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Segment 3 - Fullerton To San Diego & Return

2002 Cross-Country Amtrak Trip:
Fullerton Trainwatching/Pacific Surfliner Trains
February 23rd, 2002:

Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner Train #775 arriving at Fullerton
on February 25th, 2002 at 2:06pm.

February 23rd,2002 - Fullerton & San Diego, California/Pacific Ocean

   Shortly after arriving in Fullerton, I had to take in the 68 degree air as much as possible, I'm just not used to seeing vegetation growing in February! Nor am I used to walking around outside in a Golf Shirt and Jean Shorts unless its the middle of June, which was what it felt like as I arrived in Fullerton. This is my first trip to California in my life so there were a lot of "firsts" for me on this trip, so far, I've seen palm trees and experienced the "summer all year round" air! I walked into the station and called my Aunt and Uncle to see if they could bring my luggage back to their house so I wouldn't have to cart it with me to San Diego. I also called my parents to let them know I arrived and everything went well. About 10 minutes later, my Aunt and one of my cousins arrived at the station. I was glad to see them as they were glad to see me also, they took my 2 suitcases back to their house and I sat at the station to wait for my train. I decided to just buy the tickets for these trains when I got there instead of making reservations because coach seats on Pacific Surfliner Trains are Unreserved, which technically means you aren't guaranteed a seat on the train but you can buy a ticket. I really didn't worry about not getting a seat, it was the middle of February on a Saturday. The round-trip tickets to San Diego from Fullerton were $34.00. I would board Train #560 which was due to arrive in Fullerton at 8:57am. The photo to the left is of the Fullerton Santa Fe Depot, which is an architectural masterpiece and is on the National Register Of Historic Places. It was built in 1930 by the Santa Fe Railway and is home to Amtrak, as well as the Santa Fe Express Cafe restaurant and the good bunch of folks who host this web site for me,, whose office is located on the second floor of the building. The first LA-bound Pacific Surfliner train that arrived in Fullerton was Train #765 which had an F59PHI for power and a solid set of Amfleet I cars. I was told that there is still one set of Amfleet I coaches still running these trains. The rest of the coaches and all other cars for that matter are Pacific Surfliner cars built by Alstom. Occasionally a Superliner Coach/Baggage Car may sneak into the consist as well. These trains run in Push-Pull mode on this, the Santa Fe "Surf Line" to San Diego. A specially fitted Coach/Baggage car is used as the "lead locomotive" when the locomotive is actually pushing the train South. As you can see in the photo to the right, the end of this coach is equipped with horns, ditch lights, and marker lights as well as windows on either side of the car's diaphragm. Train #560 had a solid set of Pacific Surfliner Cars in its consist. I boarded Coach #6402. The seats in these coaches are solid blue with an otherwise white interior and feature foot rests, fold down tables and AC outlets at each seat. I found my coach to have plenty of open seats as this train had only started in LA, so there was ample room for the 2 dozen or so of us who boarded in Fullerton. Our train would end up making stops at the following cities on its 2 hour and 10 minute trip to San Diego: Anaheim, Santa Ana, Irvine, San Juan Capistrano, Oceanside, Solana Beach and finally San Diego. During the summer, the train also stops at the San Clemente Pier, North of San Diego. Shortly after we left Fullerton, I went to the cafe, located in the lower level of one of the coaches, and picked up a Diet Pepsi and something I've never seen before on any Amtrak train: Krispie Kreme Doughnuts!!! Those things are delicious, so I picked up a 2 pack on the train and headed back to my coach as we would be coming up to the ocean soon and I've never seen the Pacific Ocean, or any other ocean for that matter. I took several slides of the Ocean as the train raced by at probably 60mph or more. One of them can be seen here, the rest are in the "Hyper-Extended Photo Section" . A couple from Los Angeles who were on their way to San Diego narrated the entire trip for me which was nice as I had absolutely no idea where anything was on this route, having never been here before! The first moments after the ocean came into view, I jokingly said "The ocean looks just like Lake Erie when its not dirty!" (Lake Erie's undertow churns up sand and makes the lake appear brown sometimes but really, its not that dirty!) Among other things, we passed by the San Onofre Power Plant which I believe was used in one of the Naked Gun movies. We also passed by US Navy and Marine Corps Training Grounds just north of San Diego. Interstate 5 parallels the tracks in some places and even on an early Saturday afternoon had more traffic than the New York State Thruway does through Western New York during rush hour!!! As soon as I arrived in San Diego, I photographed one of the San Diego Trolley Trains as seen in the photo below. These trains run all around the city and also interchange passengers with Amtrak here. San Diego is truly an amazing city. Now I had a rather cheesy reason for wanting to visit San Diego, as I usually have cheesy reasons for visiting cities by rail. First, I've never been here before so I had to see the area. Second, and NO, I didn't go to Best Buy, like I did for my excuse to go to Cleveland last September. Actually, I visited 4 music stores here including who has a store here, and is a company I have bought more than 4 dozen CD's from over the Internet. The stores I wanted to visit were on Garnett Avenue which is near Mission Beach so I had to get a bus over there as it was some 10 miles from Downtown San Diego where I was. I rode a San Diego Transit Bus for $2.00 and I'll admit, the driver was very rude when I asked for a transfer slip so I could catch a connecting bus. Being that I'm not from around here, I just sat back and didn't say a word! I got off the bus at Garnett Avenue and walked up the street to visit the stores. I had lunch at a McDonald's before visiting the store and realizing there were several other music stores that sold used/hard-to-find CD's as well. I called Amtrak to see if I could use my ticket on a later train which was OK as long as it was on the same day and between the same two cities on another train that had Unreserved Coach Seating. After visiting 4 stores, I caught a bus back to Downtown and literally sprinted back to the station with about 3 minutes to spare before the train would leave.
   This train had Superliner Coach/Baggage Car #31018 in its consist so I opted to take that car, which had maybe 4 passengers in it!!! I rode Train #783 back to Fullerton which had an F59PHI for power and was "pulling" the train back North towards Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo. On the trip back, I listened to the CD's I bought as we passed by the Ocean going back. The sun wasn't in the position where I would have been able to get too many decent slides from the tinted windows of the coach so I didn't take many pictures going back. The ride was great, seeing the ocean again was awesome even with the sun getting ever lower in the sky as it was after 4:00pm that I was on the way back to Fullerton. The train arrived in Fullerton at 6:09pm. I needed to take an Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) Bus back to Placentia, where my Aunt and Uncle lived as I would be staying there. I had about 10 minutes to wait before the last bus for the evening showed up in Fullerton to bring me "home" for the next 3 days.
   It wasn't until I was on the bus for a good 15 minutes that I realized that I had left all 6 CD's I bought in San Diego ON THE TRAIN!!!! I was not too happy at that point because I never do something like this. So I got off the bus and called Amtrak from a payphone outside a McDonald's and reported the items as lost. As of over 1 month after the trip, when I wrote this Travelogue, I have heard nothing from Amtrak so I think its safe to assume someone got some CD's for free courtesy of my carelessness. I didn't let this bother me and I continued to enjoy the rest of my trip. My Aunt, Uncle and 3 Cousins were happy to have me stay with them for the time I was there as I was happy to be able to stay there, we don't often see each other because I live almost 3000 miles away so it was nice being able to visit. I really didn't want to leave after spending 4 days there!!! Reality would set in though as I couldn't stay any later as my tickets wouldn't be valid and I'd be running out of vacation days from work! Overall, my time in California would be spent with my Cousins, as well as trainwatching in Fullerton, to see my Trainwatching Reports as well as my Travelogue from the trip back home, click in the table below...