WOR to Grand Canyon and Silverton return on CZ

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Joined
Sep 2, 2021
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Lubec, ME
Days 1 and 2: Left Worcester MA Monday 9/13 on 449 wife and I in a roomette. Mark our SCA was very helpful. Train on time until Albany then left 1 hrs 15 min late due to a switch problem. In the meantime we had dinner, we both had the enchiladas which were OK. Ended up sitting with the lady from the roomette across from us who was returning from a visit to Boston getting off at her home in Erie PA at Oh Dark Thirty did not envy her. Had a nice wide ranging talk on everything from birds to the state of the country.

Back to the room and Mark made up our beds quickly and we settled in for the night. A Viewliner roomette is a bit snug for 2 but we managed. Train managed to make up some time so by the time we went to breakfast we were only 35 min down. They cut the dwell at Toledo and we arrived at CUS only 10 min late which is on time for all practical purposes. By the way breakfast was the omelette and potatoes which was OK, coffee was good. Dining car crew was great for both meals.
At Chicago Union Station I tried to find the taxi rank but was unsuccessful. Could use some signage there. We decided to walk as it was a nice day and our hotel was only 10 blocks or so on Wabash in the Loop. A friendly cop directed us to the exit on Canal st. and of course there were the taxis. We walked anyway. Our hotel was the Silversmith which is a little pricey but very nice and convenient to Millenium Park and the L. We had stayed there on a previous visit. They had only just reopened the week before due to the pandemic. Restaurant open for continental breakfast and dinner only with a limited menu. But that is fine with us. Checked in early and collapsed in room, rest up for tomorrow's leg, the Southwest Chief to Flagstaff AZ. Stay tuned.
 

PVD

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Nice. I've done the LSL many times to Chicago, but usually from NYP (once from ALB, once from BUF as well). I like Flagstaff. If you have time before you head to the Canyon, be sure to visit Lowell Observatory (especially an evening tour) and many of the National Historic sites in the area.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2021
Messages
11
Location
Lubec, ME
Second leg of the trip completed. We had overnighted in Chicago which is one of my favorite places to visit, Millenium Park, the architecture, the Art Institute, walking along the lake front, the river boat tours, etc. We had some time before the SWC left and the weather was nice so we elected to walk through Millenium Park to the lake front with the obligatory picture at the Bean. When we were last there in 2016 it was jammed but this day only a couple dozen people. We then checked out and left for CUS again walking since the weather was good. We got lunch at the food court then hung out at the Metropolitan Lounge.

Around 2:30 the train was called and we lined up for boarding. It was fairly efficient, we found our car 330 and our SCA Julio was there to welcome us aboard. We had roomette 3 on the upper level. We initially were going to stow our carry ons under the seats but they wouldn't fit so we ended up taking out what we needed and stowing the bags downstairs.

The SWC left on time and stayed on schedule through the afternoon and evening, actually all the way to Albuquerque. We had the 6:15 dinner reservation. I had the steak came out pretty good maybe a tiny bit underdone for medium but I would prefer that to overdone. My wife had the Tortellini. I have to say the service and food were pretty good, on a par with meals we had had on the Canadian in the 1980s. She had the flourless chocolate torte for desert and said it was as good as anything she ever had in a fine restaurant. I had the carrot cake which was excellent also.

Now for the sleeping. Mine was fine in the lower bunk but my wife found the superliner upper to be more confining than the viewliner. She also did not like the lack of a window, not that there us much to see going through Iowa and Kansas in the middle of the night.

Breakfast was good. Back to the room with the beds put up and time to observe the scenery as it got drier as we crossed into Colorado then starting to get into the more mountainous areas. You definitely notice the change as you move off the BNSF Transcon and onto the Raton Sub which is only used by Amtrak. Most of the track is jointed rail. But the scenery makes up for it. For a railfan like me I was fascinated that there were still some semaphore signals on the route and they were still using the old open wire telegraph type lines in places.

We had our long stop in Albuquerque and left on time but then ran into our first delay as we got stuck behind a tardy rail runner commuter and ended up losing a half hour. I have to say that in general BNSF kept us on schedule in spite of the massive number of freights on the transcon, a constant flow one after the other. We got to Flagstaff around 9 pm then walked to our hotel the Marriot Residence Inn which is only 2 blocks up the main drag from the station. Collapsed into bed. The hotel is very comfortable. It is now the next morning we will have breakfast then get our rental car for the next phase of the trip.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2021
Messages
11
Location
Lubec, ME
Zephyr17, funny my wife came up with that term on her own after a night in the upper berth on the SWC.

To continue my report, the next morning at Flagstaff we checked out of the Residence Inn (very nice and only 2 blocks from the station) and were picked up by Enterprise which took us to the office to get our rental car. I have used Enterprise a few times and always had good service from them. We were both a little tired so had a relaxing day mostly at the Arboretum in Flagstaff which is just a few miles out of town. We then drove to Williams and checked in to the Grand Canyon Railways hotel there. The next day we were talking the train to the Canyon.

The hotel was OK although they were not providing any room service during the stay supposedly dur to staffing shortages. Not good given the prices they were charging. Also the much touted Fred Harvey restaurant turned out to be a glorified cafeteria. We ended up just using it for breakfast and going into town for dinner. We ended up at the Red Raven for both nights which is a great place. Reservations recommended as it fills up.

The next day we took the train to the Canyon. It started out steam hauled but they only got a short distance out of the station when they started having problems with the fuel system on the locomotive. They had to abort and go back and replace the steamer with the usual 2 Diesel locks which resulted in an hours delay. Hey stuff happens when you have a 100+ year old locomotive. The rest of the trip went fine and they delayed departure from the Canyon so we had the full 3 hours there.

The Canyon of course is indescribably beautiful, one of those things you just have to experience in person. Unfortunately for us the time at the rim was cut short by rain and we ended up at the gift shops and riding the buses until it was time to return. The NPS has a great and free bus system which makes it easy to get around. I forgot to mention we rode both ways on one of the luxury dome cars and the service by the car host was great. They served complimentary snacks and non alcoholic beverages plus you could buy adult beverages if you were so inclined. They also provided a running commentary on the terrain we were going through plus info on the Canyon for when we arrived.

Anyway in spite of the rain it was a fun experience. The following day we checked out of the hotel and began our 5 hour drive to our next destination Durango Colorado for you guessed it another train ride, which will be in my next report.
 
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