Thursday, 17 April 2014

A day off and the last day - last post

Today was a free day and allowed everyone to do their own thing and wind down.

Jim went to see the Queen Mary and sat at the Santa Fe Springs station where he froze his butt off watching trains.

Chris and Judy did some shopping locally and generally just chilled out.

I watched a movie (no, Batman) then did some shopping at Walmart (threw out all my old clothes) and on the way back to the hotel called in to get a haircut - 00 buzz cut of course, and this time she didn't fall asleep on my head and push the cutters into my skull - long story from the last trip. Whilst getting my haircut, I glimpsed a guy getting a foot spa and the look on his face said it all.... another $25 later and I was sitting beside him soaking my feet - nails got done, legs and feet massaged and 49 years of dry flakey skin were scrubbed free - it wasn't as gross as it sounds !!

Jamie went to the station, went shopping, annoyed me while I was watching a movie, probably annoyed a few local girls as well, and disappeared again.

Later on we all (except Judy) went back to the Fullerton Station to get some late afternoon shots and watch Amtrak No 4 the Southwest Chief to Chicago pass through. A cool breeze was blowing through and it was overcast so there was no argument when I suggested we depart.

Tomorrow we visit Milepost 38 Hobbies at Anaheim, return to Fullerton for lunch and hang around until it's time to depart for Hertz Returns to drop the beast off, catch the shuttle bus to LAX, check in and fly home.

That then ends the trip - 3.5 weeks on the road. Lots of trains, lots of video and photographs taken. As you get with any group of people who wouldn't normally socialize together, there were some clashes of personalities, but they were brief and few and far between.

Generally, a pretty good trip, and as always, as soon as you start deviating from the plan, things go wrong - I prefer to put up with a few sulks than have everything go to the pack just because someone wants to do something different. The hard part is not succumbing to the pressure of those who wish to do their own thing.

Another one ?

Probably not unless someone approaches me and asks me to put one together.

All the best, Erin.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Day trip to San Diego

Today we caught Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner to San Diego and back - 2 hrs each way. The view across the beaches is awesome - surfers, swimmers, pelicans and dolphins all within view as the train raced along the beachfront.

I had a seat to myself on the way down...however on the way back.... more on that later....

We all visited the San Diego Model Railroad Museum at Balboa Park, then two of us went on the USS Midway for a look around. Me and Jamie were about to walk back to the Santa Fe depot to catch our train when a guy on the 3 seater bike pulled up and asked if we wanted a ride - 10 bucks later and we were on our way. Just as I said to Jamie" I wish Chris and Judy could see us now", there they were at the station - Chris promptly getting out his video camera and Judy cracking up at our antics.

The train was chocka full as we loaded up at San Diego and my chances of having a seat to myself were rapidly dwindling.  The thought of being jammed up against the window by an unclean sweaty behemoth ravaged my imagination - until....a 20 something Canadian lass on an 8 day trip with her mother (and had just about had enough of her) sat down beside me, instead of sitting with her mum. Excellent trip home talking to both of them.

Dinner again on the platform.

Excellent day, no photos or video.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Cajon Pass to Fullerton

Yippee !! We're finally on our last leg of the tour.

First stopover was on Pepper Ave at Colton Yard where we spent about 3 hours watching the goings on - the time just flew when it was busy.

Next stop was at the Union Pacific Yard to check out the Big Boy that was parked there...we were only allowed to look at the rear end of the tender but over the fence you could see the loco.

Riverside for lunch - Chinese buffet - all you can eat and drink for $10 - oh dear.

Owing to a slight clearance issue with the vehicle, it's now starting to make some very odd noises, so as a precaution decided not to drive all the way over to the far side of LA to Travel Town, instead went to Commerce City Metrolink. This was a new location on the itinerary and turned out to be OK - not a huge amount of traffic but the backdrop of the BNSF loco servicing depot made up for it.

Next stop was check in at Fullerton and dinner on the platform at the Cafe. Last year there was one homeless person living on the platform - now there were at least 10. A church group were running a soup kitchen for them, and as expected, a car load of people pulled up, all the kids bailed out and got a frtee feed - hard not to be judgemental (if you can afford the gas...) - but if you're hungry and have run out of cash, then the service is there to be used. This now means there is one side of the platform that is way off limits, which is fine as it's on the shaded side and no good for photography anyway.

We hung around till 8pm to try our hand at some night shots - lookin' pretty good so far.

I've purchased the tickets to get us to San Diego tomorrow - train ride on Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner.

A couple of piccies below.

Colton Yard from Pepper Ave.

Colton Yard

Commerce City

Monday, 14 April 2014

Cajon Pass

At some stage last night I must have agreed to commence train chasing at 7 am this morning - needless to say I was wondering why someone was knocking on my door at 5 past 7, wondering where I was.

Five minutes later we were on our way to the Mormon Rocks for early morning photography, followed by Blue Cut, then lunch, than back to Blue Cut, then Summit then Silverwood. And that's it.

We took a drive to Phelan where I shouted everyone dinner and witnessed the rising of a massive full moon over the horizon - apparently it will be a full lunar eclipse around midnight tonight - I will be asleep.

No piccies worth posting.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Ludlow to Cajon Pass

Today we left the thriving metropolis of Ludlow and relocated to Cajon Pass. Only one stopover and that was at Frost, a dot on the map within the city of Victorville.
Cajon has changed a lot - a large collection of beehives prevented us getting to Alray; a landslide that reduced the roadwidth prevented us getting to Sullivan Curve and although my effort was valiant, the road to Hill 582 was totally impassable. Roll on Marc Fournier, who was in his 4x4, met us at the foot of the hill and showed us a new area that was being developed for railfans at Silverwood. With easy access and suitable for all day photography, this place turned out to be a real gem.
More on Cajon Pass tomorrow.
Today I saw a coyote as I was filming - awesome, and a centipede that was about 6 inches long - not so awesome.
PS - today at Frost I met Tony Stark. The other day he was boating with Taylor Swift and he reckons he can buy lots of weed in New Zealand because he's famous. I didn't catch his real first name but this teenager came up the hill to watch me film. He was as high as a kite and wanted money, smokes or something to drink. After a while I asked him to stand back from the camera, and told him to keep going - he kept going.

Frost, Victorville, Ca.

All of Ludlow in one post

Ludlow is a dot on the map along Interstate 40 between Needles and Barstow. It's hot, dusty and on a bad day can be really windy - and did I mention it can get hot ?

Here's 4 days worth in one post:

9 April14
Today we went further west, leaving Kingman to take on the Mojave desert in all its heated fury. The first stop was at Topock to revisit that new lookout I discovered on the way over. The morning light was good and trains were a plenty.

The second stop was at Arrowhead Junction, northwest of Needles. By now things had slowed down and trains were running on the wrong track to cater for a welder carrying out some repairs.
A quick stop at Fenner to freshen up and then it was down to Essex on Rte 66. The temperature and been climbing steadily and it was really starting to warm up.
The next stop was at Amboy for a drinks break, and this is where the outside temp peaked at 98 degrees
Farenheit - awefully warm methinks.
A quick stop at the Amboy crater had us interacting with some wildlife, much to its disgust:

The journey to Ludlow had us stopping in various places as eastbound trains just kept coming and coming - until one of them suddenly glided to a stop right beside us. All I could think was "What on earth have we done"? We managed to backtrack to the locos and just after we got there, the entire train glided downhill with only the lead loco providing minimal of power. At Ludlow we bumped into a loco repair crew from Barstow who told us that the MU cable was pinched, which cut out all the locos and they had to go reset and test all the computers for the crew. Interesting times.
Those two BNSF guys have never met anyone quite like Jim, who can talk at 100 mph and change the subject just as fast - those poor guys never knew what hit them !

An evening at the Ludlow yard - if you can call it that - had Jamie bumping into a group of railfans from Cajon who kept him entertained for about an hour. It turned out that it was none other than Marc Fournier - co-producer of 7 Idea productions. We has a wealth of knowledge on local operations and invited us to catch up with him when we were in his area - Cajon Pass. To be continued. An evening at Ludlow lasts about 20 minutes - twighlight about 5 minutes - the sun drops like a rock i nthe desert - one minute it's light, the next it's dark.
A couple of trains trundled through, but nothing to write home about. A BNSF maintenance truck rolled passed us and slowed down so he wouldn't kick up any dust - very thoughtful of him.The Cadiz turn (a train that goes from Barstow to Cadiz and back to interchange with the Arizona & California) went through late and as I write this at 9:20 pm, has still yet to return.

The entire group has been sitting outside in the dark and the heat spinning a few yarns, drinking free drinks
from the gas station and bonding well, looking at all the unfamiliar stars in the night sky. Good to see.

Ludlow is a dry town - which doesn't bother me or Jamie in the slightest. The aircon in my room was on the
fritz, which was totally unacceptable - especially in this heat, so I bought the tool I needed from the gas
station and fixed the darn thing myself. Happy as. We commence our exploring tomorrow.

Today we headed to Kelso for the simple pleasure of filming the Union Pacific on the Cima hill and having lunch at the Kelso Depot. On the way we saw a dead snake on the road that the ravens were making a meal of.
Things have changed a bit: the Kelso depot is closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and when it is open, you can no longer have a meal there. This initially changed my best laid plans, however as we were sitting in the shade deciding what to do, a train turns up - never saw them all move so fast.
Further up the hill there was a meet with a downhill train, and by the time we caught up with the original one,
it was just about to round the top of the hill. On the way back to Kelso "hawkeye" Jamie spotted another one on the way up. That was number three.
With no-where to eat and relax, and the fuel gauge indicating the wrong side of half full, it was time to head back to BNSF country.

One of the amazing vistas on Kelbaker Road on the way to Kelso.

Today we found out from some very frindly BNSF staff that everything was stuffed up - something we alluded to this morning. Lots of track maintenance was backing things up - trains parked up "on every siding to LA". Although this suits the photographers, it's not much fun looking at stationary trains. One loco engineer was kind enough to give us 2 bottles of water - straight out of their fridge - it had ice in it. Much appreciated as the max temp we endured today was 102 F (38 degrees C) - rather warm.
The constant parade of stack trains is a tad annoying, but it's just the way it is.

Today we were supposed to chase the Cadiz Turn from Ludlow to Cadiz - oops - no-one knew that it didn't run on Fridays (or Saturdays for that matter). That didn't turn out to be a bad thing as we got lots of shots locally - and as I write they keep thundering through Ludlow. Hot again, but not as bad - 92 degrees.

Today is another exploration day around Ludlow and we didn't really end up going all that far. Although Siberia sounds like it should be in another continent, it's a landmark about 10 miles from Ludlow where the double tracks split into two single tracks. Myself, Jim and Chris spent a bit of time exploring this area - read as: hurry up and wait - as well as Ash Hill. The desert winds are starting to build, however the temp has dropped to around the mid to high 80's.

Piccies around Ludlow:

The background almost looks like a studio backdrop.

One going past and one on the way. Average train length is about 7500 - 8000 feet with 13500 horses (3 locos) on the front and 8900 horses (2 locos) on the rear.

Foreign power is becoming more prevalent on the BNSF.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Head West, Young Man...

Today we commenced our return to California and drove from Flagstaff to Kingman - via Rte 66 where we could.

Signals and radio transmissions heard on the scanner kept us guessing as to what on earth was going on, however luck appeared to be on our side.

Crookton proved to be an excellent place for morning shots, and after about 5 trains decided to proceed to Seligman for lunch - where nothing passed through the entire time we were feeding our faces.

Peach Springs saw one pass through and the return to Valentine/Crozier Canyon saw about a 10 - 15 minute wait between trains.

Check in at the motel in Kingman and we hit the road again to return to Kingman Canyon during excellent lighting conditions.

17 trains filmed today with a couple of photos to boot. A long day that seemed to go by really fast.

The weather has improved 100 percent, with the next 4 days forecasted to be very warm and fine. Today we hit 81 degrees F - 27 degrees C - it was very dry and there was a slight breeze - lots of water downed.

As of tomorrow we will be at Ludlow CA where there is no internet - no more posts for 4 days.

Crookton Road overpass, south of Seligman, AZ

Kingman, AZ

Kingman Canyon, AZ