Monday, June 9, 2008

Stormy Weather

Having been involved in railfanning as a casual hobby for many years and more seriously for the last couple of years, I have learned that sometimes things just don't go your way. The last couple of weekends have been a good demonstration of this fact.

The final weekend of May found Mrs. L4T and myself venturing back to Borderland for a graduation party. Since we were to be there overnight I blocked out early Saturday morning for a chance to visit my old haunts and see if I was able to catch any rail action on the move in the International Falls area.

I just couldn't wait, though. A short drive through town the evening we arrived caught one of the MD&W Alcos hard at work sorting a string of boxcars for storage in the laydown yard east of town. I got a shot out the car window in hazy conditions with a badly blown out sky.

Little did I know that this would be the only action I would see all weekend. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I awoke to sunny skies on Saturday AM and promptly headed out. Upon arriving in Ranier there was a train parked well back from the crossing, and horribly backlit. I had hoped for a southbound crossing the lift bridge and I could hear a train in the Fort doing some switching, but it became obvious from scanner traffic that he was tied up longer than I could wait. So I settled for a few shots of stored MDW and IBT boxcars and headed back in.

This weekend I got up early on Saturday, with a full day of mowing, painting, and other assorted "honey-do's" arrayed ahead of me. But first, given the sunny sky, a quick trip trackside seemed the appropriate way to begin the weekend. I no sooner made it uptown than a loaded COLX train blasted through Wadena. I shot him as he passed the newly restored Wadena depot with some strange light from the rising sun.

Hoping this was an omen, I headed just west of town to the Bluffton curve. After a wait of maybe 20 minutes I heard the 174.1 detector, Main 2, crackle to life with a call of "total axle five six". Here comes the Builder. And, coincidentally, the clouds. You can always hope for a sucker hole. But there was to be no such luck this day.

A nice three unit consist, too.

That was enough to send me to the lawnmower to take out my frustration on some too-tall grass. And this was the story of my weekend-sun when I couldn't use it, and none when I could. I just haven't learned the knack of taking good photos when the sky is flat white.

But I got to spend time trackside both weekends, and see trains both sitting and moving. Some were common, some unusual for me. And even with all my frustration over photography opportunities, what it still boils down to is seeing the trains moving and doing their jobs. I get more joy from the action than I would from a month of perfect photo opportunities with a bunch of trains tied up along the main. That's just me.


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