Our former neighbors’ grandson Jordan turned 6 at the end of December, making him an eligible candidate for his first real train ride. It’s at that age when boys (mostly) can get hooked on trains.
That important mission was carried out this past Sunday when Jordan, his mom Hayley, grandparents Michael and Becki, and I rode Amtrak’s Capitol Corridor from Sacramento to Martinez and back.
Chico is not well-situated for a train joyride that actually originates here. The two trains each day that stop in Chico – the north and southbound Coast Startlight – do so in the middle of the night.
So we drove to Sacramento train station. parked on the street (free street parking on Sundays – saved the cost of parking at the station), and walked the short distance to the station.
We picked up our tickets, hit the next-door Starbucks, and then boarded the waiting train, with time for a quick photo op of Jordan in front of the train’s locomotive.
The hour long trip each way is a good distance for children of this age – not too short but not too long.
We disembarked at the Martinez train station which is at the foot of Martinez’ attractive downtown, and walked a few blocks to Main Street for lunch. We got a tasty pizza to go from Pacifica Pizza (Main and Alhambra), then ate it at a plaza two blocks away.
If you make a trip similar to this, here are two other inexpensive restaurants with table seating close by: Luigi’s Deli (corner of Main and Castro) or the Hot Dog Depot (almost next door to the station but closed on Sundays).
You could certainly take the time for a more leisurely lunch, too, as there are many trains per day, each direction, but since we only had an hour and a half between arrival and departure, time was important. One other option is bringing a picnic lunch, the Martinez Waterfront Park is a short distance from the station.
Did we succeed in turning Jordan into a certified railfan? Time will tell about that, but it’s clear that he enjoyed the outing as did we all.
Notes about Martinez:
Martinez is a very pleasant place to spend a few hours between trains. The downtown has narrow walkable streets and pleasant buildings. It also is the county seat for Contra Costa County.
MAIN STREET, MARTINEZ
DOWNTOWN POST OFFICE
Martinez has a least two noteworthy pieces of history, one beyond dispute and the other somewhat cloudy.
An athletic figure associated forever with the New York Yankees, Joe DiMaggio, was born and raised in Martinez. He came from a large family, so you’ll see signs of the Dimaggios in Martinez.
Martinez’ lays claim to being the place where the martini was invented. You can google “origin of martini” and find all manner of things, but from Wikipedia is this entry which favors Martinez being the famous cocktail’s birthplace.