|The California Zephyr climbs the Big 10 curve west of Denver|
We took the California Zephyr west from Denver, "mountains and rivers without end."
And we got where we needed to go, although there was one rough patch at the beginning.
As usual, click the photos to enlarge them.
|You usually end up dining with strangers but can always talk about the trains.|
So we went out to breakfast, read exotic magazines at the Tattered Cover's LoDo store, and eventually got a lift in the hotel's town car to the temporary station that Amtrak is using while Denver Union Station is being renovated.
In the photo, two guys who just met through the dining steward's command to "Sit there" are getting acquainted.
|Passengers ("Pax" in train-speak) on the platform at Fraser, Colo.|
|The station in Glenwood Springs, Colo., right in the center of town.|
|Western terminus of the Zephyr: Emeryville, Calif.|
We left Wednesday the 23rd for home. Everything started well: up through the across the Delta, up through the eucalyptus, cypresses, and palms of Roseville, then into the Sierras, with cedar, manazanita, firs, and other conifers.
Into Reno on time. Through basin and range -- Winnemucca in the late afternoon, Ely after dark, then salt flats and Salt Lake City. The "gray desert" around Green River, Utah. Into Grand Junction on time, and we saw a bald eagle sitting in a snag along the Colorado River somewhere between Dotsero and State Bridge.
Through Middle Park and the Moffat Tunnel, everything tickety-tock, running even a bit ahead of schedule.
Then Conductor Renée comes on the p.a. system: the westbound Zephyr hit a "herd of raccoons" in Iowa the previous evening, had to wait for a replacement locomotive, and has now limped into Denver many hours late. We must wait for it to clear the wye at the station before we in turn can back in. So we wait, somewhere in Arvada, and eventually arrive an hour behind schedule. No problem.
But a "herd of raccoons"? Since when do coons come in herds, as opposed to small family groups? And how big a herd does it take to damage (air hoses, etc., she said) a full-size locomotive?
You know Amtrak does not put out news releases about such incidents, so it must remain a mystery of rail travel.
UPDATE: Here is a posting on a train-fan web site, which gives a location and speaks of a "pack of raccoons."