widening rings

Entries for month: March 2011

From Los Angeles to Seattle (Day 1)

March 19, 2011

I had thought I would be telling the tales of our trip to Vashon as they happened, with regular updates from the road. But (happily) I found that there was simply too much to see and experience for me to want to stop and sit in front of the computer for very long. I was also surprised by just how exhausted I was when we returned home last weekend. I guess my body (and my brain) needed a bit of time to process everything. When I finally sat down to start writing and sorting images, I realized there's just no way that I could share all my photos (1000+!!) nor describe every detail, but hopefully this retrospective will give you a taste of where I've been...

As you may recall, we decided to travel via the Coast Starlight train. After my mother-in-law kindly dropped us off at Union Station, we boarded the train and were shown to our sleeper car. For those of you who've never traveled in this manner on the train, let me say that the seating is pretty comfortable in the daytime, but the fold-down seats and upper berth which become bunk beds are (understandably) not the most desirable of sleeping surfaces. But... we were not taking the train in order to get a good night's sleep. We were eager to travel in a way that would allow us to see new places as we made our way up north — we were not disappointed! The first really interesting locale we passed through was the Santa Susana Pass State Historic Park. Apparently, a historically notable spot for having once been a stagecoach route, as well as being the site of a movie ranch.

Santa Susana State Historic Park
Santa Susana State Historic ParkMy photos do not do these stone outcroppings justice... The back of one of the large movie set facades as we sped past... Am I the only one who sees a large dinosaur poking its head over the top of that hill? (*grin*)
As we continued past Simi Valley and traveled through Moorpark, Camarillo and Oxnard we saw a lot of agriculture and farm animals. These two fields were right next to each other and reminded me of a classic "Before & After" shot.

Agricultural fields
Around Ventura, the train moved towards the coast where it mostly paralleled the Pacific Coast Highway for a while. We passed through Santa Barbara and Goleta, then somewhere around Gaviota State Beach, PCH diverges inland but the train continues to hug the coast for quite some ways. Much of this area is encompassed by Vandenberg Air Force Base and I wonder (outside of this train route) how easy it would be for the average person to see this stretch of coastline? I had so many beautiful images (despite the difficulties of shooting from a moving train!) that I had trouble narrowing down which ones to share. As you can see, the textures and layered colors of the passing landscapes were a photographer's delight!

California coast
California coastBe sure to click on the images to see a larger view!
Finally, around Grover Beach, the train headed inland once again. The sun set on our first day of adventuring as we we headed north of San Luis Obispo. I never did manage to take any great photos of the sleeper car, but this last photo shows the parlour car where we spent a fair bit of time looking out the windows, eating, and talking to other folks on the train. The social aspect of traveling via train is one that some might not like, but we really enjoyed meeting and chatting with people from other places (a few of whom were quite knowledgeable about the areas we were passing through and were able to give us some insight into the locales we were whizzing through). I must also mention that the train staff was almost universally friendly and very accommodating. They made our trip as comfortable as possible and kept us smiling.

Coast Starlight parlour car