, and a sentimental journey to Bierstadt Lake in Rocky Mountain Park.  I watched the Zephyr enter the east portal of Moffat Tunnel and then saw it again from aboard the train.  I photographed crew changes and refuelings in the middle of the night in Salt Lake City and caught sunrises and sunsets from the Superliners.  I got my picture (well, sort of) on the Dunsmuir Railcam.  My own docent escorted me through the California State Railway Museum.  The UP ran a director's special right by my hotel, building track across tracks to move their train.  I got a cab ride in the mountains of northern California (the details of which will not be shared, to protect the guilty).  The weather was great - everything seemed to click.

Lots of credits are due.  Here are a few that come to mind:

Mom, Sarah and the kids for being there for the phonecalls and emails and for looking after Lester and my place.  That webcam shot of my grandkids I received in Sacramento is a treasure!
Ruth - you've lived up to your name for me.  Thanks for looking after the Jeep and for your spiritual input, "It's only money!", that helped make this possible.
Judy - you made the last leg of the run into Sacramento go too quickly.  Thanks for the email - enjoy that new grandkid!  I hope to see you again someday.
Ralph and other ATK personnel - it's easy to develop a love/hate relationship with you folks.  You're essential to travel, but your attitude toward the customer  leaves a lot to be desired.  In the balance, you came through when needed.  I know your employer isn't making your life any easier!
George - I couldn't/wouldn't have done this without you.  You are the best of friends and such a kind and thoughtful soul.  Thanks to your family, too, for sharing you for a few days.
George (another one) - who called with condolences a few days before my departure and upon learning of my plans insisted on escorting me to the museum and library in Sacramento.  I couldn't have had a better guide and source of information.  I look forward to visiting you again.
An unnamed engineer - who, upon being introduced didn't hesitate, "C'mon Dick, ride with us up to..."  That was a great way to see the mountains!
The waitresses - who after the inevitable "Just One?", called me "Hon" and kept the coffee coming.  I love you every one.
Those good people out there who keep the restrooms clean and stocked,  who keep the coffeemakers dripping and ask where I'm from/going.  You are the salt of the earth - blessings on you!

Highball!

(All times, unless otherwise noted, are Central Daylight)

Wednesday, May 31

Out of Indianola at 7:15 on a warm (78 degrees), humid morning.
My first stop was Creston, where I knew that the Zephyr was getting close since I'd heard the dispatcher say they were out of Nodaway at 8:15.

They arrived at 8:39 with this consist:

GEnesis units 56 and 821
Baggage 1212
Transition Sleeper 39032
Coaches 34033, 34002, and 31519
Sightseer Lounge 33002
Diner 38043
Sleepers 32019, 32050 and 32005
Box 71013, MHC 1563 and 3 Roadrailers


The CZ made two spots and was on the way toward Chicago again at 8:43.

In the yard I found ex-SF BNSF 2578, and two coal loads parked: ESCX with BNSF 9956 and BN 9431 and OGSX with BNSF 9906 and BN 9625.

In a few minutes the DENGAL arrived with BNSF 4326, 4436 and SF 559.  472 axles.

I headed on west on Hwy. 34 and heard ATK report their times at Osceola as, "14 and 18".

The Jeep rolled over to 60,000 at 9:33.

My next stop was Pacific Junction to see a coal empty come down the Council Bluffs line and take the recently restored NW wye westward.  This train had MARX cars and was pulled by BN 9649 and 9475.  I paced them across the Missouri River and into Nebraska.

Once over the border into Nebraska, I worked my way south and west in order to visit the restored/refurbished Rock Island depot in Fairbury.  I stopped in Tehcumseh and in Beatrice.  Beatrice has a restored CB&Q depot and a captive caboose.  I lucked out in Fairbury and Wednesday was one of the days the depot was open.  Denise Andersen was working upstairs and graciously took plenty of time showing me around and recalling the work that had been done on the depot interior.  The first floor is pretty well put together at this point and work has begun on the offices upstairs.  They were prepared for the coming weekend when "Rock Island Days" was to be celebrated and had lettered the trainboard and set up a model railroad.

Fairbury is a hot spot on the UP, being on a double-track line down from Gibbon, NE.  A couple of locos were parked near the old RI depot, UP 3175 and 3182.  There was a steady parade of trains through town and I caught a couple of them, both coal empties headed northwest (west on the railroad).  The first at 2:11, was UP 6774, SP 330 and SP 364 with assorted older hoppers.  The second, at 3:38, was headed by UP 8145 and 8012 and followed by UP 6827.  This one had UCEX cars.  By this time in the afternoon, Fairbury had reached 97 degrees.

Out of Fairbury, I "stair-cased" along the UP line up to Gibbon Jct., generally in sight of a train.  Eventually, I cut off to the west and started following the BNSF line toward Holdridge, where I stayed Wednesday night.  Jan and I stopped here in the evening last summer on the way home, looking to eat in the Zephyr Cafe, but it was closed.  I hoped to find them open for breakfast on Thursday.  Holdridge has a nicely refurbished depot with space for rent (still).

I found a motel with vacancy on the west end of town, pretty nice and clean for only $30, and then looked around for supper.  After rejecting a couple of places where you ordered at a counter, I settled on the dining room of the Dale Hotel.  I was the only person present not known by first name, but that didn't bother the waitress, she just called me "Sweetie".

After supper I went back down by the depot.  The heavyweight observation car "Pecos" (SANX 9) was still parked on a spur west of the depot as it had been last summer.  At 8:15, a train came through eastbound with BN 9453, BN 9709 and BNSF 9745 pulling a solid block of BNSF grain hoppers.

Thursday, June 1

The next morning I found the Zephyr Cafe closed again.  Perhaps they "do lunch", or maybe they're not in business at all anymore - I certainly covet that sign!  I hit the Hotel Dale again, following the advice of a friend who says, "If you want a good breakfast, look for the pickup trucks and stop where they are!".

I followed the BNSF line westward, stopping here and there to get a picture of a depot or something, but I didn't see any trains before I got to McCook.  Oxford was quiet.  At Edison I found AGV 7514 parked east of the elevator.  I stopped in Indianola and tried to get a picture of myself with the RR sign, but it was out of focus.  Between Indianola and McCook I came upon this old wooden passenger car just south of the mainline.

I arrived in McCook at 9:30 and found train that I'd seen westbound while out for my morning walk in Holdridge doing some switching in the yard.  On the head end were BNSF 8632, 6958 and CSX 7542.  The McCook depot is used by the BNSF and has a small waiting room, with the usual "Don't bother us, call 1-8--USA-RAIL" signage, for Amtrak customers.  They proudly displayed their "Slip, Trip, Fall" award, too.

The DENGAL arrived at 9:38, with BNSF 4765 and 4330 on the point and a Qwest caboose, SPCX 55, on the rear.

East of Trenton (near Massacre Canyon) I found an eastbound manifest with BNSF 8626 and 9880 in a siding on a high fill waiting to be passed by a Z Train.  Just down the road at Stratton another eastbounder had stepped aside as well.  This train had BN 6388 and BNSF 7857 on the point.  At 11:15 the intermodal, pulled by BN 7904, BNSF 8051 and BN 7855,  appeared and shot by me near Max.

12:06 - Welcome to Colorado!

I stopped in Brush for lunch, first catching a PSCX empty out in the north end of town.  On the head end were BNSF 8893 and BN 9519.  This was a distributed power train, but I didn't wait for the rear end.  Over at Brush Center, I watched some switching by BN 2814 while eating my sandwich and then left the rails for a while to head for Estes Park.

Friday, June 2

I was up and out early for a pleasant hike up to Bierstadt Lake.  It was just above freezing and crystal clear - an absolutely gorgeous morning.  Jan and I had hiked this trail last summer when she was in a recovery phase between her chemo. treatments.  This morning I was on a special mission and I couldn't have had a better day in which to accomplish it.  I didn't meet another soul on the trail or up on top and I made the round trip back to the Jeep in just a couple of hours.

After breakfast and repacking at the motel I was headed south, keeping up in the mountains.  I picked up some things for lunch at a grocery in Nederlands and drove on, planning to go to the east portal of Moffat Tunnel.  Two coal loads were stopped at Rollins as I turned back west and started up the canyon.  The rock road leading up to the tunnel is a real bone-rattler!  Once at the tunnel, I found a large parking area with just a couple of other vehicles around.  The tunnel fan was running and was very loud.  About 1:40 it shut down and just a few minutes later the CZ showed up, with units 23 and 61, apparently running a bit late today.  They were into the tunnel in a cloud of dust at 1:53.

I drove on south and into Denver.  I made connection with my friends there and we arranged for them to pick the Jeep up at the station the next morning.  I spent the evening sorting my junk and trying to decide what to check and what to carry on.

Saturday, June 3

I got downtown fairly early and got a good parking spot right in front of the station where the Jeep would be easy to find.  I checked two bags and got in line with the other coach fairs in the huge waiting room to wait for boarding.  The train was running late and we were told that we would be boarding around 9:20 (MDT).  After a while an Amtrak employee came along the waiting line to tell us that the train had been "oversold" to Fraser and to encourage us to check all the bags we possibly could.  I did some sorting and checked a third bag (the limit is three 50-pounders).  The line finally started moving around 10:30 (CDT).  As we went by the conductor in the center of the waiting room we were told a car number and then sent down and back up a ramp to find the car.  Seating within a given car was on a first-come, first-served basis, which, particularly with an oversold train, made me wonder what exactly Amtrak means by the word "reservation"?

All the pairs of seats on my coach had at least one person in them already, so I settled in next to a fellow who turned out to be from the Netherlands and nearing the end of a four-month vacation in which he'd been all over the world.  The train started moving forward around 11:00, but we soon stopped and backed for a long way.  After a while I heard "Got a set" on the scanner and we were finally rolling out of the station around 11:15.  Outside the train, the RoadRailers were already being trucked away.

Speaking of the scanner, I had preprogrammed all the frequencies I expected to be in use on the trip and had a "Hot Whip", (sort of the rubber duckie equivalent of a 5/8 wave antenna) on the radio along with lightweight headphones.  This setup worked very well and allowed me to keep track of the train's activity without disturbing the other customers.

On our way up the east range, I went to the Sightseer Lounge for pictures.  We met a coal load part way up while still out in the grassy areas.  Here are some images:
On the switchbacks, coal load waiting above us.
Nearing the siding
Meeting the load
View ahead
Canyon view

Interestingly, the parking area near the portal was quite full compared to my visit on Friday.

We stopped at Granby and were told that we could get off the train for a 15 to 20 minutes since a freight was "broken down in front of us".  From the scanner it sounded like they'd been stopped by a detector and were just inspecting before pulling into a siding for us.  This gave me a chance to get a look at my train:

ATK 86, 53 and 96
MHC 1532
Baggage 1210
Transition Sleeper 39042
Coaches 34069 (Mine), 34044 and 31541
Sightseer Lounge 33007
Diner 38066
Sleepers 32052 and 32021
Three boxcars
Somewhere between Granby and Glenwood Springs, at 3:50, we met No. 6.

We made our way on along the Colorado River, mooned regularly by rafters as we passed.  We'd been warned in the diner that this section of the waterway was known as "moon river".

FAX problems delayed our departure from Grand Junction, where we were again allowed to get out and look around for a few minutes.  I walked to the head end for a picture of the power.

It didn't take too long to figure out that I wasn't going to go to sleep in the coach seat.  The motion of the train made me slide gradually lower until I had to boost myself back into a comfortable position again.  No matter - I'd rather listen to my scanner and take pictures anyway.

About 11:45, somewhere west of Helper, I began hearing discussion on the radio of problems with one of the units.  We'd had the lights go out a couple of times during supper and now I learned that the third unit had overheated and kept taking itself off-line.  We stopped at "Cayunne"?, called the dispatcher and then continued at 11:54 after inspecting the unit.  Just after midnight I heard a detector report 64 mph and 50 degrees.  In a couple of minutes the unit dumped again and the lights went out.  I heard on the radio, "Let's limp to town..."

Sunday, June 4

We made Provo at 1:25 and rolled again after a very short stop.  Salt Lake City came next at 2:32 and was another opportunity to step off the train for a while.  I got out and listened to the new crew crab about the railroad for a while.  We were shooed back onto the train, "...leaving in a couple of minutes!" and then sat for another hour while repairs were made on a burned brakeshoe on one of the boxcars (we couldn't just set it out, of course!)  It wasn't a total loss, I got a little nap before we started bouncing along again at 3:52, now over 2 hours down.

I repaired to the lounge and tried to sleep, but without much success.  The sun appeared and lit the mountains (Ruby?) around 6:30.  By the time we stopped in Elko we'd made up a few minutes.  The detectors reported our progress regularly - they seem to be closely spaced out here.  We were still two hours down at Winnemucca.  The Mustang Ranch was pointed out to us on the P.A. and a youngster behind me asked his grandparents "Where do they keep the mustangs?"  By Sparks, things were looking better, it was 1:14 CDT, schedule called for 9:56 PDT, we'd made up some time!

The stop in Reno was brief, and before long we're through Donner Tunnel, by the lake and headed downhill.  Around 4:15 we stoped alongside No. 6.  I couldn't tell from the radio or out the window what was happening, but someone or something apparently changed trains.  The trip down into the valley went very quickly.  Roseville Yard looked very interesting from the coach windows.  It's evident that there's quite a bit of padding in the ATK schedule out here, since we made Sacramento just a few minutes late.  I said farewell to a fine new friend I found on the train, promising to email soon.

My UP engineer friend George Faithorn and his family were on the platform - what a happy sight!  This would be our first face-to-face meeting.  We got the checked bags (outdoors, one man faces off with the impatient crowd surrounding the cart - just about anyone could walk off with anything) and headed for my hotel, just a couple of blocks south of the station.  At the hotel, my exchange-student daughter and her husband were waiting, having been misinformed by Amtrak of the train's arrival time.  I'm here!

George went home to get his rest, having pulled a couple of all-nighters just before I arrived.  He would now be 35 times out, though, so we'd be well set to go exploring in the morning.  My Japanese "relatives" wanted to take me to dinner, so I quickly showered off the Amtrak grunge and joined them in the lobby.  We went just around the corner from the hotel for a meal and then walked to the state capitol for pictures before returning so I could collapse in my room.

Monday, June 5

George picked me up the next morning.  He and I had negotiated by email beforehand how much of the time would be spent in traditional tourism and how much train-chasing.  I'd agreed to a day trip to San Francisco to see the sights before we headed up the I-5 corridor for the mountains.  We had nice weather and a smooth trip into the city.  George showed me the CalTrain terminal area.  He'd gotten his start in railroading working on the commuter runs here.

Our next stops were on the bay and near Fisherman's Wharf (That one would make a good jigsaw puzzle, don't you think?) with lunch at the Grotto.  We visited the Golden Gate and I stocked up on postcards and souvenirs for the grandkids.

In the afternoon we went to the restored depot in Davis.  There, we were told that today's No. 5 was five hours late, having had a fire in one unit.  We hung around the depot for a while, but didn't catch any traffic there.  Late in the afternoon we visited Roseville Yard, home of the nation's lowest, slowest hump (maybe not, but it's pretty slow!)  I got a number of pictures at the yard:
Engine Service Area
SP 7609 and 4812
SP Rotary
UP Rotary
Rio Grande 3136 and 9291
SP Rotary
SP Heavyweights
Dead line, including SP 2467, 7515, 7512, 7632, 9346, 7531, RG 3151, SP 3756, 4409, 1523, 1512, 1521, 4401, UP 470, SP 7422, 7435, 7534, and 9353.

Tuesday, June 6

Early Tuesday morning I walked over to the California State Railway Museum, which was just a block or so west of my hotel.  I got some pictures of the equipment that is outdoors there, including SF 347C and a UP observation car, 103.

I packed out of the hotel and George picked me up for a trip up to Mount Shasta where we would stay that night.  He had a lineup so that we could keep track of trains and try to intercept them as we went north along the line.  Our first stop was in Redding.  A couple of engines from the local were parked in front of the depot, UP 9964 and SSW 7288, and a northbound with UP 3403, 3778 and 3578 came through at 12:47 (remember, times are CDT).

Before heading on north, we had lunch and I got T-shirts at In N' Out Burgers, and then we made a brief stop for pictures at the "other" Simpson College.

We stopped at the Pit River bridge but didn't stay long enough to see any trains there.  At about 3:00 we intercepted a southbound manifest at Lakehead.  On the point were SP 9807, CNW 8565 and UP 4154.  Fifteen minutes later at Delta we got another, with UP 9178, CNW 8818, and UP 9053.  They generated lots of flange noise as they rounded a curve and crossed Dog Creek.

Our next stop was in Mount Shasta where we caught a southbounder, headed up by UP 3228, 3428 and SP ?? as they rounded the curve in the north end of town.  North of Shasta at Upton, we found UP 3195 and 3299 picking up some cars for the second half of a freight they were taking to Black Butte.  They had radio problems and took quite a while getting out of the siding at Upton, but eventually arrived at Black Butte where the UP still maintains a water tank and plug.

George and I went back down into Dunsmuir for a look around.  The train we'd first seen northbound at Redding caught up with us near Dunsmuir at 6:15.  We paid a visit to the home of John Signor, well known author of books on the Southern Pacific and editor of several rail historical society periodicals.  John showed us his model railroad and we arranged to have breakfast together the next day.

After visiting John we went to the Dunsmuir depot to have a look around.  Dunsmuir, as railfans know, is the home of one of the Internet Railcams.  This one is located in an old train shed and provides a view of the UP mainline and usually some parked helper power.  Today, SP 8519 and UP 3234 were resting in front of the camera.  Dunsmuir also has a large tank with an SP painting, part of a project to clean up fouled surface water in the area.  While we waited for northbound traffic, the power from the rain we'd seen at Black Butte came in and parked.

At 8:22 a northbound pig train arrived in Dunsmuir for a crew change.  This train had five SP GE units, 8175, 8191, 8153, 8186 and 8171.  The RailCam fired as I was taking the first picture of the train, and George and I later found the picture on his home computer.  We decided to catch this train again on at the Mott Road crossing to the north.  They came around the corner on the 2.2 percent grade at 8:52 and passed between our vantage point and the mountain.  In a few minutes a southbound pig train with another solid set of SP units came down the grade.  On the point were SP 8165, 8193, 8185 and 8153.

Great Day!!!

Wednesday, June 7

George got a lineup off the computer on Wednesday morning and we found an interesting entry, SLAPD, Special, Los Angeles to Portland.  As it turned out, this was a Directors' Special and it was to make a stop at the museum in Sacramento on Wednesday night - right by my hotel!

After breakfast with John Signor, we learned that the northbound Coast Starlight was running late and would be through Mt Shasta shortly.  We went to a grade crossing near a city park and caught them at 9:15 as they rounded the curves and headed into the mountains.  Unlike the CZ, there was no freight on the back of the Starlight.

I paid a brief visit to the headwater of the Sacramento River, a spring in a Mt. Shasta city park near our photo location.  Soon after the Starlight was away, we had a southbound freight come around the bend with UP 6151, 6036 and SP ??? on the point.

We went back to the Dunsmuir depot for more trains before starting back down toward Sacramento.  UP 3195 and the other locos were still parked there.  I photographed an in-service caboose, UP 24592.  A southbound manifest came down the hill and stopped for a crew change at 11:36.  On the point were SP 9805, SP 267 and UP 4318.  They pulled again at 11:44.  There appeared to be lots of lumber headed south through this area.

A northbound train arrived at 12:20 with UP 9081, 5092 and 3382, and made a quick crew change.  We knew from the lineup that the Roadrailer train was due, so we went down to what remains of the Dunsmuir yard to catch it.  This train had 2000 ft. of trailers and a single unit, UP 6835.  The trailers were by us at 12:55.

Our next stop as we worked back south was a "Railroad Park", actually a collection of cabooses and other equipment made into a motel.  I posed on a logging loco for another tourist shot.

At Delta once again, we intercepted a northbound manifest at 1:50.  This train had UP 9634, B4231 and 5036 doing the head end duties.  We caught up with the 6151, that we'd seen early in the day at Mt. Shasta, in Redding.  They'd been stopped by a bad air hose and were just getting moving again at 2:40.

George dropped me off at the hotel and I moved into another room.  This time I was on the north side, sixth floor, and had a pretty good view of the old SP shops and a portion of the Sacramento depot.  In the evening I went over to the east end of the railroad bridge over the Sacramento River, near the museum, where work was being done in preparation for backing the directors' special into place by the museum for the night.  Traffic continued on the mainlines as everything was set up to lay tracks across on top of the mains for the UP special.  UP 951 and its train finally came across the river at 10:19.  It was getting pretty dark for pictures, so I decided to skip the backing of the train and come back in the morning.

Thursday, June 8

On Thursday I was to be escorted by a different George, a retired railroader, collector and historian whom I'd met through the Rock Island Technical Society.  Before he arrived, however, I walked over to the river and south beyond Capitol St. to where the special train had been parked for the night.  There seemed to be lots of nervous activity around the place as the time to move the train approached.  In the train:
E Units (well, from the outside, anyway) 951, 963b and 949
Power car 208
Cabarton 202
Feather River (Observation car) 114
Cheyenne (Observation car) 103
Green River 1602
Wyoming 201
Powder River 1605
Walter Dean (Dome car) 9005
City of Denver 5011
Fox River (Theater Car) 402?
Back by the bridge, workers were in place to cross the mainlines with track once more.  As last night, traffic continued on the mainline right up to the last minute.  When the opportunity presented itself, the rails were moved into place.

At about 9:00 (Iowa time) the special pulled forward to nose up to a pink line spray-painted across the rails and ballast.  This brought the cars into perfect alignment for unloading the passengers at the museum.  There were very few people aboard, apparently.  The fellow in the bibs in one of the above images was called "Grumpy" by the other persons present.  He and I visited for a while before the train pulled down.  He was a pipe-fitter who worked on the steamers at the museum.  After learning about my trip, he gave me a couple of passes to the museum.

Shortly the rails were in place, the passengers off, and the special rolled across the mains to the north and around to the Sacramento depot. As soon as they cleared, the rails were taken up again.  I watched Grumpy's work being pulled out to the turntable and returned to the hotel.  From my room's window I could see the special sitting on one of the tracks at the depot.

Midmorning, my docent arrived and we began our tour of the museum.  I have to admit I'm very impressed with the place and the carefully prepared displays - the best of that sort of thing that I've ever seen.  George held forth for visitors and museum personnel alike when the opportunity arose.  That there's a cab-forward inside the building gives you an idea of the scale of the place.

I went back to the hotel for lunch with both Georges before returning to the museum and then having a look at the wonderful railroad library that's maintained in the upstairs of a building near the museum.

Friday, June 9

I had breakfast with my exchange-student daughter and she took me to the Sacramento depot to begin my trip back toward home.  No. 6 was close to on time.  After being given a runaround from car to car by Ralph, our wonderful car attendant, I was finally aboard and rolling at 1:52, just 17 minutes down.  The first few detectors reported different axle counts, 64, 60, 62.  After a while we seemed to settle on 60.

We made great progress and were soon running ahead of schedule.  Ralph told us it would be 10 minutes to Truckee before we'd even reached Donner Tunnel - get a map!  Donner was attained at 5:00, the brief stop in Truckee 5:25 to 5:27, Reno 6:34 to 6:46.  Pure Prarie League and Poco were playing at one of the casinos, reminded me of "Kansas City Southern".

We got a chance to strech in Sparks, stopping from 6:55 to 7:13.  I got the consist:

ATK 81 and 77
Baggage 1161
Transition Sleeper 39036
Sleepers 32068 and 32037
Diner 38065
Sightseer Lounge 33008
Coaches 31510 (this one didn't smell like smoke upstairs), 34079 and 34005
MHC 1467
Three boxcars
Spotted this car in Sparks.

At Reno I picked up a seatmate.  He'd been to Reno on vacation with his folks and they are now returning home to Lincoln, NE.  They seemed grumpy about not getting to sit together - his folks were in a different car.  In conversation, I learned that he is studying for the priesthood at Conception Abbey in Missouri.  I told him I'd been there and asked how he got his "call" to be a priest.  He said that he'd converted to Catholicism after dating a Catholic girl and then had decided to become a priest.  That must have been some date!

Detectors track our progress into the night:

7:26 - 251.6, 44 mph
7:34 - 260.0
7:44 - 270.5, 55 mph
7:56 - 283.5, 68 mph
8:11 - 297.0, 74 mph (That's more like it - take me home!)
8:21 - 320.0, 72 mph
8:58 - 10 mph over switch at West Colato
9:17 - 368.3, 71 mph
9:24 - 377.8, 68 mph
9:32 - 387.0, 71 mph
9:39 - 395.8, 71 mph
9:52 - 412.0, 78 mph
The stop in Winnamucca was another short one, 9:57 to 9:59.  Later I started recording detectors again.
11:31 - 639.1, 63 mph
11:52 - 662.0, 76 mph, 50 degrees
Another two-minute stop, this time in Elko.

Saturday, June 10

12:32 - 701.0, 72 mph, 48 degrees
We made Salt Lake City at 4:14, well ahead of schedule.  I got out and got some pictures of my thirsty ride while the cars were flushed and rewatered.  It was great to be outside in the night and free to wander looking for a photo-op.  We sat waiting until the schedule time and highballed at 5:20.  On the radio I heard, "The bird has been fed.", and, "Thank you."

We made a four minute stop in Provo at 6:23.  I took the first call for breakfast and dined in Price River Canyon - very pretty territory.  We stopped in Helper at 8:25 and waited for the schedule to depart - 8:30 - no customers.  In the Sightseer Lounge, a noisy redhead announced to the car that she was "40, going on 15".  She'd already started on a beer this morning.

I found that I was in the "Kiddie Car", with perhaps a dozen youngsters, most of them in my end of the coach.  From the conversations, it sounded like several sets were on their way to live with Daddy for a while.  The couple in front of me had a charming, smiley 10-month-old who would grin at me over the seatback.  My priest-to-be had found a seat with his parents by now.  The lady across the aisle (with one youngster) had by now discovered that I knew where we were and why we were stopped, as opposed to Ralph, who was terminally clueless.

8:35 - 624.3, 50 mph, 47 degrees
8:53 - 606.1, 41 mph
9:09 - 592.2, 39 mph
9:24 - 578.9
9:36 - 563.1, 73 mph
The next stop was Green River, from 9:45 to 9:52.

10:00 - 549.0, 72 mph, 73 degrees
10:29 - 519.0
10:39 - 508.3, 70 mph
10:55 - 490.0, 67 mph, 66 degrees

At Grand Junction, with a longer stop (11:36 to 12:10), we were allowed to get off the train for a while.  I checked out the front of the train once more.  We made Glenwood Springs at 1:52.  From here into Denver we had 21 grumpy fares without seats who roamed the aisles looking at the tags.  I hope they all get refunds.

Around 4:14 I started picking up No. 5 talking to the dispatcher.  They had a problem passenger and wanted the police to meet them in Granby to take someone off the train.  Probably someone Amtrak sold a "reservation" to who does not have a seat.

At 5:10 we met the westbound CZ at Flat.  ATK 17's nose had been punched in somewhere along the way.  Before too long, I heard an automated warning broadcast to the crew of a 20 mph speed restriction ahead.

Our stop in Granby was from 5:40 to 5:47.  Rain clouds are gathering to the northeast over the park.  Fraser/Winter Park was short, 6:13 - 6:14.  We reached the tunnel at 6:26.  Near the east portal we stopped and waited for a signal and then finally exited at 6:39.  The east face was overcast, with a few sunny spots down in Denver.  We stayed ahead of schedule most of the way and arrived in Denver on time.  North of the platform I spot a GEnesis unit with a large black hole burned out of the top - perhaps the one I heard about in Davis?

Union Station was hot and stuffy.  My checked bags arrived and I retrieved them.  A Rockies game was in progress making traffic pretty bad down there.  My friends with the Jeep were nowhere to be found, so I called and left a message and hired a cab to take me to the motel.  Later, the Jeep was dropped off at the motel.  I dropped off, too.  It was great to have a shower and a stationary bed!

Sunday, June 11

I got out of Denver around 7:15 and hit the interstate for Nebraska.  It felt so good to be behind the wheel again!  On the radio I found KBCO's "Sunday Sunrise" and held my own services at 75 on 76, singing along with Nancy Griffith and Jackson Browne.  I met several BNSF coal loads coming down the joint line:
7:34 - 9727 and 2 more MAC's w/BNSF cars
7:44 - 9731 and 2 more MAC's w/GRTX cars
7:55 - ????, two units
8:23 - DP, 1 and 1
I stopped in Brush for take-out breakfast.  At 8:49 BNSF brought a load through with 9959 and 9460 on the point, 9940 behind, and PSCX gons.

I dashed onward, making Nebraska at 10:18.  78 degrees and warming rapidly.  I made a quick stop in Oglalla for gas, $1.95.  Yikes!  I gave up and turned on the AC around 11:30.  85 degrees already.

I abandoned the interstate at North Platte and drove into town to see what UP refers to as their "Visitor Center".  What a joke!  It's a platform with a view of a hump (this is a real hump, not a weenie one like Roseville).  The faded signage is falling apart and the "Push For Tape" button  does nothing.  Just west of the hump sat an interesting loco, OSS 34.  There were tons of locos around, of course.  I saw this interesting combo, LRCX 9547, CR? 2956, NS 3987, NS 4145 and UP 6281 on the south side of the yard.

I continued east out of North Platte on Hwy. 30, which parallels the tracks.  Between North Platte and Gibbon (just east of Kearney) the railroad is all-new triple track, concrete ties and what appears to be wider than normal track spacing.  I caught up with an eastbound just out of town that was having problems talking to the dispatcher, since his radio was cutting out.  This train had UP 8144 and 7241 on the point.  I stopped near Maxwell at 12:27 to get his picture.  There were three trains nearby, one on each of the tracks.  In addition to the above train, there was a westbound pig train with 6160 on the head end and a DP coal train standing on the center track with CNW 8805 on the rear, RWSX cars and UP 6590 and 8229 on the front.  It looked like no one was aboard.

I stopped east of Farr at 12:48 for a picture of a westbound intermodal led by CNW 8527 and two UP's.  I met a number of westbound trains as I traveled to Kearney:

12:48 - Manifest, UP 6651, RG, BN, UP, on center track, East of Gothenburg
1:00 - Manifest, UP 6787, UP, at Willow Island
1:06 - Coal Empty/DP, UP 6810, SP 364, RWSX cars, UP 8266, East of Cozad
1:13 - Grain train, UP 9188, 5665, 472, East of Darr
1:20 - Coal Empty, UP 6667, 6598 and 6599, mixed reporting marks, Near Lexington
In Lexington, UP 2002 and DBG 14 (DeBruce Grain)
1:29 - Manifest, CNW 8810 and SP 172, Near Spring Creek
1:33 - Coal Empty/DP, UP 8109, 7103, CEFX cars, UP 8228, West of Overton
1:40 - Coal Empty, UP 7279 and 6581, NORX cars
I reached Kearney at 2:00.  A westbound manifest was just leaving town as I arrived.  I got some lunch and parked by the triple-track mains.  At 2:30 an eastbound stack and auto train came through with UP 4029 (Wings!) and 5866.  UP 2008 was parked at Kearney.  I caught a westbound TXUX empty at 2:40 with UP 7165 and 6833 on the point and UP 7197 on the rear.

I met two more westbounds between Kearney and Gibbon, a coal empty with UP 6788, SP 295 and UP 8179 - lots of miscellaneous junk, and an empty ribbon-rail train with UP 9059 and 445.

I waited at Gibbon for one train.  This was a westbound coal empty with UP tub gons at 3:02, coming up from the southeast with UP 8042 and 7097 on the point and UP 6612 on the rear.

I meandered along to the southeast, eventually landing in Hastings around 3:50.  The old BN depot's being refurbishedBNSF 2302 and BN 2716 were parked at the east end of the yard.  I took off following the BN line to the east.  I met a manifest with two SF units just east of Hastings at 4:15.  At 5:15, near Dorchester, I intercepted another westbound manifest.  This one was close enough for a picture of the power, BNSF 2243, BN 2750 and BN 2806.

At Union, the UP had some spare power sitting north of the grade crossing, including NS 8806.

Somewhere near Crete I was tuning around and found out that it was "Cruise Night" at the Dairy Queen in Red Oak.  I figured I could just make it.  I crossed the river at 7:09 and got to Red Oak about a quarter 'til eight.  The party was breaking up and the advertised tenderloin special wasn't very tasty, but I'd reached the point where I was ready to be at home, so it didn't really matter.  There was a nice light show ahead and behind me as I pushed on along Hwy. 34.

I passed up some picture opportunities at Creston thinking that I'd have a good meet with No. 5 at  Osceola, but they were 2 hours down, just out of Chicago!  I decided not to wait and got home to Indianola at about 10:30

That's It!