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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

At long last...

Picture this scene... it's a weekday morning in a bicycle shop in one of the northern suburbs of Dallas-Fort Worth. In the "work space" behind the cash registers, three employees -- all male, ranging from late 20s to mid 30s -- are hard at work, assembling new bikes and repairing old ones. A steady stream of "Texas music" blares from the speakers of a small radio.

"Is that Wayne the Train?", one of the guys asks.

"No, it's Hank the Third," another responds.

"Tri-cephus", a third guy announces -- a play on the "Bocephus" nickname by which Hank Williams, Jr. is known.

A short time later, as I browse through the store, the radio does play a "Wayne the Train" (Wayne Hancock) song. I wonder to myself what station they're listening to... probably a satellite station. I only know of one local station that plays this kind of music, and I'm not hearing the booming voices of its on-air personalities between every two songs.

Twenty minutes later, as bike salesman / mechanic Rodney makes some final adjustments to the bike that I'm purchasing, Charlie Robison's "Loving County" is on the air. After every verse, the three guys behind the counter -- in the midst of installing pedals and fine-tuning rear derailleurs -- belt out the chorus in unison... "her diamond... how it sparkled... in the lights... of Loving County..."

It was a scene that made me proud to be a Texan -- and made me realize I had more in common with those bike "gearheads" than I thought I had! I don't really know that many folks who can really appreciate a good Charlie Robison song...

Whiskey's new bike
Whiskey's new bike.
October 11, 2005.

The reason for my being at the bike shop that morning -- the new bike I was purchasing -- is perhaps the biggest reason my blog reports have slowed down. At some point this summer, I reached the conclusion that my mountain bike was no longer appropriate for the type of riding I was doing -- mostly street and highway riding (in particular, locations in Watauga, Keller, and Roanoke where I can observe trains on the UP Choctaw Subdivision while I ride.)

So after several visits to various bike retailers and numerous "test rides", I settled on a Trek Pilot 1.0, the first one of which the guys at this bike shop had sold or even seen. It's basically the 2006 version of the 1000-C ("C" for "comfort", meaning the frame and handlebars have a slightly relaxed design, geared more toward a comfortable ride than those hunker-down-and-haul-a$$ racing bikes. It was exactly what I was looking for.

Since making my purchase, I've been riding four to five times a week, distances ranging from 10 to 30 miles. A 10-mile ride on my mountain bike was no big deal; a 30-mile ride on it would have been a little impractical. The new bike is ideal for the kind of riding I'm doing. And I'm hoping to work up to some longer distances -- maybe as much as 50 or 60 miles -- by the end of the year. It's great exercise, I love being outdoors, and I've been seeing plenty of trains on my rides. It looks like I've discovered the joys of road cycling.

* * *

Here are my train sightings from the past 30 days or so....

Saturday 09/10 - Keller and Saginaw, TX

M and I were over in Keller for a little while on Saturday morning working on a "top secret" project... in the middle of our work, we caught a northbound on the Choctaw Sub:

1) 1130 - UP n/b WFWDNB-09 (empty ballast) at Keller, TX (E-unit display)
UP 9139 (C40-8)
UP 9333 (C40-8)
34 cars

The train pulled up next to the e-unit and stopped for a red signal... (most trains would hold back at North Tarrant to stay off crossings but this one was short enough to fit between Golden Triangle and Bear Creek Parkway.) It was still there when we left around 11:50.

Later in the afternoon, I stopped by Saginaw on my way to work. I noticed a sulfur train stopped underneath the 820 overpass, so I headed down to the south end to OS his power. These trains almost always run DP 2x1... I expected to find the usual two unit head-end consist of a "Dash-9 plus whatever-kind-of-junk-power-we-can-find-that's-bigger-than-an-SD40", and this train was no exception:

2) 14:10 - BNSF s/b G BNVGAT4 06 at Saginaw Yard - BNSF Ft Worth Sub:
BNSF 4526 (C44-9W, H2)
NREX 5470 (SD50, ex-Conrail blue)
BNSF 5489 (C44-9W, H2) - DP
67 cars

Tuesday, 09/13 - Halstead empties and loads

M and I were on our way to school on Tuesday morning... we saw the headlight of a northbound approaching the Kroger crossing, so we set up for him in downtown Keller:

1) 0840 - UP n/b CHSCD on UP Choctaw Sub, Keller E-unit:
UP 6590 (AC4400CW)
SP 239 (AC4400CW)
UP 6787 (AC4400CW) - DP
130 rotary gons - FPPX / LCRX / MCHX / UP

Later, I was on my way home from the bike shop when I caught a southbound:

2) +/- 1225 - UP s/b CROHS on UP Choctaw Sub, Bear Creek Pkwy xing in Keller:
UP 7093 (AC4400CW)
UP 8051 (SD9043MAC)
UP 6459 (AC4400CW) - DP
126 rotary gons - FPPX / LCRX / EDGX

Wed. 09/14 - UP Choctaw Sub

I took a bike ride from Keller to Roanoke on Wednesday. Before I left Keller, a northbound arrived:

1) 09:19 - UP n/b MHOKC-12 at Keller, TX (e-unit display)
UP 5075 (SD70M)
UP 2829 (SD40T-2 * externally, an SD45T-2)
69 cars mixed freight

I rode north on US 377 and caught up to him at Roanoke, where he met a southbound:

2) 09:50 - UP s/b CROHS9 at Roanoke:
UP 7245 (AC4400CW)
UP 6435 (AC4400CW)
UP 6775 (AC4400CW) - DP
134 cars - FPPX, LCRX, MCHX UP rotary gons & 1 CTRN hopper

After MHOKC cleared, the load sat still for a few minutes and then headed south. MHOKC stayed at Roanoke, presumably to meet another southbound. I didn't see anything else on my way back to Keller.

Later on, after a trip to the bike shop (described above), I caught a southbound on my way home.

3) 12:50 - UP s/b MKCEW-13 crossing North Tarrant Parkway in Keller / Watauga:
UP 4015 (SD70M)
UP 5008 (SD70M)
31 cars mixed freight

09/17 through 09/19 - Saginaw Saturday, Roanoke Sunday, Keller Monday

On Saturday, I had a few extra minutes on my way to work and stopped through Saginaw to see what was around:

1) 1400 - BNSF s/b H KCKTPL1 15 on BNSF Ft Worth Sub, stopped at south end of Saginaw yard:
BNSF 6760 (SD40-2, ATSF blue/yellow)
FURX 8110 (SD40-2, ex-BN green)
mixed freight, unknown car count

2) 1403 - BNSF s/b D ALTBRD1 17 (light engs from Alliance to Birds), on BNSF Ft Worth Sub, stopped in the north pass just clear of the Saginaw Interlocker:
BNSF 6470 (SD45-2, ATSF blue/yellow)
BNSF 6465 (SD45-2, ATSF blue/yellow)
0 cars

3) 1405 - BNSF e/b GGDNGAT9 11, tied down on BNSF Wichita Falls Sub at Saginaw Interlocker:
BNSF 4670 (C44-9W, H2)
BNSF 4863 (C44-9W, H2)
BNSF 1115 (C44-9W, H1)
BNSF 4574 (C44-9W, H2)
110 cars

Sunday morning, I rode my new bike to Roanoke and caught a southbound stopped at the south end:

1) 0930 - UP s/b GSGIEG-15 on UP Choctaw Sub, stopped at south Roanoke:
UP 5948 (AC4400-CTE)
FXE 3167 (SD40-2) - "Ferromex" red, white and green
FXE 3134 (SD40-2) - "Ferromex" red, white and green
CSXT 7806 (C40-8W)
101 cars

Monday afternoon, M and I were on a bike ride in Keller and caught the following:

1) 12:35 - UP n/b RBURKC on UP Choctaw Sub at Kroger Dr. in Keller:
UP 7575 (AC6000CW)
LTEX 8318 (SD40T-2 in solid black)
UP 3449 (SD40-2)
39 cars

Tuesday 09/20 - UP Choctaw Sub

We were on our way to take M to school, but had to stop at Walgreen's in Keller / Watauga first. On our way out of Walgreen's...

1) 0835 - UP s/b MKCEW-17 crossing North Tarrant Parkway in Keller / Watauga:
UP 9123 (C40-8)
UP 4721 (SD70M)
83 cars mixed freight

Later, during a bike ride to Roanoke:

2) 1020 - UP s/b MNPEW-18 leaving south end of Roanoke siding:
UP 3808 (SD70M)
UP 9103 (C40-8)
UP 7884 (SD40-2, non-dynamic)
UP 1850 (B40-8)
96 cars mixed freight

Later on, I caught a couple more moves during my lunch hour:

3) 13:20 - UP s/b GSHALD-17 crossing Kroger Dr. in Keller:
UP 6873 (AC4400CW)
UP 8241 (SD9043MAC)
UP 6012 (AC4400-CTE)
UP 6287 (AC4400CW - ex-SP "patched")
97 cars

4) 1420 - UP n/b MHOKC-17 passing Walgreen's near North Tarrant Parkway in Watauga:
UP 9551 (C40-8W)
UP 5024 (SD70M)
CN 5777 (SD75I)
CN 5254 (SD40-2W)
70 cars mixed freight

Wednesday, 09/21 - UP Choctaw Sub

Caught three Choctaw trains on Wednesday morning...

1) 0935 - UP s/b GSTHLD in Watauga near the Basswood crossing:
UP 7006 (AC4400CW)
UP 8112 (SD9043MAC)
UP 6379 (AC4400CW - ex-SP "patched")
99 cars

A northbound MHONP was waiting for the grain loads at Hodge, and he was next through Watauga, with five units...

2) 1015 - UP n/b MHONP in Watauga near the Western Center crossing:
UP 5684 (AC4400-CTE)
UP 6723 (AC4400CW - ex-CNW "patched")
UP 7315 (AC4400CW)
UP 6539 (AC4400CW - no UP lettering on engineer's side of the long hood)
UP 5378 (ES44AC)
82 cars

I parked at Keller and did a bike ride north through Roanoke almost to Argyle (turned around just north of the 1171 crossing) and back. Only one train sighting, recorded as I headed north....

3) 1045 - UP s/b MMUFW at south end of Roanoke:
UP 5864 (AC4400-CTE)
UP 4163 (SD70M)
UP 1979 (GP60)
73 cars

When I got back to Keller, the UP 1979 had been set out outside the gate to the old lumber spur (the lumber yard has been closed for at least a year). It was idling, and was still there at 1415 after I picked up M at school.

Saturday 09/24 - UP Choctaw Sub

I took a bike ride to Roanoke on Saturday morning... winds very gusty from the northeast (very unusual, one of the results of Hurricane Rita making landfall down on the gulf coast)... oh well, it made the southbound "return" leg of my ride very easy!

I caught two southbounds on the Choctaw Sub during my ride...

1) 1000 - UP s/b AAMMQ-22 crossing Bear Creek Parkway in Keller:
CSXT 7524 (C40-8)
GCFX 3096 (SD40)
48 cars

2) 1020 - UP s/b MMUFW-23 south of the south switch at Roanoke:
UP 4909 (SD70M)
UP 4481 (SD70M)
FURX 7929 (SD40-2, ex-BN green)
UP 3668 (SD40-2)
EMDX 6301 (SD40-2)
120 cars

Monday 09/26 - north Texas

Various sightings from north Texas on Monday, Sept 26...

On our way to take M to school, we caught a southbound coal load:

1) 0855 - UP w/b CCDSA9-21 on UP Choctaw Sub, Keller, TX
UP 6865 (AC4400CW)
UP 6737 (AC4400CW)
UP 5593 (ES44AC) - DP
132 SATX rotary gons

After I got home, I set out on a 30-mile bike ride, from home to a spot about 5 miles south of Argyle and back. The UP rewarded my efforts with three southbounds:

2) 1020 - UP s/b CROHS9-19 on UP Choctaw Sub at Roanoke:
UP 5556 (ES44AC)
UP 6675 (AC4400CW)
UP 7047 (AC4400CW)
UP 5933 (AC4400-CTE) - DP
135 cars - FPPX / LCRX rotary gons

3) 1035 - UP s/b MDNMXX-21 on UP Choctaw Sub north of Roanoke:
UP 3868 (SD70M)
UP 2829 (SD40T-2 * externally, an SD45T-2)
UP 4995 (SD70M)
CSXT 7790 (C40-8W)
102 cars mixed freight

I turned around near the 1171 crossing and rode back south. As I arrived back in Roanoke, the head end of a southbound caught up to me, but then stopped at the south end of Roanoke:

4) 1120 - s/b MNPEW-24 on UP Choctaw Sub at Roanoke
UP 4958 (SD70M)
UP 3459 (SD40-2 "snoot" - Operation Lifesaver)
UP 3395 (SD40-2 "snoot" - We Will Deliver)
mixed freight, unknown car count

Late in the afternoon, M and I went out to look for a few trains. M promptly fell asleep, and missed our first train:

5) 1721 - BNSF s/b Q ALTLAC3 26 on BNSF Ft Worth Sub, leaving Alliance yard:
BNSF 4651 (C44-9W, H2)
BNSF 540 (B40-8W, H2)

Q ALTLAC departs Alliance
Q ALTLAC3 26 departs Alliance, TX on the BNSF Ft Worth Subdivision.
September 26, 2005.

M woke up for the next train, the northbound Heartland Flyer:

6) 1802 - AMTK n/b 822 on BNSF Ft Worth Sub (old main) north of Haslet:
AMTK 90229 (Cabbage)
3 cars

After that, we had to get back home... so we didn't end up seeing much, but it was two more trains than we'd have seen if we'd stayed home.

Tuesday 09/27 - UP Choctaw Sub

Tuesday's bike ride along the UP Choctaw Sub (Keller to Argyle and return, approx. 26 miles) resulted in the following sightings:

1) 0925 - UP n/b GECCOS-25 grain empties at Keller, TX - e-unit display:
UP 9508 (C40-8W)
UP 9484 (C40-8W)
100 cars

2) 0940 - UP s/b MKCEW-21 leaving south end of Roanoke:
UP 3931 (SD70M)
UP 4647 (SD70M)
GECX 8635 (SD40T-2 - former UP, still with full UP lettering)
114 cars mixed freight

Wed. 09/28 - CN power at Justin; Keller lunch hour

Took a bike ride from Haslet to Justin today (round trip approx 20 miles. Note to self: do not attempt again... no shoulders on Hwy 156 for about the first 4-5 miles north of Haslet) At Justin I caught a southbound:

1) 0955 - BNSF s/b M NEWFTW1 27 on BNSF Ft Worth Sub at Justin:
CN 5515 (SD60F)
CN 5375 (SD40-2)
49 cars mixed freight

Later, seen during my lunch hour in Keller...

2) 1320 - UP s/b CCAHP9-24 on UP Choctaw Sub, crossing Kroger Dr. in Keller
UP 7245 (AC4400CW)
UP 8004 (SD9043MAC)
UP 7214 (AC4400CW) - DP
134 cars - one CTRN rotary hopper and 133 CMO rotary gons

Saturday 10/01 - Watauga TX

Seen during a bike ride to Watauga...

1) 10:33 - UP s/b RRKBUC on UP Choctaw Sub near QT in Watauga, TX:
UP 7512 (AC6000CW) - long hood forward
UP 7559 (AC6000CW)
40 cars

Sunday 10/02 - trains vs. Cowboys football

... or, "shoulda gone sooner".

I was considering dusting off the camera and heading out to shoot a few pics on Sunday afternoon / evening. But dispatcher Matt was over and we had the Dallas-Oakland game on, and the Cowboys were hanging in there with the hated Raiders, trailing by just 7 at halftime. As Dallas made a late fourth quarter drive for a game-tying touchdown, I began to think we'd made the right decision. But the Raiders shut 'em down, and when the clock ran out with the Cowboys on the wrong end of a 19-13 final, we decided to try our luck with the last remaining hour of daylight over on the BNSF Ft Worth Sub. M fell asleep 10 minutes into the trip, and by the time we got to the tracks in Haslet, the sun was dropping behind clouds. But we decided to tough it out, and actually caught a few trains...

Our first stop was the south end of Alliance Yard, to catch the 109 job heading south...

1) 1902 - BNSF s/b Y FTW1091 02 - crossing Avondale-Haslet Rd, south end of Alliance Yard:
BNSF 2227 (GP38 - ATSF blue/yellow)
BNSF 2200 (GP38 - ATSF blue/yellow)
BNSF 2841 (GP39-2, H1)
BNSF 2223 (GP38 - ATSF blue/yellow)
82 cars mixed freight

We knew of a northbound stopped at Ponder, waiting to meet a southbound Z, so we headed that way. En route, we found a UP train dead at Justin:

2) 1915 - UP s/b AAMWF-01 tied down at Justin, TX:
UP 2290 (SD60M)
UP 9433 (C40-8W)
40 cars

Next, at Ponder, we found the northbound coupling crossings as the southbound Z approached:

3) 1927 - BNSF n/b M TPLTUL1 01 at Ponder
BNSF 9214 (SD60M - BN green)
MRL 256 (SD40)
FURX 7271 (SD40-2, ex-BN green)
107 cars mixed freight

4) 1928 - BNSF s/b Z WSPALT3 01 at Ponder
BNSF 839 (C40-8W)
NS 8906 (C40-9W)
FURX 8092 (SD40-2, ex-BN green)

M TPLTUL leaves Ponder
M TPLTUL1 01 departs Ponder after meeting the Z WSPALT.
BNSF Ft Worth Subdivision. October 2, 2005.

It wasn't really much (although it was 4 more than we would have seen if we'd stayed home). Since we were too late for daylight photos, we got the tripods out and made some interesting low-light shots. Well, one of us did, anyway... I think dispatcher Matt's only shot was of M asleep in the back seat. Maybe next time we'll do better.

Tuesday 10/04 - UP Choctaw Sub

I had an unexpected day off from work on Tuesday... my "UP 1988 radar" was activated (UP's Katy-painted "heritage unit" was reportedly en route to Fort Worth from Muskogee, OK) but I came up empty. Anyway, in the course of my day away from the office, I observed two trains on the Choctaw Sub:

1) +/- 1420 - UP s/b MKCFW-02 crossing FM-1171 south of Argyle, TX:
UP 4353 (SD70M)
UP 4211 (SD70M)
55 cars mixed freight

2) +/- 1435 - UP n/b MFWMU-03 stopped at Roanoke TX:
UP 9554 (C40-8W)
UP 9400 (C40-8W)
59 cars mixed freight

Wed 10/05 - Canadian invasion on the UP Choctaw Sub

Crazy power on the UP Choctaw Sub on Wednesday... here are two that L and I saw ...

1) 1055 - UP s/b AAMMLB-03 auto racks at Kroger crossing in Keller TX:
CSXT 421 (AC4400CW)
CN 5254 (SD40-2W)
58 cars

2) 1210 - UP n/b MFWMU-04 mixed freight, passing Half Price Books in Watauga
CN 2430 (C40-8M - full "cowl" carbody)*
CN 2588 (C44-9W)
78 cars mixed freight
* The unhappy engineer of this train had the front door propped open and the windows open to try to generate a breeze through the cab... these un-air-conditioned locomotives are known to get notoriously HOT!

Friday 10/07 - lunch hour in Keller / Watauga

The kids and I saw two Choctaw Sub trains on our lunch hour today...

1) 1315 - UP n/b CHPJR9 coal empties crossing North Tarrant Parkway in Keller / Watauga:
UP 5908 (AC4400-CTE)
UP 7321 (AC4400CW)
UP 6294 (AC4400CW - former SP "patched")
134 cars - HIPX & CEFX rotary gons and 1 CTRN rotary hopper

2) 1335 - n/b MFWKC-06 passing Chic-fil-A in Watauga:
UP 4479 (SD70M)
UP 9213 (C40-8)
48 cars mixed freight

Saturday 10/08 - Fort Worth

On Saturday morning, the kids joined me for a quick trip to downtown Ft Worth for a glimpse of the MP-painted UP 1982, which was in town for the MPHS convention. Indeed, a "glimpse" was all we got, but we also observed a handful of other interesting trains.

1) 1045 - UP s/b MNPEW stopped on the Choctaw Sub at 17th St yard, north of Tower 55:
UP 4521 (SD70M)
UP 2001 (SD70M - Olympic Torch Relay)
UP 9213 (C40-8)
GSCX 7352 (SD40-2, blue and white)
mixed freight, unknown car count

2) 1045 - UP s/b YMY-80, stopped on BNSF Wichita Falls Sub north of Tower 55
SSW 9669 (GP60)
UP 777 (GP38-2)
UP 1423 (GP40-2)
UP 2076 (GP60)
UP 2007 (GP60)
SSW 9652 (GP60)
unknown car count

3) 1045 - BNSF s/b G EDUGAT9 04 stopped on BNSF Ft Worth Sub north of Tower 55
4943 (C44-9W, H2)
NS 8662 (C39-8)
BNSF 844 (C40-8W, scuzzy warbonnet)
unknown car count

Also on hand:

4) 1045 - various power parked near old Ft Worth Union Station

AMTK 90229 "Cabbage"

UP 1982 (SD70ACe - MP heritage unit)

While we were observing all of the above, a TRE westbound showed up:

5) 1050 - TRE w/b between ITC and T&P depot
TRE 568 (F59PH)
4 cars

variety in downtown Fort Worth
Variety in downtown Fort Worth: October 8, 2005.

And a few minutes later, a northbound BNSF...

6) 1055 - BNSF n/b M TPLTUL1 06 - from BNSF Ft Worth Sub to UP Choctaw Sub at Tower 55
BNSF 8062 (SD40-2, BN green)
BNSF 6120 (SD9, BN green)
NS 9573 (C40-9W)
NS 9568 (C40-9W)
NREX 234 (SD40, ex-QNSL gray)
mixed freight, unknown car count

We didn't have time to stick around and find out, but all signs seemed to indicate that the TPLTUL was going to run via the Choctaw from Ft Worth to Denison. And late in my shift at the NOC (2nd shift Saturday) this very train departed Madill and entered my territory at Mill Creek for the run to Tulsa. Hmmm, I said... I recognize that train...

Sunday 10/09 - nice day in North Texas

Sunday was such a nice day (clear skies, comfortable temps) here in north Texas that dispatcher Matt and I went out on the Wichita Falls Sub not once -- but twice! Here's the report...

We left Ft Worth around 0700. An eastbound intermodal train was in the siding at Avondale, but we kept going... at Herman, a westbound M ALTAMA was in the siding to let a westbound Z around. We set up for a sunrise shot of the Z near the east switch at Decatur siding...

1) 0754 - BNSF w/b Z ALTSBD9 09 east of Decatur on BNSF Wichita Falls Sub
BNSF 7657 (ES44DC, H2)
NS 9842 (C40-9W)
BNSF 880 (C40-8W, warbonnet)

2) 0805 - BNSF w/b M ALTAMA1 08 west of Herman on BNSF Wichita Falls Sub
BNSF 4748 (C44-9W, H2)
BNSF 4519 (C44-9W, H2)
61 cars mixed freight

We decided to continue west, so we got ahead of the ALTAMA and headed for Fruitland. An eastbound was in the siding with crossings cut:

3) 0905 - BNSF e/b M BARALT1 04 at Fruitland:
BNSF 8730 (GP60, ATSF blue/yellow)
BNSF 8044 (SD40-2, BN green)
71 cars mixed freight

After the ALTAMA cleared, the BARALT coupled the crossings (with assistance from a crew limo, which greatly expedited the process). Then he was on the move, and our chase was on. He got a straight shot the rest of the way in, and we got him at Alvord, Herman, Rhome, and CP 11 in Saginaw.

M BARALT at Herman
BNSF eastbound M BARALT1 04 at Herman, TX
on the BNSF Wichita Falls Sub.

On our way back to town, we stopped at the Trinity plant near Hicks for a few shots of one of Trinity's switchers.

4) 1024 - Trinity Industries switcher at Hicks:
center-cab # 13

On the BNSF Wichita Falls Sub in Saginaw, a UP coal load was tied down north of the interlocker:

5) 1040 - UP e/b CWELHG tied down on BNSF Wichita Falls Sub, Saginaw Interlocking
UP 7136 (AC4400CW)
UP 6611 (AC4400CW)
FXE 3152 (SD40-2 - FerroMex)
UP 6567 (AC4400CW) - DP
97 cars - UP, MP, DRGW, CNW, CTRN

Then we headed by BNSF Saginaw Yard, where we found a coal empty with new power:

6) 1045 - BNSF n/b E SLPBKM1 70 on BNSF Ft Worth Sub, BNSF Saginaw Yard:
BNSF 5802 (ES44AC, H3 / "power bar")
BNSF 9405 (SD70MAC, H2)
BNSF 5801 (ES44AC, H3 / "power bar") - DP
unknown car count

After that, we broke for lunch, Whiskey's "Honey-do" time, etc., and a trip to the park with the kids. At about 1530, we re-convened. As tempting as it was to stay home and watch the Dallas Cowboys, who had jumped out to an early lead which I was sure they would blow, the weather was just too nice to stay inside. So we loaded up our cameras (and M) and hit the road -- back to the Wichita Falls Sub -- around 1600. Two westbounds were meeting an eastbound at Avondale, but we kept going... at Alvord, the helper was coupling onto the rear of an eastbound coal load. We stuck around to see the helper return...

7) +/- 1745 - BNSF w/b K AVTAVT1 09 (Alvord helper)
BNSF 7824 (SD40-2, BN green)
0 cars

After that, we relocated just west of town to set up for two eastbounds coming to Alvord to meet our first westbound, which had been at Herman to meet the eastbound load.

8) 1810 - BNSF e/b Q LACAUG6 06 west of Alvord:
BNSF 4128 (C44-9W, H2)
BNSF 4865 (C44-9W, H2)

9) 1828- BNSF e/b Q CLOALT3 08 west of Alvord:
BNSF 4850 (C44-9W, H2)
BNSF 4855 (C44-9W, H2)

10) 1837 - BNSF w/b Q ALTSBD3 09 west of Alvord:
BNSF 4543 (C44-9W, H2)
BNSF 4647 (C44-9W, H2)

Q ALTSBD west of Alvord
BNSF westbound Q ALTSBD3 09 leaves Alvord, TX.
BNSF Wichita Falls Sub. October 9, 2005.

We decided to chase the westbound toward Fruitland. We ended up losing our light, but not before dispatcher Matt attempted a few "pan" shots as we paced the train along Hwy 287. Then we turned around and headed back . West of Herman, we spotted a coal empty:

11) +/- 1915 - BNSF w/b E SLPRWM0 08 west of Herman
BNSF 9995 (SD70MAC, H2)
BNSF 5773 (ES44AC - H3 / "power bar")
BNSF 9649 (SD70MAC - Grinstein) - DP
128 cars - mostly UFIX with a few BN / BNSF / HZGX / COEH / CEFX

The dispatcher was talking about taking the empty to Fruitland, where they would have to cut crossings to meet three eastbounds. At Herman, we found the Q CLOALT3 08 stopped in the siding. As we passed Avondale, we noticed a westbound stack train on the move. It was another busy day on the Wichita Falls Sub, and a great day to be out "getting the shot".

Monday 10/10 - UP Choctaw Sub

M and I took a bike ride to downtown Keller on Monday morning and caught a southbound on the Choctaw Sub:

1) 11:50 - UP s/b AAMMQ-08 crossing Bear Creek Parkway in Keller:
UP 9448 (C40-8W)
UP 8268 (SD9043MAC)
30 cars

Tuesday 10/11 - Saginaw and Ft. Worth

I decided to do a bike ride on the Trinity River trails in Ft Worth on Tuesday morning. On my way down to the trailhead at Northside Dr., I stopped by Saginaw and found three southbounds:

1) 1040 - BNSF s/b M KCKGAT4 09 stopped in the north pass at Saginaw, BNSF Saginaw Yard:
BNSF 4477 (C44-9W, H2)
BNSF 6935 (SD40-2, ATSF blue / yellow)
mixed freight, unknown car count

2) 1040 - BNSF s/b H KCKTPL1 09 stopped on the Ft Worth Sub main at Saginaw:
CN 5765 (SD75I)
CN 2589 (C44-9W)
BNSF 7811 (SD40-2, BN green)
103 cars mixed freight

3) 1040 - BNSF s/b C CAMSLP1 55 stopped in the south pass at Saginaw, BNSF Saginaw Yard:
BNSF 5654 (AC4400CW - H2)
BN 9525 (SD70MAC, Grinstein)
BNSF 9942 (SD70MAC - H2) - DP
128 UFIX rotary gons

As I rode through Trinity Park, I caught a glimpse of the UP 1982 (MoPac), so I made a short detour to Centennial to investigate.

4) 1140 - UP Centennial Yard service tracks
UP 1982 (SD70ACe, MP "heritage")

Only the 1982's cab was visible from Rogers Road ... other power blocked my view of the 1982's rear, which I assumed was coupled to the Katy 1988. Randy Railfan called later to report that the Heritage power had left the service tracks and was headed to the MFWWT's outbound train. By the time I received his call, I was up at the Trinity River bridges north of Northside Dr., where three trains passed in quick succession...

5) 1230 - FWWR n/b departing Peach Yard:
FWWR 103 (GP7, ex-South Orient blue)
NREX 2163 (GP38-2, gray)
mixed freight - unknown car count

6) 1240 - UP n/b RNYDC deparing Peach Yard:
UP 1928 (GP60)
UP 1971 (GP60)
mixed freight, unknown car count

The CN-powered H KCKTPL (train # 2 listed above) crossed the Trinity bridge on the Ft Worth Sub just as the RNYDC started across on the UP. After those, it was time to head home.

* * *

Playing "God" with music

Have you ever heard such a beautiful voice that you wish it was your own? 11 years ago, I discovered Hope Sandoval, the female lead singer of the alternative rock group Mazzy Star. I don't even know how to go about describing her sound... a combination of elegiac, sedated and delicate... -- yet hauntingly seductive -- and she has a unique way of extending the transition between two distinct notes. She might be best-known for her half of the vocals in the Jesus & Mary Chain song "Sometimes Always" in which she appeared in 1994. But her work on Mazzy Star's albums (She Hangs Brightly, So Tonight that I Might See, Among my Swan, and b-sides to the singles released from these albums) is nothing short of amazing.

But I got to thinking of the kind of stuff I could do if I had control of THAT VOICE... sometimes I hear a song and I think how awesome it would sound with Hope doing the vocals. I guess producer Rick Rubin's reality (the kind of stuff he had Johnny Cash doing, like covering songs by Bob Marley and Soundgarden and Nine Inch Nails) is my fantasy... what I wouldn't give to hear Hope sing James McMurtry's "Red Dress", Loretta Lynn's "This Old House", or, what the hell, even some Cash: "Don't Take Your Guns to Town". The kind of work I imagine her doing on these songs -- all of which are perfectly suited for her style -- would make me fall in love with her voice all over again. How about covering Slaid Cleaves' "My drinking days are over"? ...

I didn't know that other guy was a cop... I guess I didn't care
Sometimes you gotta act like you got a pair

Oops... well, maybe not that one then... not exactly appropriate for a female lead. But, man oh man, while other guys fantasize about doing God knows what with Britney Spears or Jessica Simpson, I fantasize about sitting in on a Hope Sandoval recording session, listening to her renditions of some of my favorite songs. Come to think of it, re-inventing herself and her band as an "alternative country" act would probably give her career a good shot in the arm... not that she's likely to be at all interested in that. Her latest act, the obscure "Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions", hasn't toured in three years, (and on their last one, about half the dates were in Europe). So I'm thinking that stateside popularity -- especially among the local "Redneck Freak Show" contingent -- isn't her top priority. But I guess a guy can dream, can't he? I'd give up trains for a month for the chance to be there in person to hear her sing. She is that good.


NP: Stoney Edwards - "Hank and Lefty Raised My Country Soul" on KNON 89.3-FM's "Rockabilly Revue"
NR: Jim Dwyer - Subway Lives

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