Pauline invites you to sit back and ride the trains, enjoying the wintery mountain scenery from the windows of the old steam engines as she narrates her trips, accompanied by her photos. An easy to read travelogue.
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Armchair Travel Series around the Globe with Pauline: Durango, Grand Canyon, Chama, NM and Kansas City by Rail. By Pauline Hager.
The Hagers boarded The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in Durango, Colorado to Cascade Canyon, high in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. They planned to visit Silverton, an old mining town, 9308 ft. high. Due to deep drifts of snow blocking the narrow mountain pass at higher elevation, they settled for Cascade Canyon, elevation 9012 ft. The beautiful snow-bound scenery was just compensation. As the train twisted and curved along mountain ridges and cliffs, glimpses of the Animas River far below was spotted through the multitude of evergreen trees. Pauline captured the beauty of the virgin snow covering the stunning mountain scenery with her camera. An enjoyable three-day visit before returning home to San Diego.
The historic Grand Canyon R.R. delivers the Hagers to the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. Hopping on free shuttles and tour buses with knowledgeable rangers narrating, they learn about the formation of the canyon. Stopping at various viewing overlooks along the canyon rim, they marvel at the changing colors of sedimentary layers of rock forming rocky buttes and mesas, and beautiful sunsets. Due to the canyon's immense depth, it was difficult to see the Colorado River snaking along this gigantic fissure in the earth, but Pauline managed to find spots to take several pictures. On their last day, heavy snow fell on the Grand Canyon creating a beautiful winter wonderland; a photographer's paradise.
Starting in Chama, New Mexico, the Hagers ride the historic Cumbres & Toltec Scenic Railroad high in the Rocky Mountains over 9,000 ft., crisscrossing New Mexico and Arizona. The train looped around the rim of the mountains, winding around a horseshoe curve, riding through long, dark tunnels, and enjoyed the multitude of Pinyon, Juniper and shimmering , white bark Aspin Trees, as an enthusiastic guide narrates the history of the route and describes the flora and fauna. The seven hour experience was never a dull moment, starting with a fire at the Lobato Trestle where Indiana Jones and Butch Cassidey and the Sundance Kid were filmed.
Train buffs Pauline and husband attend a National Garden Railway Society Convention in Kansas City, KS. They toured over twenty-five railroad gardens in the members' back yards. Each garden has it own theme, such as a turn-of-the century, early 30s or present day backdrops. Pauline explains the only requirement for a garden railroad is a yard large enough to handle the many feet of desired track (scales from 1/32 to 1/20 and gauge is generally 2 3/4 in.) and the ambition to construct the various buildings, either by kit or scratch-built, with all the paraphernalia to accompany it, to create a truly authentic railroad scene. Typically, the men build the railroad and the women plant the miniature plants and trees in the garden. For persons unfamiliar with garden railroading, Pauline submits several photos of the yards.
The Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway(D&SNGR) train with bright orange painted cars was lined up, waiting for the steam engine. Shortly after, a huge, black, powerful-looking engine, #473, rumbled into the station: bell clanging, whistle blowing, and black smoke belching from the stack. The engine bypassed the train on a parallel track, moved up the line to a switch, backed up to couple to the front of our train, and soon we were on our way.
Periodically the Animas River could be seen through the tall pine trees, winding its way below. We accompanied our grandson to the last compartment so he could view the engine upfront, inching its way uphill around the right curves.
The Grand Canyon, Arizona
The beauty of this phenomenon is that it is all exposed and visible to the naked eye. Layers and layers of various rock formed from limestone, sandstone and shale, in itself is exciting to see. At various times of day with the sun gleaming on them, the view is extraordinarily stunning. The Grand Canyon is a photographer's paradise. Unfortunately for us, the weather on this particular week-end was not conducive to beautiful photography. We encountered low clouds, fog, rail and snow.
Chama, New Mexico
Leaving New Mexico, the track winds around a horseshoe curve in Colorado to Whiplash Curve. Heading west, the train looped around the sides of mountains taking us to Sublette, New Mexico, a water stop. Leaving Sublette, we passed Toltec Siding, once a gathering place to accommodate long pipe and oil trains in the 1950s. Shortly after, we entered Mud Tunnel, a long, dark, passageway lined with wooden pillars to support its 342-foot length of soft volcanic ash.