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Friday night track repair at the Carlsbad Coaster Depot

“Something’s coming”

Coaster and trolleys - weekend delays, new timetables
Coaster and trolleys - weekend delays, new timetables

“It’s coming! It’s coming!” The guys by the recording equipment hunch over on the platform.

“You ready? Take off your hats, everybody!”

“Don’t stand too close!”

You can see the twin headlights blinking oddly as something grows from a single glow worm to what looks like two paper lanterns bouncing back and forth.

This is Friday night, Carlsbad Depot, and we four strangers are waiting for the Friday Night Special, a late southbound Coaster laid on for partygoers. None of us have met before. Except for David and Ronda, husband and wife. But we’re clinging together like passengers on the Titanic. It was supposed to leave at 10:40 pm. That’s now.

“It’s never late,” says Judi Tentor.

‘Tis the season! -For track repairs, on trolley and train tracks

Judi’s standing by a very cool electric-assisted bike. Not a coincidence. She is executive director of Bike San Diego, an advocacy group. She knows transportation. She’s a comfort.

Then David comes back from a rekky. “One of the kids says Coaster’s not running tonight,” he says. “Track repair.”

At first, I thought the hyper kids laying out equipment on the lonely platform were also waiting for the train. They were, but it turned out their idea of catching a train meant catching it on video. Train watchers. They aren’t going anywhere.

Now the electronic board says “No trains on Saturday, Sunday.”

“It’s almost Saturday,” I say.

“Yeah, but not quite,” says Judi.

“Hope you’re right,” says David.

“David,” Ronda says. “We have to pick up our grandson in Old Town. We can’t leave him on his own.”

Stranded: David, Ronda, Judi, superbike

“Kid says he knows by the signals,” says David.

“They don’t stop running till Saturday,” says Judi. “It will come.”

And then, the light. “Something’s coming,” I say. I feel like the Ancient Mariner when he notices a breath of wind in the sail.

Now two lights. Getting bigger.

“About time,” says David.

“Thank goodness,” says Ronda. “They should tell us if they’re going to be late.”

“It seems slow,” says David.

“You rolling!?” yells the kid with sound equipment.

“Rolling!” says the lanky kid with a camera on a tripod.

“Remember, quick pan!”

By now, we’re hearing distant barps of a horn. The two lights are flashing side to side.

“Not too close!” yells the blanket kid. “It’ll blow you over!”

The rest of us face north, like meerkats.

“It, it’s not stopping,” mutters Ronda. “It’s not going to stop. It’s. Not. Going. To Stop!

Nobody hears. The Pacific Surf Liner hurtles past right by us, blasting its two-tone horn, which drops a note as the locomotive thunders past. The violence is incredible. The camera kid has whipped around and leans into the blizzard, following the disappearing train. You get a blurred vision of people in the warm golden cars, sitting, reading, chatting, sleeping. Then it’s just wheels on iron singing, hissing like hot steel in cold water, as the night gulps up the sound.

“It wasn’t even The Coaster,” says Judi, quietly. “I don’t understand.”

“Maybe it’s still coming,” I say, lamely.

One of the kids overhears. He hauls me over and points down the track. “See the signal? The red over green and that other stuff? That is a freight train signal. No Coaster! Hey Josh! Let’s look at that video!”

And then they are gone.

Silence.

A car sweeps up. Ronda has been busy. “Thank God for Lyft,” she says. “Split?”

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Coaster and trolleys - weekend delays, new timetables
Coaster and trolleys - weekend delays, new timetables

“It’s coming! It’s coming!” The guys by the recording equipment hunch over on the platform.

“You ready? Take off your hats, everybody!”

“Don’t stand too close!”

You can see the twin headlights blinking oddly as something grows from a single glow worm to what looks like two paper lanterns bouncing back and forth.

This is Friday night, Carlsbad Depot, and we four strangers are waiting for the Friday Night Special, a late southbound Coaster laid on for partygoers. None of us have met before. Except for David and Ronda, husband and wife. But we’re clinging together like passengers on the Titanic. It was supposed to leave at 10:40 pm. That’s now.

“It’s never late,” says Judi Tentor.

‘Tis the season! -For track repairs, on trolley and train tracks

Judi’s standing by a very cool electric-assisted bike. Not a coincidence. She is executive director of Bike San Diego, an advocacy group. She knows transportation. She’s a comfort.

Then David comes back from a rekky. “One of the kids says Coaster’s not running tonight,” he says. “Track repair.”

At first, I thought the hyper kids laying out equipment on the lonely platform were also waiting for the train. They were, but it turned out their idea of catching a train meant catching it on video. Train watchers. They aren’t going anywhere.

Now the electronic board says “No trains on Saturday, Sunday.”

“It’s almost Saturday,” I say.

“Yeah, but not quite,” says Judi.

“Hope you’re right,” says David.

“David,” Ronda says. “We have to pick up our grandson in Old Town. We can’t leave him on his own.”

Stranded: David, Ronda, Judi, superbike

“Kid says he knows by the signals,” says David.

“They don’t stop running till Saturday,” says Judi. “It will come.”

And then, the light. “Something’s coming,” I say. I feel like the Ancient Mariner when he notices a breath of wind in the sail.

Now two lights. Getting bigger.

“About time,” says David.

“Thank goodness,” says Ronda. “They should tell us if they’re going to be late.”

“It seems slow,” says David.

“You rolling!?” yells the kid with sound equipment.

“Rolling!” says the lanky kid with a camera on a tripod.

“Remember, quick pan!”

By now, we’re hearing distant barps of a horn. The two lights are flashing side to side.

“Not too close!” yells the blanket kid. “It’ll blow you over!”

The rest of us face north, like meerkats.

“It, it’s not stopping,” mutters Ronda. “It’s not going to stop. It’s. Not. Going. To Stop!

Nobody hears. The Pacific Surf Liner hurtles past right by us, blasting its two-tone horn, which drops a note as the locomotive thunders past. The violence is incredible. The camera kid has whipped around and leans into the blizzard, following the disappearing train. You get a blurred vision of people in the warm golden cars, sitting, reading, chatting, sleeping. Then it’s just wheels on iron singing, hissing like hot steel in cold water, as the night gulps up the sound.

“It wasn’t even The Coaster,” says Judi, quietly. “I don’t understand.”

“Maybe it’s still coming,” I say, lamely.

One of the kids overhears. He hauls me over and points down the track. “See the signal? The red over green and that other stuff? That is a freight train signal. No Coaster! Hey Josh! Let’s look at that video!”

And then they are gone.

Silence.

A car sweeps up. Ronda has been busy. “Thank God for Lyft,” she says. “Split?”

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Comments
3

Poverty wagon......gotta love it.

Oct. 30, 2019

I remember when Coaster innovated: only the high end society was riding it; the "poverty" was riding the buses. And 3-piece suiters who had the guts to ride public transportation within North County --- ONLY WERE RIDING ON THE COASTER.

Oct. 30, 2019

Now anything with the name NCTD is populated by low lifes .....ah yes....the good ole city limo.

Oct. 30, 2019

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