Friday, October 8, 2010

Hittin' for Average

The baseball player who bats .300 is a very good batter. In order to acheive this level of success, that player will likely have to have some pretty good games, where his average for the game is well above the .300 line, to make up for the games when he has to face a Cy Young winner at the top of his game. There will be good days and bad days, days where going 3 for 4 or 4 for 5 will help bring up the average from the "oh fer" days.

Sometimes railfanning is like this. There are days that don't go so well, sometimes because you miss a fat pitch, and other times you are ready to nail it and you get clouded out or a train on the near track blocks the nicely lit shot you've worked to get in position for, sort of a line drive right at someone that is caught for an out.

All these things I was thinking on Thursday, as I drove from far southwest Minnesota back home to Wadena. There would be a few photo ops, as my route crossed the DME near Walnut Grove, paralleled a section of the BNSF Marshall Sub and crossed the TCW at Granite Falls, passed by Willmar, and crossed the Paynesville Sub of the CP at Belgrade. One thing about these north-south trips-the timing has to be perfect to catch trains at crossings. Thursday turned out to be one of those days that, if I was a hitter, would have generated comments about "how well he was seeing the ball".

My first "at bat", if you will, was crossing the DME. Sure enough, just as I approached the tracks, a headlight showed up to the east. I had just a moment to grab the camera and shoot the train headed by an assortment of 6 SD units as it slowly passed.

That consist was colorful enough to require a second attempt, and after finding a spot where the tracks passed an open field, I tried squeezing in the entire colorful assortment of units. I considered myself one for one at this point.

It wasn't long before I found myself following the Marshall Sub on Highway 23. Radio chatter indicated a couple of northbounds, which would be badly backlit. A quick investigation of possibilities in Granite Falls didn't offer much to work with, so I headed north again. My first "out" of the day came when I passed over the TCW near the Granite Falls ethanol plant, with nothing but tank cars and DDG hoppers in sight. Again, I headed northeast.

Finally I heard the dispatcher talking to a BNSF 1900 series going in the hole at Clara City. After a short drive, there is was. With sugar beets being piled like mad in the background, I pulled over for a shot.

I'll take that as a hit, making me 2 for 3 on the day. I wasn't able to resist the temptation of a trip through Willmar, where I picked up a bonus-this shot of a pair of GP's switching the north end of the yard.

Leaving Willmar, my last at bat for the day was the CP at Belgrade. There's not a lot of time spent here, so catching a train is a matter of very good luck. And just as I got to the east end of town, sure enough, another headlight, this time speeding out from under the overpass. A quick left turn, and I rolled down the passenger side window for this:

I'll count that as a single, and it brought my line for the day to 3 for 4. That's about as a good a day as I can expect with no time dedicated to railfanning, just taking what you are offered as you travel.

Certainly no extra base hits in this batch, but I was thankful for what I got. It made the trip seem shorter and provided a lot of entertainment. Sometimes it's fun to be a singles hitter.


1 comment:

Allen said...

Nice. I've been meaning to get out and get some more DME pictures. It seems like they've been running quite the assortment of locomotives through Rochester lately.