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Train Travel Meetup Group Outing on Friday 11/11/2005

by Chris Guenzler

When I received my new Amtrak Fall Timetable and I got to the Pacific Surfliner Schedules, I noticed that Surfliner SLO 798 departure time had been switched from 1:20 PM to 4:25 PM. With the same Surfliner 799 SLO arrival time of 12:45 PM that would now mean plenty of time for a late lunch. Plus a chance to see both Coast Starlights in SLO if they are on time. Sounded like a good reason for a trip. Weekdays would be the best since one can do an all rail trip from Santa Ana via Metrolink to Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal since there is no northbound Amtrak train that arrives at LAUPT before Surfliner 799 departs. My first free weekday would be November 11th since that would be my Veteran Day Holiday at work. I told Winston Walker that I wanted to go on this date and he reserved it on his calendar. I called Steve of Trainweb and he was interested. He then had a thought. Why not make it another one of our Train Travel Meetup Group Trips? I then posted on Trainorders looking for a good steak house in San Luis Obispo. Winston monitored the post and F. McLintock Saloon and Dining House was recommended. Steve posted our trip on the Meetup Group page and on Whats New on Trainweb. A link to F McLintock Saloon and Dining House web site was provided so people could see what they would be having for lunch if they chose to come. Now I would wait for the day of this trip to come around.

Metrolink 603 11/11/2005

After a crazy morning at the house, I drove down to Santa Ana, parked and bought my Metrolink ticket to Los Angeles. I found Winston and we went out to the platform to wait for our Metrolink train which arrived into Santa Ana on time. We boarded the cab car and headed for Orange, Anaheim and Fullerton. Here we were joined by Ray and Steve of Trainweb and by David and Joanne with their daughter Christina. The train then headed west to Norwalk and Commerce before arriving into Los Angeles Union Station seven minutes early. We all walked off our Metrolink train for a cross platform transfer to the waiting 799 low level "Horizon" consist.

Pacific Surfliner 799 11/11/2005

Once we all boarded we had to wait for the rear car to be opened for our use. Here we were joined by Chris Parker and LR as well as Dwane and Jenny Bouchete who had been on Metrolink 603 from Oceanside and would be joining us only to Santa Barbara. The train left LAUPT right on schedule and soon Conductor Eric Schindler collected our ticket. We stopped at Glendale as I went to the cafe car for some Krispy Creame Donuts. As we traveled to Downtown Burbank, Chris Parker and I discussed our trip to Georgia next weekend. We made on time stops at Bob Hope Airport and Van Nuys. I decided since I would be using the Trainweb digital camera today that I would also photograph my fellow train travelers.

Steve Grande of and used his Verizon Wireless VZAccess PC Card to connect to the internet with excellent results. The only dead area was near Point Conception and north of Vandenberg Air Force Base.

Chris Parker, L.R. and Winston Walker.

Dwane and Jenny Bouchete of

Ray Burns of and

Joanne and Christina.

Joanne, Christina and David.

Conductor Eric Schindler.

Steve took this picture of me with my usual Coca-Cola. We made our way to Chatsworth before taking our scenic trip through the Santa Susana Mountains. After we exited the summit tunnel we went into the siding at Santa Susana to wait the passage of both Surfliner 768 and Metrolink 110. We made our way to Simi Valley followed by Moorpark and Camarillo. Here we were delayed by brake problems on the rear unit. Our train had Engine 458, Baggage 1204, Cafe/Business Class 58108, Coaches 54565, 54552 and 54516 with rear engine 120. After a ten minute delay we were off to Oxnard for a further delay. At Ventura they worked on the problem some more but not wanting to delay Surfliner 774's trek to San Diego we headed to Seacliff siding.

Our train reached the shore of the Pacific Ocean just west of Ventura.

The vacationers camping along old Highway 101 above Ventura.

Running along the cliffs nearing Santa Barbara. We made it to Santa Barbara and a mechanic from Goleta was there to fix the problem which further delayed us. We stopped at Goleta then started my favorite part of the trip.

Coastal view above Rufugio State Beach.

The view as our train neared Gaviota.

Crossing the Gaviota Trestle.

Just west of the Gaviota Trestle

Our train crossing the next trestle.

Just west of that last trestle.

Ready to cross the Jalama Trestle.

North of Jalama Beach.

Buildings on Vandenberg Air Force Base.

The surf as we neared Surf.

Launching Pads.

The Pacific Ocean surf crashing the beach at Surf, Ca.

Climbing near Casmalia.

Our train approaching the Wig Wag protected crossing.

A poor view of that Wig Wag at that private crossing.

The Santa Maria Railroad Caboose on display at Guadalupe.

Dropping into Grover Beach.

Lake and view of sand dunes as we drop into Grover Beach.

Our train had reached the bottom of the hill into Grover Beach.

Our train closes in on San Luis Obispo. We arrived into SLO at 1:29 PM {12:45 PM}.

San Luis Obispo 11/11/2005

We all detrained and the group posed for this picture.

Steve and I switched places for this picture. We all walked into downtown to have a well needed midday meal.

F McLintock Saloon and Dining House as seen from across the street.

Our group waiting to be served lunch. I had a New York Strip steak and a Root Beer Float which was excellent. Once lunch was done with the guys at my table walked back to the station via the creek side trail and mission.

Pacific Surfliner 798 laying over at San Luis Obispo.

The northbound Coast Starlight arrived into San Luis Obispo early.

Mary, one of my favorite Amtrak employees.

The Coast Starlight is ready to leave San Luis Obispo.

A few minutes later Surfliner 798 came out of the storage area to head to the depot.

Pacific Surfliner 798 11/11/2005

We all boarded and our train departed San Luis Obispo on time.

Starting the climb out of Grover Beach.

Looking back towards Grover Beach.

That lake again in low light.

Looking towards the west. We went into the siding at Callender for a westbound UP freight.

A view after sunset. Good conversations were had as we made our way south and entered Conception siding to meet Surfliner 775. It was then off to Goleta before we arrived into Santa Barbara where the train filled up with Friday night passengers. After our Oxnard stop we waited for Surfliner 785 to pull into the east end of the Oxnard siding to let us pass. They would then back onto the mainline and head into the Oxnard station. We continued to Camarillo, Simi Valley, Chatsworth, Van Nuys, Bob Hope Airport and Glendale. They announced that Surfliner 596 would be waiting in Los Angeles for our train. Our train arrived on Track 9 at LAUPT at 9:58 PM and we detrained across the station platform to the waiting Surfliner 596 on Track 10.

Pacific Surfliner 798 after arriving LAUPT.

Pacific Surfliner 596 11/11/2005

Pacific Surfliner 596 ready to take me home. I spoke with engineer Doug asking him for a quick trip back to Santa Ana. We left LAUPT on time and made a quick trip to Fullerton where we said goodbye to Steve, Ray, David, Joanne and a sleeping Christina. The train took us to Anaheim and then Santa Ana where Winston and I detrained ending another unique Amtrak adventure.

For Steve Grande's pictures of this trip click here