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Archive for January 24th, 2012

Photos from the Amtrak’s California Zephyr can be viewed here.

Emigration Canyon - Utah

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I’ll call it one of the ten best steaks I’ve ever eaten. Medium-rare with herb butter, a baked potato, and green beans. A dinner salad and warm bread rolls accompanied each dinner entree. Crab cakes, ribs and sea bass were the other choices.

Just as flavorful was the dinner-time conversation. At my table sat a man from London, a woman from Vancouver, a professor from the University of Utah who moved to Utah in 1969 from Chicago, and myself. Perhaps you can imagine the wonderful political and social debates that emerged from this group – all in good humor, of course. I think our table was the envy of the dining car because of the amount of laughter as well as solid discourse that came from our foursome.

With dessert and coffee we prolonged our conversations until we had arrived at the Denver station. During our time together we learned why our train was late. The night before, the inbound train that made up our outbound train was hit by a rock in the canyon just outside of the Moffat Tunnel. Quite a large rock, in fact. So large that when the rock hit the Amtrak locomotive, the locomotive leaned enough for one set of wheels to come off the track.

This action caused the emergency breaks to engage and when the locomotive’s wheels locked, there was so much force behind them that they were ground flat by the friction. Consequently, our train was being pulled by a Union Pacific locomotive. We passed the two disabled Amtrak locomotives along the way. As the professor said, “How the hell does one go about changing flat tires on a locomotive?”

The attendant in my car was working that consist and said that a new locomotive had to be dispatched which created a ten hour delay. “It’s a good thing that the locomotive only tilted slightly,” she said. “Had it been just a bit more forceful, we’d have ended up in the river.”

I was in bed by 10:00 pm and I didn’t wake until we had departed Lincoln, Nebraska at 6:15 am. It had been a good nights’ sleep, though I always sleep well on trains. It’s the gentle rocking that occurs when not being hit by falling boulders.

I freshened up downstairs before breakfast and was delighted to have the professor join me again. It was just the two of us so we debated the brands of political corruption in Salt Lake and Chicago, neither one being declared superior, though both brands being declared equally effective. We finished breakfast by the time we passed through Council Bluffs, Iowa.

Now we’re heading east through Iowa and still behind schedule. I suspect I’ll arrive in Chicago right around the tail end of rush hour. Once home I’ll post a link to Flickr where photos from the trip will be visible.

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