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Silver Splendor to San Diego 1/28/2012

by Chris Guenzler

LARail announced that for 99 dollars, one could take a round trip aboard the dome car "Silver Splendor" with buffet sandwich service from Los Angeles to San Diego and back. Winston Walker and his daughter Christy told me about it and I called John Caestecker to get myself aboard this unique trip. AC Adam would meet us in San Diego when we arrived there.

That Saturday morning after doing my chores, I drove to the Santa Ana station and parked my Geo Metro. Across the tracks on the east platform were Winston and Christy, and I walked over to them via the Santa Ana Boulevard grade crossing.

Pacific Surfliner 565

We boarded and took seats in a Superliner coach for the quick trip to LAUPT.

Winston and Christy relaxing on the way to Los Angeles. The train stopped at Orange, Anaheim and Fullerton before making the final sprint.

Downtown Los Angeles with two workers working on Santa Fe 4-8-4 3751.

Amtrak MP21B 591 built by Motive Power Industries in 2010.

Amtrak Pacific Parlour Car "Sonoma Valley", ex. Amtrak 9974, nee Santa Fe 759 built by Budd Company in 1956.

Amtrak P32-8 507 at the Garden Tracks just before we arrived into LAUPT and detrained.

Pacific Surfliner 565 reverses onto "Silver Splendor".

Conductor John and a future Amtrak Conductor maybe? Our train was now Pacific Surfliner 572. Now time for some pictures.

Pacific Surfliner 572

I walked down to get a picture of the lead end of the train then walked back down the platform of Track 8.

Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Vista-Dome 4735 "Silver Splendor", nee "Silver Buckle" built by the Budd Company in 1956. It was part of the last two complete conventional train sets to be ordered new in the pre-Amtrak era and traveled over 4.5 million miles on a daily basis between Chicago and Denver until 1980.

With standard coach seating for 50 and 24 seats up in the dome, "Silver Buckle" provided fast and comfortable service for budget-minded patrons until Amtrak's bi-level Superliners arrived. Officially retired in 1981, the car spent time in storage at Oakland, California and Beech Grove, Indiana before being auctioned off by Amtrak to a railcar shop owner in 1993. In 1997, the current owners, Heidi and John Caestecker, purchased the car in the Midwest and moved it to Fullerton with the intent of restoring it to operating condition as a luxurious dome-diner-lounge. Dining capacity will be 24 at tables upstairs and another 24 in the long end of the lower level. A cocktail lounge seating 10-12 will be featured in the short end, with kitchen and restrooms under the dome.

The rear of Pacific Surfliner 572.

One more view. I then called Let's Talk Trains, the Internet Radio Show to give my weekly update when I cannot host. We boarded "Silver Splendor" and sat at a table under the dome, enjoying the finger food and a Coca-Cola while waiting to depart. Once underway, I went to the vestibule to start my picture- taking.

Curving around beside the old Terminal Tower.

We had left LAUPT behind.

The train took the curve leaving the station.

Leaving the skyline of downtown Los Angeles behind us.

We turned to start the trip along the Los Angeles River.

Mission Tower still looks good.

The Los Angeles River on a beautiful Southern California day.

A late-running Metrolink 661 heads to LAUPT.

Running along the Los Angeles River.

A late Pacific Surfliner 567 crosses the Los Angeles River Flyover, also called the Redondo Flyover.

A Union Pacific power set across the Los Angeles River.

Pacific Surfliner 567 heading to LAUPT.

Our train crossing the Los Angeles River Flyover.

A Union Pacific Herzog ballast train ran beneath our route.

At the top of the Los Angeles River Flyover.

Dropping off the flyover.

Hobart Tower.

A yard power set switches piggyback cars at BNSF's Hobart Yard.

Another BNSF power set here.

BNSF Hobart Yard.

The train stopped at a red signal as a disabled BNSF remote control power set was stopped in the middle of the crossover at Eastern Avenue and would have to be rescued. We sat until the dispatcher could clear a track for us to get by.

This BNSF power set came out and switched over to get to the disabled BNSF remote power set.

We passed the BNSF power as we were on our way after a twenty minute delay.

The disabled remote power set as we went by it.

BNSF motive power at the Commerce Engine Facility.

BNSF local power waiting for Monday to come. I went back up to the dome for a few minutes.

Passengers enjoying the dome, after which I returned to the vestibule.

The train rounded the large big curve at Norwalk.

Pacific Surfliner 769 next passed us on the way to Los Angeles and then Goleta.

At La Mirada, we crossed over to the north track to avoid track work.

BNSF was replacing switches here this Saturday morning.

The red flags for westbound train movements as we continued and ran through Buena Park and on to Fullerton.

The train turned onto the Metrolink San Diego Subdivision and we headed to Anaheim where four more passengers joined our group.

The Santa Ana River on a beautiful late January morning.

Taking the curve at Orange.

Two young railfans enjoying the vestibule.

The train took the "S" curve across Santiago Creek.

Approaching Santa Ana station.

After the station stop there, we left Santa Ana behind.

Taking the curve to head to Tustin and Irvine. I returned to the dome and enjoyed the ride under the glass until Laguna Niguel, when we took a table down stairs because more people would be boarding in San Juan Capistrano, so those people could enjoy the ride in the dome. After our San Juan Capistrano stop, we headed to the surf.

The first view of the beautiful Pacific Ocean.

My favorite American Flag display in the United States of America.

The surf along San Clemente Beach.

Views of San Clemente Pier.

The reef and sail boats on a beautiful sunny winter day.

Sea Lions on the rocks and birds in the air makes for a great day at San Clemente Beach.

I saw that the work at the San Mateo Creek Trestle had been completed and we continued on to the San Onofre Bluffs.

The views towards the surf along the bluffs.

Military building for practice at Camp Pendleton. Soon we were approaching Stuart Mesa.

Pacific Sun Rail and Coaster trains await their service times.

Pacific Sun Rail WAMX GP40-3 4048, ex. Helm Atlantic Leasing GP40 804, exxx. Kyle 804, exxxx. San Luis and Rio Grande, exxxxx. CSX 6746 nee Seaboard Coast Line 1591 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1971.

Metrolink and Coaster trains spend the weekends together at Stuart Mesa.

Pacific Sun Rail WAMX GP38L 3509, ex. Palouse River Railroad/Blue Mountain Railroad 792, exx. Union Pacific GP38 792, nee Western Pacific 3013 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1965.

Pacific Sun Rail WAMX GP35L 3513, ex. Palouse River Railroad/Blue Mountain Railroad 799, exx. Union Pacific GP38 799, nee Western Pacific 3022 built by Electro-Motive Division in 1965.

More scenes from Stuart Mesa.

A late-running Pacific Surfliner 775 passed us here and we contiued to Oceanside.

After Oceanside we ran through CP Longboard.

The new control point called CP Carl. From here I relaxed the rest of the way to San Diego, at which we arrived at 2:14 PM or 19 minutes late. Christy bought our Trolley day passes and we met AC Adam then waited for the San Diego Trolley. Construction was occurring on B Street so we went straight via the Bayside Line to the 12th and Imperial station, where we transferred to the Blue Line to San Ysidro. Upon arrival, we walked over to the waiting Trolley but left Winston and Christy who did not make it, so caught the next one. The trolley then left San Ysidro.

Knowing that they would follow us by 15 minutes, AC Adam and I took the Trolley back north to Bayfront/E Street stop and walked over to the Black Angus where we were informed there was a 30 minute wait for a table. After 20 minutes, we were seated and soon ordered. I went out front and here came Winston and Christy and I called across the street to tell them where we were seated. Once we all were back together, we had a nice discussion of what to do if this ever happened again. I enjoyed a Top Sirloin and ice cream with hot fudge which made me a very happy traveller. After that very good meal, we walked back over to the Trolley stop.

The happy reunited travelers waiting for the Trolley back to 12th and Imperial.

This trolley took us back to 12th and Imperial where we transferred to the Trolley to take us back to the Santa Fe station where left AC Adam and reboarded "Silver Splendor".

"Silver Splendor" waiting for Pacific Surfliner 580 which was approaching, along with private car "Montana" which would be picked by the last train of the night.

The view from "Silver Splendor" before we departed San Diego. We enjoyed a good dessert as we headed back north towards Santa Ana where the three of us would detrain. We turned off all the lights to enjoy the views as we went north. It had been another excellent trip aboard the this dome car but alas, all good things must come to an end as our train returned us to Santa Ana on time. I ran up and over the pedestrian bridge for a final picture.

Pacific Surfliner 591 departed with "Silver Splendor" on the rear. I said good night to Winston and Christy and would see himn next Saturday when we would ride the Coast Starlight detour trip over the Tehachapi Loop and Altamont Pass to Oakland.