California - Nevada
This section of the tour took us down the coast, with a
few skips and jumps, to Sacramento, Napa, San Francisco, and
Felton / Santa Rosa. The add-on trip from Stockton to
Bakersfield and return in the 55 year old streamlined dome cars
was an all-inclusive gourmet delight. Bakersfield is, of course,
Town, Sonoma, CA
Following a long bus ride along the winding coastal redwoods
highway, we visited a fantastic 1/8 scale operating ride-on
railway. Scale buildings and bridges, turntable and roundhouse,
plus a tropical garden setting made a great afternoon stop.
Valley Wine Train, Napa, CA
Not much to see, but the food and wine are really good. The 1959
Budd streamline dome cars have been nicely refurbished and the
cling like cloth. Photos from the website.
California State Railroad Museum, Sacramento, CA
Sacramento and the California State Railroad Museum fill a
morning, and much more if you can spare the time. The Museum is
spectacular and obviously well financed. The Museum's train ride
along the river front is uninspired, pulled by a standard
gauge 0-6-0 tank engine from an abandoned quarry operation.
is a mainline diesel version run by Sacramento River Trains and is
probably a better bet, but we didn't get a chance to ride on it.
Railroad Museum, Rio Vista, CA
This working museum covers electric interurban freight and
passenger service in western USA. A ride, with lunch included,
on a freight motor pulling two unpowered passenger cars brought
us to Gum Grove and return, past numerous wind turbines.
way of Amtrak from Sansun/Fairfield to Freemont, BART under the
Bay to downtown, and cable car to Fisherman's Wharf, we boarded
a fishing trawler for a ride under the Golden Gate Bridge. It
was rough and cold but quite enjoyable. A crab dinner
followed on stable land. Pogo once said "Terra Firma - the more
firma, the less terra".
Next day, we tried out the PCC
streetcars and "N" and "L" subways. These are equipped with
convertible steps that handle both street level and platform
Roaring Camp and Big Trees Railroad, Felton, CA
We left San Francisco by CalTrain to Mountain View, then by
Felton to ride the narrow gauge Shay into the redwoods. The shop
tour showed several engines under rebuild and a couple of baby
diesels sat in the sun outside.
Down the Valley, Stockton to Bakersfield, CA
Our final trip was an all-day journey on a Budd Vista-Dome car
tacked on the end of the regular Amtrak passenger train from
Stockton to Bakersfield. On the return trip, we were tacked next
to the northbound diesel, about 30 feet from the airhorn - there
are about 200 level crossings to whistle at, so it was not as
peaceful as the southbound journey.
Three gourmet meals, three
between meal snacks, and all the booze you want were included in
the fare. A few over-indulged but most were still sober upon
The San Joaquin Valley is flat, boring, and green in June (brown
later in the year) but it is the fruit and vegetable basket for much of the USA
and a lot of the rest of the world. During the northbound run, the sun set on 10 days of
trains and good food. as we returned to Stockton and Santa Clara.
Return to California Eastbound