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Train Riders Trip to Santa Barbara 5/20/2006

by Chris Guenzler

5/20/2006 At the April Train Riders meeting, held on the fourth Monday of the month at the Rail Restaurant in Fullerton, I suggested a trip to Santa Barbara to relax after Fullerton Railroad Days First we chose the weekend of May 13th but soon it was pointed out that that was Mother's Day weekend. The next weekend was chosen and the word was sent through e-mails and the What's New section of Amtrak had a two-for-one companion fare deal as well as a similar one on their website. All we had to do was wait for the day of the trip to arrive. I started out by preparing for the trip, with a little Classic VH1 before driving down to the Santa Ana train station. There was a southbound green signal at CP Lincoln which meant that Surfliner 763 was deadheading to Irvine. The rest of the line was shut down south San Juan Capistrano because of the underpass for a bicycle path along San Juan Creek which was being built this weekend. Because of this, Amtrak was bussing south of Irvine the whole weekend. As I have done before all my recent trips I will give you a quick look at the construction at Santa Ana for our new platforms and the like.

The new northwest wheelchair ramp is almost ready to be poured.

The bridge is covered as they work on it during the week.

The west tower has its elevator control room being added.

Deadheading Surfliner 763 sped south through Santa Ana on the way to Irvine.

On the way to the parking structure roof a view of the future hall from the building to the bridge.

The overview of the area. Back inside the station, I found Pat Moran waiting for me. She and I walked outside and soon we were joined by Chris Parker and three of us talked until the train arrived.

Surfliner 763 5/20/2006

Surfliner 763 pulled into Santa Ana with only a five-car train. I realized that this was also the weekend of the Oxnard Strawberry Festival. We boarded the train which was very crowded and managed to find seats at the front of the cab car. The train left Santa Ana on time and made its way to Anaheim and Fullerton. At Fullerton we were joined by Steve Grande, Ray Burns, Shivan and his wife Kranti, with their beautiful thirteen month old girl named Khushi. Also joining us here was Dan, Jonathan Ortiz and his dad. We all had seats as the train headed to Los Angeles Union Station where Ken Ruben joined us and also managed to get a seat. At Los Angeles, about two hundred other passengers, all going to the Strawberry Festival, boarded thereby causing the train to become standing room only.

At Glendale, Bob Hope Airport and Van Nuys, passengers were accepted which caused the train to become even more crowded. From here to Oxnard, only "Reserved Pacific Business Class" passengers would be allowed to board the train. So at Chatsworth, a dozen passengers were turned away. As we neared the Chatsworth Rocks, for the first time, we saw rock climbers repelling down the face of the first largest rock. We went through the Chatsworth Tunnels and onto Simi Valley where twenty three passengers were refused boarding. At Moorpark, we saw the Altamont Commuter Express {ACE} train set laying over for the weekend. We made our way to Camarillo where we met Surfliner 774 doing its station work on the siding platform. At Oxnard, a couple of hundred passengers detrained to attend the Oxnard Strawberry Festival. We were now free to walk down the aisle and visit the bathrooms or cafe car. We picked a beautiful day for a trip to Santa Barbara. We stopped at Ventura before we did our coastal running. The train made its way to Carpinteria before we ran on time to Santa Barbara.

After we detrained, I took a group picture of our passengers today. Steve and most the Fullerton boarders headed up to 1027 State Street and ate at the Spice Avenue Restaurant.

The rest of us walked to 628 State Street and ate at The Habit. Here I enjoyed a tri-tip sandwich, fries and a chocolate shake. Everyone here enjoyed their meal. We all walked back, except Dan who took a shuttle bus back to the station, where we waited for Train 14 to arrive. After walking around the back of the train, I visited with several of the Starlight crew members I knew from previous travels. Once the Coast Starlight left, we returned to the benches in the shade of the station arches. A few minutes before Surfliner 784 was expected, I went out to the platform to wait.

Surfliner 784 5/20/2006

The train arrived and we all boarded and had a nice quiet trip back home. The train filled up again at Los Angeles, but we arrived into Santa Ana, ending another exciting Train Riders Group trip.