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A Train Riders Group Trip to Santa Barbara 2/20/2006

by Chris Guenzler

With Monday being a holiday, Winston and I had decided to take a train ride to Santa Barbara. I had told Steve Grande about this and we both decided to open it up to anyone who wanted to go as a Train Riders Group Trip. It would be Surfliner 763 north to Santa Barbara, lunch at The Habit and Surfliner 784 home. I contacted a few people to see if they wanted to go, and Steve, while on a trip to San Jose, put a notice up on "What's New" on the Trainweb front page. Now it would be wait for Monday morning to arrive.

I woke up early and prepared myself for a great day of train riding. At 6:40 AM, after getting the ice off my windshield from a very cold Southern California night, I drove to the Santa Ana Train Station to wait for Surfliner 562 which arrived on time.

A picture of the bridge towers with the east tower now with stair rails on it.

Surfliner 562 2/20/2006

The on time Surfliner 562 pulling into Santa Ana. I boarded and took a seat upstairs in the cab car.

A few minutes later we passed the two Blimp Hangars which are the world largest wooden structures. Heading south, I detrained at Irvine where I went up and over the pedestrian bridge to the east {northbound} platform.

Unlike other times I had done this, the northbound signals were not on. Something told me something was not right. Metrolink 807 going to San Juan Capistrano came and went. About the time my Metrolink Train to Santa Ana was meant to arrive, the station trackside message boards flashed on and read "Attention Metrolink Passengers, The 600 Train Service to Los Angeles due at this time is running 15 to 30 minutes late". Minutes later, a green signal at CP Tinkham appeared. Would this be my Metrolink 607 for Santa Ana or Surfliner 763 for Santa Barbara? A headlight appeared from the south. It was the Metrolink Train that would take me back to Santa Ana. We stopped at Tustin before it dropped me off at Santa Ana. Inside the nice warm station, I found Winston sitting there waiting for me. After I called to find out about Surfliner 763, we went outside and waited for our train.

Surfliner 763 2/20/2006

We boarded the lone Superliner car on this six-car train and took seats at the forward end of it. Our tickets were collected and we sat back to relax on our trip to Santa Barbara. The train stopped at Anaheim and then Fullerton, where we were joined by fellow travel writers Jim Novell and Carl Morrison. The train then proceeded to Los Angeles, where we were joined by Chris Parker. We were sitting there having a nice conversation when Assistant Conductor Karen Monday came up and told us that we would all have to move for a group of twenty passengers. She told everyone in our half of the car in a rather nasty tone to get up and find new seats. Any smart conductor would have just opened up the empty cab car and put the group in there. There were no empty seats for us, so what did she do next but move more passengers. She gave us their seats and continued to move people which made those passengers angry. So much for a happy train ride to Santa Barbara.

We left LAUPT on time and passed the leased Sounder and Altamont Commuter Express trainsets at the Metrolink Shops. We quickly set into a nice discussion as the train stopped at Glendale, Bob Hope Airport and Van Nuys, where LR boarded the train to join us for our trip today. That made us a group of six. The train rolled onward to Chatsworth before the scenic trip through the tunnels and by the rocks made famous in old westerns. Soon we entered the Summit Tunnel and exited into the Simi Valley. The train passed the nicely restored Santa Susana Depot before we paused at Simi Valley. The train rolled west through Moorpark and Camarillo, where we met Surfliner 774, which was using the east platform. After doing our station work on the usual platform, we headed onto Oxnard and then Ventura. From there, the fun would begin.

Our Surfliner reached the surf north of Ventura.

Views of the Channel Islands.

Further north, RV'ers camped along Old Highway 101. The train rolled north to Carpinteria and then to Santa Barbara arriving early.

Santa Barbara 2/20/2006

As we detrained, I thought a group picture might be a good idea. Here are from right to left are Winston, Jim, Chris, LR and Carl with Surfliner 763 and the Santa Barbara Station.

Chris Parker offered to take a picture with me in it. After that it was time for lunch. I had said The Habit but others in our group decided the go to the Santa Barbara Fish Company. Jim, Chris and I headed north up State Street to The Habit.

The Habit is a hole in the wall but offers great food.

Here Jim and Chris are enjoying their meals. Chris had a salad with Jim and I enjoying a Tri-tip Sandwich. After a great meal, we walked back to the station to wait for the northbound Coast Starlight.

The on time Coast Starlight doing its station work at Santa Barbara.

View of the largest Fig Tree in the western hemisphere.

The Coast Starlight leaving Santa Barbara on time.

The Santa Barbara Station. Now I will take you on a tour of the Santa Barbara Station.

Views of the ticketing area of the Santa Barbara Station.

The main waiting area.

In the former women's waiting area, a fire place.

Another view of the former women's waiting room. After the Coast Starlight left, we went outside and sat on the station benches. Winston had returned and told us about their lunch. Carl went down to the Santa Barbara Wharf and found a wine tasting. He returned to the crowded station platform as we waited for Surfliner 784. I had decided that we would sit in Car Three to avoid Assistant Conductor Monday.

Surfliner 784 2/20/2006

The train came in and filled up quickly. We took the middle four seats on both sides of the car and sat back to wait for our departure. We waited for a late running bus from San Luis Obispo. Our tickets were taken and I asked who was the Conductor on this run and told it was Kurt Lewis and asked to see him. A few minutes after we departed at 2:25 PM 1:59 PM}, Kurt came and saw me and I told him about the events of this morning. He said he would talk with her about it. We headed back to Los Angeles and after Carpinteria, we saw a hang glider riding the updrafts from the cliff above the train. We passed Surfliner 769 in the hole for us at Seacliff, then saw four airplanes buzz the train along the surf. Later we saw some wind surfers being pulled by parachutes before Ventura. At Chatsworth, we met Surfliner 775. LR detrained at Van Nuys as the train became standing room only. We arrived into LA early thanks to plenty of padding in the schedule. There we said goodbye to Chris Parker. The train continued to fill up more with passengers blocking the stairwells as we left LAUPT on time. At Fullerton, we said goodbye to Carl and Jim. Winston and I continued onto Santa Ana where we detrained, ending another Amtrak and Train Riders Group adventure.