Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Look Back at 2011

It's becoming a tradition to do a railfan retrospective around New Year's. I like it because you are forced to think back on the year's adventures, and even with the occasional Mullering, by and large this is a great hobby that we share with great people.

So what sticks out for me when I look back on this year? One of the most amazing experiences happened on New Year's Day, when I was lucky enough to witness a monster Amtrak train passing the through the area. What a way to start the year!

Any time spent with fellow railfans is great. This was one of those times. My fingers still get numb remembering it.

Luckily, it was warmer on the day Chris introduced me to the wonder that is Ebro.

"Talk Like a Pirate" Day-what could that have to do with railfanning? Quite a bit, as it turned out.

Sometimes, you don't have to go far to be entertained by the railroad.

Lots of folks seem to remember encounters with blue and yellow locomotives. I had a few myself, and they were memorable. This one, in May, comes to mind, along with this one, the end of June. I was lucky enough to get a sniff of blue and gold out west as well, in the fall.

I spent a lot more time (and money!) on modeling this year, and it provided some good memories as well.

Verndale Rail was once again the high point of the year, as I've come to expect. You that didn't make it this year, be there next year! Should be bigger and better than ever, and with a little luck we might even get a train running into the sun.

I've made some great friends and look forward to making more in the future. Anytime you find a bunch of people who will tolerate a Pentax shooter you can bet you've fallen in with a quality group. So thanks, and I look forward to hearing "Hot Rail" or "IT'S THE YELLOW ONE" hollered out again soon.


Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Missing Railfan Returns

I've spent the more than a month since my last post doing who knows what? Well, work got in the way, and family issues, and the Holidays, and....

As someone who has gotten used to seeing trains many times a week at a minimum, this interval has been pretty train-free. That's not by choice, but simply a result of where my travels have taken me. However, I did get the chance to shoot a few pictures, this first one in International Falls on November 29. For once, the sun was out, and the MDW was kind enough to park one of their new switch engines where I could get a shot with the engine house in the background.

On December 13, the fog and overcast was back on a day I travelled to Randall for work. As the day went on, the fog just seemed to get thicker. A westbound Z train stopped at the Randall siding just as I left town, and I figured it wouldn't sit for long. I noticed a track inspection truck getting off the tracks at Cushing and decided to wait for the Z in the gloom at the old Highway 10 overpass. It was so dark the shot suffered, and this is the best I could do with the shutter wide open and the ISO cranked up too high. About 2:30 in the afternoon.

And then on December 20, after a quick trip to Perham, I caught up with a rail grinder on the way home. Another of those rare sunny days, and he decided to stop at the west crossing, so why not shoot him? So, I did.

We spent Christmas weekend in International Falls, and I came home the day after with my son. He needed to head back to Grand Forks. A friend was in the hospital in Wadena, and on my way to visit, sure enough, I spotted a headlight. I decided to get a profile of the power as the light was 90 degrees to the track. I wouldn't bore you with it if not for the repainted Dash 9 trailing.

Finally, Wednesday I had to go to New York Mills for work, and I was lucky enough to catch a couple of trains after finishing up. First is the Ferromex unit I shared earlier on Flickr, this time two shots instead of just one.

And then a MAC that has seen better days, but still hard at work doing what it was built to do. That's haul coal out of the Powder River Basin. Regardless of the paint, I'll never get tired of seeing this work done.

So now you are caught up on what this railfan has been up to. Not a lot, from a train perspective, but hopefully the new year holds some new adventures along the tracks.