Imagine cruising down the road going 85 miles per hour with no worries about speeding tickets, gridlock, sig alerts, or fender benders. The road is actually a railroad and we are talking about riding on the train!! In our case it was the Coaster which services Oceanside and 6 other stops on its way south to its final destination of San Diego.
On any given day in California, a train leaves a depot transporting travelers to work or for play. In our case it was play as we were heading to San Diego for the annual Sand Sculpting Contest at the ’B’ Street Pier.
Also leaving that terminal is Amtrak and the Metrolink trains. Amtrak travels up and down the entire state of California and can be a great option for a weekend trip out of town or a one day excursion.
With the Oceanside Transit center nearby, we have often jumped on the train to visit places just for the day . On one such occasion, we took the train and traveled just 30 minutes up the road to San Juan Capistrano for a leisurely lunch and a visit to the mission which is only steps from the train. Another time we took a short hop over to San Clemente where the train traverses only a few feet from the beach and stops across the street from the base of the pier. We have also journeyed as far north as scenic Santa Barbara to enjoy a traffic free weekend away from home.
Either way, it is always fun to take the train!!
On this outing, we decided we didn’t want to mess with traffic or parking, so we took the Coaster to its final stop at Santa Fe station in San Diego.
The seating on the Coaster includes regular train type seats facing the same way, seats facing each other for groups, and tables which allow you to eat, play games, or work on your computer.
Wi Fi is also included.
The hour or so ride to San Diego can be scenic as it passes through stretches that give you an unobstructed view of the ocean and the lagoons nearby. Once you arrive at the Santa Fe Station, the trolley is right across the street and, from experience, we knew it would take us to the stop we desired. So we easily strolled over and hopped on it to take us to the Embarcadero. For twelve dollars, we bought a round trip day pass which also included the trolley.
The Embarcadero is home to attractions such as, the USS Midway museum ship , the Star of India, and seven other historic vessels belonging to the San Diego Maritime Museum. It is a bustling area that offers every type of boat tour or dinner cruise imaginable and restaurants and hotels are nearby. Just to the south is Seaport Village with more restaurants and a variety of shops.
The Sand castle event was held on top of the ‘B’ street pier. Along with the event, local vendors displayed their goods, live music played on a stage, and food trucks were available with an eclectic mix of cuisines. At the sand castle competition, a few artists were still working on their masterpieces while others were completely finished. It is interesting to see them work at their craft as we took note of the tools, techniques, and the patience it takes to build something from a shifting substance such as sand. One 3D art piece allowed you to look through the middle to see the tiny figure at the end and I was in wonder on how they could build such large square structures out of sand. I remember trying to work on my own castle as a kid only to have it crumble when I tried to square off a wall. It is testament on how much these artists know about their medium and how advanced it has become from its beginnings as a childs activity at the beach.
They also don’t have to worry about their big brother casually coming over and yelling ,”Earthquake” as he kicks down their creation. Just saying.
The star of the show for me was the bay itself. At the end of the pier you have a clear 180 degree view of the harbor and the entire action taking place in front. Pirate ships sailed by slowly and you could see the passengers happily enjoying the ride. As two of the ships passed by each other you soon heard the loud explosions coming from old time cannons. Of course there were no actual cannon balls flying from one ship to the other as I think that might wipe the smiles off of most of their faces. However, the illusion of a battle was what it was all about.
Speed boats and personal watercraft flew by with the huge military ships as their backdrop. A massive aircraft carrier moored across the bay reminded us that we shared these waters with an actual working naval port. As you looked south, the Coronado Bridge stood high and mighty hovering far above the sailboats that were gliding easily among the warm summer breezes.
On a wonderful summer day like this I can make any excuse to go to San Diego, they could have had turtle races and I would have still made the trip.
Hop on a train and discover your area or any place nearby. Happily, you will never hit traffic, you will always find a parking space, and you’ll never have to worry about falling asleep at the wheel!
Story and Photos: Debbie Colwell