Facebook Page
Woke up at an ungodly 4:30am so I could shave and shower and get to the Fullerton train station by around 5:30am

Train Travel Meetup Group to Grover Beach and the Station Grill


Woke up at an ungodly 4:30am so I could shave and shower and get to the Fullerton train station by around 5:30am.  I really wasn’t sure if there would be more parking spots available since it was holidays so why take the chance…just get there early!  I pulled into the parking garage right behind Carl Morrison who had apparently thought the same way I did.  I parked my car and walked over to the Metrolink ticket machine for the first part of my journey up north.  Soon Carl joined me and purchased his ticket.  The plan was to meet Steve Grande and Chris Guenzler at the station and then we would make our way up to Los Angeles Union Station on Metrolink and then take Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner #799 up to Grover Beach for lunch.  After our meal we would have a chance to check out the local area and catch Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner #798 back to LA.  From LA we’d take Surfliner #592 home to Fullerton.


Carl and I got a table in the Santa Fe Café and waited for Steve and Chris to show up.  I was starving so I ordered a breakfast burrito (very good by the way) and a coffee.  Chris was actually coming up on an earlier Metrolink than the one we would be taking up to LA.  At around 6:00am we saw Steve on the platform and Chris’ Metrolink arrived with Chris onboard.  Carl went out to let them know we were inside while I inhaled my burrito.  We all sat down and discussed some future trips.  We then went out to the platform to wait for our northbound Metrolink.  When it arrived we boarded and found four seats together and made our way to LA while singing songs about the wonder of trains and paying homage to the rail gods (actually this did not happen…. we really just kept on discussing future trips and what was happening with the new Silver Rails Resort in La Plata, MO).


We arrived in LA and detrained.  Instead of going into the station we just walked over to our next train and waited for them to let us board.  We were sort of expecting Chris Parker, Anton and Ken to join us but apparently that plan fell through.  We boarded and found some seats together in the second car from the front and prepared for our journey.  Larry Borneo joined us and we soon headed north.  This particular train is an older low level set instead of the usual two level cars on the Surfliner route.  This route also has fantastic scenery for it riders from the LA river (you might even get to see some of the indigenous people!) to the Burbank Bob Hope Airport with a cemetery at the end of the runway (very comforting I’m sure!).  Actually this route does have some fantastic scenery as a good portion of it is along the coast, making its way through Ventura, Santa Barbara and Vandenberg Air Force Base.  After leaving LA the train makes stops at Glendale, Burbank Bob Hope Airport, Van Nuys and Chatsworth.


After Chatsworth we head up through the Santa Susana pass.  It really make you feel like you’re in some old western movie as you enter and exit tunnels and pass between shear rock faces on both sides.  Chris was busy showing railroad DVDs to Steve while Carl and I took in the scenery.  Larry had decided the windows were to dirty and found cleaner ones in the café car and that’s where he spent most of the trip.  The next station stop is Simi Valley and then Moorpark.  Next is agriculture country with stops in Camarillo and Oxnard.  From here we start working our way towards the coast on our way to Ventura.  The train station in Ventura is really just a covered platform but it is right across the street from the fairgrounds.  Getting to downtown Ventura is really easy too since you just have to cross under the freeway and in several minutes you’re right there, in front of Mission Santa Buenaventura in fact.  There are wonderful restaurants and shops here and makes a great day trip.   You can also hop on a bus from here and in about 30 to 40 minutes you’ll be in the wonderful little town of Ojai.


Leaving Ventura we follow the coast, catching sight of some surfers and families camping.  We stop in Carpenteria to pick up some more passengers and continue on to Santa Barbara.  The train is pretty full as a lot of students are making their way back up to school in either Santa Barbara or San Luis Obispo.  Santa Barbara is one of the longer stops as it is a very popular destination.  It’s a very laid back community with lots of history.  Santa Barbara is home to many fantastic restaurants and unique shops.  The local wine country is just north of here and there in fact several wineries located in the city.  This is a great place to go for a weekend or just a day trip.  Last year my brother and I took our dad up here on Father’s Day on the train for lunch and a tour of Mission Santa Barbara.  If you’ve never been to Santa Barbara you really should try it sometime.  You can also get lots of helpful information at 


The next stop is Goleta where most of the UCSB crowd gets off.  We continue along the coast and into ranching country.  We are high above a cliff looking down the crashing waves on the left side of the train while on the right we see the rolling hills of the local cattle ranches.  Spending most of my time in LA and Orange County I just don’t get to see things like this.  We keep moving north (according to Chris, the Southern Pacific Railroad who used to own these tracks considered this going west) and soon find on our right side these tall erect building in the middle of somewhat hilly terrain.  We have now just entered Vandenberg Air Force Base.  These tall buildings are actually missile launching platforms.  From here they launch satellites into space or test experimental missiles and rockets.  This place is huge and seems to go on forever.  In the middle of this huge area we find the Lompoc/Surf stop.  Apparently before the Air Force Base was built this used to be a popular spot for the people of Lompoc.  This stop was built recently to serve Lompoc and for those who enjoy Surf Beach.


Station Grill

Now we were getting near our destination.  North of Lompoc/Surf the train goes inland for bit before gently curving back towards the coast.  We climbed through the hills around Devon and then dropped down into the Santa Maria Valley headed to our next stop of Guadalupe.  This was a fairly short stop and then we were off to Grover Beach which we arrived at about 15 minutes later.  Grover Beach is near Pismo Beach.  We detrained and walked across the tracks to the Station Grill. 

On an earlier trip to San Luis Obispo we had noticed this place and agreed that we would have to try it sometime.  With the turnaround time at San Luis Obispo for the Surfliner much shorter now, it doesn’t make as much sense to do our lunch up there.  The place looks like it does a great business and everyone was very friendly.  I chose the Santa Fe Melt which is turkey with swiss cheese, grilled onions and tomatoes on grilled sourdough.  It was fantastic.  Chris had a burger, Steve a veggie wrap and Carl had a salad.  All seemed quite happy with their food.  The restaurant has lots of train memorabilia and railroad themed items about.  I defiantly think we’ll be making this trip again.

Grover Beach Station

Chris and I left the restaurant and walk over to the depot to wait for the southbound train.  We had apparently spent more time in the restaurant then we had thought because the electric sign at the depot said that it March of 2099. I must say I’ve aged quite gracefully! 

Eventually the rest of our group caught up with us and shortly thereafter southbound Surfliner #798 arrived.  I thought the northbound train had been crowed but boy was I wrong.  The southbound train was packed!  We couldn’t find 2 seats together much less 5.  The last car was empty but blocked off.  We were told this was because they would be picking up a group of about 80 kids or so in Santa Barbara.  Steve, Carl and I found single seats in the second coach car while Chris and Larry chose to sit in the café car.  We picked up a few more passengers at Guadalupe and Lompoc/Surf and still they wouldn’t open the last car.  Finally some did depart at Goleta but we also had more get on.  More detrained at Santa Barbara and there was a group there getting on the train but it sure didn’t look like eighty.  The gentleman sitting next to me got off at Santa Barbara so Chris moved into the seat next to me.  He fired up his computer and we watched a DVD of the Southern Pacific till about Moorpark.  We then watched a DVD with some the steam trips Chris has been on all the way into LA.


We got into LA about 10 minutes early so we had about a fifty minute layover before our southbound train was scheduled to leave.  I made a quick trip over to Philippe’s to pickup a couple of beef dip sandwiches for the trip home.  We boarded Surfliner #592 and headed home.  Steve, Carl and I said our goodbyes to Chris and detrained at Fullerton calling it a day.


The Amazing Chris G. and Carl Morrison