The Fillmore and Western company is known in the entertainment industry as the go-to place to shoot scenes involving a railway station with steam engine vintage trains. Not everyone knows, that the company offers train rides and a variety of themed parties on board year round to the general public.
The Duke and I had been invited to a special sunset ride through the avocado farms with destination Santa Paula for the annual air balloon festival. We boarded our 100-year-old train at 6 p.m. from Fillmore (about an hour and a half from L.A.); we immediately cruised through the four train cars and went straight to the open-air car to sit on the wood benches and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air. The long whistling sound coming from the engine announced that the journey was about to start. We joined our fellow passengers, took a seat, and toasted to the start of our adventure with cocktails crafted at the restaurant car.
Five minutes into the ride, we were greeted by two sherifs who showed up unexpectedIy. They walked around with their noisy spurs click-clacking and speaking with a heavy Southern accent which I was able to discern here and there. They were pretty entertaining, making the people in the front laugh. They won me over when they handcuffed the Duke and threatened to toss him in jail!! Yes, please, he’s such an outlaw sometimes!
We were breezing though the perfect rows of avocado and citrus trees with the nostalgic choo choo sound, when the chef announced that dinner was served. I’ve never had dinner in a train before so, this was a very pleasant and romantic experience. The decor of the restaurant (as mostly the rest of the train) is art deco and it really takes you back in time and makes you want to wear the fanciest of hats.
Sometime during the trip, I was told that there was a private car in the back. I couldn’t resist and had to go see it: It consisted of a formal private dining room, living room and bedroom all of which belonged to President McKinley when he traveled around the country on his electoral campaign. This train car was made the caboose and added to the train as a bonus. The Duke and I had the pleasure of sitting comfortably on the plush presidential sofa, looking straight out the back door on our ride back.
The highlight of the ride was stopping at the Santa Paula’s annual Air Balloon Festival; at dusk, dozens of balloons were lit up creating a colorful choreography.
I’ll definitely go back for a murder mystery dinner on the train … that’s the perfect setting for a killer night!