Amtrak Trip to California
April 2011

Photos by Dave Ingles

Pacific Railroad Society, a long-established railfan club in Los Angeles, scheduled a public Amtrak excursion on Union Pacific for the weekend of April 2-3, 2011, to go from Los Angeles to Colton and then over Cajon Pass on the Palmdale Cutoff, then northwest thru Tehachapi and around the Loop on Saturday, with an overnight in Bakersfield, and a return on the same route on Sunday. It drew most every known mileage collector who hadn't been on the last Palmdale Cutoff trip sometime in the1980s or 90s, and some people hadn't been over Tehachapi, which I had ridden behind SP 4-8-4 4449 when she went from Portland east to New Orleans for the World's Fair in the 1980s. Some folks went out and rode the Amtrak Starlight detour over Tehachapi southbound, which was occurring the week before the excursion weekend. Of local note in Milwaukee was that no fewer than five of our bimonthly slide group were on the excursion: me, Rick Moser, Pete Stonitsch, Otto Dobnick, and Rob McGonigal. Otto and his friend Nancy Anderson rode round-trip. Rob went on north on an early San Joaquin Sunday to Sacramento, rode the museum's tourist line there, then took a Capitol train to the Bay Area to fly home on a red-eye Sunday night. I had accumulated 134,000 Amtrak Award Points and so used up 60,000 of those by riding "free" in a deluxe bedroom on the Southwest Chief westbound, Chicago to L.A., and then back from Davis, Calif., to Chicago on the California Zephyr. I was joined from L.A. onward by my frequent traveling pals Rick Moser and Chuck Weinstock, and on the Chief westbound, by my "ticket agent" John Arbuckle, who lives in Hutchinson, Kans., and boarded in the wee hours. All four of us rode the excursion northbound only; John bussed back to L.A. to return on the Chief to minimize missing work. Chuck, Rick and I took an Amtrak San Joaquin north to the Bay Area on Sunday. They went on to Emeryville, and on Monday rented a car to go ride the Napa Valley Wine Train's luncheon run. I disembarked at Martinez, Calif., and took an Amtrak Thruway bus (guaranteed connection on the network) to Santa Rosa, where my sister, Janis Oatham, met me. I visited with her and her husband, John, and their daughter (my niece) Jen and her husband Rob Jones, their 3 1/2-year old son, Owen, and 10-day old daughter Isobel (British spelling; she's my brand-new grand-niece) that evening and all day Monday. On Tuesday, Janis and John drove me to Davis to board the Zephyr, and they spent the day in the town, home to a U.C. campus and a place they'd never prowled around.

Westbound Trip Excursion & Trip up the Valley Eastbound Trip

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