From our world-traveling friends John and Claude Elk in Cambodia: "Battambang for a few days, where the most unusual thing we did was take a ride on the bamboo train, a single platform, a driver, and each time you meet another 'train' coming toward you, you have to take it all apart in about 30 seconds and let it pass—the rails were so crooked and misaligned it was a jostling ride through the countryside, but what fun!"
The Central Coast Railway Club (CCRC) operates an excursion on the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad at Fish Camp, California (Highway 41 between Fresno and Yosemite National Park) from May 31 to June 1.
The trip includes bus transportation from Fresno to Fish Camp, a ride on the Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine tourist railway behind a genuine steam locomotive, (featuring photo runbys not normally offered), a box lunch, and return transportation to Fresno.
Passengers can ride Amtrak’s San Joaquin train to and from Fresno (not included), and attend a Fresno Grizzlies minor league baseball game (not included). See links below for details and to purchase tickets for the excursion for $95 per person:
Accommodations: Passengers are responsible for making their own hotel reservations. The two designated hotels are: Holiday Inn, 1055 Van Ness (closest to ballpark); La Quinta Inn Fresno/Yosemite, 2926 Tulare Street (closest to station, farthest from ballpark). Central Coast Railway Club will attempt to negotiate special rates at these hotels. Three other hotel options in the area are: Radisson Hotel & Conference Center, 2233 Ventura Street; Americas Best Value Inn, 2425 Merced Street; Super 8, 2127 Fresno Street.
Fresno Grizzlies baseball game (not included): Passengers also have the option of attending a Fresno Grizzlies baseball game on Saturday night. The Grizzlies are the AAA minor league affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. The Grizzlies play the Sacramento River Cats (Oakland A’s farm club). Chukchansi Park, which opened in 2002, is at the corner of Tulare and H Streets in downtown Fresno, approximately 1-1/2 blocks from the Holiday Inn, 0.6 miles from the Amtrak Station, and 0.8 miles from La Quinta. Passengers may walk to the ballpark or provide their own transportation—cabs are available at the Amtrak station. Passengers will purchase their own tickets to the baseball game. Tickets may be purchased at the box office on the day of the game or in advance at MLB. Remember, the game is May 31. Ticket prices start at $8 for the bleachers, with most seats costing between $12 and $18.
Photographer John Elk and his wife Claude were enjoying a tent camping trip and awesome scenery in Utah's Canyonlands this week, when suddenly a late-summer monsoon created flash floods, forcing them to retreat to a hotel in Escalante.
Train tracks cross trail to Nairn Falls, north of Whistler.
By Peter Loeb, RiptideCorrespondent
We took a grand circle tour of British Columbia by car and ferry. After staying a few days in Vancouver, we took the ferry to Vancouver Island and drove to Campbell River for a night. In the morning we hiked to Elk Falls. The next day we drove to Port Hardy and stayed the night to catch the ferry at 5:30 the next morning. The ferry trip up the Inside Passage to Prince Rupert took 16 hours. In Prince Rupert, we took a boat tour to see grizzly bears. We saw several bears, but the highlight was seeing a mama grizzly and her two cubs. On the way back from seeing the grizzlies, we saw several bald eagles.
After two nights in Prince Rupert, we drove to Smithers, where we had a view of Hudson Bay Mountain as well as many other snow-capped mountains along the way.
From Smithers, we drove to Prince George for one night, then to Williams Lake for a night, and then to Whistler for a night, then to Vancouver. North of Whistler, we saw more snow-capped mountains, a glacier, and waterfalls.
We saw Twin Falls. And Nairn Falls.
From Whistler, we drove to the Vancouver airport to fly home, but along the way, we stopped to see Brandywine Falls.
And Shannon Falls.
Daydreaming of snow and riding the rails in some exotic foreign place, your Pacifica Riptide editor posts train porn while waiting for his next big scoop. Sorry, folks, it's a slow news day here in P-Town. All aboard!
Slow workday at the home office for both of us, so we decided to take off and drive through the new Devil's Slide Tunnels. Very cool. Walked around Princeton marina (see Phil the Pelican below). Very few tourists in sight on this sleepy weekday. Got saltwater taffy at Harbor Village, then seafood at Half Moon Bay Brewing Company. Now we can't wait for the new Devil's Slide scenic county park to open up on the old roadway. We can already hear the sounds of silence. Leslie Davidson photos
Once again, yours truly just went riding the rails around California. The occasion was Amtrak's March 13 detour of the southbound Coast Starlight train due to planned trackwork at San Jose.
At Oakland, all passengers bound for points south (other than the final destination of Los Angeles) disembarked and took the bus (too bad for them). Then we rabid railfans hopped onboard to join the LA-bound people, making for a small but lively nonstop "express." (Experienced riders will appreciate the ironic quotation marks; Amtrak is known to operate at an average speed well under 55 miles per hour.)
So the doubledecker train creaked out of the East Bay, leaving the main line and snaking up scenic Niles Canyon to Sunol, then on to Pleasanton, Livermore, over green Altamont Pass (dotted with cows and windmills), and into the smoggy Central Valley.
We traveled the old Southern Pacific route alongside Golden State Highway (99) via Modesto, Merced, Fresno, and Bakersfield. Fruit and nut orchards stocked with beehives were in pink-and-white bloom. The human landscape was a messy mix of truck stops, motels, gas stations, taco wagons, and junkyards.
The real visual treats began as we climbed up the grade and around the Caliente horseshoe bend to the Tehachapi loop, where the tracks wind corkscrew 360 degrees. On a long freight train, the engineer can look down and see the tail end of his train disappearing into a tunnel that he is passing above.
Photographers affectionately known in the railbuff community as "foamers" appeared at various spots along this line, taking pictures of our train negotiating these dramatic curves through the mountains.
As the sunlight faded, we rolled past Mojave, with its high-desert boneyard airport full of parked jetliners, and passed Palmdale and Lancaster on our way into Soledad Canyon, and finally across the San Fernando Valley toward our final destination, grand old Union Station in Los Angeles.
Our "train crew" stayed overnight at nearby Metro Plaza Hotel (next to Olvera Street), and in the morning returned to Union Station for the ride home on the beautiful coast route. Along the way, we saw miles and miles of fields planted with broccoli and strawberries. A huge, orange sunset greeted us as we passed Elkhorn Slough and Moss Landing. Arriving in the Bay Area, we left the train and gladly breathed the clean, cool air.
If you are interested in Amtrak detours or regular runs or private trains, register at amtrak.com and explore sites like trainorders.com and publications like Trains magazine. If you have rail news of interest, please click Comments (below) to share it with our readers.