by Joe Thompson
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We spent a weekend in Napa and took our first ride on the Napa Valley Wine Train. Saturday morning we took a leisurely drive across the Golden Gate Bridge. this was our first trip across since the movable center barrier had been installed. The zipper truck sat at the north end. We stopped in Sonoma to have lunch at the Cheese Factory. We visited the outlet mall in Napa and a toy shop for some teacher supplies.
We checked into the River Terrace Inn, which is within walking distance of the Napa Valley Wine Train station. We had a nice balcony on the parking lot side. We ate breakfast there each morning.
Sunday morning we walked down the road to the wine train station. The waiting room on the second floor was air conditioned. We got in line to check in and received a boarding pass with a letter "B" on it.
I sat and watched a video about the train while my wife explored the shops. In the wine shop she found a tee shirt she wanted to get for me.
When they called our group, we lined up by the door and went out onto the porch. At one end, there was a bridge that led to the tracks. At the far end of the bridge, they had us pose for photos by a wine barrel.
We splurged and rode in the dome car. We climbed aboard the coach ahead and went back to the dome car. We climbed a stairway and walked almost to the rear of the dome.
The track was very smooth for the whole trip.
The waitress served champagne and took our order before the train left the station. We ordered a bottle of Cult Rosé to go with our meal. Cult?
The salads arrived while we were still rolling past backyards in Napa. Both salads were good.
Our waitress, who said she was born in Saint Helena, also served as a guide, telling us about the sights.
I had beef and my wife had pork. Both were excellent.
We finished our entrées just before we arrived at the station in Saint Helena, which is currently the end of the line. The waitress took our orders for desert and suggested that we look around the train a bit.
We walked through the car behind our car. The people were still eating. That car was full. We walked through a generator car and a lounge car to the open platform. I wanted to see the locomotives run around the train.
The train is pulled by a pair of back-to-back Alco (Montreal Locomotive Works) FPAs. The locomotives made the same Alco burbling noise as the SF Belt Line locomotives, but they don't belch big clouds of black smoke because they burn compressed natural gas. There is a generator car between the locomotives.
Dessert came shortly after we left Saint Helena.
We enjoyed the ride back, talking and watching the scenery.
The hotel had Sangria Sunday at happy hour.
Monday we had breakfast on our porch and then headed home.
My wife said she was happy we rode on the dome car.
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Copyright 2015 by Joe Thompson. All rights reserved.
Last updated 31-August-2015