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Railsale - Bakersfield to Sacramento 8/8/2002

by Chris Guenzler

Back on July 5, 2002 I was scanning Amtrak's Railsale page on their web site and came across Train 701 for $10.80 to Sacramento and Train 704 for $10.80 back to Bakersfield. This was the new set of San Joaquin trains that give a trip up the San Joaquin Valley in the morning and back down the valley to Bakersfield in the evening. There is no Thruway bus from points south of Los Angeles and the evening connection only comes to Santa Ana. The only way to do this trip was to either take the midnight bus to Bakersfield and wait for two hours or to drive. I chose the latter deciding to race the bus to Bakersfield. On the morning of August 8th, the bus left Los Angeles at 3:55 AM and Arrived at Bakersfield at 6:55 AM. I left Santa Ana in my Geo Metro at 4:15 AM, crossed the Grapevine and passed the Thruway near the Tejon Rest Area and arrived Bakersfield at 6:30 AM. I went 26 miles further and still easily beat the bus. My day had started out great. I even had time to get donuts and chocolate milk on my way to the Bakersfield Amtrak station.

San Joaquin 701 8/8/2002

We left Bakersfield on time with me riding in the coach "Pitt River" as I enjoyed my donuts and milk as the conductor took my ticket. He put up my hat check which he just slid in. I looked at it and discovered the Oakland Maintence put this clips in the correct way while LA Maintenance put them in upside down. I learned later that LA Maintenance is now a national joke for this incident. With such an early start after last night's Orange County Railway Historical Society meeting, I decided to take a nap and slept almost to Fresno waking up just south of the UP crossing at Calwa and the passing of the BNSF Calwa yard. I went to the Cafe Car, the San Joaquin River for a 7 UP to enjoy. Number 701 arrive on time at Fresno before continuing our journey north. We crossed the San Joaquin River before meeting Amtrak 702 at Kismet. We ran with no freight train delays. The train passed Amtrak 712 at Ballico on the fly and outside Stockton our train ran around a Stack Train causing us no delay. My San Joaquin rounded the connection at Stockton onto the former SP {UP} to the stop in the middle of the street at the ACE {Altamont Commuter Express} station. We left Stockton on time and went into the siding at Tomspur to meet UP 2367 East. The train made the new stop of Lodi where there was a railfan armed with his scanner and note pad. We proceeded the rest of the way to Sacramento, passing the Siemens Plant with new subway cars for Mexico City, some loaded onto flat cars for transport before we reached Elvas Tower to turn west to the Amtrak Station. We arrived ten minutes early.

Sacramento 8/8/2002

I walked into the station to find my brother Bruce, who works as the Amtrak agent there and we went across the street to Lucy's for lunch. I enjoyed a French Dip sandwich as Bruce and I got caught up with things. With Bruce having to go back to work, I went to the Downtown Mall to the Century Theater where I saw "Austin Powers Goldmember" and laughed my head off at several scenes. I walked over to Old Sacramento to see what the Railroad Museum had outside. The new arrivals of SP SD-45T-2 6819 and Amtrak F-40PH 281, an old friend of mine where out where people could take pictures of. I visited the book store before returning to the depot where I met Bruce and said my goodbyes to him. I went out to the platform to watch trains arrive and depot before our train came out of the storage track crossed over and pushed into the station to load.

San Joaquin 704 8/8/2002

I rode in the new cab car, Point Bonita which has Surfliner seats since this car it was an add on to the Surfliner order for use on the Capitol and San Joaquin Corridors trains. If one had a choice on a train of Cal Car seats or these, I would always take the Surfliner style seats. Riding the Cal Car north just reminded me of how great and comfortable these seats really are. We headed back south with me enjoying Hot BBQ Spicy Chicken Wings. We made our stop at Lodi and Stockton before our train sat on the connector at the BNSF waiting for the westbound Amtrak 715 to pass. Further south we met Amtrak 717 in the siding at Planda and went around the BNSF 886 coil steel train at Le Grand. I just enjoyed the afternoon ride down the San Joaquin Valley. The train ran to Fresno where we met Amtrak 703 before we continued our dash down the valley. The sun set nicely in the west and I took a nap down to Sandrini knowing that I still had to drive back home tonight. The valley was pitch black as the train sped onto Wasco before arriving Bakersfield ten minutes early. I was off in my car back over the Ridge Route to Santa Ana arriving home at 11:50 PM. The bus in case you wondered was due into Los Angeles at 12:25 AM and to Santa Ana at 1:25 AM. If you figured that I was already in dreamland by the time that bus got to Los Angeles, then you are right. All in all, a great Railsale trip!