Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Up, Down, and All Around

This story is not about going to see A Spoonful of Sherman. Or rather it's a trip report going and coming, and if travel misadventures don't interest you, you can skip the cut tag now.

I had a doctor's appointment in Palo Alto on Friday afternoon, and because I got away from work early, I went even farther north to Belmont for my roughly semi-annual visit to my favorite taqueria, El Metate, which isn't a terribly long walk from the station. Besides, with what I was eating, I needed the exercise. This trip was easy enough. I took light rail from Sunnyvale (where I could park the Rolling Stone, unlike the Palo Alto Medical Center, where parking for oversize vehicles is very challenging unless you're there at 6 AM or earlier), then Caltrain to Belmont, walked to the restaurant, then back to Belmont, then took Caltrain back to Palo Alto, where I walked to the medical center.

The good news on the medical front, by the way, is that I tested positively for measles antibodies, which means I don't need a booster shot. I have no record of when I was immunized, but I don't think I had the disease when I was young. I was born in 1965. I had chicken pox, and therefore during this visit I agreed to have the first of a two-shot series immunization against shingles. As they warned me was possible, I'm having a minor adverse reaction to it that should go away in a couple of days and is much better than getting shingles.

The bad news is that my diabetes has gotten considerably worse. My A1C level is up to 8.5, the first time it's ever been 8 or higher. My doctor will add additional medication, and I'll see if I can cut back how much I eat and get back to getting more walking done. I've been well below 10K steps/day for months now, and have gained weight because of it.

I think I was my doctor's last patient of the day, and after dealing with business, we chatted about his trip to Japan earlier this year and compared notes. He's also going to be in Barcelona next year. I advised him to schedule his trip to the Sagrada Familia for a non-Sunday so he can go on the tour.

While I was heading north earlier in the day, I realized that my original Plan A, which had been to just go to downtown San Jose and see the show, wouldn't work because VTA light rail hours have been cut back, and the late-night bus that substitutes for it on some of the runs doesn't serve the business park area where I was parked, presumably because there's nobody there late at night. So I went to Plan B: go back to where the van was parked, drive over to where I normally lie up for the night, catch light rail, and ride back on light rail and take the substitute bus as close as it gets to where I was parked, which is about 1.5 km and isn't a difficult walk for me.

I'm glad I was at the head of the line to say hello and chat briefly with Shannon and the rest of the cast of Sherman, because I couldn't hang around. There aren't many light rail trains that go where I wanted. I trotted over to the northbound Paseo de San Antonio platform, where the signs said I had about ten minutes to wait.

Checking Google Transit, I found that there was one possibility that might work for me, although it was counter-intuitive. Take a Winchester line train south rather than north to Diridon train station, then Caltrain to Mountain View, where I should be able to catch the last southbound light rail train of the night that would drop me only about a block from my van. I adopted Plan C and headed back to the southbound light rail platform.

Freight at Diridon

Transferring from light rail to Caltrain was no problem. As I came up onto platform 4/5 to catch train 199 to San Francisco, I got Bonus Freight Action, as a Union Pacific train came through. The entire train was nothing but hopper cars that appeared to be carrying coal ash.

Caltrain departed on time. By the time we got to Santa Clara, the UP freight had crossed over in front of us and we passed it as the Caltrain and UP lines diverged. So far, so good. But at Sunnyvale there was a problem: Caltrain is single-tracking through Mountain View doing work on one of the tracks. We were held up for around eight minutes here, and the connection time at Mountain View was less than five minutes according to Google Transit. Sure enough, when I got off at Mountain View, there were no light rail trains on the platform and there would be no more that night. Now I'm roughly 8 km from where I need to be.

Thus Plan D: I called a taxi, which somewhat to my surprised managed to find me in less than ten minutes. He took me over to my RV, I gratefully paid him the fare (I'm glad I drew some cash out of the ATM at Mountain View, though, as I was running low), and was finally "home" for the night.

I'm very glad that I did not have to be up early this morning, but even so I only slept in for about two extra hours. This afternoon I'll be heading back to San Jose, but unlike downtown, parking at Municipal Stadium is not difficult. I just have to remember to make sure the headlights are turned off. Then I'll join the folks from BASFA for Star Wars night.

I don't expect to have anything online tomorrow morning, because my current plan is to get up when I wake up, then head for home via Sacramento. I'm sufficiently tired that I need to allow extra time, and if necessary stop and nap along the way. I'd go part-way home tonight after the game, except I haven't found places I feel comfortable stopping for the night between Sunnyvale and Sacramento. There are places beyond Sacramento like the Gold Run Rest Area (18 hours parking permitted), but not a lot of likely places out along I-5 except possibly at Lodi Junction and the truck stops there. Maybe sometime I'll give that a try, but my current regular location has the advantage of being nice and quiet at night, which truck stops are not.

And the next time I try this trick with a 3Below show, I think I'll stick to Plan B, or maybe even Plan A if I can find a place to squeeze the RV into on-street parking near where I used to live off North First Street.
Tags: light rail, trains

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