Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Day 25 - Last day and return home.

Today is our last day in the USA. Checkout isn't until 11am so a couple have high tailed it down to the platform at Fullerton to get those last minute photos and video shots.

My tripod is now kaput and won't be coming home with me so no more videos.

First thing to do is to drop off Lloyd Cross at LAX as he has a connecting flight to Mississippi to visit family before he goes home.

We'll then most likely return to Fullerton to kill some time before returning the vehicles. I've been quite happy to not be driving for a few days - the LA freeways are a nightmare, not a problem if you use them every day, but for a first timer they can be a bit of a concern.

We don't depart LAX until about 10 tonight. All night flight and arrive in Auckland around 6:00 am. I have about 2 hours before I connect with my flight to Palmerston North. If I miss it I won't be concerned, at least I'll be in the right country. It's currently Wednesday morning here and the flight back home will result in us not ever seeing Thursday as we land friday Morning.

It'll take a few weeks to settle down and analyse the trip and sort out the good from the bad, sort through all the video footage and photos.

Not looking forward to going back to work on Monday.

Day 24 - Day trip to San Diego

Today we took the Pacific Surfliner from Fullerton to San Diego, a 2 hour trip along the the Pacific coast. Once there we all (7 of us) visited the USS Midway museum. Some spent more time there than others.

My little group then jumped in a cab which took us to Balboa Park and the Model Railroad Museum. None of us were disappointed in what we discovered there. One lasting impression is the HO scale layout of the entire Tehachapi loop and surrounding areas, a layout that spans three levels and is still under construction. To see in scale form the areas we'd visited only weeks before was quite surreal.

Returning to the Santa Fe depot we discovered that our train was going to be 15 minutes late getting in, which stretched out to 20 minutes. The loco needed fuelling and this made us 40 minutes late in departing, and since we weren't on schedule, we had to wait while other trains went past before we could stop at stations - finally getting to Fullerton 1 hour late.
This didn't really bother us but quite a few on the train were catching it to go to a Baseball game at Anaheim and they were getting roudy.

Overall, it was a good relaxing day out with no excessive walking and no burden of driving.

No piccies worth posting, just more aircraft stuff from the flight deck of the Midway.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Day 23 - LA etc.

Once again, it appears that this railfan tour is turning into a sightseeing trip and many of the group are choosing to ignore the itinerary and just do what they want - so I tagged along and went into LA with the crowd to see what they were going to see. We were supposed to go to Oceanside today, photograph the freights and passenger expresses and have dinner on the beach.....after walking up and down the length of LA Union Station three times feeling like a lost lamb and looking the part as well,  I rapidly lost interest in this wild goose chase and jumped on a random Metro as I had 2 hours to kill before I could get back to Fullerton.

As luck would have it, those of the group that wanted to see trains were on the same Metro and we all ended up at McDonalds in East LA. I do believe Cheech & Chong did a rendition of Bruce Springtseen's "Born in the USA" called "Born in East LA" and this tune came into my head and stayed there for most of the day "..this ain't no Datsun it's a Chevrolet, cruise all day...."

Anyway, my train was due to depart at 12:45 and time was pressing, but I didn't know it at the time.

Our little group boarded the Metro again and the others got off a few stations down and I continued on to Union Station where I walked down and up the steps to the correct platform, found my train, sat down and the doors immediately closed and we departed - I'd just made it in time. I videoed the entire journey to Fullerton for memories sake then hung around Fullerton for a bit to get some photos.

The others are now drifting back and filling me in with stories of big ships, submarines and riding in the underground.

What railfan tour ?

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Day 22 - Exploration of LA/Fullerton

Everyone appears to be in "do as you please mode" as we near the end of the trip and the itinerary is thrown out the window.

I spent all day on the Fullerton platforms and netted over 30 video shots. The others got a $10 Metrolink pass and rode the trains most of the day.

Many amusing stories to report, none worth repeating here.

No photos sorry.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Day 21 - San Bernardino to Fullerton

Fullerton is the last stopover before we come home. Hard to think that 3.5 weeks ago we were getting into San Francisco - where has the time gone ? We spend 4 nights here.

Today we re-visited the lower slopes of Cajon Pass and discovered some great places to film and photograph trains. We had another run in with Mr. no neck security guard who told us to get back behind a gate, which was cool as I didn't like filming there anyway and we went separate ways. The 'B' team told us of a good place they found and we told them where to find McDonalds.

Whilst the 'B' team filled their bellies, we went to a place called the Blue Cut on Cajon Boulevard. Up until then, traffic had been pretty slow but steady, nothing amazing. We sat at the Blue Cut for about 15 minutes and then all hell broke loose:

I was getting ready to film a train from the right, and when I turned left to tell my team mates about it, they were frantically trying to get my attention and tell me about two coming from the left.  It was a triple track line  - so no worries about collisions. What we did witness was a pretty rare feat - the train on the far line was well ahead of the train on the middle line which were approaching from the left, but by the time the locos were directly opposite me, the middle line train had caught up and was overtaking. At the same time, the one from the right came around the corner on the near track, and all three trains met at almost the exact same spot right in front of me - I got the whole lot on video and still managed to snap off a few stills. The other team were sooooooooo jealous !

We hung around for a few more then decided to head off, losing the other team again who were feeling a bit tired and were in need of a nap.

We went to the construction site of the new Colton Flyover which is still under construction, then went to a bridge that went over the far eastern end of Colton Yard. Some local had told the other group that Colton Yard was dead with nothing happening. I couldn't drag my guys away it was that busy with locals, switch jobs and main line arrivals and departures. This resulted in us being too late to visit other locations, and also meant that I had to take the most direct route to the hotel - along the San Bernardino and Orange Freeways - which in one place was 7 lanes wide - all doing 70 mph. Insane.

Dinner at the cafe on the platform at Fullerton watching the trains go by.

Awesome day.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Day 20 - Day trip to Salton Sea

Today we traced the tracks of the Yuma Subdivision of the Union Pacific and went as far south as Salton Sea. The day dawned overcast, foggy and there were a few spots of rain in the air.

At Palm Springs we broke through the mist into clear skies, however the wind made things rather uncomfortable.

By Indio the temperature was hovering around 32 degrees C and almost dead calm - it was hot and dry. At Salton Sea there was a mild breeze making the 33 degree temp a little bit more bearable.

The history behind Salton Sea and how it accidentally came into being is interesting. Google it.

My good fortune of finding trains kicked in immediately and as soon as we stopped at Loma Linda a south bound turned up, which we followed and last saw at Palm Springs, capturing it and seeing a few others along the way.

Roadside lunch near Mecca and a short 30 minute stop at Salton Sea before heading back to San Bernardino.

Tomorrow we depart for Fullerton, being the last stopover before returning home.

"Mr Frog, meet Mr Pelican. You two should get on like a house on fire.... oh, you're eating him."

Palm Springs wind farm. They go on for ever.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Day 19 - Cajon Pass

What can you say about Cajon Pass - a railfan's Mecca ? Quite possibly. As the sun moves around so does the best place to take photos.

We took off and the "B" team decided that they hadn't got enough of Frost so spent the morning there - I stuck with my plan and went straight to Cajon Pass with the first stop off being the Mormon Rocks - probably the most photographed rocks in California. Their smooth appearance and the acute angle they appear at is something quite extraordinary. Putting a train in the foreground sets the scene.

We then relocated to Hill 582, entering our names in the visitors book and admiring the handiwork of railfans and their attempts at landscaping this prominent geographical feature. Some trains went past as well. We caught up with the B team here and they entertained us with their tails of confronting their first rattlesnake, which was sunbathing in the middle of the road. We countered their story with our story of running into a private security guard who reminded us to purchase a day pass permit - which we did. $5 for the permit or $100 fine - no brainer really.

We all then relocated to the top of Summit where you could look down on the triple tracks. Good photo spot but shocking for video - lots of vehicle noises and people pulling over to have a look and then exercising their jaw muscles in conjunction with their voice boxes. Funnily enough, it was other foreigners that felt obliged to ruin my soundtrack.

Dinner at a local Chinese diner, a chat with the local CHiPs and settle in time.

Piccies below.

Mormon Rocks, Cajon, Ca.

53 foot domestic container on top of a standard 40 footer. Big, isn't it ?

Looking beautiful in blue...

One of the curves from Hill 582

The triple tracks at Summit and the fourth track further to the left up the hill.