The Lemonade trip

I was originally scheduled to come back to the Bay Area last Tuesday, just after my brother and his new bride came back from their European honeymoon. Somehow I managed to screw up the last plane flight as it was reserved as SJC-to-SAN instead of SAN-to-SJC. I didn’t find out my mistake until I went to check in the night before the flight. Mistake acknowledged, I cancelled that flight for credit and sought out alternatives: land, air, and sea.

After finding $150-200 last minute flights not to my liking, I looked at renting a car or taking the train back. Last year, just to try it, I took the Pacific Surfliner up to Santa Barbara, which connected to a 6-hour bus ride up 101 to San Jose. The train trip was great. The bus, not so much. However, it was cheap at around $65 one-way, with no additional taxes or fees. There’s also an all-train option which had two segments: San Diego to Los Angeles on the Pacific Surfliner followed by Los Angeles to San Jose on the long-distance Coast Starlight with a 90-minute layover at Union Station.

Then I remembered that Amtrak offers a unique rail pass just for the state of California. Simply named the California Rail Pass, it’s structured like a Eurail pass in that it offers a set number of days travel over another set travel window. In the case of CA Rail Pass, it’s 7 days over a 21-day period. The pass includes all train and connector bus travel within the state, from Dunsmuir to the north down to San Diego. Regional/intercity trains such as the Capitol Corridor, San Joaquins, and the aforementioned Pacific Surfliner are included, as is the Coast Starlight. The only exception is the California Zephyr, another long-distance train that starts in Emeryville and travels east to Chicago via Reno and Salt Lake City.

The price of the pass is a mere $159. I bought it Thursday and started traveling Friday. That leaves me six additional days of travel. I’m using the rest of the travel days to explore a bunch of minor league parks, starting with a San Jose-Stockton game tomorrow at Banner Island Ballpark. The itinerary is as follows:

Not so much a long trip as much as a series of day trips

The game this Saturday vs. the Yankees is one for which I don’t expect to take the train. Instead, I may drive with some friends up there. There’s also an option to drive after the game to Raley Field, where the River Cats are taking on Reno at 7:05. We’ll see how it plays out the rest of this week.

All of the ballparks are close – most within walking distance – of Amtrak stations. The furthest is probably Banner Island Ballpark at 1.5 miles from the SKN station. I wanted to fit a Modesto Nuts game in but the schedule is pretty much all night games while they’re at home for the next few weeks, and I’m looking to avoid those.

It looks to be a fun series of games to check out. If anyone’s interested in joining me for one or more of the games, you know how to reach me.

12 thoughts on “The Lemonade trip

  1. That sounds like fun. Wish I had the time to do something like that. Worthy of note: the Modesto Nuts’ park is about 8 miles from the Amtrak station! That’s quite a walk if you wanted to work that in!

  2. His new “bridge”?

    Does she charge tolls? Hot-CHA!!

  3. I’m sure you’ve been to Banner island ballpark before ML, but just be careful in the hood. That town is like the wild west for gangs right now. Night or day, seven days a week, people are being gunned down. But it is a great little ballpark.

  4. Man, talk about a lot of ass miles.

  5. @Darren – Thanks for that info, had no idea. I guess I’d have to drive there.

    @Ed – Damn typos.

    @Bay Area A’s – I’ll be getting in around 9 AM and leaving at 2:30 PM. Hopefully the thugs will still be asleep.

    @crister – Better that than the stress of driving.

    Note: The last six legs equal 1,000 miles. The gas for that would cost $168.

  6. I’ve been completely blind for more than half of my life so I’ll just have to take your word for it.
    Zipping around Europe is a lot more fun and cheaper by plane. When my wife and I go visit her family we’re always hopping around on the various budget airlines for crazy prices like twenty, thirty, fourty or fifty euros a ticket. It’s way cheaper than taking the trains and much faster.
    I don’t know if I buy all the high speed train arguments, but man, does California need more options to get around especially here in the southern half of the state.

  7. Personally, I love Chuckchansi Park in Fresno. I was living there when it was built, and there was such a pain in the ass to get it done at all. Grizzlies played their first few seasons at Beiden Field on the Fresno State campus. The park anchors downtown, which gets very little love, since all the meaningful development happened the Northeast and Northwest parts of town.

  8. And by the way ML, get to the Dog House grill on Shaw, across the street from FSU, and get yourself a tri-tip sandwich and fries. You’ll thank me later.

  9. Warriors live press conference about to start warriors.com/sf

  10. @daveybaby I like Chukchansi as well I grew up in Fresno County and went to high school a few blocks away from stadium love catching games there. Plus Tioga Sequoia brewery is just behind center field. I just saw Raley Field for the first time, looked cool from a distance next time I am there while the kitties are in town want to catch a game. As for the Colisuem I had a lot of fun last night, there were maybe 5k-6k fans total I was in section 126 bought walk up so I didn’t pay ticketmaster and it was great. You could hear everything for sure because it was so empty but the peeps had fun. Like the concessions these days, beer selection is decent

  11. How did you like Banner Island Ballpark? We Stocktonians are quite fond of it.

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