Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Great Valentine's Eve Railfan Extravaganza

Today, unexpectedly to me, the sun came out.

Once I noticed this, the obvious course of action seemed to be to enlist Mrs. L4T in a special pre-Valentine's Day railfan extravaganza. It wasn't too hard to sell her on the idea.

Next up was deciding where to go. Since the gas light was on in the Escape, it seemed like Orton's in Wadena was a likely destination. When we crossed the tracks, the westbound that was showing on ATCS was joined by the headlight of an eastbound. I pumped gas for all I was worth, and raced east, just in time to catch coal loads appoaching the sag near Verndale.

There are a couple of interesting points to this photo. First, you can barely see the wonderful and delicate coat of frost on the trees that didn't survive long once the sun came out. Second, the nose lighting is not very good, part of the continuing struggle encountered when railfanning that section of the Staples Sub between Staples and Perham in the winter. It seems like the trains are sidelit morning, noon and night. The "shadow/highlight" tool sees some use in these shots. The next photo is another example.

Knowledge of a westbound led me to Bluffton. It turned out to be a fortunate stop, but not because the photo was worthwhile-indeed, I am not even going to post it here. But it does provide material for a post of its own in the near future. How's that for mystery?

Having heard that a Becker train would be meeting two westbounds at Philbrook, we sailed back toward Staples for some shots. One westbound was passing through town as we arrived, but two more were still showing so I parked at the east crossing, where I met another fan-sooline14 on youtube was shooting video. We chatted while waiting for a train. Soon enough this guy showed up:

And once again, the sidelighting was brutal. But the company was good, and another train was due, so we waited. Within 15 or 20 minutes, BNSF 4401 west peeked around the corner and I tried another shot. Since I got him again later, I won't bore you with that shot. However, I did notice this reefer just as it passed by, and although I'm not a fan of graffiti, this seemed so original I had to shoot it. This vandal at least knows what type of car he is painting.

The sun was plodding around to the west, and I knew the best chance for nose light on this train was back in Bluffton, so off we went. In another month or so this one will be fairly well lit in the afternoon, but it's still kind of tough right now.

During all this back and forth, we saw three or four other trains, so the Staples was busy on Valentine's Eve. I had originally considered heading west to the Lake Park area, but a cloud bank in that direction scared me off. It likely would have been OK but I didn't want to drive all the way over just to get clouded out. Hey, I've still got that to look forward to then, right?

Then it was home to tear down some wallpaper border in preparation for painting. No matter the railfanning to be done, one must still attend to domestic chores so you can look for trains with a clear conscience.

That's all, Jim

1 comment:

dorcheat said...

Lots of "schmoking" it up in this series of pics (locos and reefer). I liked the black smoke pouring from the big GE's along with the "Nazi Southern" GE.