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Amtrak 6638 (a bus) to Emeryville
At this point Dewi still had not realized that the bus to Emeryville had been
announced, twice, inside the Amtrak office. Eufron came staggering out with the
two suitcases, and at the same time Dewi saw that the bus had arrived, and so
ran across to her and we boarded for the short but active bus ride to
Amtrak 538 (a train) to Auburn, CA
The Auburn train arrived, very self-important, pushed by the
loco. We boarded car 4 (Auburn) and went upstairs. Dewi was able to go to car 5
(driving trailer) and stand beside the engineer, looking out the front. Crowds
got on in Sacramento: our train had turned into the commuter train! At
Roseville, we went past the enormous J.R. Davis railway yards - and I got to see
the Green Goat, the prototype of a new low-emission, low-noise, low-cost hybrid
diesel/battery switching locomotive. Three stops after Sacramento, it was Auburn
- no need to tell the conductor we wanted to get off as it was the final stop.
In setting plans to meet us, our friends had had trouble getting Amtrak to
acknowledge that it did have a train to Auburn. No wonder: there's no station,
and only car 4 opens its doors, directly onto a gravel area with commuters' cars
parked on it. Our friends were waiting, to sweep us to dinner at Appleville
restaurant and to their home, which is out in the country near Grass Valley,
very quiet and peaceful.
Next day we were off towards Portola.
through Grass valley. It's an old gold mining area: the town is ON TOP OF gold
mine shafts, and we could see a stamper and Pelton wheel on display. The are
many old buildings, what looked like wooden sidewalks, and balconies of filigree
Then on to Nevada City, once a strong rival to Grass Valley. Saw another, bigger
stamper and Pelton wheel. There used to be a lake in between these two cities:
it has been drained for housing and commercial buildings, but the water table is
still 2 feet below surface. Nevada City is similar in style to Grass valley,
similar but different. There are many tiny miners houses (tiny houses, not tiny
miners) still around Nevada. City. The Court House and City Hall there similar
in style, with Art Deco lettering, and also an old theatre, used over the years
for many purposes and now for visiting stage shows.
on to Portola: up and up, 5000 ft, 6000ft, with a pass at 6701ft. Plenty of
snow, but old, dirty snow. Arrived at Portola in pouring rain, entered the
museum, and waited for the train driving man.
Driving a Diesel Locomotive
We arranged to drive after the 2pm group, i.e. at 3pm, and then
we left in search of food. The Railroad Cafe was closed. The Canyon Cafe was
closed for April. We had a choice of Mexican or Chinese, so we chose the Hong
Kong, and immediately ordered Tsing-Tao beer. Went back to the museum, but the
previous group were still driving. We boarded the yard loco, the instructor
pulled the loco forward and demonstrated the brake, throttle (8 power settings),
reverser, and horn. I started forward (power 2) and advanced around the curve to
a crossing, where I blew the horn (dah dah dit dah). Then it was time to cut the
power, apply the brake, and stop more or less correctly. Then of course it was
time to do it in reverse, back to the start, and do it all again. Then Ray had a
turn, then me again, and I tried a hill start on the gentle slope. The tricky
part is the brake; stop not too hard, not too soft. You have to apply the brakes
fully and then release to the level that you need. Ray drove the loco back to
the start point, and then it was time to pay the dues and get the paper work.
Back we went to the Hong Kong, and our lunch was ready, at about 4:20pm.
Delicious! Then we drove to Reno, following a scenic route hrough the Sierras
(on this trip we drove through both the Spooner summit - 7146 ft and the Donner
summit - 7239 ft).
In Reno, we had a light dinner in the Irish-themed "Molly's" and went early to
Next morning, we left Reno without gambling at all, to drive
down Route 395 to Carson City and the Nevada State railroad museum. The interior
exhibits are beautifully restored and repainted, better than they ever were "in
life". In the main hall and in the workshop shed, the people on duty were very
knowledgeable and willing to tell us. After the museum, we drove off to Lake
Tahoe, with a stop for photos. It's a beautiful area.
After lunch, it was back to Grass Valley for dinner, chicken
cooked by Marilyn.
Next morning: we put dirty clothes into the washer while we had
breakfast: cinnamon bread toasted. We were on the way to Sacramento, and
we drove by way of the Interstate-80, which we last drove in 1970-something. The
first stop in Sacramento was to Amtrak, to deposit our cases; then to Old
Sacramento and the California State Railroad Museum. It really is very well
done. There is the last remaining cab-forward Southern Pacific engine (very
interesting), and lots of other stuff. They have a CN passenger car, a sleeper
combination, that simulates movement and bouncing and tilting. There are also
outside exhibits dominated by Thomas the Tank Engine, but in addition there is
an interesting Nevada Copper motor car.
We took a short walk in
Old Town, then under the freeway to the K-street mall, to find the light rail.
At Rose of Lima park, we boarded the light rail to go to Maher Field and back
and managed to get off one stop too soon. We walked the remaining distance.
There's a slightly unpleasant feel to that neighbourhood after the daytime
pedestrians have left: rather run down.
Click on thumbnail for larger picture.