Sunday, February 15, 2009

Back At It....Already

I did a little tractor work yesterday. It sure seems early.

We are going to do some early weed control in the berries. In order for Wilbur Ellis to spray, I needed to fill in most the surface ditches I all but killed myself digging 6 weeks ago.

I definitely have a few reservations concerning this whole process. Wilbur did the same thing last winter and succeeded only in rutting up the field. I can absolutely say in complete honesty they did not kill a single weed, but did kill a number of young strawberry plants because the un-trained ape they had running the spray rig kept running down the rows trampling in the berries with the wheels. I wasn't impressed. Still, my partner is buddies with the guy that oversees Wilbur's spraying operations, so I'm currently out voted when it comes to getting someone who will do a good job for us.

Beyond my suspicion that Wilbur Ellis doesn't know their asses from a hole in the ground, I'm not convinced this winter's bad weather is behind us. They are due to spray on Tuesday. I think next week-end I'll be back out in the field, putting the ditches back in. step forward, two steps back.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Things I'll Do...

The things I'll do to get attention. With the debut of "Vis Major" not that far off...(I hope), I've gone all out when it comes to firing up the ol' I'm now on BOTH Face Book and My Space. Sad but true.

So far, I've found the Face Book to be the easiest to get established, although the My Space page has some fun applications. (The biggest issue with My Space is I had somehow listed myself as "Single". It took some serious surfing to get THAT changed.) Anyways..on My Space I set up a neat little slide show of what remains of the wreck in the canyon below Wellinigton as well as the Meath snow plow photo. You can take a gander at:

"Vis Major" was already taken as a URL.. so I had to add the word "novel" It works.

Now over on Face Book I haven't really fired up the Vis Major whoring machine, but my home page is at:

There is a rail/farm photo gallery set up there and I think anyone can view it without signing up for Face Book.

It's the world of the net and networking is how the world seems to now to speak.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Winter Stroll

A few weeks back I made what has become an annual winter trip to Stevens Pass. If you look back in the posts on this fine blog you will see the results of last year's treks through the snows of Stevens. This year the pass had a very different look. Not near the snowfall, I traveled over to the east side and hiked from the East Portal of the Cascade Tunnel down to the old station of Gaynor..about a 7 mile round trip. Coming and going I photographed the trains running across the pass that day and a few other sites, like this avalanche run on Rocky Ridge. It brings home why the Great Northern ended up drilling an 8-mile tunnel.

The first train that I saw was actually a westbound container train. When it arrived at the East Portal, I was still enjoying my last cup of coffee before embarking in the 16 degree F fog, so I just let her go on by. The first train I photographed was the westbound Empire Builder, stopped by a red light thanks to the fore mentioned stack train still occupying the tunnel.

My favorite spot along the siding at Berne is this little knoll that overlooks a set of "S-curves". A westbound trailer train works up the siding for a meet with an eastbound. I lucked out. The westbound stopped just far enough up the siding to give this view of the eastbound dropping downgrade. What looks like snow on the trees is actually a thick layer of frost generated by a week of freezing fog.

A long walk, and even longer wait in the cold produced this image of eastbound double stacked containers slipping through the "hole in the wall" near the old station of Gaynor.

As usual, as soon as I shot the train down at Gaynor, it was time to turn around and start the uphill hike to the car up at the tunnel. On the way I stopped off near the East Berne signal bridge to shoot as eastbound grain empty. The conductor was an old friend, Andy VanWagnen. Seconds after the first shot was taken, Andy was out on the locomotive's side catwalk waving.

Thanks to bits and pieces of scanner chatter that I picked up as well as a hunch on my part, I decided to hang tough at East Berne and set up for a possible westbound. For once I was actually right! A westbound freight came up the hill with a helper set assisting mid-train.

A good way to end a long day. Not the spectacular snow shots produced by last year's efforts, but far from a waste of time. Besides, nothing is better for the mind and soul than a little winter stroll down the tracks.

Stampede Before the Deluge

Waaay back at the end of November I was invited to join railfans Brian Ambrose and John VanAmburg for a day of shooting up on Stampede Pass. The draw was the recent assignment of helpers out of Easton used to shove loaded grain trains over the mountain. Sadly..or in my case was a dark, foggy late fall day, and the BNSF opted not to send a grain train our way! Still all was not lost as it was very much a case of "your worst day of railfanning is still better than your best day at work."

So here's a few from that day:

I arrived at Easton before my two friends so I took advantage of the time to photograph the helper set in the foggy yard.

But we didn't drive all this way to walk around a static display of motive power. Time to do some railroading. Here the same helper set has coupled to the point of a westbound rail train and are hauling the whole mess up the grade where once stood the old Martin approach signal bridge.

Waiting for the helpers to return from the west, I used the backdrop of the east portal of the Stampede Tunnel and waterfall to pose two of the Northwest's best and brightest...Brian Ambrose to the right, John VanAmburg to the left.

The light in the tunnel materializes into the helper set returning to Easton. Engineering was friend, Greg Weirich. Nearly all the track and solid ground seen in these two photos is now washed away after the floods of January '09. Repairs are due to be completed in March.

The fog never really burned off. In fact, it seemed to be a little thicker when an empty grain train came rattling down the hill.

I shot the last train of the day, a helper train at...well where else?