Trains, boats, planes, snow, ice – and a canal

Visitors to the land of fast freeways and swooping flyovers, where car is king, might nonetheless prefer to seek out alternative methods of transport.

Cal Guy Jnr (aged 4) is always up for a train ride. A plot was hatched one day last week that would embrace a school pick up, a bookstore visit and some time on a train.  Briefed by Cal Guy Snr (11) that buying day tickets might be a best option, the visiting grandparents and Cal Gal set off down the hill, out of the neighbourhood, down the sidewalk to the Cal State University station neatly positioned on the bridge over the road. CA02-09    It was westbound one stop to the Civic Center to collect Cal Guy Jnr from pre-school, then eastbound two stops to the Escondido Transit Center.  It’s a commuter train that runs between the coast at Oceanside and the inland towns, CA02-12 delivering students to the San Marcos university campus  (founded 1989, current student population about 11,500).  You buy your tickets at a machine and fines for non-payment are ferocious. Along the valley bottom the train sped, beating by far the traffic on the slow-moving dual lane road that paralleled it. CA02-13

One train trip is hardly enough for Cal Guy Jnr, so on Sunday there was a road trip to Poway, CA02-14    about 15 miles south east of San Marcos. Here most Sundays a train does a double circuit of the charming park. And it was here three years ago that Cal Guy Jnr first fell in love with trains. On Sunday just the Speeder was running, CB02-02   a small workforce moving engine that tows two open passenger wagons. There’s nothing quite like the loud clanging of warning bells  CB02-01  and the hoot of an air horn as the train loops over two road crossings, CB02-06    above dried up creek beds, past picnic places and heritage railway items.   CB02-05   Behind the engine shed is a large turntable.  CB02-03  Here Cal Guy Jnr was tasked with explaining its operation to the grown-ups…

Boats. Ever eager to view some boats the duty grandparents leapt at the suggestion on Monday for a trip to Point Loma. It takes about an hour to drive south, to cross westwards to the coast and then climb up onto the peninsula spit. On one side Point Loma provides shelter within San Diego Harbour while on the other lies the Pacific Ocean.   CB02-10   There are magnificent views over the harbour:   CB02-12  sailing boats, North Harbor tour boats, a naval cruiser going out on task, a car transporter inward bound to the docks. What caught attention on this visit was an amazingly long structure – a series of pontoons, it would seem, wedged between two boats acting as tugs.


 At one of the viewpoints a 1/48th model of a destroyer was displayed in a glass case, a reference to the work of the naval facility about a mile back along the road, where exact scale ship models are tested.

Of course you don’t always have to go to the sea or an inland waterway to be a boat passenger. “The children would LOVE to go to Legoland with you guys,” explained Cal Son. So, there was an early start on Tuesday when, armed with three family member passes and plenty of dollars for adult entrance fees, the car headed west to Carlsbad – not quite as far as the Ocean, but about half a mile inland.


Legoland  is a major theme park and you have to work hard to beat the queues. The party split for the first hour during which Boatwif, “piloted” by Cal Guy Jnr, survived an aeroplane ride and a breakfast-defying vertical bouncing seat experience…  Reconvened, lunch and a few rides later, there was a wander through Miniland USA. Next to Washington (how close for real?) was a section of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.   Just look at those staircase locks…

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Post ice creams  CA02-20  there came a boat ride,

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a gentle guided float through fairy tale land, nothing so challenging as a Cleddau Wash Crossing, although the wolves in Red Riding Hood  CA02-08   and in the Three Little Pigs   CA02-07   looked decidedly shady characters…

In warmer than average November temperatures (about 80F /27C) Californians are craving winter cold. At home there are two imaginary boat-based games played and the destination is always Alaska.  Air temperatures might be high but if the Legoland business plan specifies a snowy season, then snow it must! (Look closely).


Visitors can play in the snow   CB02-07    and use a plastic slide on a slope  CA02-01   – because it’s winter time! What madness was it then that persuaded the ill-prepared grandparents to grant Cal Gal her wish on Wednesday, an ice-skating session on the Escondido rink. 90 minutes as rink-side spectators became a rather chilly experience… Out on the ice graceful girls worked hard to perfect their technique,

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  while Californian boys either raced hard (potential ice hockey players?) or in supremely casual style  CA02-16   rolled effortlessly around the rink.

Now after days of folks wishing each other “Have a great Thanksgiving,” it’s here.  It might be extremely hot outside in Southern California or wet and chilly in the north eastern states but the weather is no deterrent from sitting down on the last Thursday in November to a traditional family feast…


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