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Southwest Chief Travelogue

http://www.trainweb.com/travelogues/2002/2002i__a.html

We were interested in riding the train before the government pulls the plug on long haul pax service, and started monitoring the Amtrak web site for specials.

We boarded the Southwest Chief (CHI-LAX) at Albuquerque, NM (ABQ) traveling to Trinidad, CO (TRI) in mid September, 2002. We took sub sandwiches on board with us for lunch. September is a bit early for fall foilage viewing in New Mexico, but otherwise we enjoyed a great ride. There are many narrow cuts through the mountains where the rocks seem to be only inches away from the window! Climbing the mountain past Lamey, NM, one can see both the front and back of the train at once on some of the S curves, if seated in the middle of the train. Lamey features an old railcar near the depot which appears to have been converted into a residence, but is still on a siding.

We stayed overnite in Trinidad, which is a turn of the century mining town that has been in decline, but is being restored in some areas, including a pleasant, though small, riverwalk. There are lots of interesting old buildings on the main streets, be sure to bring a camera! There is a McDonalds near the Amtrak depot for those who favor the known quantity that a brand name secures, but we observed a number of interesting looking "Cowboy Cafes" downtown. We did not eat dine in Trinidad, though, since we had dinner on the train just before arrival. The dining car is a bit pricey, but one of those novel experiences we wanted to enjoy.

There appear to be no "Motel 6" type budget accomodations in Trinidad, so we had to pony up $50 at a Best Western Inn, plus 11% tax, for the overnite stay. On the plus side, they did have an enclosed hot tub to soak in. We walked from the depot to the Best Western, a distance of nearly a mile. My personal thanks to the developer of those little suitcases with the skate wheels, although one does garner a few odd looks strolling down main street pulling a suitcase behind. A taxicab service is available, according to a sticker on the door of the depot, for those not inclined to exercise. Someone (perhaps the Santa Fe RR maintenance crew?) opens the small waiting room in the depot for the train, but there was no attendent on duty. We returned to ABQ the following day.

We were able to prepurchase RailSale tickets for only $16.40 per seat each way, and the times were good for sitting in the lounge car and enjoying the view. This train departed ABQ on time at about 12:30 PM and arrived at TRI on time at 6:30 PM. On the return trip, the train was on time, (10:30) at TRI, and a bit early to ABQ (4:40 PM).


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