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Santa Barbara Zoo Railroad 12/7/2008

by Chris Guenzler

When Tom Anderson asked me if I was going on the Train Riders Santa Barbara Wine Tasting Trip I thought I would go just as the sober person I am. Then I got an idea, I had wanted to ride the Santa Barbara Zoo Railroad to write a story about it. I contacted the Santa Barbara Zoo via e-mail to set up my visit. I got up the Sunday morning after shooting the Metrolink Holiday Express Toy Train at Tustin the night before. I drove down to the Santa Ana Train Station and got there with the signs saying all trains leave from Track 1 so I walked over to it and waited for the train to arrive.

Surfliner 763 12/7/2008

Surfliner 763 arrived on time into Santa Ana. I boarded the Surfliner Cab Car and sat facing backwards on the upper level. At Fullerton Carole Walker, Carl Morrison, Steve Grande and his wife Barbara, Tom Anderson and AJ joined me and soon we were off to Santa Barbara, They would go to lunch then wine tasting while I would go to the Santa Barbara Zoo to ride their zoo train.

The Santa Barbara Zoo Railroad 12/7/2008

I boarded the train taking the rear facing seat with two delightful children and we talked about me writing the story before the train departed on the twelve minute trip around the Santa Barbara Zoo. In 1968 Volunteers installed the first miniature railroad track to circle the hilltop the Santa Barbara Zoo was built on. In order to purchase the locomotive and coaches, the Zoo secured its first and only bank loan. The train became an instant hit with Zoo goers and that loan was paid off within six months.

The train has left the station.

The train started down the grade to the front of the Santa Barbara Zoo.

The grade is pretty steep as we made our way down it.

The train approaches the main zoo entrance.

The train takes the curve to start the run along the north side of the Santa Barbara Zoo.

The main entrance to the Santa Barbara Zoo.

Running along the zoo back area.

The tracks run along the former Southern Pacific mainline.

The train took a pair of curves along the north side of the Santa Barbara Zoo.

The shed is where the train is stored.

Some very interesting plant topiary.

I was really impressed by the plant life along our route.

The lagoon also known as The Andree Clark Bird Refuge.

The train crossed this trestle as it runs along lagoon.

A beautiful day for a train ride at the Santa Barbara Zoo.

Taking a curve past a palm tree.

The train taking another curve.

A mosaic snake wrapped around a tree branch.

The train took another curve.

Two views of the Giraffes.

The Lion got spooked by the noise of the train and hide in the brush.

The track along the south side of the Santa Barbara Zoo.

A pair of curves on our route.

Wooden retaining walls along our route.

A wire tunnel without vegetation growing over it.

Three views looking back.

The train has entered the tunnel on the railroad.

Our train has returned us to the station where I detrained.

View of the tunnel we had past through returning us to our starting point.

The engine of the Blue Santa Barbara Zoo Train.

Another view of the Blue Engine.

The controls on the Blue Engine.

The train ready for its next round trip so I headed to the Picnic Area but passed something I needed a picture of.

It was Snow Leopard Day at the Santa Barbara Zoo and the families got to play in the snow that had been trucked in. I walked over to the Picnic Area to wait for the next passing of the Santa Barbara Zoo Train.

The view from the Picnic Area of the Santa Barbara zoo Train. I headed down to the front gate for my last pictures of the Santa Barbara Zoo Train.

The train ran by the Main Entrance and once it had gone on its way, I thanked them for an excellent visit to the Santa Barbara Zoo and the ride on their Railroad.

Santa Barbara 12/7/2008

I left the Santa Barbara Zoo and walked over to The Habit on S. Milpas Street. I had a Tri Tip Sandwich on sourdough with a chocolate shake. After a good meal I stopped at a Unocal Station for supplies before I started the hike back to the train station. About half way there I called Tom to see where all the Wine Tasters were and they were about a quarter mile away down the road to the train station. He said they had been to the Santa Barbara Winery and were now at the Oreana Winery. I got there just as they were finishing up. Next they walked down the street to the Kalyra Winery where I watched them all wine taste.

The group wine tasting at the Kalyra Winery. Once they finished there, we went next door to the Gissenger Winery where they wine tasted and I sat on a couch. Once they finished, we walked back over to near the station, but we time to kill, we decided to walk out to Sterns Wharf. Carole and I walked all the way out to the end so I decided to take a few pictures.

A Pelican strutting his stuff out on the Sterns Wharf.

Carole Walker on a very beautiful late afternoon at the end of the Santa Barbara Wharf. We caught back up with our group and headed back to the Santa Barbara Amtrak Station to wait for our train to start our trip towards home. The train had a bad meet with the northbound Coast Starlight and was running late, but the station did not make a single station announcement about the lateness of the train.

Surfliner 792 12/7/2008

We all boarded the low level Horizon fleet train and took seats in the last of the open coaches. The train ran down the rails with no delays.

Two post sunset views as we headed south along the Pacific Coast shoreline.

Steve Grande hard at work on the return trip.

AJ enjoying his trip back. The train ran really well on the new weekend schedule and as we neared Los Angeles it look like we could catch Surfliner 590 at 7:00 PM. As the train came into Union Station though, we came to a stop, first letting Surfliner 785 leave Los Angeles Union Station then we waited to let Surfliner 590 leave the station. What is the point of the faster weekend schedule if you still have to wait for Surfliner 592 at 8:30 PM. I was not pleased with Amtrak as I detrained at Union Station. We all walked over to Philippe's for a late dinner.

Our group at Philippe's with the Los Angeles Museum of Railroading behind in the display cases.

The Los Angeles Museum of Railroading display titled "Warbonnets of the Santa Fe Themes and Variations". After a great meal we all walked back to the Los Angeles Union Station where we got in line for Surfliner 592. The train had arrived late from San Diego and we boarded the Surfliner Cab Car. About five minutes later, they announced that the engine was low on fuel and would have to go to the yard to refuel it which would take forty more minutes. They announced that anyone going to any station as far as Oceanside could go to Track 8 and board the Metrolink Train 660. We all walked over to Track 8 and boarded that train.

Metrolink 660 12/7/2008

We all boarded the Metrolink 660 taking upstairs seats in the rear cab car. The Conductor took our Amtrak tickets and we asked does Amtrak get the tickets so we can get our Guest Reward Points. He said that he turns them into the first Amtrak Conductor he sees.

Everyone but me detrained at Fullerton and soon I was detraining at Santa Ana ending a very interesting trip to the Santa Barbara Zoo Railroad and trip home. I drove home a tired train rider.