The Pre-Trip

On March 18, I decided to go down to Fullerton to do a little train-watching and checking out how well the digital camera did with trains. You be the judge on how well I did.

  Click on the thumbnails at left to view a (much) larger version of the photo.
Los Angeles Union Passenger Terminal, from which the Pacific Surfliner departed, and which I will be passing through again on May 11 and May 26. Note that I was on the 9:40 Surfliner, and the Coast Starlight, departing at 10:00, actually began boarding well before the Surfliner. That's long-distance trains for you.
The train I had just gotten off, departing Fullerton. Yes, it's going away from the camera. The locomotive is in the rear.
The Fullerton Amtrak station, or at least the waiting room portion thereof, taken from across the tracks. I may have to declare this the best Amtrak station ever, because they actually had copies of the National Timetable sitting out on a rack. It's bittersweet, though, because on May 26, this station will signal the imminent end of my Amtrak trip. (On the Surfliner to Fullerton, two people who had apparently started a conversation on the Southwest Chief and were now on their connecting train to San Diego sort of complained about having to go through Fullerton twice. "At least I got to see the L.A. train station," one of them said.) Anyway, this was originally the Santa Fe station in Fullerton...
...and the former Union Pacific station is literally right next to it, now in use as a restuarant. No Union Station here in Fullerton.
In fact, the restaurant gets top billing on this sign, despite the fact they have nothing to do with transportation.
I walked a few blocks up Harbor Boulevard, which seems to serve as the main street through beautiful downtown Fullerton. Not that this is related to trains, but there's this mission bell-shaped marker in the median identifying it as the route of El Camino Real. However, I did not see any El Caminos during this walk. I did, however, miss a freight train passing by the Fullerton station, and I later missed another freight train and two Amtrak trains, including the one I headed back to L.A. on, when I didn't have my camera ready in time. I see why serious train photographers all carry radios that pick up railroad frequencies.
There's this oil field along the tracks not too far south of L.A., and it's a sight I've enjoyed seeing the couple of times I've taken the train this way. This was one of many attempts to take pictures through the train window and see how it would come out. The big problem is that digital cameras don't take a picture instantly the split second one hits the shutter release, because their little computer brains have to get ready to take the picture first. Anyway, when I actually managed to get a picture of what I was intending to shoot, the pictures turned out fine on the southbound trip. Going back north to L.A., the train used the old single-level Amfleet equipment instead of the newer and much nicer bilevel Surfliner cars, so not only was I not up as high above the ground, but the windows were dirtier. (I even heard a conversation between the conductor and another passenger about how horrible Amfleet equipment was.)
And finally, say you're a passenger railroad that has debuted an exciting new logo. What's the first thing you do? It doesn't show up as well in this photo as it does in real life, but the obvious answer is to go around and put black tape over your old logo in as many places as you can. (But the old logo's still on the Spaghetti Factory sign, in color, no less! See above.)

In conclusion, this was a good trip, because I learned about a few digital-camera-related things I need to practice, and because seeing the Coast Starlight boarding process while waiting for the Pacific Surfliner to depart has just made me anticipate the upcoming trip all the more. Only eight weeks to go...

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Page Last Updated: March 18, 2002