Sunday, July 6, 2008

Stuck in Staples-or how a Horsehead led to my Demise

Hello again all. I have a collection of shots from the weekend that I will be sharing, but the first batch will be the most recent-a few shots from this very Sunday evening, along with a story of how I came to need a new pair of shoes.

It all started out innocently enough-as is the regular Sunday routine in our household, we headed out for a bite to eat before taking a ride to see if any trains were out and about. This particular Sunday evening was hot, and we were in our new ride, a 2008 Ford Escape, so the drive was as much a part of the entertainment as the meal or any trains we might come across.

After a Subway sandwich, we found a westbound Z train passing through Wadena. I briefly gave chase but it was clear I would have to travel all the way to Perham to catch him. Since we had a gas card to use up in Staples, I abandoned the chase and headed east. As we passed through Verndale I spotted another headlight and reversed course to get on the sunny side of this stack train:

7669 rang a bell for me, and when I got home and looked at my photos from July 4, sure enough this was the same unit as I caught entering Staples yard eastbound on Independence Day morning.

I soon heard the dispatcher chatting with an engine in Staples yard about permission to cross over, and SWA told the conductor they would need to wait until the westbound Z got through the yard. The second westbound Z train in about an hour! I "zipped" across the tracks at the detector and shot him across the pond at that crossing.

Gives you some idea of what the BNSF does with all those Dash 9's they have. Speaking of Dash 9's, the unit that had been waiting to cross over was another lone Dash 9, and it coupled up to a long string of grain cars, and must have headed west while I was later tied up.

Immediately after this shot, I headed east on 10 with the intention of waiting at the depot for a couple of more westbounds that were supposed to be on the way. I spotted a lone NS Dash 9 resting in the east end of the yard, though, and decided I needed a shot of this engine. It wasn't good enough to shoot from the highway, I wanted to cross the ditch. After testing the ditch bottom on one side, I decided it would easily support my prodigious weight. I was wrong. In one step I was in black, gumbo mud up to my knees. Each step I took I expected to find terra firma, and each time I failed. Luckily I managed to remain upright and not drop my camera, but I was goo up to the bottom of my shorts. Mrs. L4T was mortified and I could see she was calculating how to get me home without making a disaster of the interior of her new Escape. Luckily I didn't buy the roof rack or she would have lashed me to it. Anyway, since I was across the ditch, I decided to get the shot.

As I made my way down the right of way, trying to find a safe way to cross the ditch, I hoped that the weeds would knock the bigger chunks of mud off. I was a mess, and when I made it back to the Escape, I got out the blanket I always carry and covered the seat. Thank the Lord for rubber floor mats as well. We headed to the SuperAmerica, where I managed to clean up enough to head for home. I did my best to leave the restroom no worse than I found it but fear that I failed. Anyway, after transferring my blanket to the driver's seat, I took control again and headed for home.

And that would have been the end of the trains for the night, if not for a pipe train we overtook just as we arrived at Wadena. I begged for a chance to shoot him and Mrs. L4T was very obliging. We beat him to the crossing west of Bluffton where I shot this:

There were two CSX units on this train, so I stayed in the car and shot him out the window. I was done trusting these eastern railroad locomotives for the night.

And that's the story of why the next time you see me I will likely be wearing a new pair of shoes. Thanks for reading.



Shakespere said...

Neat collection of photos. I enjoyed reading.

Jim said...

Thanks for the kind words. I really appreciate it.