My trip from West Virginia to So Cal……….2016 version.
Sunday Aug 21, 2016
It’s that time again for my semi-regular train trip West!
I am not excited as I am on previous trips. I am not as apprehensive about it either.
The last year has been a rough one. My Dad passed mid year last year, my wife’s Dad passed not real
long after that.
Then June 23 2016 we had a major flood in our region. Roz and I got caught in the middle of it. The
weather folks had called for some rain that day so we went about our normal business. No one was
prepared for the Ten inches an hour monsoon that we got. Twenty seven people died in the floods. They
found the last body last week. A number of times Roz and I wondered if we would make it. By the grace of
God and Henry Ford’s F-150 4 x 4 we had just bought…….the worst thing that happened to us was
sleeping in the truck in a WalMart parking lot with hundreds of other stranded folks. And other than 3-4
inches of water in the basement our house came through better than most.
All this pre-train chatter is to explain why we went to the train station in White Sulfur Springs 3 hours early.
After the flooding we heard tales of homes lost and roads just gone. And while we went through White
Sulfur the day of the flooding….we were on the front edge of it…..basically out running it. We left early to
see what all had really happened. We have no local TV and very limited newspaper and radio. We found
most of what we heard was true. Many roads, like US-60 had gotten washed away. Today in their place
was hastily laid gravel fills. When we got into town we saw hundreds of homes still, two months later,
looking like the flood was yesterday. Wood, debris, rocks and trees piled up on the upstream side of
homes. Many had big red ‘X’ all over the outside….these had been checked by the body dogs. Others had
reasons why their owners could not return…..’off foundation’ a number said. Many were just leaning 45
degrees and had unsafe sprayed on them. The fact our state suffered such massive destruction and loss
of life and had to beg for help upset me…….but then I recall how neighbors helped without being
asked…...stories from that day I will not forget...many we saw first hand. Enough of the bad stuff…….the
train is due soon!!!!
The Cardinal is 35 minutes late. I had been tracking it online since it had left NYC early this morning…...
and it was only 1-2 minutes late….until it hit the mountains…...then it started losing time…...but today 35
minutes late is almost early!!! Roz, my son Chris and his GF came to WSS to see me off. The Cardinal
rounded the bend about a mile East of the WSS station. White Sulfur Springs was THE hot resort for many
years and home to a secret underground city White House until very recently. Today the complex is a
tourist spot…..giving folks a chance to see the Cold War relic. The train pulls in and as they are running a
little late they are in a hurry….station stops are one of the few places they can make up time….even if it’s
two minutes. We toss my bags up to our car attendant…..I tell him I’m in room #1, he asks my name, I tell
him...and he says ‘you sure are’. Now I have had a Viewliner Roomette only once…..but they are not too
different than Superliner Roomettes…..so I settle in and get things set up like I like them. A Roomette is
made for two adults…..but works real well for just one. We are underway….wave to the family on the
platform…..see ya in four weeks. As we ride through the very rural West Virginia countryside, past rivers,
farms and Federal prisons (Alderson….home to Ms Stewart for a period) I start to get more excited about
my trip. But this one is different.
As I age I wonder if this is the last trip I’ll make in this manner…….by train alone. I had a health scare that
for the most part cleared up before trip time came…..but who knows going forward.
We are nearing Charleston now. On some high speed, for us, trackage. We are passing all the traffic on I-
64 that parallels us so we are around 75 mph. Roz will fly out to LA in a few weeks and ride the train back.
She has not ridden a commercial passenger train since I’d make her ride the Southern Crescent with me
back in the early 1970’s. Southern Railway did not join Amtrak at it’s formation…...they wanted to continue
to run their own passenger trains. They ran the Crescent with 3 EMD E-8 locomotives. Apple green and
white Art Deco styled with chrome like stainless cars. We’d ride from Charlotte to Salisbury and back. A
ticket would cost about $3….a cheap date! But I’m glad I got to ride the last non Amtrak train inservice at
I am a blessed man. The Huntington WV train station is about half a mile from a Cook Out restaurant….
one my youngest son manages. Huntington is also a Amtrak ‘fresh air stop’ or what most call a smoke
break. You can see my plan now can’t you?? I get off with the other fresh air fanatics and find my son. He
has for me a big burger fixed like I like, cole slaw, fries, chicken nuggets and a cherry cobbler shake!! It’s a
good thing he showed up too as I turned done dinner in the dining car…..it is included in your ticket. So
had he not shown up…..I was going hungry. But he did…..and I took my goodies, gave him a one arm hug
as the train horn signaled it was leaving. Went to my roomette, pulled out the table and ate like a King…...
when you’re really hungry a big, good and free burger is fantastic. (commercial pukg…..try a Cook Out if
you are near one) I eat my made for a King meal...make a few phone calls….and decide to get settled. My
car attendant says he does not convert rooms after 22:30….fine..I know how if I want to….but for a little
while I’m gonna sit and relax. My good feelings are slowly coming back. But this trip is different
somehow…...so I think I will label it as such. Different.
Monday Aug 22, 2016
Woke up at 6:30 when we added a car at Indy. They cut power for a second and that makes some noise. I
lay back down but never fall asleep again. Getting light enough to see the countryside so I sit up. Indiana
is flat with lots of corn. Hard to imagine how much corn we grow in the US…...Miles and miles of corn as far
as you can see.
They make a call for breakfast and I am not real hungry but I need a drink so I go. I order a chicken biscuit
and a Pepsi (yuck) Chicken was decent...biscuit was a Blues Bros. style…..rubber biscuit. I was seated
with a guy...late 30’s. He works in DC and rides trains for the fun of it…..he speaks up because I am
wearing my ‘Chessie System’ train shirt. The route we are riding was, back in the 40’s, called ‘The
Chessie’.....I always wear a train shirt on the train…...it starts so many conversations. I tell him about
getting lost in DC a few weeks ago...he tells me about some of his long distance train trips. Conversation
was better than food…..which on the lower end trains is often zapped meals where on the SWC it’s real
Back to my room. My table mate from DC is going to San Francisco via Zephyr. It would be a cool trip I may
try someday. I find the Wi-Fi is now working so I check a few things on the web and then settle back and
just watch the country go by. We are a little ahead of schedule. Should get to Chicago about 9:30 local
‘Different’ comes up again. The Amtrak Metro Lounge has been moved….so as I get off the Cardinal I’ll
need to find it. I have a good idea as the web has info about it….but still not the normal routine I have
gone through over the past few years. As I get off the train there are guys with little golf cart like vehicles.
They can take you to your next destination wherever it is in the station. I almost take one...but decide to
walk it today. My prosthetic is working well and I feel up to the trek. NOTE: use Red Cap service to board
SWC!! That walk gets longer and longer every year. I do find the new lounge, it’s a little longer walk….but
not much. The old lounge was like a old bar…...kinda dark, low ceilings, cozy and comfortable. The new
lounge is big, bright with high ceilings. It’s so big they are still working on it. I am sure most like it….it’s
more efficient and ‘friendly’ but it has lost that familiar place you looked forward to.
Four hours until we load the SWC …..so I’m gonna go and make my rounds of this huge classic station.
I feel a little more like normal than different. The station is still big and busy. And I see the Mennonites still
favor train travel…..or are they Amish?? Which ever or maybe both there are a lot in the station today.
Many are young couples with very young kids. I walked around the station some and since I am still on
East coast time AND to beat the rush I head to the food court. After walking around the food court, seeing
what’s new and the old….I pick Chicago Pizza….gotta be good! As Jay Leno said….even bad pizza is still
pizza and this was that. Very average. Good thing was for $5 you got a huge slice…..so in the end it was
OK. Grabbed a $2 Chunky candy bar and back to the lounge. The new lounge has some food and
drink…..so you are not allowed to bring anything in. So I sit in the Great Room and eat my candy. A young
girl walks up to me….she asks for a dollar. Living in a rural area….I don’t get this often. She says she is
short a dollar for her bus ticket…...oldest story in the world. I ask her if it’s really for a ticket. She says she’
s embarrassed to ask but it s what she needs. I tell her it’s not embarrassing if it’s true…..if not...it is. I
made her think about it for a minute…..she didn’t leave…..I give in and hand her a dollar. I’d rather take a
chance that she needed it than not give it to her. If she scammed me so be it….it cost me a dollar. God
has blessed me so I hope she’s OK.
I stop by the new restrooms. I open the door and it’s dark. But soon as I enter lights come on and soft
music plays…...it’s ultra clean and very cool. I could live here!! Back to the lounge and I find a seat with a
plug. Being brand new you would think there would be plugs everywhere….I end up sharing one with
another solo traveler.
I attract Brits like a magnet!!!! A couple sat down in front of me….heavy Britsh accent…..as soon as he
wondered out loud what a roomette on a Superliner was like I had to speak up!! We had a conversation
about many things…..cars, education and cost of living. They were early thirties and were touring the US
on their honeymoon. Started in DC, to Chicago then to SF and drive a car to LA. Sounds like a great trip.
They were amazed at our cost of living compared to theirs. They had been looking at real estate ads in
the papers….then I told them my house was $60K! She was a teacher and he worked for the
government….a steady job he said. I always enjoy talking to Brits…..so far everyone I have met have
been great folks.
2:35 and I am in my room on the SWC!! I had to use Red Cap to give me a ride out to the train….and with
the train at it’s ‘Summer’ length a very good choice. The train is adjusted, cars added or removed, to
match ticket sales…..so Summer trains are often longer than Winter trains. We should leave about 3:00 if
on time…...seems they have their stuff together today.
We pulled out ar 2:59 and cleared Chicago quickly. I arranged my room as I like…….I know how people in
space feel….a roomette is good for one person...but you still have to have things arranged just right….
then it's cozy and comfortable. I just sit back being lazy watching out the window as we transition from gritty
South side Chicago to Illinois farmland fast. I take a dinner time of 7:45 as I avoid the rush and it’s more
relaxed atmosphere in the car. There are only two of us at the table when they call us. The other guy a
Amtrak worker that heads up the traveling Amtrak 40th Anniversary train. It will be at the Grand Canyon
this weekend so he is riding the train to oversee it’s stop there. I am wearing my AT&SF Super Chief shirt
so we talked trains most of the meal. I told him to bring the train to WSS for a display.
I had my normal NY steak with mushrooms, rice and veggies. All very good as always. After dinner I sat up
until the next ‘fresh air’ break with all the smoke!! Kansas City. Nice stop...just like to get out and get air….
which is warm but not hot. Back to my room which I make up into a bedroom and I fall asleep fast.
Tuesday Aug 23 2016
I woke a few times last night. VERY rough track would bump me out of my sleep. Not bad but a little
annoyance. My dinner partner last said said they had the funds to fix that section...but it may be a while
before it’s done. I got up late for me. 8:30 home time…..we were between time zones on the train so it was
really 7:30 or even 6:30 depending on what city you were using to tell time. Still the diner was full and I
ended up waiting only 20 minutes so it was fine. Sat with a couple on their way from Kentucky to the Grand
Canyon via train. They were in a roomette which they said was small but they had never been on a train
so didn’t know how to ‘split pack’ as I call it. Small bag in room with just what’s needed for 3 days and
another bigger bag stored downstairs with all your travel stuff, THEN a roomette works fine.
We left La Junta right on time…..and staying on schedule pretty well. Lots of flat dry Colorado out the
window….think I’ll sit back and relax…..that is what the train is for after all!!!
Raton pass and tunnel were cool as always…..and the smoke shop at Raton was nice….very different
than last January when it was twenty degrees outside….no one got off then...now it seems all have gotten
off. Back on the train and we roll out of Raton. Just West of the station I get our first true emergency stop.
Someone was standing in the middle of a grade crossing. We didn’t hit him/her but they had to do a E
Brake…..don’t want to do it again…..happy I was seated and not up and around…..I’d gone down for
sure!!! And after a E Brake incident they must do a car by car test….so we sit about 10 minutes. You hear
a lot about people walking in front of trains….on purpose and accident. On the Amtrak Surfliner between
LA and San Diego it almost has become the preferred method of doing one’s self in. Next air stop,,,,ABQ
and Walter White (I am wearing my ‘Heisenberg’ shirt today for those who know.
Called for lunch. Sat with a couple that had been everywhere and wanted to tell me every detail.
I zoned out after world tour 3 or 4. Nice folks but I didn’t want to hear about snorkeling in a 3rd different
The food was great…..large burger with fixins. Patty looked hand made not the flat round machine made
things. It was flame grilled just right, cheese and big slices of bacon. Toasted burn was big but not too big.
Just a really good burger. After lunch I went to the observation car. I had not made it back there yet. Two
ladies sat beside me, on their first train trip. They asked if it was my first and I explained it was not. They
asked about rough track…….it was track that Amtrak alone owns so it needs an upgrade a few years ago.
They were having a good time but had found the small issues you find on your first trip. I headed back to
my roomette after a while….the observation car was getting warm from the bright sun. I was totally lazy the
rest of the day. Outside the scenery had turned to high desert and I love this area….so I just looked out
the window and took photos until dinner time.
I took a 7:45 seating as I am not an early bird special like many of my fellow travelers. So by taking late I
get a smaller and ‘different’ crowd. Well I ended up alone at a table….and that was fine with me….except
that lead to me being pretty much ignored. I only ordered the steak and rice as I was not real hungry. It’s
the first steak I have gotten on the train I’d consider ‘below average’. It was much thinner than normal with
lots of fat. Add to it my tea glass didn’t get refilled and they never asked if I needed anything or wanted
dessert. So after seeing the crew sit for 10 minutes I got up and left. I didn’t tip for the first time as I felt like
they had ignored the lone diner. Sorry….you guys are great 99% of the time...and maybe as I age I have
less tolerance. But for the first time I will award you a C-. I’ll most likely convert my room early tonight….
should be in Fullerton about 7:00 am. Then we start part two of my different trip.
Wednesday Aug 24, 2016
I didn’t sleep last night. I always sleep like a baby in my roomette. But I was up and down all night. Finally
at Barstow I decided to get dressed and sit up to see what I could in Cajon pass. Fires in the Cajon just a
few days before had shut the line down, Trains were sent through Bakersfield and down to LA…….it would
have been interesting to take that route but Cajon is back in service. It’s the busiest and and one of the
most important sections of railroad in the country. It was just starting to get light when we hit Cajon. I could
see burned areas…..and even a few small homes that had burned. But a few yards from a burned area
would be a stand of trees untouched! They said the fire was very random and you can tell by riding
We pass the busy San Bernardino Intermodal yard and Riverside station so my stop next. I make sure my
bags are together and ‘all belongings’ go with me as the conductor announces at each stop. We arrive at
Fullerton about one hour late…...not sure why we are late, must have lost time during the night at some
point. As I grab my bags and get off the train there is a sea of people on the platform……..and 100% of
them have their faces buried in a ‘device’ of some type…..phone, tablet whatever. No one even looks up.
By the SWC being a little late we have caused an issue with Metrolink and these folks just want on their
train. As soon as the SWC pulls out a Metrolink train pulls in. A BNSF SD something locomotive on the
front and a dirty worn out looking F whatever on the back. Not sure why a loco on both ends but I end up
seeing a few more this way. I call Terry….he’s on his way. I grab a $2 Diet Coke from a machine and sit in
the cool morning air. I wish Amtrak would have Coke products over Pepsi…...the vending machine in La
Junta Co no longer has any diet drinks…...that was a good stop for me as it’s a smoke stop I’d get my
Coke fix there.
Terry arrives and we head for breakfast. We eat at a place called Polly’s pies. Good meal…..eggs, bacon
and hash browns. That was plenty but the meal came with a cinnamon bun the size of a basketball. It went
home in a box.
We ended going with Terry’s Dad out to Fontana to a Hudson parts yard. LOTS of old and finished
Hudson and even more parts. We needed 3 engine vales for a 1937 Hudson being rebuilt. Took about an
hour to go through all the used valves the guy had….but we got what we needed and headed home. We
were going the direction opposite of most people were going. We saw a minor wreck going the other
way…...traffic was stopped and not moving at all. It was a 15 mile long parking lot. This is one thing I could
not do out here…..but if you live out here it will happen so no getting around it.
Dinner was at Black Bear Diner. Food OK but costly. Terry’s Dad got ‘Hot Turkey Sandwich’ which was
very cold….we sent it back. So average or below for the Bear. The day caught up with me finally. I did a
‘crash and burn’......fell on my bed and fell asleep dressed even with my cap on. I later woke and did not
realize my prosthetic leg had come off and tried to walk….falling hard and hurting my stump. I was lucky I
only bruised it badly and didn’t break the skin….still hurts like crazy and has slowed me badly. To bed
early….Getting older is really showing itself…...falling, tired, confused…...old sucks. To bed….get this one
Thursday Aug 25, 2016
We took early morning to work on Terry’s PC, it was slow and often hung up. Took 3 hours or so and got it
better but part of the issue was the ISP internet speed. It is almost as slow as mine back home…..and that’
s bad. Nothing we can do about that.
We decide to hit a few more hobby shops. Brookhurst Hobby and Milepost 38. Milepost 38 is a O and G
scale shop. They had a large table of used stuff up front. Got a very nice K-Line Southern Pacific
heavyweight baggage car. No box but otherwise in mint condition. It was $20 a pretty good deal for a scale
car. After my meltdown Wednesday I decided to not do much. Pizza Hut for dinner and then we sat around
and talked model cars, real cars and growing up together in So Cal in the 1960’s. It may have been the
best time to grow up…..to us anyway.
Friday Aug 26, 2016
Leg/stump still hurting badly……..3000 miles for me to sit around…..joy. We work on Terry’s 1937 Hudson
coupe. It had eaten a cam shaft 3-4 months ago. I have never worked on this old of a car. It has a
flathead six cylinder engine. Very different than the small block Fords and AMC’s I know pretty well. We
get the cam installed and a few other things done and call it for the day. Of the three of us I’m the
youngest and I’m ready to stop. Add to it we are doing a car show tonight in Whittier so we need to get
cleaned up and pack the 1949 Hudson for the show.
We leave for the show late afternoon. It’s unusually cool for this time of year…..
I love it….still mid 70’s with a breeze. We find our parking spot in the large mall lot. They are set up for 200-
250 cars…..that’s bigger than our big annual car show back home! The variety and quality of cars were
above average. We parked between a 51 Hudson Hornet and a 39 Hudson coupe. LOTS of cars showed
up…..many magazine level cars. We ate at Ruby’s diner….a retro burger place. Decent to better food. I
had a big burger with fries…...both good. A little while later we packed up the Hudson and headed home. It
had gotten cooler and with the top down my back seat ride was great!! I like it cool so it was fine for me. A
couple of riceburner / tuner cars raced their motors at red lights…..we had no issues. After we got home
all of us old guys were done and went to bed...we are party animals!!!
Saturday Aug 27, 2016
We want to get some of the big repairs done on the 37 today so right after breakfast we dove in. Learning
some early automotive lessons here. I have not worked on 30’s era restored auto before. Everything I had
experience on was modified or hot rodded extensively. Things like the unusual flathead tightening
sequence or valve assembly were all very different that the small block modern (1970’s) Ford, AMC and
Chevy's I have worked on. We get the basics done and it’s getting rather warm so we call it a day. It’s
been great working on this 37 Hudson. I may never again use the new knowledge but having a basic
understanding of 30’s era autos is good. The remainder of the day we watched some TV, worked on
cleaning up and installing the new TB hard drive on Terry’s PC and sitting around. We can tell we have
aged some since we started these visits in 1973……...much less busy. One might say boring!
Sunday Aug 28, 2016
Sunday was much the same as Saturday. After dinner at Subway, we planned our next big day trip. It will
end up in Calico California. Again car work had worn us out and by 10 PM we were done and sitting
around the TV.
Monday Aug 29, 2016
OK…...today will test us pretty good. Since we were kids growing up in So Cal we knew of Calico
California. It’s a gold and silver mining town way out in the high desert. Neither of us have ever been there
before…….so we thought it might be a good time to go. We headed out toward 29 Palms as we wanted to
drive up parts of the Mojave desert, again, parts we’d never seen before. We got off the I-10 and drove
North toward Lucerne Valley on route 247. The road itself was very nice, smooth 2 lane road. But it
seemed like forever before we got to Barstow. Miles and miles of empty road surrounded by almost
nothing. Once we saw a roadside sign that had some info so we stopped. It said this was the Stoddard off
road recreation area. As far as the eye could see there was only sand, scrub brush. Joshua trees and
rocks. Recreation what?? We stood there for a few minutes…….no other traffic, sounds, nothing. Beautiful
in a way and scary as Hell in others. If for some reason our car would not start and our phones not work (I
didn’t check to see if they were working...didn’t want to know) we might be in serious trouble within
minutes. It was a cool 106 degrees and we had some drinks in the cooler, but neither of us was walking
anywhere for help. And even after we did start the car and get back underway, we didn’t see anyone for
another 20 minutes. This ain’t no place for babies!! The few who live out here gotta be tough or crazy or
We get to Barstow. We were going to go to the Route 66 and Rail Museum. But we failed to check to see if
they were open so of course they were closed. We had plans to eat here and then head to our Grail of
Calico. We didn’t feel like eating so thought best we grab a drink and keep going. This desert weather
beats on you in many ways. We did stop at Barstow at the restored Harvey House that serves as the
station for Amtrak Southwest Chief twice a day and look at the outdoor display of rail stuff there. On to
Calico. It’s only a few miles to Calico from Barstow. It is very much stuck in the sixties. A giant wooden cut
out of a prospector tells us it’s only 3 miles to Calico once we exit the I-15. In 3 miles another giant
wooden prospector tells us to turn here!! It’s $8 a person to get in with free parking so all things
considered not a bad deal these days. Neither of us know what to expect for sure. Would it be a huge
disappointment to us after fifty plus years of hearing about it?? (it opened in 1950 feeding on the wild west
craze of the day) Calico is a pretty authentic late 1880’s mining town. While the streets are paved or
boardwalks the main street gets steeper and steeper as you go. Side streets and trails are much less civil.
I passed on a few of them, Terry walked out while I sat. Seeing Calico and getting a feel what a miner in
1880’s might be like is what you came away with. There is a small ‘mine train’ ride but the one in Buena
Park is better. Many of the old buildings have stores inside and two are restaurants. Walking to the ‘top’ of
town and back down was all we could do. And while the sheriff said it was 105 in Calico there was a slight
breeze and the zero humidity tends to cool up somewhat. We walked through a few stores…...a bit
disappointing in a way. The stores had some nice western items…….but I was looking for kitschy ‘Calico
items. The old bumper stickers or window decals we saw as kids…...or anything retro Calico looking. I may
have to make my own Calico window decal. We saw and made it to the top….about all we can expect for a
one legged man and two guys almost 60 years old! We climb into the car and head back toward Buena
Park. We did stop at Polly’s restaurant and ate. I had the same breakfast I had the other day. We get
home and we are tired.
Tuesday Aug 30, 2016
We started off with working on the 37 Hudson again. We are taking it slow…...it’s pretty warm and we want
it right the first time….no do overs. Other than that we recovered from our Calico desert trip. We did not
realize how much our trip across the Mojave and up Calico took out of us. We looked through old model
car magazines and relived our days in Whittier off Mina Ave.
We are a dull couple of fellows…...but we’re having fun.
Wednesday Aug 31, 2016
Take yesterday and add a grocery store trip. About it. We are having fun going through stuff, talking
about old friends in our neighborhood. We agree that living in So Cal 1960 to 1970 Was a great time.
With families that were not rich but had plenty to live a normal life. Dad was the Valvoline Racing oil rep
and thus I got to attend many races and car shows in the region. Always things to do in So Cal with Disney
costing less than $5 to get in and we having a stack of tickets left by other Valvoline visiting executives.
Knott’s Berry Farm was free to get in…….in fact there was NO fence around the property. A very
DIFFERENT time. Knott’s was maybe my favorite place To visit. The authentic 1880’s era town was great
to wander through after dark. I could see myself in the old West without much work. Knott’s closes early
often now…..not like the old days when you might stay way past dark. But the days of a eleven year old
boy walking alone through a old ghost town are long gone anyway. Again…..DIFFERENT.
Thursday Sept. 01, 2016
Normal start to the day. Some work on the 37...but not a lot. We did head to Prestige Hobbies to look
around and so Terry could pick up a new to him model kit. The kits was a 1961 Revell ¼ scale Chrysler
slant six engine. The kit is pretty rare…..I have never seen one in hand. It has a small hidden electric
motor that makes the engine ‘run’. The kit has cut away areas that shows the workings of the internals.
Should be very cool when finished. More looking through old model stuff and magazines and we are done.
Friday Sept. 02, 2016
Some fine tuning on the 37. Torque the head bolts again. There are 27 bolts and the pattern for
tightening is kinda odd but required by the Hudson manual. So in the end we will have tightened these 27
bolts five different times before it’s declared finished. Lots of little things to put back on too. We stop about
noon so we can run out to Pegasus Hobbies near Pomona. Pegasus is a kit manufacture and a huge
hobby shop in general. We take about an hour plus, Terry picks up a few detail parts and I some 1/48
scale gold miners and cacti kits Pegasus manufactures. I want to build a O scale On30 layout and I’ll use
these. We don’t hang here too long as we will be going to the Whittier Friday car show again. We get
home and get changed, load up the 1949 Hudson convertible and off to Whittier. Terry and I grew up in
Whittier on the same street…….Whittier has a lot of positive memories.
A few new cars show up this week. A group of 8 - 9 VW bugs were cool and a Aussie GM Holden coupe.
Never seen a Holden in person. Being a GM it’s looks like a number of different cars…...some Camaro,
some GTO, somethings all it’s own. Right hand drive with a Chevy 350 V8 a cool car. A 66 Mustang
fastback parked behind us. It was a darker gray than ours and not near as finished but I tried to find the
owner to talk but never did. So many great cars. I could show the Javelin right now without shame…….the
Mustang soon and the 46 Ford I’d have to show as ‘in progress’ as the paint is a little less than show
level…...but I have the most fun in the 46! Go figure. We load up about 8:30 and head back to Buena
Park. Riding in the back seat in the big Hudson top down on a bright Whittier Blvd on a cool night makes
me understand why some love convertibles.
Saturday Sept. 03, 2016
Terry found he bought the wrong detail parts for the 59 Rambler ‘Radiator Lady’ project…...sp another 50
mile trip to Pegasus hobbies. But first we do a few detail items on the real 37 Hudson. Hood, engine bay
panels and covers…...she is ready for a test drive, but we will wait until Sunday morning to do that. Back
to Pegasus…..we hit holiday traffic this time. We have been lucky with traffic so far…..and this is not
horrible but we crawl at 10 mph for awhile for no reason other than the I-15 is full of cars. On the way
home we stop at a veggie stand and buy fresh corn…….grocery store and home to fix dinner.
Sunday Sept. 04, 2016
Today we did the final button up on the 1937 Hudson Terraplane coupe. I rode along as co-pilot for the
trip. The car drove perfect and sound same. You could smell the new paint ‘burning off’ some parts, but
that’s not an issue. No one really takes notice of a 1930’s era Hudson driving down a major California
highway. We return home and re-arrange all the cars for the Fall season. Convertible to the rear and the
4 door and newly finished 37 coupe up front. The 37 will go to the Whittier show Friday night…...but we
will be at LAX and not able to go…...too bad.
The rest of the day was spent watching the TV. The F1, NASCAR Cup and Indycar races were on. By the
time we watched them all it was late. We were done.
Monday Sept. 05, 2016
No big plans today. It’s Labor Day and we don’t want to get out on the freeways as they may be very busy
with all the holiday traffic. Brookhurst hobbies is open and having a 25% off sale so we head down. LOTS
of stuff I’d like to own….but I have too much stuff at home as it is…..so I pass on most items but buy a
Tamiya tank track set as they are cheap and while I do not have a use…...too cool to pass up right now.
We all do load up in the car and go to Spaghetti Factory which is cool as it is in Fullerton right on the
BNSF / METRO railroad mainline tracks. We can eat good food and watch trains at the same time!!!! A
number of Metro trains, BNSF Intermodal and even my Amtrak Southwest Chief makes it’s stop at the
station next to the restaurant. The restaurant has a cool O scale model train display in the lobby. Most
trains on display are Amtrak 2 level cars like the SWC runs…...others like the Metrolink trains. But also on
display is a MTH Amtrak Turbo Train from the 1970’s. A failed experimental train powered by a turbine
engine. Very modern looking for it’s day I want one but it’s cost, $700, is holding me back….someday. We
head home…..another day done.
Tuesday Sept. 06, 2016
We get up with no real plans. We figure it’s a good day to try and hit the Peterson Automotive Museum in
West LA. A fairly good distance from the house so we wait for the morning rush to slow down and hit the
freeways. We have a connection to the Peterson. Not only do we attended almost every visit but Terry’s
1934 Terraplane pick-up truck was featured as the most beautiful truck a few years ago. It’s a great place
for auto fans or others. But for the last 12 months or so the Peterson has undergone a complete
makeover…...inside and out. The new Peterson is now more like a very high end fine art museum. It has
a somewhat sterile clean look. Fantastic cars on display in great settings. The ‘Day at the raceses’ film
maybe the best. BUT, and it’s a big but…….the Peterson has lost some of the charm the old place had.
Before it had full scale display dioramas showing 1920’s to 1950’s era gas stations, diners and repair
shops. I really enjoyed these displays. I think it’s because they were like displays I’d create if I had the
space, time and money. Sad they were all destroyed during the remodel. I saw on KTLA TV they tried to
save a few….but most were built in place and not salvageable. Peterson is now a museum that can hold it’
s own with any I have ever seen…...but not my favorite. Having been to The Henry Ford this year too I
think I have seen both ends of the display methods…...both good…..the Henry Ford more my taste.
Traffic home was the ‘parking lot’ style so we hit the surface streets. Took a while but every time we got
near the freeway we saw it was stopped…..so slow surface was still a good idea. After we got home we
decided to go to a local Mexican restaurant. We end up eating here with every visit. It’s a local family
place with pretty authentic Mexican food. We finish up and head back home. Again some TV and done
for the day.
Wednesday Sept 07, 2016
Off to a slow start today. We worked on models and look through some 1960’s and 70’s era magazines. I
am building a Monogram Tom Daniels designed kit ‘The Vandal’. As kids we often spent weekends at each
others house after we both moved from Whittier. And just as often it meant we’d build a model each. So I
grabbed this kit at the hobby shop the other day and I am building it much like we did back in the day…..
except more painting than when we were kid. But I am sticking to building it ‘box stock’ and not modifying it
in any way. We do decide to run down to Prestige Hobbies and the grocery store and a few other stops.
We work the rest of the day until dinner time when we go to Sizzler and eat. Have not been to one of these
in 29 years. Decent food with lots of it. Back home and done again. We are not party animals!!!
Thursday Sept. 08, 2016
We got up and went to Polly’s for breakfast today. I had the same thing as before…….the eggs, hash
browns and bacon. These are very well done but the kicker to this meal is your chioce of toast or
cinnamon roll. The roll is really the size of a basketball. And each time we get a box and take it home…..
and eat off it for a day or so. A pretty good deal all things considered. Off the Super uts….Terry wants to
get a haircut. I save my money as I don’t have enough hair to cut. Off to Walmart for some house things.
Terry’s friend Cam is manager Watson’s in Orange Ca. When I saw a ‘Burrough’s Bites’ on KTLA
featuring Watson’s I told Terry we needed to go……..he then told me Cam was the manager now…..so it
was a ‘must do’ item on our list. Watson’s is a old drug store that has been turned into a soda fountain
restaurant. Old parts of the drug store fixtures were used as decorations around the store. We ordered a
appetizer of mini burgers as the regular burgers STARTED at half pound and went to 2 full pounds!! The
mini burgers came 3 to a plate with bacon and Watson’s sauce. Cam suggested tater tots and onion rings
as a side….which we did. We still had more food that we needed. But eat slowly as Cam came by often
checking and our waitress Courtney kept our glasses filled and making sure we were happy. GREAT food
if you ever get a chance. After we ate we walked around the old downtown area. LOTS of antiques stores
and such. We saw a ‘Army Navy’ store and thought we’d check it out. It was more like ‘Old Navy’ with all
new Carhartt and such items…….nothing like we thought. Not the old ‘Army Navy’ stores of old days…….
very different!!! We walked down the street and one of the antiques stores had a few tables out on the
sidewalk. A small box and baggies full of small die cast toy cars. Each were marked $2…….the first one I
picked up contained about 8 different cars. I was drawn to one in the bag. A very nice 1970 ‘Peeping
Bomb Hot Wheels with working headlight covers. Mint this is a $75 car. I was a Hot Wheel ‘tester’ as a kid
and have many cars from the start of the die cast line. Peeping was one of the cars I never had so $2 was
well worth the cost….the other ‘common’ cars will go to my grandson!! So our trip to Orange was
worthwhile for sure…….good food and a vintage Hot Wheels car! We got home…..some more model work
and car themed TV shows. Kinda skipped dinner after two meals out today. I did a load of wash and
another exciting evening!!! Friday signals a very different stay ib So Cal…...my wife Roz will fly out for a
week stay before we both ride the train come. A different spin on California AND a different trip home. We’
ll see how this works out. I have been coming to So Cal for visits since we moved East in 1970. But other
than a short stay with my daughter in 2015 always alone. That’s next week…...still lots of time before
that. Some TV and another day done.
Friday Sept. 09, 2016
Well today is the day Roz flies out to LA for a week before we ride the train home. But before any of that
we are going to pick up Cam, go eat brunch and walk Huntington beach. We get to Cam’s and hung out
for a few minutes. Cam’s wife, who sees me on each visit but only once or so, always remembers me and
recalls details that are funny. She asked if I have been to So Cal since my last visit with my daughter in
2015…….I was somewhat surprised that she had remembered that. She is always very nice to us and acts
like see saw us last week. We load up and head for the iHop at Huntington Beach. As a kid my Mom would
take us to Huntington Beach 2-3 times a week during the summer. We even have some home 8mm film of
where we are going today only circa 1964…….it looked VERY different back then. Parking is much more
difficult today than back then…...but I brought my blue parking permit so we park not to far from the iHop.
After our late breakfast or brunch we drive down to the beach side parking. Terry and Cam try to come
down here weekly and walk. They can do it easily year round. We did it last January and it was 70
degrees. Today it’s close to 89 degrees but a cool wind is blowing. They walk to the end of the pier while I
sit on a bench about one quarter way down the pier. I am still wearing my healing boot from my foot
procedure and not pushing it. There is a guy not far from me playing the guitar asking for cash…..seems
he was here the last few times. I ask Terry and he says the guy is there every day no matter what day they
come…...and this has been going on for ten years plus!!! Wonder if he’s one of those guys who is wealthy
because no ‘income’ and all cash donations!!! Doesn’t seem like he could be here in a expensive area all
this time and not have a dime!! After the pier walk they walk up the beach a mile…...but today we pass as
we have a LAX trip ahead still and other things we need to do. We load up and head to Cam’s.
Roz’s plane is delayed taking off…...crew issues. The 4:33 departure did not happen until 6:01 and this
delays the landing time so we adjust our schedule. We leave for LAX and our delay has made it to where
we are driving with the sun right on the horizon and making it difficult to say the least. You can’t read any
of the over head signs so good thing I ain’t driving. As we near LAX the hyper busy traffic and just people
everywhere is kinda freaking me out. My home sits in a county of almost 1000 square miles and only about
1800 people and that’s a busy day. I think there are 1800 folks at the LAX In and Out burger place. The
flight is delayed more so we find a side street parking spot under the landing path. While we wait for her
plane we just watch on plane about every 3-4 minutes fly overhead at a very low altitude. It’s really fun
just watching these huge machines…...they look like they should not be able to fly at all. The air has
gotten very humid from cloud cover moving in. Each plane coming in has contrails coming off each wing
tip. At about 8:07 I get a text from AA that the plane landed so in a few minutes we will roll and enter LAX
and try and find Roz. As soon as you get near LAX it’s like a mad house. Hundreds and hundreds of cars,
taxi, buses and limos. And the limo drivers the worse. They park anywhere and open their doors into traffic
as they please. We enter at the one side of the horseshoe shaped airport and must go to the other side
before we get near her gate. SO MANY people and vehicles…….and we can’t miss on the first run as
getting back around to the start can take an hour. It’s a one chance pick up. I am really feeling the crush
of people and things…...add to it the ‘gotta do it right first time’ and this is not enjoyable. Very different
than in the 1960’s when we’d take Dad to the airport weekly or multiple times a week, park and go into the
terminal all the way to his gate. I do not recall many folks at all. VERY different today…...and absolute
crush today…...to me anyways. We get to gate 4…..she is at the curb…..I already had my seatbelt off,
Terry pops the trunk open….I jump out and throw the suitcase in, Roz jumps in and we did it!!!!!! First trip
around…….hardly any horns blowing or fingers flashed at us. Now we just have to get out of this crush!!
We hit the freeway and it’s an uneventful trip home…..but pretty late by the time we get in and arranged.
Saturday is a tour of downtown LA so we call it done.
Saturday Sept. 10, 2016
We get up a little early so we can get to the Buena Park Metrolink station in time to buy tickets for the 9:40
am train to LA Union station. The BP station is pretty empty and we park up front. Buy tickets from the
automated machine. It’s set up for folks 3 feet tall or shorter…...I understand folks in wheelchairs need to
see the screen but then the 99.999% of the rest of us have to get on our knees to use it. This complaint
from someone who spent two years in a wheelchair…...so not a complaint based on insensitivity. We wait
about ten minutes…..watching the BNSF Intermodal trains run down the center tracks. Train pulls in…..
almost full….we find three seats in the middle section. The train ride takes about 31 minutes vs. anywhere
up to an hour plus driving and then parking your car. And our tickets are good for ANY public
transportation in LA be it train, bus or subway. When we arrive at LA Union we wait for most of the train to
empty…..we are not in a big hurry. After we get off the train I try and explain how we walked these station
platforms so many times as kids. Mom’s sister lived in Davis Ca and the train ran right by her house so
Dad would just load us on the train rather than drive the 10 hours or so. I loved riding trains and I think
Dad liked NOT driving!! We take our time walking through Union and I try and point out things like how the
station was set up in the 1950’s or where Blade Runner was filmed or the Nolan Batman movie. We stop
at the old ticket area. This area is always closed off now on every visit. It is used for filming and ‘events’ of
one type or another. This was where we always came first to pick up tickets. With machines selling all the
local tickets and Amtrak long distance train tickets sold online and you print them…..no need for the 15-20
ticket windows any longer. The room has been very well preserved at any rate thankfully. I go to the help
desk to get a bus schedule. We find out the buses are not running on Saturday, not the ones we needed,
but the subway will work. Good thing we have the ‘ride anything’ tickets! None of us have ever rode the
subway in LA so this too will be different. We head back to the subway station…..and it’s deep down
under Union….it takes two long escalator rides to get to the loading platform. A train pulls out as we step
off the escalator so we have to wait. We only ride the subway two station stops to Pershing Sq. One note I
must make about the LA subway before we move on…...and it’s pretty negative and I hate to make it….
but even Terry, a LA citizen for 55+ years, said was true. Most of the subway system smelled of urine…….
VERY strong in some areas…...to the point of overwhelming. I realize LA has a huge, bigger than huge,
homeless person problem. But if they want the ‘masses’ to ride the system they will have to fix this issue.
Visitors from outside LA or even the USA may not understand the homeless issue fully and think LA just
does not give a damn.
Off the soapbox. After we get off the subway and get back to street level we have a hard time getting our
bearings. Twisting and turning underground and then popping up had us mixed up. We finally figured out
which way to go we started walking. We went about 4 blocks to get to the Bradbury Building on Broadway.
This was the ‘home’ featured in the film Blade Runner. It is a survivor and very much untouched since
built. It was built in 1893 making it 123 years old. Inside it is a work of art in decorative iron work. We
spend 30-35 minutes taking photos and just looking. The Million Dollar Theater is across the street from
the Bradbury and is a fantastic building but is rarely open to the public. Another note I kinda hate to
make…...but it’s the truth so I am reporting it and not giving opinion. All along our walk to the Bradbury
were a good number of homeless. None of them really bothered us thankfully. But with this number of
folks, most showing strong signs of a mental issue of some kind, did make the walk intimidating to say the
least. A few were over powering in odor from 10-12 feet. I wish there was a light at the end of this tunnel
called ‘homeless’ but it seems so big I wonder if it will ever be resolved.
We started our walk back to the subway station and return to Union Station. We make our way back and
head for Olvera St. As kids growing up in So Cal Olvera St was a field trip destination. Olvera St is the
original Los Angeles street. It’s a narrow little street lined with different vendors most being Mexican
themed. Some items for sale are authentic items while some are typical tourist trap items. We ate at a
restaurant at the end of the street that claims it’s the oldest on the West coast. It opened in 1800’s and
has operated since then. La Golondrina Mexican Cafe had great service and food……..authentic to me at
least!!! They had this bowl of black beans that were the best I ever had! After we ate it was close to our
train back to Buena Park departure time. We headed back to Union and found the big oversize chairs in
the waiting room. And here is my one complaint with Union Station. I went to the one, very small, restroom.
It was a horrid mess, extremely hot and smelly beyond belief. I even returned 15 minutes later hoping to
find the condition better, only to find it worse. The restroom situation is THE number one thing Los
Angeles needs to address at Union Station. The small stuffy place is so far beyond capacity it is almost a
danger…..no joke. You got car lovin Angelenos to ride the train, light rail, subway and Metro, now make it
The ride home was almost too fast…...we were back to the Buena Park station in 35 minutes. Just before
our station a Metro train conductor came by and asked to see our tickets. This was the first time anyone
had asked to see them….. And just minutes after I asked out loud if they ever check. We showed ours…..
but the young lady in the seat in front of ours started telling a story of a damaged ATM card had
prevented her buying a ticket. She went round and round about the ‘whys’ of not having a ticket…….but
the conductor, being very nice, told her to get off at the next station. I say nice as there are signs about
riding without a ticket and how it will cost you a fine of $500 or so. The next station was our station…….
and when we pulled in she didn’t stand up or act like she was getting off. But then just as the train was to
pull off we saw her kinda hop out of the side door. I think she was embarrassed and she should be…...we
hung around the station watching BNSF Intermodal freight trains running. One was going West and flying.
It was a huge train. Four locos up front, three locos about 100 cars back and one more loco at the end of
the train. Before we left we saw our kicked off lady buying a ticket at the machine. She was a lucky rider in
my book…...they even have the power to arrest you.
We went home and did little else…….other than agree the trip to downtown beat us up pretty well. It was a
lot of ground for us to cover. But it was well worth it…..we saw the real Los Angeles!!! Warts and all like I
want to see most cities.
Sunday Sept. 11, 2016
Keeping it simple this 9/11.…….
Today we will take Roz on an exciting tour of our old neighborhoods, schools and places we hung out at.
First off we went to Whittier. This is where Terry and I met at age 5. Both families had just moved into the
area…….the neighborhood was not real old by So Cal standards. Maybe five years old in 1962. Our
houses were on Mina Ave….both identical 3 bedroom cinderblock houses. I give you this info as they were
advertised, when built, as ‘Forever Houes’. Built of cinderblock on thick concrete slabs, they had metal
doors and frames, inside and out, metal kitchen cabinets even! The houses had tar and gravel roof,
fireproof, and with concrete filling the walls they claimed quake proof…...and as all of them are still there
fifty years later…..seems so. I know we loved these houses and they were great first homes for us and
started the almost 55 year friendship Terry and I have. A great place and time to grow up. We went by
Mulberry Elementary school where we both went K-5th before both families moved. We went by the liquor
store on Lambert where we spent our hard earned kid money on Beatles collector cards, with gum,
miscellaneous candy and sodas. The drug store where we took our notes written by our Mothers
allowing us to buy glue for our plastic models. The Holley House, gone now, where they made great subs
and we idolized the then teens and hot rods they had.
We then drove over to La Palma where our family moved in late ‘67. This neighborhood has not changed
greatly. I think all the families that had built these homes, and lived there when we did, are all moved
away. Went by Walker Jr High, where I attended for a few months before we moved to NC. After that it was
lunch and grocery store and home for dinner. A short day but Monday is Knott’s Berry Farm day so we
need to rest up!!
Monday Sept. 12, 2016
Knott’s Berry Farm……a VERY special place for me. As I said earlier I lived near Knott’s and it was free to
get in…..it had no fence as a matter of fact so tough to charge entry. The Knott’s had brought real
authentic buildings from out in the desert to ‘entertain’ folks while they waited to eat at Mrs. Knott’s
resturant. It grew into the first real theme park……pre-dating Disneyland. So you can mix a lot of nostalgia
for me along with real old ghost town and a great sunny So Cal day….perfect. Add to it we had picked one
of the very lowest attendance days. We got there a few minutes before opening…..and I was surprised
that the Knott’s crew held a very nice opening ceremony. Just a few words and the national anthem and a
flag raising. Simple but GREAT. The park seemed like ours alone. That was fine for me. We went right for
the Calico Mine ride. It had just undergone a complete restoration. Last time I was here it was run down,
dark and a mess. Few folks at the park means we are in for no wait…..load into the mine cars that are the
same as they were when I was a kid. The Calico ride was great!!! Maybe better than in the 1960’s. The
lighting was back, the music and narration that goes with the ride. It was like being 10 years old again. We
ended up riding it 3 times that day. We rode the log ride….the first one built in the USA. It was great and
had been reworked too. Most the day we wondered the park…..found old places hidden in corners. Took
our time in the museum, many of the stores and other out of the mainstream places. We saw the glass
blowers shop…..that was a cool place as a kid. We went in and it was 1965 all over. In fact the lady
running the store that day had been there 40 years!! We talked all about the old days of Knott’s and all
that had changed. We bought a few items and she wrapped them, put them in sturdy little boxes….just like
We jumped on the Galloping Goose, a 1930’s era cross between a old school bus and a train. We three
were the only ones on it. So when the ’train robber’ got on he kinda admitted he wasn’t getting much
today. He said it was good we were at Knott’s and not that ’mouse’ place…..they charge an arm and a
leg!!! I held up my prosthetic leg and said ’Too late!!’. We all laughed and it was just a cool moment. When
we got back to the station the engineer asked if we wanted to get a tour of the ’Goose’. He gave us a
complete tour and told how it looks the same as it did in the 1930’s but has been upgraded to run off
vegetable oil and almost pollution free.
We grabbed lunch at Johnny Rockets in the park. Prices were GREAT until we saw drinks were $7
EACH……no wonder the food was fair priced. At every turn we encountered Knott’s employees that stayed
in Ghost Town character and very entertaining. It was one of the best days, maybe the best day I ever had
at a theme park. They closed at 5:00 pm that day….about the time we got tired. Terry’s Dad had dropped
us off that mornig and picked us up…..right at the front gate. Can’t get much easier and saved us $15
parking. We went and ate dinner and we were done for the day. Gotta rest up….that ’mouse’ place Tue!!!
Tuesday Sept. 13, 2016
Disneyland…..hard to find anyone that has not heard of it. Roz and I took the kids to Disney World in the
1990’s……..but Disneyland is THE Disney destination. We got there just after the morning rush. We were
NOT going into the park. We have a system. We park at Downtown Disney in the handicap parking (with
my permit) and as long as we are there less than 3 hours we park up front and free. Enough time to see
downtown, walk over and see INTO Disneyland and DC parks. Roz shops for the kids and grandkids….I sit
outside and people watch. It’s a great way to taste Disney without paying the $150 per person plus $25
parking if you went to ONE park. With food we’d spent close to $600 for one day……..we’ll stay with the
‘taste’ method. We finished up shopping and looking into parks like paupers into a restaurant….walked to
the car and merged onto the Disneyland freeway and toward the ‘IN and Out’ for burgers!!! IN and OUT is
a great basic burger place. Simple food done well. I think Cook Out has modeled themselves after In and
Out. We head home. Terry is leaving on a trip that was planned a while back. He’ll take off at dawn
Wednesday so we will not see him before we leave for home. This was our last day together but we do not
leave until Thursday late afternoon. Home, some TV, Terry packes and we say our goodbyes. Seems
strange as Terry always sees me off at the train station and we have a routine. Not this time.
Wednesday Sept. 14, 2016
We wake and Terry is gone, off to Northern California. He left me the keys to his car so after breakfast Roz
and I take off by our selves into the wilds of So Cal!! Roz had picked out a cloth store she had found on
the net. We drove right to it. IT was a large old grocery store converted to a huge cloth store. She loved it
and found everything she was looking for. Now all we had to do was pack it for the train. We drove around
some….showing Roz some of my old neighborhoods and palaces we’d go. We found a
Wienerschnitzel hot dog place to eat. As a kid this was a favorite…..they’d run a 10 for a $1 on Tue nights.
A couple of dogs and fries, drinks…..$19.….not like it was when I was a kid!!! And no where near as good
as I remember!!
When we get back to Terry’s we start to pack….and find we have too much. So we get a box and fill it with
items we do not need en-route. Cloth, some models and other stuff is boxed up and we head for the post
office. $32 later it’s on it’s way home to WV…..who will make it home first??? After the post office it’s
almost dinner time and we find a ‘El Polo’. We see them advertised on KTLA all the time back home. Not
bad…..DIFFERENT than Taco Bell but I’ll not be wishing we had one at home. We head home and in for
the night. Thursday is train day and our trip home.
Thursday Sept. 15, 2016
The Amtrak Southwest Chief does not leave until about 7:00 pm. So we clean up around our room.
Double check all our stuff to make sure we do not forget anything. Roz gets the full tour of the Hudsons
and a ride in the 1937 we had done so much work on. She had never even sat in a car this old. Terry’s
Dad is going to drop us off at the Fullerton station. But he has a HET meeting at 6:00 pm. So I tell him he
can take us to the statio early and drop us off. There is LOTS to see around the Fullerton station with
trains every few minutes. I know, by riding for many years, that the car captain will have a dinner
reservation held for us when we get on the SWC…..so Roz and I sit on the station platform with $2 Cokes.
A great day in SoCal. This day is ALWAYS a very mixed emotion day. I, we this time, are about to board
the SWC for 3 days of great travel. But at the same time I am leaving SoCal, my second home and home
of so many friends and memories. A real roller coaster of feelings!! At least we are here alone…..it can
get real stupid when Terry and family drops me off.
The SWC is on time…..not too hard Fullerton is the first stop! We are in the Family room. After hurting my
leg I thought a Roomette was going to be small. The Family room was not sold a few days before
departure so it was cheap. It’s the largest room on the train…..full wirth of the train car. Seats about 6
during the day, sleeps the same as long as some are kids! We have a 7:45 pm dinner reservation so we
settle in and get ready to go to the diner car. Dinner was the norm…..very good. Roz was somewhat
surprised how good the food was. Learning to walk on the moving train was a new skill for her!! It comes
naturally after a while but ‘fun’ at first. After dinner it’s dark and we make up the room for sleep…..I do it as
it’s much like a roomette mechanically. It’s easy to fall asleep on the train and we do pretty early.
Friday Sept. 16, 2016
Riding the train with someone is very DIFFERENT than alone. Not better or worse but different. Alone I
come and go, eat, sleep whenever I want. Set up the room how I like. Now everything is a consensus.
Makes it more like home than an adventure were you do what comes next without thought. Breakfast is
first come so we get up and go to the diner. I have eggs, sausage and potatoes. Roz the same. We then
tour the train some. The SWC in summer mode is a LONG train. You can walk the entire train but I rarely
venture past the dome/lounge car. The other side of the dome car is all open seating….lots of it. It’s very
different than sleeper class in front of the dome car. Sounds kinda like the movie Snowpiercer if you are
one of the few who saw it. And if you did see it…..the SWC is not that much like it….just sounds that way
when you describe it!! We sit in the dome car but with a huge room to just us two we do not stay long. The
family room is big….but small windows are a limitation. But complete control of lighting and temp are nice.
Burgers at lunch, Steak at dinner. Lots of desert rolling by. Roz is not as fascinated by the deserts as I am.
I recall riding in the family Studebaker across these places as a kid…..I think to her it’s lots of rocks…..she
naps a lot. We make sure and get our ’fresh air’ at the stops. ABQ Roz runs to the resturant in the station
and gets two 1 litre Cokes as we can’t get them again until Chicago station! We shop the small vendors on
the station platform. It seems there were more of them….with more hand made items in the past. Still some
nice stuff….Roz picks up a small item for the grandkids. The rest of the day we were just plain lazy. We
each had our own window on opposite sides of the train….kinda hard to share what we see. A roomette
might be better for this. I set up the room for night. Tomorrow we will be in Chicago and the switch to the
Cardinal and a roomette.
Saturday Sept. 17, 2016
We are running a little late but not so much we have to worry about missing our connection in Chicago. At
breakfast I have another of my many encounters with Brits. We are sat with a young coupe. He does most
of the talking. He sounds like someone from Ohio or close. When she does talk I hear an accent. When we
are almost finished eating I ask…..’can I ask where the accent is from’?. She’s from the UK!! Married an
American and lives here now. But my streak of meeting Brits on every trip is intact!! I tell her my ‘Brit’ on
every trip story and she understands why I was happy when she said ‘UK’!! After breakfast we check the
room over and make sure we have all our stuff. We still have lunch yet but shortly after lunch we will hit
We do enter Chicago a little late. The wait between trains was not real long if we are on time…..so now our
stay in the Lounge is short…..but we get some rest and get on our devices and check e-mail and the net. I
set up a Red Cap to take us to the Cardinal as it is a long walk to the sleeper class cars. They call the
Cardinal for loading. I had grabbed our bags from storage and was ready with a Red Cap. It’s a funny
feeling riding these Red Cap cars as they zoom through the crowds (they run through the normal walk
ways) honking their horns almost constantly…..and the people that just ignore them until our driver rolls
up to them and lays down a solid blast…..then it’s like…….’WHAT?”. We climb aboard the Amfleet sleeper
and find our roomette. MUCH DIFFERENT than our family room just hours ago. I show Roz the upper bed
and how you climb up into it……she’s not sure about this! But it’s one night so only once up and down.
We go to dinner. First time I ate dinner on the Cardinal. Other trips I had eaten in Chicago and was still
full. But the food, while not SWC level, was good for pre-prep food. After dinner it was dark, not much to
see so I set the room up in sleeper mode. Roz does make it up into the ‘upper’ and I show her the net you
put up so you can’t roll out!
Sunday Sept. 18, 2016
Last day on the train….last day of my DIFFERENT trip to California. We somehow get Roz down from the
upper and set the room back to day mode. We head for the dinner. I have croissant and fruit Roz has
oatmeal and yogurt. This leg of the trip is going fast. By the time we finish breakfast and get back to the
room we are past Charleston WV. Only a handful of stops before White Sulfer Springs and the end of the
trip. We roll through our familiar West Virginia country side. See things like Hawk’s Nest from a very
different angle. Under the New River Gorge bridge …..although it’s high above us and kinda hard to see!
As we go by the Federal prison at Alderson, home to some famous folks time to time. The next stop is
WSS so we have to have all our stuff in the hall ready to be handed out of our Amfleet car. We pull into
WSS and my son Chris and GF are waiting. We climb down and they don’t wait long before the train has
cleared the platform. We load up his car with our luggage. Home.
This was a DIFFERENT trip as I stated up front. Time of year was not too different…..but Roz flying out
and riding the train back was a lot different. During my stay in SoCal we didn’t cram each day with stuff to
do places to go. We kinda took it slower…..our age is showing. Even WHAT we did do was DIFFERENT.
Rebuilding a Hudson flathead 6 cyl engine was a real learning curve and I was proud to get to help. Much
more time to sit…..go through old photos, magazines and just memories of growing up in SoCal. It was a
great time. By the late 1960’s it was getting crazy. And after 6 earthquakes in a week during 1969 is when
Dad requested a transfer out of SoCal. But must have been something special to have formed friendships
that are still strong over 50 years later.
Thanks for reading if you did……