April 21, 2003

HERE'S GOOD NEWS FOR TRAIN BUFFS: The Niles Canyon steam train is back in action, and will be part of the Sunday rides this spring. The canyon is especially beautiful after the recent rains, so whether you hop on board the steam train at 10:30 a.m., noon, 1:30 p.m. or 3 p.m., or answer the "all aboard!" on the 1940's diesel train at 11:15 a.m., 12:45 p.m. or 2:15 p.m., you are in for a treat.

The weekly Wildflower Trains are a wonderful way to relax and take in Nature's ever-changing display in Niles Canyon. Our local blooming flora include mustard flowers, lupin, California poppies, rosemary, wild almond and more. And on a couple of upcoming Wildflower Trains, you will be able to enjoy elegant wine tastings hosted on-board by Sunol area vintners.

I'm sad to report that you've already missed Fenestra's and Little Valley's turns, but you can enjoy free samples of premium wines from Chouinard Vineyards Sunday (4-27) and Elliston on May 5. The on-board tastings will take place on the noon 1:30, 3 p.m. trains. Both Fenestra and Little Valley have tastings and special events all spring, too, so visit them soon.

The train rides are free, although the all-volunteer Pacific Locomotive Association (PLA) suggests donations of $4 for children three through 12, $7 for seniors, and $8 for everyone else. The train boards at the Sunol Depot, 6 Kilkare Road, Sunol, and seating is first-come, first-served. There is wheelchair access and all trains have open cars, covered cars and enclosed coaches.

The purpose of the PLA, as stated on their Web site, is "to preserve the physical aspects and atmosphere of Pacific Coast railroading during the period from 1910 to 1960." The organization's mission is to develop and operate a working railroad museum for the benefit of the general public. You can become a member and volunteer in the PLA and help restore equipment, build track, operate trains, or do other tasks necessary to run a railroad. Applicants must be at least 18 but no experience is necessary.

Dues are $25 per year, and there's a $10 initiation fee for the first year. An application to become an Associate Member may be obtained at the Sunol Depot or from the Membership Secretary, 2196 Taper Avenue, Santa Clara, CA 95051-2341, or via e-mail at pla_ncry@ncry.org.

SCHOOL BOARD MEETING: The next Sunol Glen School Board meeting will be Monday, April 28 at 6 p.m. in the school library. The Pledge of Allegiance and flag salute will be led by the Sunol Boy Scouts, who will also have a presentation to share. Agenda items for the meeting include the Superintendent's reports on enrollment and the charter school, the approval of financial resolutions and bids, and reductions in classified personnel.

STARLAB COMES TO SUNOL: The Starlab portable teaching environment comes to the Sunol Glen auditorium on Thursday, May 22. The system consists of an inflatable dome, a projector, astronomy projection cylinders, and other accessories. Students view the constellations while listening to a self-paced, taped lesson. Big thanks to Sunol Glen's mentor science teacher, Kalina Wong, and the generous support of Teaching Opportunities for Partners in Science (TOPS) for bringing Sunol Glen this terrific educational program.

A SPECIAL PITCH: Taylor King, a Sunol Glen fifth-grader, will throw out the first pitch at the Oakland A's game Wednesday, May 23 at the Oakland Coliseum. The game will be played in memory of Taylor's grandfather, Carl Finley, who died March 30, 2002 at the age of 78. Taylor's granddad was the cousin of Oakland A's owner Charlie Finley, and served as Vice President of the ball team for 22 years. Strike 'em out, Taylor!

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