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Wednesday, July 20, 2005

OS and a haircut, 18 bucks

I was stepping out of the Back-N-Time barber shop in Keller / Watauga this afternoon when I saw a southbound freight rolling past... I didn't catch the head end but it looked like he was slowing for a stop at the Basswood crossing, so I drove south and OS'd his power:

1) 1415 - UP s/b MKCEW-19 at Basswood in Watauga:
UP 5025 (SD70M)
UP 9123 (C40-8)
104 cars mixed freight

A while later, on my way home from buying groceries, I picked up a "bonus" OS:

2) 1448 - s/b GSSIIG-18 crossing north Tarrant Parkway in Keller / Watauga:
UP 7053 (AC4400CW)
UP 8229 (SD9043MAC)
SP 324 (AC4400CW)
97 grain loads


Amateur Philosophy Hour

At the risk of turning Whiskey's Blog into something resembling a 4-in-the-morning, controlled substance-inspired, '70s dorm room discussion, I offer the following:

I think about some weird stuff sometimes... when I'm lying in bed trying to fall asleep, when I'm driving down the freeway, while sitting in the dispatcher's chair... well, you know how it goes... Anyway, one thing I've been pondering lately is whether people in the great beyond -- whose spirits go wherever they go when they leave their earthly lives -- can see and experience things through the senses of their friends and loved ones still living here on earth.

Case in point - a few months ago, KHYI featured a "Belt it out" theme for the all-request lunch hour. The idea was, when they answered the phone, you would sing the song you wanted them to play. No small-talk, no pleasantries, just "belt it out". I called in with M and we belted out the first verse of Merle Haggard's "Daddy Frank", a song that my dad had sung to me when I was about a year older than M is now. Yes, we made it onto the show that day, and if M and I say so ourselves, we did a mighty fine job! (Bruce was saying "God bless the youth of America!" while Brett, seeming slightly dumbfounded, simply responded with a "Wow!.") And I started wondering... could my dad, who passed away two years ago, hear us that day on the airwaves?

I think my first exploration of that concept was a line in the Red Hot Chili Peppers song "Californication": "Cobain can you hear the spheres singing songs off station to station". That line kind of struck me as a sort of interstellar, interdimensional shout-out to the late Kurt Cobain (lead singer of the grunge band Nirvana who took his own life in 1994). If Cobain was "out there", was he listening, and did he hear it?

Most recently, these thoughts crossed my mind last Saturday at the Ray Wylie Hubbard show, when Ray performed his old classic "Redneck Mother", which is another song my dad introduced me to back in the '70s (presumably, the Jerry Jeff Walker version). As I sat there watching Ray play and sing, a flood of memories came over me, and I couldn't help but think that Dad probably would have really enjoyed being there. Of course, he wasn't with me, but was he "With" me? Could he see and hear what I was experiencing through MY senses?

The film "Being John Malkovich", one of my favorites from the past ten years, and definitely an under-rated one IMHO, kind of dabbled in some of these ideas... as the story went, people would pay large sums of money for the opportunity to see and experience the world through the eyes of others... once they figured out how to avoid being kicked out of the mind of their "host", they could prolong their stays indefinitely, thus extending their lives on earth even if their own bodies were about to die due to illness, old age, etc.

Of course, that whole premise brings up a lot of ethical questions, and doesn't completely relate to the possibilities I've been considering... in the movie, it was living people experiencing the lives of others... in my hypotheticals, the visitor would be the spirit of someone no longer living (well, not phyisically), and would visit only by "invitation" -- i.e., when the "host" thought of them or wanted them to be there.

I guess if nothing else, I can take solace in the concept that the fact that as long as I have my memories of my dad, he's not really gone ... Wasn't there a line like that in a Seinfeld episode? Is it any coincidence that I'm writing all of this at 5 in the morning after staying up all night?

This whole discussion reminds me of some of the hypothetical conversations I had with college friends while driving across west Texas in the middle of the night, on our way back to Dallas from a ski trip. If it's any consolation to you, the reader, this is about as contemplative or philosophical as I plan to ever get here on Whiskey's Blog.


The fast track to my "blocked senders" list

I'm always glad to receive email from blog readers and those who visit other parts of my Southwest Railfan site. Drop me a note about pretty much anything, and I'll usually -- at the minimum -- answer with a "thanks for the note" response... and usually more if I am responding to a question.

But if you insist on sending me excessively lame jokes, stupid cartoons or pictures, or extremely large files that aren't even worth my time to open... I will likely never see -- let alone read -- your emails, because such actions will earn you an entry into my mailbox's "blocked senders" list. And you know what happens to your emails once I've blocked you as a sender... an automatic trip to "deleted items", baby! One unlucky member of the Railspot list has earned this distinction, and yet -- when I check my "deleted items" file every so often, I see that he continues to email me, apparently unphased by my lack of response to EVERY ONE of his mailings. Well, good buddy, I didn't like having to do it, but if you hadn't been bombarding me so much CRAP, it wouldn't have been necessary!


np: just like yesterday, "Texas Blues Radio" on KNON 89.3 FM
nr: Stephen Ambrose - Undaunted Courage

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Texas Theater - Waxahachie, TX
Texas Theater
Waxahachie, Texas.

An (almost) all-music edition

Last Saturday evening, two friends joined me for the trek down US Hwy 287 to beautiful Waxahachie, Texas for a Ray Wylie Hubbard "solo acoustic" concert at the Texas Theater. I own a couple of Hubbard's cds, but had never seen him perform live. The show was scheduled for 8 pm. We arrived at about 7, ticketless, and purchased tickets at the window. There was already a line, maybe 30 or 40 people ahead of us. None of us had ever been to the Texas Theater before. Once we got inside, we discovered why it's a good idea to arrive early... that place is small! There were probably about a hundred seats downstairs. We didn't go up in the balcony, but I'd figure there were a similar number of seats up there. We got seats on the lower level in the second row, stage left (most of the audience decided to sit further back, but I wanted to be closer so I could take a few photos).

Texas Theatre Marquee
Ray Wylie Hubbard
The marquee announces the big show.
"The Man".

Ray took the stage a few minutes after 8. I wish I had thought to bring a pencil and paper to copy down his set list, but I didn't. Working from memory, I recall several tunes from "Growl" (my favorite RWH album), and several more from his latest release, "Delerium Tremolos", which I don't yet own but have heard on the radio. I was glad that he included "Conversation with the Devil", and pleasantly surprised to hear him do "Redneck Mother" near the end of the second set. He even invited the audience to sing along... "You know you want to", he told us.

I was familiar with RWH's songwriting and vocal styles, but seeing him live gave me a new level of respect for his guitar-playing skills, especially when he played "slide" on a resonator guitar... what an amazing sound! Another highlight was when he invited his son Lucas (probably 11 or 12 years old) up onto the stage to join him for a couple songs... Lucas played some great-sounding solos during "Wanna Rock & Roll" and "Cooler-N-Hell".

Between songs, RWH shared many humorous anecdotes -- about goat farmin', name droppin', gamblin', drinkin', liquor store robbin', etc -- he really got some good laughs from the crowd with his story about how his grandfather sold (that's sold -- not gave) him that resonator guitar when he was on his deathbed. So Ray obliged by writing him a hot check! Given the entertainment value of his stories alone, I'd gladly pay to see a Ray Wylie Hubbard spoken word show! Throw in a couple of gratuitous slams on Pat Green, an then an encore performance of "Dallas After Midnight" at the end of the second set, and the three of us left the Texas Theater feeling like we'd gotten every bit of our money's worth. We were definitely glad we made the trip down there. If RWH is performing in your area, run -- don't walk -- to make sure you're first in line to buy tickets.

Calling KHYI

Anyone who listens to KHYI 95.3-FM ("the Range") on a regular basis knows what an important part the listeners play in the musical selections and also the sound of the programming itself. Program director Bruce Kidder (on the air from 6 to 9 am weekdays) and dj Brett Dillon (9 am to 2 pm weekdays) regularly play recorded listener calls on the air -- in fact, they play at least one or two calls during almost every break between songs. The highlight is the "All-Request Lunch Hour", billed as "the most eclectic hour in radio", when Bruce often returns to the air to team up with Brett to field listener calls -- usually requests for songs that fit into whatever theme they've selected for that day's lunch hour.

Now, phoning requests into a radio station may seem like it's more suited to 14-year-old girls, but that's not quite the case at KHYI, whose listening audience (based on the phone calls) appears to be overwhelmingly male. And I will shamelessly admit to having called in a handful of times during the lunch hour to join the daily "Redneck Freak Show". I haven't formally charted my level of success at making it onto the air, but I'm probably something in the neighborhood of 5-for-10. The most recent time I made it onto the show was last week's "Tear Jerker Tuesday" (a.k.a. sad songs). Now, it's always important to ask one's self, "what am I bringing to the table?" before Bruce demands the answer to that very question. I made it onto last Tuesday's Tear-Jerker show by suggesting Wayne Hancock's "Highway 54"... maybe not as strong an entry as Johnny Bush's "Toy Telephone" or Red Foley's "Old Shep" (both of which appeared later in the program) but it was enough to get me on the air! I'm slightly less proud of my unsuccessful effort at making it onto yesterday's train-themed show... they played the song I requested, but the call they played was someone else asking for the same song. Better luck next time, I guess... at least I heard the song I wanted.

Monday's Train

Yesterday afternoon, the kids joined me for lunch at Quizno's on Denton Highway. Halfway through our lunch, a southbound rolled past on the Choctaw:

1) 13:10 - UP s/b M-CPFW-15 just south of North Tarrant Parkway in Watauga:
UP 3892 (SD70M)
CSXT 7809 (C40-8W)
CP 4404 (GP38-2 in the "dual flag" scheme)
72 cars mixed freight


np: "Texas Blues Radio" on KNON 89.3 FM
nr: Stephen Ambrose - Undaunted Courage

Friday, July 15, 2005

Catching up with Whiskey

Looking back, I see that my last update was July 4. It has been a busy 11 days, so here's an update on what I've been up to during that time. We'll start with the oldest stuff first...

80 % of the Whiskey family (i.e., everyone except me) was out of town during the week of July 4-10. Their trip out of town coincided with a visit from a friend from Illinois, who recently departed the ty&e craft to begin the next step of his railroad career. I decided to give "Dispatcher Trainee Matt" a tour of some of the finer railroad photo locations in north central Texas. Our tour began on the afternoon of Wednesday, July 6 with a visit to downtown Dallas.

Wednesday, July 6, 2005: UP Dallas Sub and TRE in Dallas

Our first catch was on the UP Dallas Sub on the west end of the Trinity River bridge.

1) 1725 - AMTK e/b # 22 on UP Dallas Sub at CP T916 (Trinity River bridge)
8 cars

We didn't know of anything else close, so we headed over to the TRE line to catch a westbound commuter...
2) 1801 - TRE w/b at Oak Lawn Ave:
TRE 569 (F59PHI)
2 cars

Construction of a new high-rise apartment / hotel near the American Airlines Center was well under way... when completed, it will fill in a nice "gap" in the Dallas skyline. Next, we headed down to the north end of Cadiz / CJ yards, where the Kelly Lead had been turned into temporary cleanout tracks for four of the Ringling Brothers' circus cars (presumably, the ones that haul the elephants). Crews had placed large dumpster-type bins near the door of each car for "waste" disposal. While we were there...

3) 1823 - UP e/b MFWNL on UP Dallas Sub at Cadiz
UP 2413 (SD60M)
UP 908 (GP38-3)
UP 3184 (SD40-2)
52 cars mixed freight

It was time to catch the next westbound TRE, so we hopped on Stemmons Freeway back to Oak Lawn:

4) 1843 TRE w/b at Oak Lawn Ave:

TRE 570 (F59PHI)
3 cars

westbound TRE leaving downtown Dallas

A westbound TRE commuter train leaves downtown Dallas
July 6, 2005.

We headed back to CP T916, hoping to catch a westbound UP, but we didn't have any luck. A 'fan visiting from Rockwall climbed the levee and came up to talk to us... he had recently relocated to north Texas from Akron, Ohio, but hadn't met any of the local fans yet and didn't know of all the good spots to shoot in D-town. A BNSF coal empty on the D-FW Sub was calling the UP dispatcher, looking for a lineup at Forest Avenue so they could get through the terminal to the TRE. This gave us a chance to show our new friend one of my favorite locations on the TRE. Back to the overpass at Oak Lawn...

5) 1944 - TRE e/b at Oak Lawn:
TRE 567 (F59PH)
pushing 4 cars

6) 1954 - BNSF w/b E KBBBKM0 06 on the TRE at Oak Lawn:
BNSF 9767 (SD70MAC, Grinstein)
BN 9493 (SD70MAC, Grinstein)
BNSF 8911 (SD70MAC, H2) - DP
129 cars - mostly TXUX with a few CEFX, NCUX & BNSF

After he cleared, we headed back to CP T916 one last time, hoping to catch a westbound before sunset. An eastbound was stopped with his rear end on the bridge, so we were hopeful. Our persistence finally paid off:

7) 2006 - UP w/b MLIFW at CP T916 on UP Dallas Sub
UP 4259 (SD70M)
NS 6621 (SD60)
EMDX 2822 (SD40T-2, ex-UP yellow)
mixed freight, unknown car count

We were officially out of light, so we called it a day and headed to a nearby eatery in the immediate downtown area, then back to Ft Worth to tie up.


Thursday, July 7, 2005 : UP Baird Sub, with "high sun" side trips to Brownwood and Coleman

We had received some tips that the UP Baird Sub would be busy today, and that some of the trains would have new GE power. Our call time was 0500, and we departed around 0545.

We knew of three eastbounds closing in on Ft Worth, which would be held out at Iona, Earls, and either Weatherford or Brazos to meet two westbounds. But we had our sights set on an eastbound IHJDA which had departed Sweetwater around 0530 with two new GE's.

Now, if I had bothered to check the weather radar, I might have noticed thunderstorm activity in the Abilene area, which would have given us ample time to choose an alternate plan. Like staying closer to Ft. Worth and catching the early eastbound fleet, for example.

Being uninformed as to the weather situation, we were disappointed to see dark thunderstorm clouds in the Ranger area. The clouds certainly fit the mood of the day's top news story, the London terror attacks, which we learned about when we stopped for gas at Love's. Good thing we didn't pick today to shoot the TRE! After getting gas, we found ourselves in the middle of a thunderstorm at Cisco, but got out of it around Putnam. We found the IHJDA near Jayell, and turned around to set up for a shot of him near Dothan:

1) 0820 - UP e/b IHJDA-05 on UP Baird Sub west of Dothan:
UP 5403 (ES44AC)
UP 5482 (ES44AC)
UP 1828 (B40-8)

A slow order near Dothan allowed us to get ahead of him for another shot (approaching Cisco at 0832). The train was over 7500 feet long, and would not fit in many of the sidings east of Cisco. Westbounds IDALBB and ZMQLA were running farily close together, so the dispatcher held IHJDA at Cisco to meet both westbounds. (0841 arriving at Cisco) It was still cloudy, but we decided to stick around for the westbounds.

2) 0924 - UP w/b IDALBB-06 on UP Baird Sub at Cisco:
UP 5360 (ES44AC)
UP 5449 (ES44AC)
UP 4271 (SD70M)
UP 5380 (ES44AC)

We trailed IDALBB west of Dothan for another shot (0938).

IDALBB west of Dothan, TX

Westbound IDALBB west of Dothan, TX
on the UP Baird Sub. July 7, 2005.

Then we headed back to Cisco for ZMQLA:

3) 1003 - UP w/b ZMQLA-07 on UP Baird Sub at Cisco:
UP 5192 (SD70M)
UP 4353 (SD70M)
UP 5372 (ES44AC)
UP 5454 (ES44AC)

IHJDA meets ZMQLA at Cisco

Eastbound IHJDA is in the hole for westbound ZMQLA
Cisco, TX on the UP Baird Sub. July 7, 2005.

I felt like I had botched my shot of IDALBB west of Dothan (it actually turned out ok), so we trailed the Z to the same location for a re-shoot (1017).

ZMQLA west of Dothan, TX

ZMQLA on the UP Baird Subdivision
west of Dothan, TX. July 7, 2005.

It was starting to clear up to the east, so we figured we'd try to get a few sunny shots of IHJDA (train # 1 listed above) before high sun. We got ahead of him at Ranger and set up for another shot at Strawn (1113), then followed him on through Gordon (1129) to Judd (1137), where he headed in to meet more westbounds.

IHJDA at Gordon, TX

Looks like the tie gang will be here soon...
eastbound IHJDA on the UP Baird Subdivision at Gordon, TX
July 7, 2005

IHJDA at Judd, TX

IHJDA heads in at Judd, TX.
July 7, 2005

Yes, technically, we had violated the "high sun curfew", but the haze and humidity helped filter out some of the harmful effects. Before any further damage could be done, we headed to Eastland for lunch (Sonic) and then decided to head south to Brownwood, with two objectives: 1) intercept the Ft Worth & Western "turn" from Dublin to San Angelo Jct (TXPF interchange), which has been running on Thursdays.... and 2) check out the TXPF interchange for signs of traffic. We accomplished both, with some "bonus" trains as well.

We were between Rising Star and Brownwood when we heard the FWWR leaving San Angelo Jct. We set up for a shot of him east of Brownwood (my first time ever catching them west of Dublin):

4) 1350 - FWWR e/b on BNSF Lampasas Sub:
FWWR 2005 (GP38-2)
FWWR 2007 (GP38-2)
0 cars*

* That's right, he was just light power... reportedly, the TXPF had a derailment near San Angelo, and couldn't get to the junction with their outbound cars. But the real surprise wasn't his lack of a train -- it was the photographer who snapped a photo of us from the walkway behind the cab as they rolled past... none other than Benbrook's own
Ken Fitzgerald, who was taking a few days off from work to gather photos for an FWWR publication. Nice to see you, Ken... definitely one of those "fancy meeting you here" moments.

Ken rides the FWWR

Ken snaps our photo as FWWR 2005 rolls by...
west of Brownwood, TX. BNSF Lampasas Sub.
July 7, 2005.

We headed down into town to visit with Ken for a few minutes... he told us about something we needed to go see in Brownwood yard, so that was our next stop:

5) 1409 - Texas Rock Crusher power at Brownwood yard:
TXR 103 (CF7) *
TXR 102 (GP9) **

* - I'm not sure which of the two former Red River Valley & Western units this was. Texas Rock Crusher has two former RRVW CF7s -- the 305 and the 307. But we didn't see the other one around, so I'm not sure which one this is.

** - believed to be the former BNSF 1633, which went to Texas Rock Crusher several months ago as the TLLX 1633.

Both units had recently received a coat of fresh paint (mostly red with white lettering, black trucks and fuel tranks), replacing the CF7's faded RRVW colors, and BNSF heritage orange and green on the geep.

Texas Rock Crusher

Freshly painted TXR (Texas Rock Crusher) 103 and 102
Brownwood, TX. July 7, 2005.

Also on hand at Brownwood was South Orient GP7 109. It reportedly works for the Texas Rock Crusher.

BNSF had a handful of units around, including a cabless SD45-2B, and an empty rock train was arriving behind SD45-2 6455, but we didn't mess with any of this stuff... we had some miles to cover before we got back to the Baird Sub for the end of high sun.

Our next stop was the TXPF interchange at San Angelo Jct (between Santa Anna and Coleman). In addition to the 10 cars delivered by the FWWR (sitting on the west leg of the wye), there was a full-size empty grain train, over 100 cars, sitting on the TXPF main (and extending well past the west switch of the interchange track), waiting for TXPF to come pick it up. I didn't see any way the TXPF could possibly get into the junction to deliver their outbound cars without first sending light power over to move the empty grain train... since I've never known them to try to move that volume of traffic, I sure would have liked to have stayed out there to see them handle it!

We continued on to Coleman, where we caught up to a westbound unit train of unspecified lading and destination, with a real show-stopper of a power consist:

6) 1507 - BNSF w/b unit train on BNSF Lampasas Sub at Coleman:
NREX 6415 (SD45, ex-ATSF blue and yellow)
NREX 5398 (SD40T-2, ex DRGW black and orange)
NREX 6508 (SD45-2, ex-ATSF blue and yellow)

westbound unit train at Coleman

NREX 6415 / 5398 / 6508 with westbound unit train.
Coleman, TX on the BNSF Lampasas Sub. July 7, 2005

We visited with the engineer for a few minutes as he stepped down to roll-by an eastbound....

7) 1514 - BNSF e/b H AMAPTR1 05 on BNSF Lampasas Sub at Coleman:
BNSF 5163 (C44-9W, H2)
BNSF 5525 (C44-9W, H2)
72 cars mixed freight

We stopped in Coleman for gas and then headed north to Cisco to meet back up with the UP Baird Sub. We got back to town just ahead of an eastbound Z train, and we headed to Ranger to set up for a shot of him passing the depot. It wasn't much of a shot, but the best we could do with the sun angle...

8) 1655 - UP e/b Z LAMN3 06 on UP Baird Sub at Ranger:
UP 5428 (ES44AC)
UP 5180 (SD70M)
UP 4572 (SD70M)
UP 5361 (ES44AC)
UP 5384 (ES44AC)

We decided to follow him over to Judd to set up for two westbounds we knew were coming... we caught up to ZLAMN at Mingus and shot him between Gordon and Judd (1741). Then we stopped at Judd to wait for the first westbound.

In the meantime, an eastbound stack arrived at Judd and headed in for our westbound, but as they were pulling into the siding, they snagged a low-hanging piece of code line which got tangled up on some of their cars and actually pulled a lineside pole onto the top of one of their containers. Seems like, if it's not one thing on the UP, it's another... anyway, here's our next westbound...

9) 1828 - UP w/b 2-IMNLB 06 on UP Baird Sub at Judd:
UP 4106 (SD70M)
UP 9290 (C40-8)
UP 9198 (C40-8)

2-IMNLB approaches Judd, TX
2-IMNLB leaving Gordon, TX
Westbound 2-IMNLB approaches Judd, TX
UP Baird Sub. July 7, 2005.
Westbound 2-IMNLB leaving Gordon, TX
on the UP Baird Sub.
July 7, 2005.

(I had been sure the code line trouble would screw us out of some shots. Guess we must have been living right...)

After shooting 2-IMNLB at Gordon, we headed east to Brazos (my first time shooting there in about 12 years) to set up for the next westbound.

10) 1939 - UP w/b MFWOD on UP Baird Sub at Brazos:
UP 2447 (SD60M)
UP 6181 (SD60M)
UP 2170 (SD60M)
UP 2253 (SD60M)
79 cars mixed freight

We came uncomfortably close to getting stuck in the mud on our way out, but luckily we made it out (with a "trophy" coating of mud up to the windows, I might add). Toyota 4-wd came through in the clutch! We started for home, and then re-considered... the eastbound at Judd had gotten himself untangled (with assistance from a couple mw/signal employees in the area), and it was close to sunset... why not head for Santo for an end-of-the-day "glint" shot? As it turned out, the train was about 15 minutes too late for the really sweet light, but we did the best we could do with what we had...

11) 2016 - UP e/b ILAMN 03 on UP Baird Sub at Santo:
UP 4327 (SD70M)
UP 5168 (SD70M)
UP 1866 (B40-8)

With that, we called it a day... on our way home, we stopped at Chili's near Fossil Creek for a meal that hit the spot (and provided ample leftovers for Friday's lunch). Then we went home to tie up after about 16 hours "on duty". We covered lots of miles, but definitely had a productive day. I might not see another full day of train-watching until sometime next year.


Friday, July 8, 2005: busy evening on the BNSF Wichita Falls Sub

Got home from work around 1500 and started my afternoon siesta. Shortly after 1600, Matt and I were ready to head back out... we knew of some activity on the UP Baird Sub, but since we had spent so much time out there Thursday, we headed instead to the BNSF Wichita Falls Sub, which was also quite busy. We caught up to a coal empty at Herman. He was meeting an eastbound stack train, which we didn't stop to photograph:

1) +/- 1630 - BNSF e/b S CLOALT5 07 on BNSF Wichita Falls Sub at Herman:
BNSF 1002 (C44-9W, H1)
BNSF 4039 (C44-9W, H2)

After stopping for gas in Decatur, we headed to Alvord to set up for the empty. An eastbound UP LBB63 local (lead unit UP GP60 2005, no other details recorded) was stopped in the siding to meet the empty:

2) 1702 - BNSF w/b E SLPJRM0 81 on BNSF Wichita Falls Sub at Alvord, TX
BNSF 8937 (SD70MAC, H2)
BNSF 8806 (SD70MAC, H2)
BNSF 9814 (SD70MAC, Grinstein) - DP
122 cars - mostly CEFX gons - some BN/BNSF and HZGX, etc


BNSF 8937 leads westbound coal empties at Alvord, TX
BNSF Wichita Falls Sub. July 8, 2005

We decided to follow the empty, but stopped on our way out of Alvord to shoot the Alvord helper:

3) 1707 - BNSF Alvord helper
BNSF 6480 (SD45-2, ATSF yellow/blue)

We caught up to the empty east of Fruitland (1720) , holding off the crossings before heading in to meet two eastbounds:

4) 1735 - BNSF e/b M BARALT1 05 on BNSF Wichita Falls Sub at Fruitland
BNSF 6863 (SD40-2, ATSF blue/yellow)
FURX 7238 (SD40-2, ex-BN green)
BNSF 6369 (SD40-2, BN green)
108 cars mixed freight

5) 1747 - BNSF e/b Z SBDALT9 07 on BNSF Wichita Falls Sub at Fruitland
BNSF 7749 (ES44DC, H3)
BNSF 5356 (C44-9W, H2)
BNSF 4726 (C44-9W, H2)
BNSF 4754 (C44-9W, H2)

rolling by the Z-train

Eastbound Z SBDALT passes the BNSF 8937.
Fruitland, TX. July 8, 2005

We continued west for one more shot of the empty on the "roller coaster" hills east of Bellevue. (I know, it's an overdone shot of mine, but still a great spot... and we didn't want Matt to miss out on it!) (E SLPJRM east of Bellevue at 1816)

BNSF 8937 westbound approaching Bellevue, TX

Approaching Bellevue on the BNSF Wichita Falls Sub
July 8, 2005.

E SLPJRM continued on to Dickworsham to meet an eastbound stack... meanwhile, the two eastbounds (4 and 5 above) headed for Alvord to meet another westbound, so that's where we headed...

6) 1859 - BNSF w/b S ALTSCO1 08 on BNSF Wichita Falls Sub at Alvord:
BNSF 5381 (C44-9W, H2)
BNSF 4441 (C44-9W, H2)

meeting at Alvord

Action at Alvord: Z SBDALT (left), Alvord helper unit (SD45-2 6480)
and westbound S ALTSCO. July 8, 2005.

A county sheriff stopped by for a brief visit to check on us... he asked if there was a special train coming? No, just regular trains, we responded. He seemed satisfied with our response and departed. So did we, after the S ALTSCO headed west... we got him again at Sunset (1922) and at Fruitland (1926), where they headed in to meet the next eastbound:

7) 1928 - BNSF e/b S LHAALT4 07 on BNSF Wichita Falls Sub at Fruitland:
BNSF 1091 (C44-9W, H1)
NS 6683 (SD60)

S ALTSCO at Fruitland, TX

Westbound S ALTSCO at Fruitland, TX
BNSF Wichita Falls Sub. July 8, 2005.

meeting at Fruitland, TX

Eastbound S LHAALT meets S ALTSCO at Fruitland, TX
BNSF Wichita Falls Sub. July 8, 2005.

Matt was getting hungry, so we decided to follow the eastbound stack so we'd be closer to town when we finished the day. We got him again east of Sunset (1938).

BNSF 1091 at Sunset, TX

BNSF 1091 eastbound at Sunset, TX on the Wichita Falls Sub.
July 8, 2005.

Then we caught up to him at Alvord. He was lined up to meet another westbound. He held back for a while, and then headed on in (2005) as the sun got lower and lower...

late evening at Alvord, TX

S LHAALT heads in at Alvord to meet another westbound
BNSF Wichita Falls Sub. July 8, 2005.

Matt's camera battery died, but he was a good sport and didn't complain as I set up for a shot of the next westbound:

8) 2011 - BNSF w/b X GATBNV4 05 on BNSF Wichita Falls Sub at Alvord
BNSF 8006 (SD40-2, H1)
BNSF 7014 (SD40-2, BN green)
62 empty sulfur tanks

I wanted another sunset / "glint" shot of the eastbound stack, so we followed him to Decatur. I didn't like the looks of that shot, so we headed on to Herman. He was slowing to head in to meet yet another westbound, but I eeked out a shot of him with the sun barely just still above the horizon as his power passed the signal at the west end (2037).

sunset at Herman, TX

Sunset at Herman: S LHAALT heads in for yet another meet.
BNSF Wichita Falls Sub. July 8, 2005.

We headed home, but picked up a "bonus" OS (no photographs) when we saw the last westbound near Rhome:

9) +/- 2050 - BNSF w/b Q AUGLAC6 07 on BNSF Wichita Falls Sub near Rhome
BNSF 5109 (C44-9W, H2)
BNSF 7915 (SD40-2, H1)
BNSF 527 (B40-8W, H2)

It was definitely a busy evening on the former FW&D... with every train meeting at least one train at every siding, we felt like we got our money's worth. We headed back to town for a late dinner. And we'll consider Matt, soon to be a full-time fellow north Texan, to be properly "qualified" on the eastern portions of the Baird and Wichita Falls Subs.



Various OS's from the past week...

Monday, July 11

With the best $5.40 value in fast food (i.e., # 5 meal from Whataburger*) riding shotgun, I was driving north on Denton Hwy today when I intercepted a southbound on the UP Choctaw Sub in Keller:

1) 1356 - UP s/b CROSA9 at Wall-Price in Keller:
UP 8256 (SD9043MAC)
SP 122 (AC4400CW)
UP 6587 (AC4400CW) - DP
133 SATX gons

* Occasionally, some well-meaning member of Railspot will take me to task off-list regarding my diet, which they view as unhealthy. For the record, I eat fast food no more than about once or twice a week, and I could do a lot worse than my standard fare of Whataburger, Quizno's, and Chipotle. And even though Whataburger's fries are tasty (miles ahead of Burger King and Wendy's on the fry taste-test scale), I hardly touch 'em. Fries are, after all, the least healthy part of a fast food meal. And unlike the crap you get at McDonald's, Whataburger -- unless the customer specifies otherwise -- loads their sandwiches with veggies like lettuce and tomatoes. It's like ordering a mini-salad along with your double bacon & cheese. And sometimes I order a real salad just for good measure. And it's not like I'm washing it all down with a quart of Dr. Pepper or Coke... nope, it'll be plain, unsweetened iced tea, thankyouverymuch.

Furthermore, when my allergies haven't forced me to seek shelter indoors 24-7 (as they are when I'm typing this on July 15), I get copious amounts of outdoor exercise -- riding my bike, walking, jogging, and keeping up with the kids -- multiple times a week. So have no fear, friends, Whiskey is healthy as a horse. Now, if I drop dead of a heart attack sometime in the next few years, then you can say I was wrong. Until then... I don't wanna hear it.


Tuesday, July 12

"Dispatcher Trainee Matt" rode shotgun on Tuesday evening as we headed north on US 377 toward my scheduled slide presentation at the Denton Model Railroad Club. En route, we observed some traffic on the UP Choctaw Sub.

1) 18:25 - UP s/b CJRHP at Roanoke
UP 6727 (AC4400CW, wings)
UP 5647 (AC4400-CTE)
UP 7149 (AC4400CW) - DP
133 rotary gons - mostly HIPX

Sitting at the north end of Roanoke siding, we saw a single unit light engine, facing north:

2) 18:30 - UP n/b light power
CSXT 9001 (C44-9W)
0 cars

We saw a southbound mixed freight between Roanoke and Argyle. He had two UP units, but we didn't catch the numbers.

Thanks to Shane Murphy and the Denton Model Railroad Club for inviting me to give the slide presentation -- and for not kicking me out when half my slides in the first carousel didn't drop (*&$% plastic mounts!) It was great to see everyone, and nice to meet several folks (including some Railspotters) for the first time.


Friday, July 15

I laid off sick today. En route to my doctor's office (yes, I was really sick), I observed the following:

1) 11:10 - UP s/b CNACL on the UP Choctaw Subdivision, crossing Bear Creek Parkway in Keller:
UP 6695 (AC4400CW)
UP 5683 (AC4400-CTE)
coal loads - rotary gons with UP, CEFX, CCTX, MCHX, CHTT, CTRN reporting marks
(DP units not seen)

About that Trip Report...

It'll be a month ago tomorrow that we left on our Hawaii trip. I'm still working on the report and hope to have it posted... well, sometime. It took me a couple weeks just to wade through all the digital files from that trip, and then I had my hands full with all the digitals Matt and I shot last week. Hey, no one ever said that shooting digital actually saves time... those days of getting a box of Kodachromes back, looking at them once and then not even labelling them for two or three years are definitely a thing of the past.


np: Wayne "the Train" Hancock - That's What Daddy Wants
nr: Stephen Ambrose - Undaunted Courage

Monday, July 4, 2005

Friday's bike ride (07/01/05):

After my brush with death on Wednesday, I decided to re-think the wisdom of taking extended bike rides during the heat of the day. On Friday, a storm system passed through around mid-day... although it didn't drop any rain on us, it definitely helped to keep the temperatures down, even after the sun came out. So I decided to take a bike ride to Keller before it got dark. I even decided to bring my camera along... "just in case"...

As I came within sight of the Choctaw Sub main, I caught the rear of a northbound SATX empty...
long shadow
This time of year, it's best to
ride when the shadows are long.
1) 19:48 - UP n/b CSACD-9 coal empties crossing Kroger Dr.
(head end not seen)
unknown number of SATX rotary gons
UP 6521 (AC4400CW) - DP

Remembering a bike ride from last month during which I saw a northbound and then a southbound, I calculated that if a southbound was waiting for the northbound at Roanoke, I'd be able to see it within 20 minutes or so. At 20:05, the moment of truth arrived...

2) 20:05 - UP s/b MMUFW-30 crossing Bear Creek Parkway.
UP 4459 (SD70M)
NS 8454 (C40-8W, ex-CR blue)
UP 9529 (C40-8W)
CSXT 5957 (B40-8)
NS 9415 (C40-9W)
110 cars mixed freight

southbound through Keller

MMUFW approaches Bear Creek Parkway in Keller.

* * * * *

Today is the Fourth of July; K and the kids are on their way to San Angelo and then to Ruidoso, NM to "cool off" in the mountains for a few days. Later this week, I'll spend a few days hosting an out-of-town visitor, a soon-to-be "former" Galesburg (IL) conductor who is about to begin dispatcher training here in Fort Worth. We might have some train sightings and photos to share toward the end of the week.

Speaking of Galesburg and the Fourth, I'll always have memories of both from a vacation trip six years ago, back when I had enough seniority to take a vacation over the Fourth. (Isn't it strange that I could then, but can't now?) K, L and I had been on a trip to K's family reunion in Albia, Iowa in late June of 1999. K's aunt lives in Albia -- about a block away from Main 1 of the Ottumwa Subdivision ... we got to see lots of Ottumwa Sub traffic! After the reunion, we drove to Galesburg and spent the night, then caught Amtrak's Illinois Zephyr to Chicago. After a couple days in Chi-town, we rode back to Galesburg and stayed there the night of the 3rd. The next morning, I got up early and went out to take pictures. It was a beautiful day... clear skies, cool temps (none of that nasty haze that we have on most summer mornings here in north TX), and as the sun came up, I was still hearing the voices of the 3rd-shift dispatchers on my scanner. At 06:39 -- possibly the earliest time of day I have ever taken a sun-lit photo -- I photographed a coal load leaving town on the Mendota Sub. I kicked around town for a couple hours after that, discovering first-hand what an interesting and busy place Galesburg can be, even on a national holiday. In addition to the coal load leaving town headed for Chicago, I caught the Illinois Zephyr, a loaded taconite train with the uniquely-painted BNSF 9297, several trains on the Chillicothe Sub, and SD9s working the trimmer jobs in Galesburg yard. After working several of the Galesburg-area dispatching jobs, it was neat to see and photograph Galesburg operations first hand. I've been wanting to get back there ever since... maybe one of these years, I'll make it.

* * * * *

Filthy Flag on the Fourth (07/04/05):

This afternoon before work, I picked up a Quizno's sandwich to go and headed to trackside along the Choctaw Sub mainline in Keller. Nothing rolled past while I was there, but on my way to work, I caught a northbound:

1) 14:15 - UP Northbound GSHONI-30 crossing Western Center Blvd in Watauga / Haltom City:
UP 5921 (AC4400-CTE) "flag" unit and of course it was filthy
UP 6802 (AC4400CW)
UP 7515 (AC6000CW)
96 cars

Would anyone argue against my proposal that if the UP can't keep its flags clean, maybe it's time to stop applying them to their locomotives? Does the company fly a filthy American flag outside its corporate headquarters building in Omaha? Would you fly one outside your own home?

WSC, feeling patriotic on the Fourth

NP: New Order - "Technique"
NR: Stephen Ambrose - Undaunted Courage; August 2005 Trains Magazine

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