Monday, April 27, 2009
Railrunner Trip to Santa Fe
My friend, Pam, and I decided to have a girls' day out today, taking the New Mexico Railrunner to Santa Fe and back. It was a first time for both of us. The Railrunner is the commuter train that runs the central NM corridor, between Belen and Santa Fe. The train began service three years ago, but only extended its service to Santa Fe this past December. Since then it has become very popular for commuters who work in Santa Fe, but live in Albuquerque. It is a peaceful, pleasant hour-and-a-half ride between these two cities. We boarded at the historic Alvarado Transportation Center (picture above), which is the terminal for Amtrak, Railrunner, and long-distance buses. I think it's a beautiful building.
We knew better than to take the early morning train, when all the commuters would be on their way to work, so waited until 10:37 a.m., when another train departed the Albuquerque station, going north.
The cars are double-decker, so they really do hold a lot of people. Going up, the train was not very full at all. We shared the lower level of our car with only four other people. Here's a picture of the interior. That's Pam peeking over the back of her chair at me. On our return trip the train carried many more people, but we were still not crowded. Pam and I sat in facing seats, and neither of us had anyone sit beside us. I got a kick out of the signal that sounds each time the train doors are about to close -- "Beep-beep!" The Roadrunner!
I was a little disappointed because we were asked not to take pictures for a great part of the trip. We were going through Pueblo land, and taking pictures on most pueblos has been prohibited for decades. But here are a couple shots taken from my window, once we were off pueblo land.
The Santa Fe station is a little, old building, and is closed Monday through Wednesday, so we couldn't go inside. There's really no need to, anyway, because tickets are sold on-board the train. There are shuttle vans that take train passengers to the Santa Fe Plaza for no charge, and they are very efficient at getting people back and forth. We were at the plaza within ten minutes or so of arriving at the Santa Fe station. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day in Santa Fe, and, as usual, the plaza was festive.
I love the architecture of Santa Fe.
The pictures below are of the Palace of the Governors. This building was built in the early 17th century, and served as Spain's seat of government for what is now the American Southwest. It is an adobe structure located directly across the street from the Plaza, and the state's history museum is now housed inside. Outside, on the covered sidewalk, Native American artists display and sell their wares. I always enjoy working my way down the sidewalk and stopping to talk with some of the artists. Today, I especially enjoyed talking with a Navajo lady, from whom I ended up purchasing a necklace (pictures three and four below).
Our return trip on the Railrunner was as pleasant as the morning's trip. We were both tuckered out when we got back to Albuquerque, but very glad to have gone. I noticed, on the schedule, that it would be possible to take an evening train up to Santa Fe, have dinner, stroll the plaza a little, and be back home, in Albuquerque, by 9:00 or so. I think Dan and I should make plans for that.
By the way, a day pass on the train costs $8.00/person, which, ironically, is also what I paid to park my car in the garage across from the station.