Saturday, December 22, 2007

2007-12-22 Cascadia by Train, Day 1

As part of our winter holidays, we (Seamora and Tafyrn) took the Amtrak Coast Starlight from Los Angeles to Vancouver, B.C. It is a forty hour trip, and the train never arrives on time, but it is a spectacular trip notwithstanding. As we travelled, we have taken photographs to share.

Our journey started at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles. Immediately after leaving the station, the train passes by a number of historical passenger rail cars on a siding. These cars are frequently used as film sets. The Metro Gold Line travels along the elevated rail line.

Farther north, the train passes by a very clean and orderly housing project, then passes by the Gold Line Metro rail maintenance centre. We have never seen the grey LRT vehicle seen here in service, and we suspect that they are waiting for when the Gold Line extension opens in 2009.

The train then crosses the Los Angeles river, usually a trickle trapped in concrete, then passes the Metrolink maintenance centre. On the side of one of the Metrolink buildings is a large and very colourful mural which we find very beautiful.

North of the Metrolink centre is a series of abandoned rail yards that stretch for several kilometres. They feature two turntables, the remains of a engine yard and other interesting railway relics. It is very sad how much of our railway infrastructure has been neglected or actively destroyed over the years.

After travelling north along the coast for several hours, the train passes through Vandenberg Air Force Base. This is a spectacular stretch of track, with views of the Pacific Ocean, numerous species of low succulent flora, and sand dunes.

The train then turns inland and travels through farmland before climbing into the hills. By this point, the short December day was ending, treating us to a spectacular sunset.

Happy Winter Solstice!

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