Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Holy (insert the universal adjective here)

America's Still Out There
 June 5, 2012
After CresSTOC in Crestline, CA and after riding the Angeles Crest highway.

Spending the evening and night in Carmel, CA.  was interesting
(I shared a room with my very conservative friend Don Feyma...)
Actually we avoided politics!

Don had invited my to ride with him to Carson City, NV but I had the illusion that I would return the way I had came.  Up the coast to Oregon and Washington then east back to Montana.  Up and moving soon enough to see Allan and Adam's wet tire tracks in the upper parking lot of the hotel.  Well, no catching them.  (We had no plan to ride together) Either that or I was ditched... hee, hee.

Well, the weather didn't cooperate at all. The fog and rain intensified so alternate routing was in order. I veered inland to see if I could get out from under the Cloud cover.  Riding along the Sacramento River levee has a distinct Louisiana feel... I even stopped for Crawdads!

As you can see the rain has caught me again... I should not have stopped but I do like the Crawdads.

Not much traffic along the levee I make pretty good time even outrunning the rain.  Looks like more precip piled up against the mountains.  As I gain elevation the weather progressively gets worse.  No on the fly camera shots here even with the waterproof camera.  I did a Go Pro video though (insert later here).  That wastes some time and the weather really closes in.

Still holding on to hope that I can make it to the top of the pass I am still comfortable with the vest and handgrips both on high, it finally gets so bad I can no longer see... then the snow is sticking to the road but it's slushy.  Not much farther it gets slick.  I find a turnout.  Strangely enough used as a chainup area. I stop.  Let of the rear brake and the bike begins to slide backwards... well this sucks, it's much slicker than I imagined.  How I managed to get backed up against the tiny asphalt curb without dropping the bike is beyond understanding.

Now the America's Still Out There  part of this story.

As I manage to get the sidestand down and swing a leg over to get off I realize there is a vehicle right beside me.  It is snowing really hard now.  I can barely see that is a CHP cruiser.  A Dodge Durango.  Officer rolls down the window... asks, "Are you gonna be alright?"  I say, "Sure, got my new tent, mountaineering gear, I'm from Montana, no problem, I'll be in the trees right there (pointing) and gone in the morning after the road clears."

"Yeah, No" he says.  "There is a Wagon train reenactment up at the top of the pass less than a mile from here... grab your gear and I'll take you up there."

It take me a bit to grab the tent bag and top box.  I leave the High Viz windbreaker to cover the instrument panel.  I should have used the bike cover but it's in the tent bag and already in the Cop Car.  I pile in and Officer N takes me up to the top of the pass.

We talk to the Wagonmaster from the Wagon Train and there are stranded too.  It's fine if I join them he says.  Well great.  Now I look for a place to pitch the tent.  There is an old closed down Ski resort and the parking lot.  I pick a spot near a picnic table next to the building out of the wind... cozy huh?
Unload the stuff onto the picnic table under the tent bag a wait a bit.  There is a rumor that the owner of the now defunct lodge has been contacted and we may be able to use the building.  Heck, we were going to to the cookout in the snow al la Donner Party... can you say liver and onions? I realize with the new bigger tent I have left my sleeping bag and pad in the side bag pannier down in the motorcycle about 1 mile down the hill.  I prepare to hike down to get them but Mike will have nothing to do with that.  He unhooks his outfit and gives me a ride down there.  He has been jumping other trucks all day he says.  These people do not have winter batteries.  About half the trucks don't start the next morning.

Evidently the owner of the Ski Lodge contacts his insurance and his attorney (this is California after all) and after a couple of hours, we are in the building.  By this time I have already met a number of the horse people.  What a great group.

We all settle in inside.  I pick a spot near the north wall so that I can see the storm. They have called for the gas to be turned on... I wander outside and look at the gas meter... the valve it's unlocked.  There is a kitchen and a huge overhead garage style heater.  It takes a bit to purge the gas lines and find the breaker but soon we have power and heat.  There are about 50-60 people in the building now.  Many have chase RV's and will spend the night in the parking lot.

The cooks get busy and soon, hamburgers, potato salad... even watermelon. Some stern orders from the Wagonmaster regarding the horse poop and we move on to the Period Dress Contest.  I am selected as the Judge as I am the only outsider.  The choice is obvious.

Later in the evening I get to know some of the folks.  George here (below) walks with what appears to be a broken hip... it is painful to watch him.  It turns out he struck up a conversation with me because he is a motorcycle rider too.  I figured he had been hurt in some horrible horse and Wagon accident.  The story is much different.  It is the most common tale in motorcycling.  A pickup truck didn't see him.  Turned left in front of him and he didn't have time to miss it.  Broke his pelvis and back in 3 places and the right knee was dislocated beyond understanding. The resulting nerve damage left his right leg numb from the knee down.  He claims that part is a blessing.  When he walks I... I grimace.  Now the reason I mention all this is he is the most outgoing nice fellow.

This is George... the most cheerful guy I ever met in my life... his paralyzed lower right leg and his pelvis is held together with screw, rods and all kinds of hardware. How he is so cheerful is beyond me.  Seriously... THE MOST Cheerful person I ever met. He is the treasurer for the Wagon Train and has done the ride for 34 years.  Now get this.  He is with the Corrections department and does the releases for the inmates... he says, it's easy 'cause they are getting out.  The best job in Corrections he says.   America's Still Out There.

Click here for the rest of the pictures from this trip

Friday, November 23, 2012

is America still out there? - It's Black Friday -

It's Black Friday.  I have not posted in a while. I'm retired now so there isn't much RR stuff. I will post some old RR pics at some point, but, for now...

I had been avoiding the whole spectacle of the election.  Made me want to vent here. Whole thing turned my stomach.  I had to avoid it a bit as it would cloud my happiness. Not intending this to be a political rant or some leftist blog but this whole greed thing it outta hand.

I picked today to write because I have been recently encouraged to relate some stories of my motorcycle journeys with print and photographs. Also, over 100 Wal Mart stores have been picketed by non-Union workers today.

This is a two fold story about a motorcycle journey and Wal Mart.  The town of realization became Wellsville, MO. (Zoom in and see the vacant lot where the flags were)

The date was June 19, 2008. Actually there will be another America's Still Out There story that happened on this same motorcycle trip.  It involves a Horse and Buggy and a Soda Fountain and a Barbershop. I'll relate that soon and link it to here.

The downtown area was all but dried up. Just one lone skateboarder (no one to run him off) a bunch of boarded up buildings, a information booth in the form of a caboose and a town square with over 4400 American flags planted to honor or dead in Iraq. Stopped for some reason long forgotten... probably to honor the dead.

The skater kid comes over to admire the motorcycle.  That still happens in backroads of America. Strangers are still approachable.  I stuck me that Downtown Wellsville had probably dried up because of Wal Mart.  So I asked the kid,  "is there was a Wal Mart in town"?  Sure the kid says, "over in Mexico" ((18 miles away).... suspicion confirmed.  I had been running into this in town after town. Reminder to self... take pictures of the kids.  All the pictures from this trip are available here

Now, do we blame Wal Mart or ourselves or was it just all inevitable?  Hard to say... perhaps "Pay less, Live better" works.  I admit I have been in Wal Mart a few times.  But I would rather find those hard to find eye drops in a Mom in Pop Drugstore that was right behind that motorcycle pictured above.  Or get a battery at the Farm Equipment store.  That used to be the way of things. Life was slower, better and more personal.

How can you not like this guy? Would his store exist today?
It's Maggie's Uncle Harold.  She has fond memories of his Drugstore and Soda fountain in Detroit and the penny candy and Grape Nehi... America's Still out there

An interesting article posted today - click here

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Last Run - the bicycle run

Well, it's over... I'll never run a train again. And it is really rare to get an all daylight trip. I was called for a grain empty. It's a fun train because it was powered up by 3-4400hp GE's. Some railfans pulled into the abandoned crossing at the west end of Bozeman. They had been listening to the scanner and picked up on the radio traffic that this was my last run. Paul talked to them and gave them my name. They found me out and sent the pics to Yahoo Groups for me. Nice.

More pictures are here

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Some April Fool

Plannin last trip will be APR 4

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

39 left - They reset my clock again when I was not at home

See related post

They reset my clock again when I was not at home - I missed out on 48 hours rest because our call time was 2'45" after midnight... stupid and not the intent of the law.

Mrs. T wants my to lay off... I'm pretty wore out

Over 126 hours in 20 days so far this month... be glad I am not your Airline pilot.

Here is my work schedule

2012/03/01 1230 2012/03/01 1600 DEADHEAD LAUREL POOL
2012/03/02 0620 2012/03/02 1805 LA06
Job: LA06 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: MMISLAU102
2012/03/03 2130 2012/03/04 0800 LA06
Job: LA06 01 From LAURMT To HELEMT Train: GWOLINB901
2012/03/04 2130 2012/03/05 0625 LA06
Job: LA06 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: XTACWOL902
2012/03/06 0545 2012/03/06 1700 LA06
Job: LA06 01 From LAURMT To HELEMT Train: CEBMSPB042
2012/03/07 0745 2012/03/07 1105 DEADHEAD LAUREL POOL
2012/03/09 0115 2012/03/09 0835 LA06
Job: LA06 01 From LAURMT To HELEMT Train: MLAUSPO408
2012/03/10 0610 2012/03/10 1345 LA06
Job: LA06 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: ERBESCM032
2012/03/11 2100 2012/03/12 0025 DEADHEAD LAUREL POOL
2012/03/12 2200 2012/03/13 0600 LA06
Job: LA06 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: ERBESXM038
2012/03/14 0400 2012/03/14 1335 LA06
Job: LA06 01 From LAURMT To HELEMT Train: CEBMSPB046
2012/03/15 0630 2012/03/15 0810 DOGCATCH LAUREL POOL
2012/03/15 0810 2012/03/15 1140 DEADHEAD LAUREL POOL
2012/03/16 0945 2012/03/16 2010 LA06
Job: LA06 01 From LAURMT To HELEMT Train: MLAUPAS315
2012/03/17 1300 2012/03/17 2030 LA06
Job: LA06 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: MMISLAU116
2012/03/18 2005 2012/03/19 0510 LA06
Job: LA06 01 From LAURMT To HELEMT Train: CBTMNWE020
2012/03/20 0245 2012/03/20 1205 LA06
Job: LA06 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: BPTLBIL117

Monday, March 12, 2012

49 left - Told you so

If you don't want to listen to me gripe then now would be a good time to click the back button.

I scolded the crew office for waiting until dark to deadhead us.

Deadheading in the van is the most dangerous thing we do and doing it at night is even worse.

It isn't the crew office fault. It is the dispatchers office. I told them that too as way of apology. Then thanked 'em for listening to me rant.

I spent 2 years on the safety committee trying to get this concept hammered home.
Little did I realize I was banging my head against the wall.
Actually, that isn't true. I knew it from the get go.

It was just dumb to deadhead us at night on all fronts. Now I am in Helena waiting 'til it gets dark to run the train home.

Told 'em so. Wished I hadn't.

P.S. Riding a motorcycle is inherently risky... I NEVER ride at night

Now for a political comment.

I saw this quote and changed it slightly so that it exactly reflects what I was thinking.

You really could not make up how ridiculous the republican primary season and the debates have been. The amazing thing is how anyone could watch this and still be willing to vote for one of the participants.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

71 - Uuugggh, will he make it?

I'll attempt to update with photos when I get to Helena... been busy at the RR

2012/02/03 0500 2012/02/03 1515 LA25
Job: LA25 01 From LAURMT To HELEMT Train: GWOLINB928
2012/02/04 0415 2012/02/04 1645 LA25
Job: LA25 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: MSPOLAU403
2012/02/05 1600 2012/02/06 0040 LA25
Job: LA25 01 From LAURMT To HELEMT Train: HKCKPAS903
2012/02/06 1845 2012/02/07 0215 LA25
Job: LA25 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: ESPBEBM020
2012/02/09 0030 2012/02/09 0645 LA25
Job: LA25 01 From LAURMT To HELEMT Train: SKCKTAC306
2012/02/10 0455 2012/02/10 1305 LA25
Job: LA25 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: HPASKCK908
2012/02/11 1945 2012/02/12 0640 LA25
Job: LA25 01 From LAURMT To HELEMT Train: CSXMRBE023
2012/02/12 2230 2012/02/13 0810 LA25
Job: LA25 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: ERBESCM019
2012/02/16 1230 2012/02/17 0025 LA06
Job: LA06 01 From LAURMT To HELEMT Train: MLAUMIS116
2012/02/17 1845 2012/02/18 0200 LA06
Job: LA06 01 From HELEMT To LAURMT Train: ENWEBTM004

Sunday, February 12, 2012

78 left - the week flew by

If this last week is any indication, these next 78 days are going to be gone before I know it. I talked to the RRR board. Need some paperwork and I'm otta here. Looks like I'll make about $200 per month more than I estimated. No need to hang around and run the train.

Had a 6'15" trip on a stack train then a good trip home on a PASKCK

Caught a Coal train up and did about as well as you can... superb power and helpers were waiting.

Have some pics to post later.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

85 left - Holiday Pay

Super Bowl Sunday has such a Holiday feel. I should get holiday pay.
Game starts at 4pm... I'm on the lineup for 345pm KCKPAS

Called for 1600 - straight shot except helpers on rear at Livingston and off at Bozeman.

Tied up at 0040... not bad

Picture to follow... I took one with my phone after off duty, then left the phone at the depot.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

86 - Got get used to that again

Didn't sleep well in Helena.. gotta get used to that again after not working for 6 weeks.
Called for 0415... should have been called for 0600. So, little sleep for no good reason. Gotta get used to that again.
The train ahead did not have as good as power as us and yet did not need helpers. We were right on their block but they went down to Townsend for a train that we waited at Winston for. Gotta get used to that kind of dispatching again.
We had 7700 tons so could not solo Bozeman Pass. 400 tons over the guideline which is nothing.
Waited 3 1/2 hours in Bozeman for Helpers.
Died at Craver.. crew van home... 13 hours on duty. Gotta get used to that.
No chance for off duty photo of train.

Friday, February 3, 2012

87 to go - Mickey Mantle

Mickey Mantle said he would have played for free.

Like Mickey, I would run the train for free.

The RR however will have to pay me for my inconvience.

Lineup was 2330 then 0200 then 0400. I was called for 0500 which means the phone rang at 0300.

Power on the grain train but we kicked out 2 bad orders.

Good trip once under way. The lead unit did not load under 13 mph. that makes it hard to start the train with just the DP on the rear and 1 unit working up front. Some issue with the governor also made the unit smoke badly.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

No more vacation / less than 90 days

I am marked up... LA25-01... turn is out of town I should work THURS... with a little luck.. steal the Stack Train from Jack!

We don't often get to do this in JAN in Montana. Nice to get out and ride... no traffic at all.