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Santa Barbara Travelogue 01/27/2007

Rail Travel Meetup Group Santa Barbara



Ok, here’s my first attempt at a travelog.   At our Train Travel Meetup meeting on January 22nd, Chris Guenzler mentioned a trip to Santa Barbara on the 27th.  After making some changes in my work schedule I found myself available to do this trip.  I went ahead and booked my tickets however I did have a slightly different itinerary on the return leg.  Instead of coming straight back to Fullerton I booked my southbound trip only to Van Nuys so if my friends that live there were available, I’d have a chance to see them since it had been awhile.  I then booked Surfliner #798 south to Fullerton.  Normally at Los Angeles you would detrain #798 and get on Surfliner #596 for the rest of your journey south.  On this day I would instead be riding a bus to Fullerton since there was track work being performed south of Los Angeles.


Saturday morning arrived and I headed off to the Fullerton Depot.  It was a little overcast but I didn’t think much about…….I mean hey, were used to that in Southern California!  I had kept a small umbrella in my backpack for the last several months (just in case!) and decided on this fine morning to remove it since I figured I’d have no use for it.  BOY WAS THAT A MISTAKE!   You’ll see why later in the story.


So I arrive at the Fullerton Depot and park in the structure just in case I decide to spend the night in Van Nuys with my friends.  I’m there early enough to get a snack at the café and then head to the west end of the Track #1 platform.  A Surfliner goes flying through the station heading south about 15 minutes before out train is to arrive.  I figure it’s being positioned for train #565 out of Anaheim that leaves about an hour after the train we’re taking.  Wrong!  That was our train heading to Anaheim to pickup Chris and anyone else who was heading northbound.  Well train #763 arrives about 7-8 minutes late and Chris stuck his head out the door to let me know which car he’s in.  I board and we’re off to our next stop Los Angeles Union Station.  We were expecting to meet up with Chris Parker in LA but he never showed.  We were delayed even longer as they had to wait for the buses that were bringing people up from the stations south of Anaheim.

We finally left LA about 30 minutes behind schedule.  We made the normal stops in Glendale, Burbank Airport, Van Nuys and Chatsworth.  Just outside of Chatsworth I noticed it was looking a little damp outside.  I couldn’t be raining, could it?  Chris didn’t think it looked that wet but once we were in the Santa Susanna Pass we both realized it was in fact raining.  Chris, the smarter of the two of us, wasn’t that worried since he brought an umbrella!  We exited all the tunnels and arrived in Simi Valley.





Chris made a call to Let’s Talk Trains and let them know we were headed up to Santa Barbara on the Surfliner.  We picked up a large group in Simi traveling with kids.  They were a little loud but what did I care, I was on a train!  The rest of the stops went by without a hitch.  The group that got on in Simi got off in Ventura.


    Figure 1  Chris calling Let's Talk Trains



We arrive in Santa Barbara a little behind schedule.  The doors open and we exit into – drum roll please – RAIN! 

Figure 2  Rain in SB




We hoof it over to State St. to catch the electric shuttle up to the place we’re going to each lunch.  We arrive at The Habit and I order the grilled Albacore on sourdough.  Quite tasty I must say.  After lunch we get back on the shuttle and take it back to the train station.  We have time to kill and eventually head outside to wait for southbound #784.  While waiting outside I notice the pigeons making a roost on the lights hanging in the alcove.  I figure that would make a great picture.  How do they reward me?  By taking a dump on my head!  My day is going great.  Just another reason I should have brought an umbrella!


Figure 3  My friends, the birds




We get on #784 and head south.  At Ventura the group from out northbound gets on and they’re even louder now.  Simi Valley can’t come soon enough.  I do downstairs and find a gal with her kids who got on at Ventura…….except she’s on the wrong train!  She wanted to go northbound to Santa Barbara.  Unfortunately the train she needs goes whizzing past us as we speak.  I let her know that she can get off at Oxnard but she’ll probably have at least a two hour wait since most of the northbound trains are running behind schedule.  We get to Simi and I call my friends and they say someone will pick me up at Van Nuys.  Chris and I plan to make another trip up to Santa Barbara to ride the zoo train and when it’s sunny.  We arrive at Van Nuys and I bid Chris farewell. 


I get picked up at the train station and spend the next several hours with my friends and their kids, eating pizza and playing Guitar Hero.  Much fun I must tell you.  I get dropped back off at the train station at about 8:55pm and see train #798 arriving several minutes early.  We arrive at Los Angeles Union Station on time and I detrain.  I walk down the corridor and over to the baggage claim area to catch my southbound bus.  It takes about 30 minutes before they let us board but once everyone is on we are off to Fullerton.  Nothing too exciting happens and I’m content except for the fact that I’m on a bus and not a train.