Officer Jeff Hullquist makes an entry into the Panasonic Toughbook computer affixed to his dash as he prepares to follow the train Upvalley.
As a member of the Napa Valley Wine Railroad Police
, it is his
duty to protect the assets of the Wine Train, including its tracks, right-of-way, railroad cars and passengers.
"This train is probably going to beat us Upvalley because of the holiday traffic," says Hullquist
, who is sporting a dark brushy mustache and sporty Columbia sunglasses.
Twenty minutes later, Hullquist
has positioned himself in a shady spot with a clear view of Highway 29.The private drive of Niebaum-Coppola Winery intersects with the state highway just after crossing the railroad grade.."People will run this stop sign all day," he
says, and, sure enough, they do.
One after another, the exiting cars ignore the first stop sign as they proceed to go over the tracks to the second.If there is a car already waiting, they calmly idle on the tracks, waiting for the car ahead of them to pull out onto 29.This is a dangerous practice, Hullquist
says, because if a car gets blocked in from behind, it would not be able to move were the train to pass through.
Finally issues ticketHullquist
issues several yellow "warning citations," but loses his
patience when a silver Acura TL stops on the tracks while the train can be seen chugging Upvalley in the background.As he
issues the ticket, the driver pleads his
"Come on officer, I'm
the designated driver and I've got four cackling hens back there," he
says, motioning to the rear and passenger seats.Indeed, his
female passengers are loudly mocking his
vision, driving skills and manhood in general.
As Officer Hullquist walked back to his
patrol car, he
says, "All these laws are in place to protect the people, because it sure isn't going to hurt the train.
All of these misdemeanors are punishable by arrest and up to a $500 fine, but that doesn't seem to act as a deterrent, Hullquist
As Hullquist plays leapfrog with the train as it travels up the valley, he
comments on the heavy Memorial Day weekend traffic clogging Highway 29."This is a state highway and we're going like 5 miles per hour," he