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Santa Barbara
On The
Daylight Vino Train

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Civilization does have an up side. If you enjoy vintage trains, sparkling Mimosas, hot Belgium waffles, the California golden coast, and a guided tour of Santa Barbara's wine shops, then the Daylight Vino Train is for you.

Bill Hatrick, his wife Debbie, and the fine on-board staff, take the fortunate few on a fantastic trip from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara on the Overland Trail - a club lounge car built in 1949 for the Southern Pacific for service on the Coast Daylight, known by many as "the most beautiful train in the world".

Vicki Strauss and Ken Barrett were guests of Steven Grande, founder of, for a memorable taste of civilization, circa the 1940's, the gilded age of American rail travel. The day started early, at 4 am. We traveled by Subaru Outback from Hemet, CA, up an empty Saturday morning freeway system to the historical Union Station in Las Angeles. Boarding the train at 7:30 am, we were greeted By Debbie Hatrick and give an envelope containing our personal identification tags to mark us as "special" from the "regular" folks on Amtrak train 799.

The Overland Trail, now part of the consist of the scheduled train to Santa Barbara left on time. Moving at a snail's pace through a less than scenic mid town Los Angeles, we gained speed in proportion to improving natural beauty outside the large windows of our vintage car. Before long we left the grime of the city behind and were rolling along the beautiful oceanscapes of the Pacific coast. All of this beauty burst into view while we ate a delicious hot breakfast of Belgium waffles, sausages, and southwest Frittatas. The early morning meal was washed into the dimension of the extraordinary by cold, bubbly mimosas, and piping hot, fragrant coffee.

Upon arrival in Santa Barbara, my sense of time was in question. I worked for Amtrak for 15 years and have made the trip to Santa Barbara scores of times on family vacations by train and auto. Never has the travel time scrolled by so enjoyable and so rapidly.

Now that the Daylight Vino Train was in Santa Barbara at 10:30 am, we had the long wait until 4:30 pm to enjoy a delicious dinner of beef tenderloin salad, with slivers of red onion and mushrooms.

To make the time pass as rapidly as possible, Tom Anderson took the group on an expert guided tour of as many of the wine tasting rooms in the area as time will allow. Vicki and I decide to do our own thing down by the pier and burn as many calories as possible walking around the beautiful streets of the historic districts in the city.

The long awaited trip back to Los Angeles was delayed by 30 minutes. This just made my taste buds that much happier to get back on the Overland Trail for the dinner that was in the back of my mind all day. To make a savory story short, the salad was awesome. The conversation with the folks on board was memorable and the total experience on the Daylight Vino train was a piece of civilization we will hold in our travel memories forever.

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