All aboard Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner…breathing lighter into a new week.




Autumn in Southern California is defined by cool, often foggy mornings, very warm, if not blazing days, and the closing out with very cool evenings. As the days grow shorter I do enjoy the warmth of an extra blanket on the bed, although, would it surprise you to know that we sleep with the French doors open all night? There are advantages to endless summers.

And to me, summer–even in October–is beach time.

I refer to the ocean, and specifically a day of sitting on the beach, as “my happy place,” and I’m always eager to plan a day to let the cares of life just sit somewhere else and wait for my return.



What if we took the train to drop us off right at the San Clemente Pier?




Sophia, Karina, Papa and Nan boarded Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner, leaving Los Angeles Union Station heading south to the Orange County beach city of San Clemente for a day at the beach without a concern about watching other people on the road or competing for prime parking space.

Despite the warm days the crowds aren’t as fierce in the Autumn months and we can sit and watch the surfers–young and old–soaking up the rays. The waves were calm, but that didn’t deter them from trying.


And then there were the other creatures that look for their food along the shore.


The day was perfect. The girls could swim–or at least splash around quite a bit–look for itty-bitty sand crabs…



And at the end of a long day, all we had to do was get right back on the train and head for home.



We will be doing this again!


68 thoughts on “All aboard Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner…breathing lighter into a new week.

    1. We have a lot of family in Northern California, Kathy, and I enjoy the differences along the coast. I think the reason SoCal has so many beaches is just what you’ve said–it’s warmer! I love the ocean up and down the whole coast, though, and can be very happy sitting on the Northern California beaches–I just need a sweater or blanket. 🙂 That’s a nice change, too!

    1. I am sure you also know the therapeutic benefits of a day at the ocean, Uta! I don’t enjoy our traffic and population congestion, but I’d have a difficult time leaving where I live because of the proximity to the ocean. I enjoyed sharing the photos. Thank you!

  1. A perfect day, Debra! What fun for the girls to ride to the beach on the train – and for Nan and Papa, too. 🙂 I just LOVE the shot of that precious face of the sea lion. At least I think that’s what it is. Seal? Thanks for sharing. Perfect weekend weather here.

    1. The seal was a nice surprise, Penny. It’s kind of unusual to see one right off the pier, but people were throwing fish off the pier! Not sure they should be doing that, as the animals start congregating and then there are other problems for them possibly getting caught in fishing line, but we did get a good performance! We had an Amtrak voucher that was going to expire and no time for a longer trip, so this was a perfect day. Now I’m researching the light-rail commuter trains that go up and down the coast and seeing if this is something we could do more often! It made the whole day so easy. I’m for easy whenever possible. LOL!

    1. LOL! The girls are really into the sea creatures, Andra, and because they’ve grown up touching the animals at the aquarium, they are always very curious. I will pass along my hellos…thank you! You know our traffic…it’s getting worse by the day, it seems, so I think alternative travel options might just be the way to go whenever we can! 🙂

    1. I am sure the girls left lots of sand behind on the train, M-R. We did our best to shower it off, but they’re just now getting to the age where their modesty has kicked in, and they weren’t too comfortable with public showers. Hopefully a train that named ‘The Surfliner’ has a good vaccum cleaning system. 🙂

      1. Of course it does ! Honestly, I don’t know why I say some of the things I do. I haven’t seen anything quite as super as a train delivering people right to the beach !!!!
        In fact, I never think of trains in the contest of California !!!

  2. I do love an endless summer. You are fortunate in LA to have such a moderate climate – winters are always too long in my opinion. I love the shot of the seals – so gorgeous. Days at the beach are so therapeutic! xx

    1. You’ve hit upon exactly what I feel about a beach day, Charlie–therapeutic! It really is. Sometimes I just absolutely crave a beach day, or just to go to dinner somewhere on the coast and stare at the ocean. I know you have the same experience and having the ocean so close is definitely something we both enjoy! 🙂

    1. Next time we’ll take light-rail which is more economical than Amtrak, but this was a fun experience for the girls. Anytime I can find a way to travel without the freeways I’m thrilled. The traffic is beginning to seriously cramp my style! We did have a wonderful time. Thank you, Frank.

    1. You know what a day at the beach can do for a person, Nancy! I would love your island life! 🙂 We did have fun, though, and we could have driven in half the time, but it wouldn’t have been the same!

    1. Is that right? Wow! I grew up somewhat “connected” to San Clemente because an aunt lived there for many years, and my grandparents would rent a beach house every October for a month! I would visit both for days at a time and San Clemente holds a very special place in my memory, too! I’m delighted I could share a little of our experience with you!

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos, Robert. We had a lovely day and I look forward to seeing when we can make another day of it! We went to dinner in Malibu recently just to “stare” at the ocean, but we don’t get there too often–once again, traffic and parking gets me down. We’ll have to see if there are any train stops there, too. I have never checked. Hmmmm.

  3. I worked in the San Diego area for a while when I was living in south Orange County. I took that train from Irvine to Solana Beach most days. No matter how tired or stressed I was from the project I was working on, it was always easy to relax and enjoy the ride!

    1. I have often thought that if my commute involved any freeway traffic up and down the coast I would happily take the train, Lori. Now they even offer Wi-Fi, which if important to someone in business would be a bonus. I was very happy to just stare out the window! As you well know, the traffic from my part of town to the Orange County beach areas can just suck the life out of you and almost negate a happy beach day, so I think we’re on to something! We’ll take Metro-Rail soon and see how that goes. It’s more economical, and there are more trains! 🙂

  4. I am enjoying your blue skies and turquoise sea to add brightness to my day. It had been grey and wet here for most of the day, I love the idea of going to the beach by train!

    1. I am glad I can share sunny Southern California with you, Marie. It’s so interesting how I do the same kind of vicarious wondering and imagining when I look at photos from your part of the world. I can’t really imagine so much rain and the overcast skies, but I sometimes long to simply experience it! I guess for both of us photos will have to do for now. 🙂

  5. Dear Debra, I love train travel and it sounds as if you and your husband and grand daughters had a delightful day without the stress of driving the highways. In the train, you can sit and look out the windows and watch the wonder of nature pass by. I was at the Great Salt Lake last summer and saw the salt shrimp. They were so tiny. Even more tiny than the sand crabs one of your granddaughters held in the palm of her hand. Your day at the beach reminds me of a favorite line of poetry by Wordsworth: “To see the world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wildflower. To hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour.” Peace.

    1. Oh Dee! What a wonderful Wordsworth poem! I am eager to read it in its entirety–it encapsulates what I believe so firmly as we introduce these quiet seashore days to our little ones. The choice to take them by train was very deliberate in an attempt to give them another experience, and again, to slow down and simply enjoy looking out the window. Salt shrimp! Now that’s a species I don’t know at all…you’ve sent me to Mr. Google now for the poem and to look up those little creatures. How fun! I hope you’re doing well, Dee. It’s always so good to hear from you.

    1. We had an Amtrak voucher that was due to expire, but next time we’ll just take Metro-Rail which is really a lot more reasonably priced for that particularly short stretch of rail! Such fun, though. We didn’t stop at the Mission this time, but my step-daughter lives in SJC and we told her we’ll come down and meet her there soon!

  6. Lovely images as usual Debra. I feel like I know the Pacific Surfliner having driven it on Railworks and called at San Clemente with my F59PHI and train! But your images and words bring it all to life. A very beautiful part of the world – I sometimes envy you… 🙂

    1. It’s great fun for me to imagine that you know the Pacific Surfliner, Martin. San Clemente is a beautiful little beach city, and we go there quite often if just to have a little bite to eat at the pier. Now that we’ve discovered the how easily the train can take us there we hope to visit much more often. The south coast beach areas are just wonderful and I try to remind myself that if I actually lived there I wouldn’t be able to enjoy them like a vacationer. I’d still need to work and there’d be little sitting on the beach time! That’s my way to be content with only visiting. 🙂

  7. dandyknife

    That beach sure is looking inviting about now. Today’s high was 48 degrees American. Brr!
    Good idea, taking the train. the grandkiddies must have enjoyed the experience too?

  8. You have captured all aspects of the beach, and I could not be happier to just enjoy your post again and again! The photos are wonderful 🙂
    I don’t understand why some people do not enjoy the beach, the grittiness is what makes it fun!
    I miss it so much, I can’t wait to go back this summer!

    Choc Chip Uru

  9. Now that’s convenient, Debra. Ofttimes the hassle of getting to and from the beach ruins the day, no matter how pleasant it was on the shore. And I don’t know about you, but having a car means I always bring far more than is needed, “Just in case …” Knowing that I’m taking public transit means I bring only what’s necessary and can be carried. I can certainly do without packing and unpacking the car twice in one day. as well. As long as the weather is good, I’d make this trip as often as I could.

  10. I can feel the warmth of that sun. Oh that would be fantastic. And look at that water and those blue skies. Definitely one of my happy places too Debra. What a great outing with the kids. I’m sure they had a wonderful time and you’re right – what a treat not to have to deal with parking and traffic! So glad you shared these pictures. They put a smile on my face and made me think happy summer thoughts. 🙂

  11. It is! Other than the leaves, I don’t feel any Autumn weather during the day. It’s November, the daylight saving time changed, and the days are still hot! I am over Summer. I want to wear layers. 😀

    1. I am really eager for cooler weather, too, Rommel. Do you think it’s coming at all? Currently we’re making plans to have our Thanksgiving gathering outdoors. It seems like the natural thing to do if we aren’t going to get a proper Autumn! 🙂

    1. I did get my feet wet, Otto. That was about it! The water is too cold for me this time of year. That must sound so funny to you coming from a much colder climate. In the summer months I do swim in the ocean, though. 🙂

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