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Trolley Tripping
Arlene Lighthall | Luzon Avenue

San Ysidro - end of blue line.
El Cajon - end of orange line.
Santee - end of green line.
Click on map to see all the trolley stops.

A friend and I recently spent the whole day touring from Solana Beach to downtown San Diego, Santee, San Ysidro and back again, on trains and trolleys. It was a great nine-hour adventure of which only minutes were in a car – going to the Solana Beach train station and back again. All you need is the Coaster schedule and a trolley map marked with green, orange and blue trolley lines.

We caught the Coaster to the Santa Fe station downtown (round trip senior ticket $5.50), hopping onto the green trolley line to ride northeast past Old Town and through a lush green area just west of Fashion Valley. As we continued east we were reminded that a river runs through the middle of the City and that cows used to graze here. Students left us at San Diego State before we continued along I-8 past industrial parks, residences, and Gillespie Field and viewed the distant foothills before reaching Santee Trolley Square, the end of the line. We brunched on a breakfast sandwich at Starbucks and ice cream from Cold Stone, establishments nestled amongst bigger retailers at the Square including Bed Bath and Beyond and Target.

Purchasing a return ticket at the kiosk for $1.25 we retraced a bit to El Cajon and transferred to the Orange Line. Chaparral, embankments and condos hugged the tracks. We even cut through a graveyard. We became familiar with La Mesa and Lemon Grove. Between 25th and 14th streets the landscape brightened with colored dome tents of the homeless. Although the Orange Line continues back to the Santa Fe Station downtown, we transferred at 12th and Imperial to the Blue Line and headed for San Ysidro.

The Coronado Bridge murals were a sight to see from the trolley before coming to the shipyards along the Pacific. Dwellings from here to the border suggested less affluence, but the Sweetwater Estuary glistened like an enormous sapphire in the sun. San Ysidro was the end of the line, bustling with activity as passengers hurried to the new pedestrian crossing at the border which includes a shuttle bus to downtown TJ. Many told us they were headed to Plaza de las Americas, a huge discount outlet requiring no passport because it is in the U.S. We checked our watches, decided “not this time.” Where to eat? Choices included a small grocery store, Jack in the Box, a Mexican restaurant and McDonald’s. We settled for a sandwich beneath a balcony of inexpensive garments, and (we thought) outlandish shoes.

Back on the Blue Line (senior ticket $1.25) we went non-stop to the Santa Fe station passing near City College, the San Diego Library and the Civic Center. The trolley was filled to capacity and stations were announced in both English and Spanish, giving us the feel of “international” travelers. The coaster took us back to Solana Beach; we had been gone almost nine hours but who was watching the clock?

Trolley.  Photo Arlene Lighthall.
Click on photo to enlarge.



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