Oh boy! A romantic rendezvous!

Just as a change of pace, Kris and I decided to do San Diego this past weekend, but with a twist. She would fly in as part of a trip that would take her from LAX to Atlanta and then back to San Diego for two nights (before heading out to Minneapolis and then back to L.A.). At the same time — Friday — I would take the train down to SD and meet her at the Westin, a reasonably groovy hotel a scant two blocks from the train station (gloriously depicted below) and right near the wharf. Very cool. She did, I did, and it all worked well. Minimal sunburn and zip heartburn.


But the real story here is the magnificent Santa Fe Station, or Depot, or San Diego Union Station, or some approximation of both (or all three). You can check out the history on the Web, but briefly, the station has been a local landmark for almost a century, and I swear you can feel that history as you walk though the waiting area. Over the years many changes have been made to the world outside, including high-rises that loom in every direction. Yet the architecture of the building remains as striking as it must have for all those years. And you can fairly hear the footsteps, the laughter and the shouts of thousands of American soldiers and sailors as they moved to and from one of the nation’s largest military facilities during World War II.

In our own time, of course, only dim echoes are still there, but more than a relic, Santa Fe Depot is the key transit center for the city. Within its shadow, I arrived and departed on the Amtrak for Los Angeles, and both Kris and I made good use of the local MTA to do some touring in other parts of town. Example: You can take one of the “red cars” to any part of the metropolitan area for a buck-twenty-five, one way. Then again if you’re the shiftless type and choose to take advantage of the existing honor system, you can travel for free, and if checked by local authorities, claim that the ticket dispenser was broken. On the way back from Old Town we hung on to our out-bound tickets and hoped for the best.

Among the optimists for high-speed rail, San Diegans would like to see the Santa Fe have a part in a future system. They could certainly do worse.