Saturday, February 19, 2011

On to Arizona


Wanderlust strikes again.

The Lady Friend and I have booked a trip to Winslow, Arizona, in early April. We will be traveling aboard Amtrak's Southwest Chief and I will be wearing my new official outfit as a Field Reporter for Trainweb.com and Railnews.net.

Actually the uniform consists of a big camera and a small press card, to be flashed at opportune moments in the hope of impressing officialdom.

Why Winslow? The town used to be an important stop on Route US 66 on the way to L.A., but the coming of the Interstates and the decline of passenger railroading nearly turned the place into a ghost town.

But it has struggled back. Its chief attraction is the restored La Posada Hotel, built in 1930 by the Fred Harvey chain as a waypoint on the old Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad. Beautiful (and properly chaperoned) young ladies known as Harvey Girls greeted weary travelers from both the highway and the high iron, and fed them in the roomy restaurant. We'll be staying there two nights.

The hotel lies spang on the busy Burlington Northern Santa Fe main line, affording camera-bedecked railfans (who me?) considerable opportunity for photography from deck chairs scattered about the property. The Amtrak station occupies part of the hotel grounds.

Good thing, for there isn't much else to do in Winslow proper. Homolovi Ruins State Park just north of town has been closed for the last year by budget-beleaguered Arizona, but is reopening March 18, and we'll pay it a visit. We are also renting a car and will either drive 67 miles north to see the Hopi pueblos near the Four Corners so magnificently celebrated in Tony Hillerman's mysteries, or head 20 miles west to Meteor Crater, the mile-wide hole blasted out of the ground by an asteroid 50,000 years ago.

There will of course be a full report.

There will also be a full dispatch on our night's stopover along the way at La Plata, Missouri, and the Depot Inn & Suites, headquarters of Trainweb/Railnet. I've been there once and enjoyed it mightily (reports are here and here).

'Booooard!

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