Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Riding an Old Steam Train at Roaring Camp

ALL   ABOARD  ! ! !

Two very lucky moms. Two utterly awesome sons. And a special treat that we will all treasure forever! Our guys decided to invite their moms out for a round-trip train ride, followed by dinner on the wharf!!

Roaring Camp's old Steam Train departs from the Beach Boardwalk, so w
e all agreed to meet each other there. Finding places to park on the first Saturday of summer vacation, was hard enough! But then we all had to FIND EACH OTHER! (This is where cell phones are worth their weight in gold)

Once we were all finally connected and ready to board our train, there was a  slight snafu. We had managed to cut the time so close, that we missed our train! It took off just before we arrived. But, what adventure is truly complete without unexpected developments??

We remained calm, however, and decided to just DRIVE up to Roaring Camp, instead. There, we could still catch the 'return trip' from the the old saw mill depot. This way we'd ride the train back to the Boardwalk, where we would be rewarded with a delicious meal, upon our arrival. So we left the dazzling tumult of beach amusement park vibes, behind us, for a leisurely car trek up into the mountains.

There was plenty of time before we had to board our return train, so we stopped for a stroll through some of the old-growth redwoods in Felton, where we took a walk across the historic covered bridge.   

Matthew and Dennis met during college where they worked together on creative projects, at CSUMB through Film, Art, and Media studies. Most of these photos were taken by my son, Matt, who is currently a TV news photographer at KSBW.          

When we finally boarded our train, we chose the 'Open Air' car, where we were able to lean back and peer upward into the endless reach of ancient redwood trees, as they sought the distant sunlight, high above their dense habitat.

We rolled along the tracks, at a gentle pace, through shady, verdant corridors, as fresh air caressed our skin.  Patches of bright sunlight streamed through whenever space opened up between the trees.

It was a thrill to cross the old historic bridge when we rumbled over the trestle, high above the San Lorenzo River (in Henry Cowell Park, beneath us).

Whenever I hike the forest trails below this bridge, I often gaze UP at the overhead trestle, with deep appreciation for such magnificence. What a thrill it was to  cross over this very same historic bridge, peering down into the park, at such beautiful scenery, from a birds eye view.

There was plenty of time to wander through the different train cars. I was particularly captivated by the plush red-velvet lounge car seats, and tiny windows along the ceiling, with echoes of a classy bygone era! 

You could almost hear their conversation as the curtain of time parted, to reveal women in fancy vintage clothing, and men in  pin-stripped suits.

As our train approached town, we got to rumble through the old tunnel that cuts through the mountain, emerging at Chestnut Street (in downtown Santa Cruz). The odor of fresh dirt inside the tunnel revived childhood memories of running free and wild, exploring vacant lots before development took over. 

It's impossible to take this train ride and not feel a sense of peace and serenity seep into your soul. The lively train conductor shared fascinating stories about the old days when lumberjacks, sawmills, and pioneers, occupied Roaring Camp. Children on the train learned how to say "Highball" with the engineer, when he was ready to take off. The whole experience was a fun escape from life's typical pace of routines and agendas.

Finally, our return to civilization brought us into the busy Boardwalk once again. It was warm & sunny when we eventually pulled into The amusement park railroad depot---back where we had started (and where at least some of our cars still waited!). But now, refreshed by the stillness and beauty of mountain rivers and majestic trees, we were hungry!

Disembarking, we strolled along the seaside, where we walked all the way to the end of the wharf to dine at Stagnero’s Restaurant. We enjoyed the view from our upstairs table as sailboats drifted along blue waters, and sea gulls perched on nearby peers. Our sons treated us to a most delicious dinner, with vista views of the Santa Cruz shoreline spanning out in both directions along the coast.  

I was quite enchanted by the golden cups that that held the drinks they served us. 

Finally getting to meet one another was a treat for us moms! Like a couple of  girlfriends, we had a great time hanging out together. We relished being able to spend the whole day with two of the most amazing guys we know! It was a delightful adventure that will continue to live in our hearts. 

With such delicious food, (and having sons who conjured up this wonderful treat for their moms) who could be happier! From start to finish, the excursion was spectacular. Relaxing, refreshing, inspiring, and invigorating. It was an honor and a delight. I am filled with gratitude.