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Speeder Trip on the Big Trees & Pacific Railway and Santa Cruz & Monterey Bay Railway Part 1

by Chris Guenzler

I got on-line one night in January and went to the NARCOA website and saw these trips advertised. I contacted Bill Schertle, the Excursion Organizer, and arranged for myself and Chris Parker to be on this trip. I reserved a motel in Santa Cruz as well as a rental car. Bill and I stayed in contact over the next few months and finally the day came to pick up the rental car. After work, my friend Robin drove me to Enterprise after I took my mother to her doctor's appointment. While Robin waited at my house, I picked up the rental car, a Chrysler 200, on my Day 7400 of my sobriety. I filled it with gas and drove to the Santa Ana Amtrak station and parked. Robin and I took Pacific Surfliner 774 to Irvine then Pacific Surfliner 777 back to Santa Ana. I drove the rental car home then picked up my mother and brought her home. I watched the Capitols/Islanders hockey game then relaxed the evening away before having a good night's sleep to be ready for the drive to Santa Cruz.

4/24/2015 I got up at 4:30 AM and after showering and a good breakfast, I headed up Interstate 5 to US 101 exiting at Vignes Street where I pulled into the Denny's parking lot to wait for Chris Parker. He dropped off his bags then parked his car at LAUPT. A few minutes later, I picked him up and we drove back over to Interstate 5 to CA Highway 43 to the BNSF mainline which we would follow north to near Hanford.

BNSF 1019 East north of Sandrini, which was the only BNSF trains on this trip. We took CA 43 to Selma where I got onto CA 99 north. I drove us north to Merced where we first got Chris Parker a new memory card for his phone, then to Enterprise to get him as a driver of the car then we went to Carl's Junior for an early lunch. From here to Hollister Chris Parker would be the driver. At Notarb siding we pulled off the freeway for a couple of pictures

Union Pacific 7933 with HLCX 1842 East at Notarb. From here we took CA 99 north to CA 152 which we would take over Pacheco Pass under a high wind warning this late morning.

A pair of Dust Devils along CA 152 on the San Joaquin Valley floor.

The forebay of the San Luis Reservoir.

The California Golden Hills which would have been green if we were not in the middle of a drought. We made it over Pacheco Pass and then took CA 156 into Hollister where I found something interesting.

The Southern Pacific Hollister station.

The SP tracks in Hollister now owned by the Union Pacific. From here to Santa Cruz I was the driver again. We went back to CA 156 which we took to US 101 north to CA Highway 129 West to Murphy Crossing Road to San Juan Road then Allison Lane to Railroad Avenue and saw Watsonville Yard. We then made a right on Salinas road back to CA Highway 129 the CA Highway 1 north to Santa Cruz where we took Chestnut Street to the wig wag crossing signals along that street.

The Walnut Street wig wag crossing signal in Santa Cruz.

The Lincoln Street wig wag crossing signal in Santa Cruz. From here we took Laurel Street to San Lorenzo which turns into East Cliff where we found our last wig way in Santa Cruz.

The Seabright Street wig wag crossing signal in Santa Cruz. From here we returned the way we came to Riverside Avenue which we pulled into the Big Six Motel where we checked in. After we relaxed a few minutes Chris and I walked to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk then out onto the Santa Cruz Pier.

The Santa Cruz Beach.

Santa Cruz Fun Zone and Boardwalk.

View from the Santa Cruz Pier looking east.

View looking west off the Santa Cruz Pier. For an early dinner we went to the Firefish Grill where I had great steak for my meal.

Chris Parker at the Firefish Grill. After dinner we walked out to the end of the Santa Cruz Pier.

Views of the Santa Cruz Fun Zone and Boardwalk.

Views from the Santa Cruz Pier.

California Sea Lions under the Santa Cruz Pier.

Sailboat off the Santa Cruz Pier.

Views from the Santa Cruz Pier.

California Harbor Seals.

That sail boat came around again.

A California Sea Lion under the Santa Cruz Pier.

California Sea Lions on a floating dock at the Santa Cruz Pier.

California Sea Lions on a floating dock at the Santa Cruz Pier.

The Santa Cruz Pier.

The cliffs north of the San Lorenzo River.

Looking east towards the San Lorenzo River Railroad Bridge.

The San Lorenzo River railroad bridge. We returned to the Big Six Motel then drove to Subway to get sandwiches for tomorrow. I also went to 7-11 for some chocolate donuts for tomorrow. We returned to the motel where Chris worked at his business in the car while I worked on this story and watched my Pittsburgh Penguins lose to the New York Rangers. I finished the story and watched some TV before calling it a night.

Click here for Part 2 of this story