Monday, June 26, 2017

Carla and Douglas Kerr in Chama, New Mexico

June 17, 2017 in Chama, New Mexico

Actually, on June 16, 2017, we drove north to Chama, New Mexico to the Cumbres Suites Hotel to spend a couple of days. This is about a 6 hour drive from Alamogordo and we took turns driving. The room at the hotel was quaint and quite lovely and the beds were heavenly. After partaking of a great breakfast provided in their ample breakfast room, we drove to the Cumbres & Toltec narrow gauge railway station to board the train for an adventure through southern Colorado and northern New Mexico mountains. This train is coal fed and belches a lot of black smoke, but we were in an enclosed car so it wasn't as bad as being in an open one.

The sites are just amazing as you will see by the photos and Doug and I were both shooting so we had plenty to choose from to create this travelogue. People on the train were very friendly and from across the United States which made the journey interesting as well.

Doug standing by the engine
A fellow tourist offered to take our picture together
I have never seen an aspen forest and these stately trees are lovely
Someone's summer home. The conductor said the snow gets 15 to 20 feet deep here in the winter time
There were many of these small ponds along the way
One of nature's fantastic rock formations
As you can see here, we are far up the mountain
This is the highest point in the trip
This is the gauge of an underground water cistern that the train gets water from by natural gravity
This is the spout where the train is taking on water fed by natural gravity (no pump). I had to go outside to shoot this one.
Doug, seated at our little table with conductor in background
Lots of snow on the Colorado side of the state line
This is a herd of young elk born in the Spring of 2017
This stream comes down the mountain, under the roadway and empties into this winding river
Love these colorful summer cabins
This man was throwing something for his dog to fetch
We believe this is a male leading three female elk
The rock formations are phenomenal and trees grow out of crevices in the rocks
Nature's own sculpture
And, yet another amazing rock formation
This one is a wee bit scary. There was a rock slide on the tracks the day before and the train was an hour and a half late getting back to Chama having to wait for the rocks to be cleared.
The train going around a curve
The coal shoveling man putting water in
This was such a wonderful experience and we thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the sites and the birds and the elk in their natural habitat. We had a delicious lunch in Osier, Colorado consisting of turkey and dressing and all the trimmings with pie for dessert. We went over the Rio de Los Pinos at 600 feet up and it was 800 feet to the other side of the Toltec Gorge. This was on the New Mexico side of the state line. Then we went through the Rock Tunnel which had been bored through 360 feet of solid rock. Just before we got to Antonito, Colorado, we crossed Hangman's/Ferguson's Trestle. Ferguson was a very bad guy in Antonito. Convicted for an unknown crime, he was hanged from this bridge by the local posse. We returned to Chama in a lovely bus and the driver was very knowledgeable about the area and alerted us to various sights along the way. 

We highly recommend this trip for anyone from families with children to the elderly (that's us). It is an experience of a lifetime not to be missed. The Cumbres and Toltec is in operation every day from Memorial Day weekend through mid-October. Lunch is included with every trip.

This is all I have to say for now.

There was a miscommunication between the Photo Processing Department and the Editorial Desk here at World Headquarters. Below are pictures shot by Douglas A. Kerr, Photography taken during the Cumbres and Toltec Senic Railway adventure.)

Carla, checking email in our room at Cumbres Suites

The room was very country and comfortable

This is our engine #489

One of the other train engines in use

The Chama Depot and train yards
Carla, boarding the train
Carla, ready to ride
Our hostess
Some of the RR employees waving us off
This is the Fire Tender's machine and he followed the train ready to put out any fires the sparks might cause and to radio the proper people if a fire gets out of hand
People waving to us at the first crossing of Highway 17 which runs through New Mexico and Colorado at various times. We saw some of these same people at each crossing.
Our hostess came around at various times with delicious treats. We also got all non-alcoholic beverages gratis
Doug managed to grab a shot of a portion of the train as it went around a curve
The Cumbres Pass Station and some of the train followers waving to us
Here, they are getting rid the sediment in the boiler and it's called a "blow down"
One of three elk herds that we saw
This is another shot of the young elk being taught to herd
Another place to stop for water for the train if needed
I think this baby elk got separated from the herd
This herd had a number of little ones
We have arrived at Osier Station, Colorado for a much anticipated lunch
Carla, ready to dig in to that delicious turkey dinner with all the trimmings
The lunch crowd at Osier
Our train. This is the half-way point and another train was there to take people back to Chama after lunch as we headed onward to Antonito, Colorado
Carla, ready to board the train again
This  monument was erected in memory of and dedicated to President James A  Garfield by railroad ticket agents after his assassination in 1881
Toltec Gorge is 600 feet above the Rio de Los Pinos and 800 feet from the opposite rim of the gorge
Sublett, New Mexico was home for the section gangs, the men who maintained the right-of-way--ties, ballast and rails. This is one of the bunk houses for other workers. Telegraph and trains were their only communication with the rest of the world.
There were a number of these tiny road railroad crossings
The telegraph hut at Lava Tank
We made it back
After a good nights rest and another good breakfast at Cumbres Suites, we drove back down the highway to Abiquiu, New Mexico on Sunday, June 18, 2017, turned around and came back towards Chama so that Doug could shoot pictures of interesting mountains and rock structures that he missed on our way to Chama earlier.

As I drove along, Doug decided these jet contrails were interesting
The change in colors made this mesa look like frosting on a cake
I'm beginning to see why Georgia O'Keefe fell in love with the part of New Mexico
This is the natural amphitheater in the mountains between Abiquiu and Chama
The photo doesn't do it justice for color and rock formation
This looks like a sculpture if one just lets their imagination take over
A geologist could have a field day in these mountains
Doug noticed that many of these "Right Lane Ends" signs were in error as to how many feet before the lane ends. It was more like 100 feet and the signs all stated 1000 feet. He wrote to the Chief Highway Engineer of New Mexico when we got home.
This is apparently a burial tomb right in someone's yard
This really is all I have to say for now.

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