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Train Travel Meetup Group Trip to San Luis Obispo 1/19/2015

by Chris Guenzler

I proposed a trip to San Luis Obispo and posted it on the Train Travel Meetup Group website. Eight people responded that they would like to go so each purchased their own Amtrak tickets for the trip.

It was an early morning rise and after a shower and breakfast, I drove down to the Santa Ana station and parked. I saw the Walker's car and knew that I would find them at the Metrolink ticket machine on the station side which was not working. They went to Track 1 via the elevator and pedestrian bridge and I went via my car to pick up my stuff for the trip then went to the Santa Ana Boulevard grade crossing to reach Track 1. This is why you give yourself 30 extra minutes before your train is due if you are using a Metrolink machine. I reached the machine first and used my debit card which worked fine. I have traveled all over North America on trains and used all kind of ticketing machines, and only the Metrolink machines have given me any kind of problems. I think Metrolink needs new machines. The Walkers joined me and tried cash which would not work but their debit card did. We went and sat down waiting for our first train to LAUPT.

It is peaceful at Santa Ana at 5:20 AM. Robin Bowers was next to arrive with his Metrolink ticket in hand.

A few minutes late, Metrolink 601 arrived in Santa Ana to pick all of us up. The Walkers took seats downstairs and Robin and I went upstairs on a very dark morning for the pre-dawn run to LAUPT. Christy came up for a visit as did I, going down to check on Winston. I am glad we make this trip just once a year as the Metrolink cars are much too bright for this time of day and you cannot really see well out of them. We arrived at LAUPT and walked over to Track 9 to wait for our train to San Luis Obispo to arrive then saw Carl Morrison who was off photographing trains. Robin went to Phillipe's for breakfast as did Chris Parker and AJ. David Aten and his wife soon arrived and Christy went off to take some pictures on her own.

Pacific Surfliner 761 1/19/2015

The train crew arrived and opened the Surfliner train and we took seats in the State-owned Superliner car. Everyone had their own window seat and soon the train departed on time. It was announced we would go the old traditional Southern Pacific route leaving LAUPT heading to Mission Tower then crossing to the east bank. I took a few pictures of this.

As we got onto the east bank of the Los Angeles River, you notice that we have Amtrak Heritage Unit 184 pulling our train to San Luis Obispo today. We made our way talking all the way through the San Fernando Valley then through two tunnels to the Simi Valley on to Oxnard and Ventura where the scenic highlights began.

Pacific Surfliner 761 meets the shore of the Pacific Ocean west of Ventura.

Our train travel group inside the Surfliner car in which we are riding. This is the first SLO trip we have done without the Amfleet cars.

The fog bank disrupted our views of the Channel Islands this morning. We made our way to Carpinteria then entered a fog bank that lasted until just west of Goleta. Chris and AJ just were going to Santa Barbara with us and decided they did not want a foggy day. Our wonderful conductor upgraded both of their tickets both ways so they could comtinue on to SLO with us. We took a fresh air break at Santa Barbara before heading onto foggy Goleta. Later we returned to the sunny views of the Pacific Ocean and the views of which I never tire.

Two of the coves along our route.

There is an offshore oil well out there.

Each cove is a little different from each other.

I never get tired of these views.

A little southwest swell this morning in the Santa Barbara Channel.

Another offshore oil well standing guard.

Two more coves along our route.

A boat that can no longer be used.

Nearing Point Conception.

Our train turns northward at Point Conception.

Looking north towards Point Arguello.

Looking back at Point Conception.

Looking towards Point Arguello.

I had never noticed this cross at the Jalama Beach Road grade crossing.

Jalama Beach.

Looking towards Point Arguello.

The surf at Jalama Beach.

Looking towards Point Arguello.

Looking back at Point Conception.

Looking towards Point Arguello.

Looking back at Point Conception.

The train wass closing in on Point Arguello.

The train ran through unspoiled California.

Point Arguello.

A final look back at Point Conception.

Point Arguello.

Another unique California cove.

Some buildings on Vanderberg Air Force Base.

Looking back.

Two coastal views ahead of the train as it heads towards Point Sal.

Three more views of the next cove along our route today.

I have always liked this scene.

Views of the large surf found in this part of California.

A coastal view ahead of the train as it heads towards Point Sal.

Views of the powerful surf found here in California.

Another coastal view ahead of the train as it heads towards Point Sal.

The train waa pulling into the Lompoc/Surf station.

The surf at Surf.

The Santa Ynez River at Surf.

A fresh water pond behind the sand dunes at Surf.

The train took a slight curve on Vanderberg Air Force Base after which I went to the Cafe for a hot dog, pretzels and a big chocolate cookie for lunch.

The train turned east and Point Sal was seen to the northwest.

At Casmalia the train turned north.

The train at this grade crossing that once had wig wag signals here.

Nearing the top of the grade before we drop into the Santa Maria Valley.

At Guadalupe an old Southern Pacific baggage car could be seen.

GMTX GP38-2 2681 (ex. Locomotive Leasing Partners 2032, exx. Conrail 7735, exxx. CSX 1969, nee Penn Central 7735, built by Electro-Motive Division in 1969) at Guadalupe.

The sand dunes west of our train north of Guadalupe.

Ever-changing views along our route.

Dropping down into Grover Beach. After that our conductor told us we could stay on the train in San Luis Obispo which really helped Winston; I would jump off for a few quick pictures.

Pacific Surfliner 761 arrived into San Luis Obispo.

Amtrak Heritage unit 184 brought us ghere. I reboarded the train for the trip home and looked at items on the Internet before we left. We relaxed and talked all the way back home. The fog came back into play around San Luis Obispo and then darkness came into play the rest of the way home. Chris and AJ detrained at LAUPT and Carl and the Aten's bailed at Fullerton. The rest of us detrained at Santa Ana, ending another great train travel group trip to San Luis Obispo.