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The 1.5 Million Trip 9/9/2017

by Chris Guenzler

I was working out how to get my 1,500,00.0 rail mile and was coming up 4.5 miles short. Then it dawned on me that the Irvine Park Railroad was 0.9 of a mile long so if I made five trips there it would all work out. This is the same railroad that saved me on my first 1,000,000.0 trip so I would be honored to let then save me again. I called Robin Bowers and he also wanted to ride it as well. So Saturday morning, 8/8/2017, I drove us both to Irvine Park.

The Irvine Park train. I also needed 0.4 Rail miles so we stopped on the way home and rode the Santa Ana Zoo train, which was was also new to Robin.

The Santa Ana Zoo train. I had a plan that I was going to try to stick to. On the Saturday before, Amtrak had engine problems with Pacific Surfliner 562 which meant I had to change my plan again and ride to Fullerton then Oceanside this morning and leave the Solana Beach round-trip of it until Monday. Then I found an error so I had to change the plan again. This time I checked the math four times to make sure that this plan would work and it did.

The new plan! Everything works out if you let it!

That Saturday morning finally arrived with me have not been on a train in seven days. This goal has taken me over ten years of riding to accomplish. So I woke up, then awoke Elizabeth, who had flown down from Lynnwood, Washington for this event. I made us breakfast before we drove to the Santa Ana station very early so we could pass out Event T-shirts to my friends who were going to be riding with me this morning. I was excited that this day had finally arrived. People started to arrive but we held off on pictures until Pacific Surfliner 1761 arrived.

Pacific Surfliner 1761 on its way to San Luis Obispo this morning.

Members of our group joining me on the 1.5 million mile trip. After these pictures and many others by those gathered, I walked toward the tracks and saw a headlight coming and motioned to the group to follow me to the platform to be ready to board the train.

Pacific Surfliner 562 arrived and the engineer spotted the door of the cab car right in front of me. We all went into the cab car and took seats on the upper level to enjoy the ride down to Solana Beach. Now I will show you everyone who joined me on this trip up to this point.

Good friend Carl Morrison, a fellow writer.

David Aten.

My good friend Chris Parker.

My good friend Robin Bowers, another writer, and good friend Arnold James, known as AJ.

Mike Kimura.

Another good friend, Bill Compton.

My honorary sister, Elizabeth Alkire.

The group on Pacific Surfliner 562.

Me and my reflection. The train made the station stops of Irvine and San Juan Capistrano but unlike normal trips, we did meet Pacific Surfliner 763 who happened to be ten minutes late this morning.

San Clemente Pier on an overcast morning. We ran all the way to Oceanside and took Track 2 into the station. After our stop and meeting Pacific Surfliner 565, we crossed over to get out of the way of Metrolink 661, who was waiting south of the block for us to leave. The train then made the fast trip the rest of the way to Solana Beach. We arrived there and I was now at 1,499,933.4 rail miles and only needed the 66.6 rail miles back to Santa Ana to complete my goal. Carl then had an idea for a picture so I set it up.

The group on Track 1 under the shelter that says Solana Beach above it. We went into the station and I gave Cathy, the Solana Beach station agent, a T-shirt for all the hard work she has done for me over my years of train riding. We all crossed the bridge to Track 2 with most people taking the elevator but a few walked and took the stairs.

We then posed the group on the stairs leading down to Track 2.

The group posed with only me needing 66.6 rail miles to finish my goal.

My 1.5 million mile ticket which Conductor CJ scanned, as well as all of our group's Pacific Business Class tickets from Solana Beach to Santa Ana. After that people wanted to get pictures of me with CJ.

Myself and Conductor CJ. This train met Coaster 680 at CP Swami then made the Coaster stops at Encintas, Carlsbad Poinsettia, Carlsbad Village and on into Oceanside.There we gained one more person to our group.

Metrolink conductor Henry Valent joined our group in Oceanside.

Our complete group now heading to Santa Ana. We met Metrolink 857 at CP Songs, then met Pacific Surfliner 1566 at CP Serra then stopped at San Juan Capistrano. We then met Metrolink 660 on the fly before Irvine then for some unknown reason, crossed over at CP Tinkham and ran Main 2 the rest of the way to Santa Ana.

1.5 million rail miles has been completed as I stepped off Surfliner 1567. Note we colored my index finger black to represent the point in 1.5 millionth rail mile.

Conductor CJ presenting me with a 1.5 million rail mile plaque.

Conductor CJ highballs Pacific Surfliner 1567 as it heads to Los Angeles.

My two wonderful Santa Ana Amtrak agents, Irma and Cathy, were in full swing of the celebration this morning. I thanked both of them for all their hard work getting me tickets for many, many trips over the years.

Pacific Surfliner 1567 heads for Los Angeles and later I would start my quest for 2 million rail miles. I want to thank all my friends who came with me on this trip. You all made it very special for me and let us do it again at my next milestone. See you then.