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850,000 Rail Miles Reached! 2/20/2005

by Chris Guenzler

I try to plan when I will hit my milestones in advance but sometimes things occur that end up making me change my plans. I was going to head north up to Simi Valley to see Bob but yet another heavy rainstorm washed out the Union Pacific Coastline once again. The rain is always a blessing to all of us living in Southern California but like anything, too much of a good thing is bad. I managed to get within the range of 850,000 on Saturday February 19th, 2005 and I knew that Sunday February 20th, 2005 would be the date of me reaching this next goal on my way to 1 Million Rail Miles.

Surfliner 574 2/20/2005

The morning of February 20th, 2005 started with me at 849,030.6 rail miles and it had poured rain just before I woke up. Both the LA Times and OC Register were double wrapped in plastic to keep them dry. I checked my e mail while my breakfast was cooking then prepared to head to the Santa Ana Amtrak Station for the 92.3 mile trip to San Diego. Surfliner 763 was in the station only heading to Los Angeles as the tracks were still closed north of there. I checked with Gary, the excellent morning Amtrak agent, to get the status of my southbound Surfliner 564 which was running on time. The train pulled in and I boarded the Coach/Cafe car riding backwards like I love to do sometimes. An extra board conductor took my ticket as the train headed to Irvine through a light shower. The train pulled into Irvine and I always wonder why only at Irvine do people wait until after the train arrives before they say their good byes. They were still hugging when the conductor yelled "All aboard!" Then and only then do they make a mad dash for the train. All the creeks were flowing with more runoff from the latest rains and I wonder just how much more rains the hillsides will take. We meet Surfliner 565 at CP Avery before we made our way to San Juan Capistrano and my car filled up with passengers heading to San Diego and its attractions. We crossed San Juan Creek and made our way to the Pacific Ocean Shoreline running. After each major storm it is interesting to see how the mouth of the major creeks have changed. San Juan Creek has formed a small sandbar bay.

The Surfliner next passed the homes and trailer park beneath the cliffs and along the ocean prior to and along the beach passing the San Clemente Metrolink Station. Just beyond that every Sunday in good weather you will find the Church at the Beach complete with waving to the train and a big smiling face that is held up. The tide was lowering from high as we rolled south along the rocks only 14 feet above sea level. The train passed the pier which like the beach was empty as a flock of birds flew in formation just above the waves. The sun was out here with more rain clouds out over the ocean. We made our way to the end of the city beach and picked back up speed as the Surfliner passed County Line and crossed both San Mateo and San Onofre Creeks. I was listening to the new Young Dubliners "Real World" CD as the train rolled by the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant and across Camp Pendleton. I read the new Classic Trains and all to quick we were in Oceanside. The sun was still out as we made our way to Solona Beach but south of there it clouded up. The view from the Del Mar Bluffs was stunning before we turned inland for Sorrento Valley. The train climbed the Miramar Grade and then rolled down Rose Canyon before exiting out into a very wet northern San Diego. By the stop at Old Town it turned dry as many people are now using this weekend only stop. For Sea World take the Number 9 Bus. Four quick minutes later the train pulled into the Santa Fe Station in San Diego. I detrained and went into the station to get some Coca-Cola for my northbound trip home. During my brief stay in San Diego while they serviced the train I recorded the train's consist. Pulling south was F69PHI 566, 6800 Pacific Business Class, 6304 Coach/Cafe, 6406 Coach, 31046 Superliner Coach and Cab Car 6865 Point Conception.

Surfliner 571 2/20/2005

The bells tolled and the gate was open with all who wanted to take Surfliner 571 crossing the pair of San Diego Trolley tracks before heading to the train. I boarded and found a forward ocean side seat for my trip north. The train left San Diego on time with the "ever answering all questions to passenger delight" Conductor Nicholson taking my ticket. I told her of my quest for my 850,000 rail mile and she was really happy to be part of my train travel experience. We ran up to Cumbres to wait for Surfliner 566. I went to the Cafe Car for a giant chocolate chip cookie and on the way back stopped at the train crew table. I knew that MP 215.8 was someplace between CP San Onofre and CP Pulgas and our wonderful conductor had her Route Mileage Chart out so I asked if I could have a look. This is the part I looked at.


I-5 Fwy O.P. 215.6

Don O.P. 216.0

Las Pulgas Rd. U.P. 217.3

Las Flores Creek 218.0

CP PULGAS M.P. 218.1

I would pass it between the Don Overpass {ie Tank Bridge} and the Interstate 5 Freeway Bridge at MP 215.6 so I was now set to know my exact location. The train turned onto the Del Mar Bluff and went into a rain shower. The station stop at Solana was a wet one and we left for a drier environment that we reached north of Cardiff by the Sea. The stop at Oceanside was done in sunshine and all too soon we were headed north. We meet Surfliner 768 at CP Puller and now I knew the milepost would be minutes within my grasp. The Surfliner sped north passing CP Los Flores then CP Pulgas {Fleas}. The train crossed the Los Pulgas Creek before curving over Los Pulgas Road. A mile and a third later we went under the Tank Bridge and a few seconds later at 90 MPH we sailed passed MP 215.8. All to quickly it was all done and we ducked under Interstate 5 as I opened a Coca-Cola to celebrate. Now it would be on towards 900,000 followed by a million rail miles God willing and if the creeks do not rise. I listened to Yes "Drama" as we cruised along the waters edge through San Clemente. Someone was out practicing for Mugs Away "Moon Amtrak" event the second Saturday in July. I would say that this person needs to work on his mooning. San Juan Capistrano and Irvine came very quickly and 9.8 miles later I would detrain at Santa Ana with a grand total of 850, 030.6 rail miles.