Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Heading for Austin

Well, I've completed my Amtrak loop and I'm headed back to Austin. I'm taking the slower, perhaps more scenic route, of US 90 just because I've always wanted to do it. Tonight I'm in Alpine and tomorrow night in Del Rio then finally back at my Dad's place. After that, Wanderin Bill should be settled down for the winter and working as a volunteer for the Austin Steam Train Association on the Austin & Texas Central Railroad. Anybody who is interested in some of the stuff ... funny, stupid, good, bad, whatever, that happens on a small excursion railroad can listen in at RailroadBill.blogspot.com. I just hope I don't get in trouble.

Friday, August 3, 2007

Summary of three months of train riding

Trains that I rode ... 58
Arizona ... 15
Nevada ... 7
Utah ... 5
Colorado ... 24
New Mexico ... 7

Trains I knew about and didn't ride for various reasons ... 7

Full size excursion trains including narrow gauge ... 20
Light rail, monorail or tram systems ... 4
Commuter rail systems ... 1
Trolleys ... 4
Park and zoo trains ... 25
"Live steam" 7 1/2 in. gauge ... 3
Incline railways ... 1

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Toy Train Depot

At $4.00 the train ride at the Toy Train Depot must be one of the most expensive park trains I've ridden. Although this train runs in a city park it is a private operation and it must pay for the right to do so and earn it's way so that probably explains the high price. The trains are park trains that have been preserved from scraping at other locations. Some of the equipment is 40 years old or more. The trip is one of the longest park rides I've had though there is nothing much special to see. Besides the train ride, there is a toy train museum with all scales on display. The museum is an additional charge.

This is my last ride of this summer quest. There will be a later post to summarize the trip but right now I am getting ready for a two week around the country Amtrak trip. I've started a new blog for that trip that I call Amtrak Bill. If you are interested, the address is amtrakbill.blogspot.com. The trip starts Aug 4th so I don't expect to have much out there before then.

It's been fun. Bill

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Spring River Park and Zoo Train

The Spring River Park and Zoo in Roswell is unlike any I have visited. The Zoo is truly part of the park with no admission cost and multiple entrances that really are just part of the trails in the park. Maybe you should just think of it as a Zoo with a very large park attached. Besides the train there is a large area shaded with trees, a carousel, and part of an extended hiking trail. The train ride matched the Pueblo City Park train with a low price of twenty-five cents but I think this train gave you a longer ride. The trip passes through a remote area of the zoo where the Emus and Llamas are fenced in together but this is the only part of the Zoo that you don't see easily just walking around. Also the first zoo I've visited that displayed Longhorns but no Aliens on display.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Santa Fe Southern

The Santa Fe Southern is a freight railroad that carries passengers. The Santa Fe Southern is an excursion railroad that hauls a few freight cars every now and then. It's hard to tell which of those is the most accurate statement. I'm sure that they are obliged by federal regulations to haul freight for any customers that request it which would make them a freight railroad. On our trip, we stopped at two locations in Santa Fe and picked up a boxcar at each place. When we got to Lamy, the cars were set out on an interchange track to be picked up by the BNSF. But I can't imagine that they make enough money off of those few cars to stay in business so that would make them a passenger railroad that hauls freight.

I stopped at the post office on the way into Santa Fe and almost missed the train because of lack of parking. Get there early if you don't want to deal with that problem. As the train trundles out of town, it passes diagonally through the intersection of Cerrillos Road and Saint Frances Drive, two of the busiest streets in town. Boy that brings everything to a halt. Soon you pass under I-25 and are in the country side. You then pass through a small community called Eldorado at Santa Fe.

This is a curious place. All the road's I saw were unpaved. Almost none of the homes had any kind of yard with the native flora growing right up to the outer walls of the houses. Sounds like kind of a depressed area, right. But many of the homes were huge sprawling single level houses set on giant lots. Although most were made in the adobe or Pueblo style, I suspect many were simulated not real adobe. Perhaps I will find out the story of these houses someday.

In Lamy, there is a caterer who operates a dining car and an outdoor service area with much the same food. With a full train, there is not time to seat everyone in the dining car so most eat at the outdoor venue. I snuck into the dining car because I wanted to see the car and had a grilled turkey meatloaf sandwich, a first for me.

I enjoyed the trip. It's pretty relaxing with nothing spectacular in the way of scenery although there are some nice long vistas in several places. The 1920's era cars have been nicely restored. They have a more modern dome car but I didn't get to see what it looked like. There is also a flatcar with sides added on for a better view. It's certainly something you would want to do if you were already in Santa Fe.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Thunderbird Express, Albuquerque Zoo

The Thunderbird Express Zoo Train is different from the Rio Line BioPark Train. The zoo train is contained completely within the zoo and does not connect with the Rio Line although it does shares some track. The station for the zoo train is quite far from from the BioPark train station, on the opposite end of the zoo. Even though the zoo train shares a loop of track with the BioPark train and passes right by the BioPark station, you can't get off there to catch the BioPark train. Very confusing!

The zoo train takes you passed lots of the exhibits and even a few places that you're not likely to see walking around. The zoo train cars are different from the BioPark train, more comfortable in my opinion. If you buy a combo pass when you enter the zoo or the aquarium, you get to visit all parts of the BioPark and ride both trains as much as you wish. It's a lot to do in one day however and I skipped the botanical garden. The sharks in the aquarium were really cool though.

Rio Line Bio Park Train, Albuquerque

The Albuquerque Biopark is a large area on the Rio Grande River that contains a zoo, an aquarium, a botanical garden and a large park with fishing ponds. Unfortunately, these are strung out over a large distance and are not easy walking distance from each other. The solution is the Rio Line train that runs from the Zoo to the Aquarium with a stop at the park. You can board the train at the zoo, or the aquarium or the park and go to any other venue. The ride includes two tunnels that duck under city streets and a spin through the nursery area of the botanical garden so it's a fun ride. They have two train circulating all the time so the they board every half hour at each stop. They're working on a third train which will complicate the schedule but cut down the wait.