Saturday, July 24, 2010

4 months in 9 photos

Had to put the blog on hold for a while... here's 9 photos representing a few highlights from the past 4 months.

April: bike ride with M.

April: UP steam engine 844 in Mansfield, TX

May: hangin' with Miss L downtown...

May: benching in Saginaw. Part of a self-portrait project.

June: A-Kon 21 in Dallas

June: taking M to camp at Sky Ranch

June: moving in to my new house! How did we ever fit all my stuff into a truck that small?

June: Blue was just one of the many colors L chose for painting her room.

July: chasing trains with Miss L

That's all for now... hope to have a chance to post in more detail later. Check back soon for more...


np: Willie Heath Neal - "Willie's Rant"

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Thursday, June 03, 2010

El Paso afternoon

Spring Break Day 7 - Saturday, March 20, 2010
(Part 2 of 2)

More from March 20 in El Paso. As trackwork continued on Main 2 west of the city, several trains entered and left town on Main 1...

El Paso fuel racks: westbound and eastbound freights take on fuel west of downtown. The red brick building in the background is El Paso Union Depot.

UP 8097 leads a westbound across the Rio Grande, from Texas into New Mexico.

Arizona Eastern 6070 trails the UP locomotives on a westbound MEPTU (El Paso - Tucson) train.

Train # 1 - Amtrak's westbound Sunset Limited departs El Paso.

If I had planned my day differently, I could have chased this BNSF grain train down the El Paso Sub. Instead, I had to settle for a shot of it entering town along Paisano Blvd.

BNSF 7638 leads southbound grain loads into El Paso...

BNSF grainers along Paisano Blvd - El Paso, TX

I finished out the afternoon near the small city park which overlooks the Bataan Memorial Trainway, a short trench-like section of track which allows trains to pass beneath the streets of downtown El Paso on a route free of grade crossings.

A westbound enters the El Paso trainway...

It was time to head east. I'd spend the night in Van Horn; the next morning I'd have a few hours to shoot photos before heading home to Whiskeytown.

Twilight on I-10 near Fort Hancock...

Stay tuned for the conclusion of the trip.


np: BaD Radio on KTCK 1310 AM "the Ticket"

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

No mo' snow!

Spring Break Day 7 - Saturday, March 20, 2010
(Part 1 of 2)

So this is the scene that greeted me when I woke up Saturday morning...

Uh-oh. Should have remembered to bring those tire chains...

The storm that blew in late Friday dropped several inches of fluffy white powder, which continued to fall as I packed up on Saturday morning. I wasn't exactly snowbound, but I didn't have a whole lot of time to spare before it became a possibility.

Mom and the kids had planned to head back to Fort Worth, but ended up delaying their departure until Sunday. I had ideas of going northwest to Albuquerque to do some photography, but reports of weather-reported road closures caused me to think otherwise. I could have followed the snow east toward Lubbock or Amarillo... I bet I could have gotten some nice train photos in all that snow... but the idea of several hours of slow going on treacherous roads before I even reached the tracks seemed equally unappealing.

Remembering how much I enjoy a good photo shoot in El Paso, I decided to head south. The "partly cloudy" forecast sounded favorable, and El Paso would be my quickest route away from the snow.

snowy Ruidoso roads

The roads were snow-covered from Ruidoso down to Mescalero... and then as if by magic, the snow ended and the roads were clear. By Alamogordo, the clouds were moving off, and in El Paso? Nothing but clear skies. (At least for the first hour I was there. But that's another story...)

Sunrise over Hwy 54 - southbound near Orogrande, NM

Driving I-10 through El Paso (yes, that's snow on the front of my truck).

The snow was gone, the skies were sunny... all I needed was the trains. So I pulled up to a nice spot in Sunland Park near the base of Mt. Cristo Rey, and made an unfortunate discovery -- I'd landed right in the middle of a track window.

Instant buzzkill! The tie gang was getting into position to work the very stretch of track where I hoped to shoot eastbound trains.

Trains were still moving, but they were on the other main line (on a separate, less scenic right-of-way) and were mostly westbounds. By the time the eastbounds started running, the light was no good. It was starting to get cloudy, anyway. Seemed like a good time to do some sightseeing away from the tracks...

"God is Mexican" - a mural I first photographed five or six years ago is still on display near the Rio Grande in El Paso.

If there was ever a place that needed to heed this message, it's Ciudad Juarez, the city which boasted the world's highest murder rate in 2009, and has long been known as a center of violence. Viewed from beneath one of the international bridges, the mountainside message (translated to English) reads, "The Bible is the Truth. Read it."

Later, I stopped for lunch out in Sunland Park. The tacos were tasty; too bad I didn't have my taxes quite ready to file....

Notary service, tax filing, and tacos all under one roof!

By mid-afternoon, several trains were in the area. The tie gang continued to work on Main 2, but I caught several moves on Main 1 nearby. The sun even stayed out for a few of them.

Freights over the Rio Grande. An eastbound rolls into El Paso from New Mexico. Just south of here, the Rio Grande becomes the international border between the US and Mexico. The driver of the Dodge pickup was fishing.

We're not through yet... stay tuned for Part 2 from Saturday...


np: Waylon Jennings - "Are you ready for the country"

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

time running out...

Spring Break Day 6 - Friday, March 19, 2010

All vacations have to end eventually, and time was running out on ours. I had already returned our ski gear, and some nasty weather was moving in. Friday was spent around the house, alternating between jigsaw puzzle assembly and reconnaissance missions in the woods with M while the girls played video games.

Time was running out as I snapped this self portrait on my cell phone... on the plus side, I'd soon be back in 3G range, and would once again be able to email photos to my sweetie...

running through the woods with M...

Rain moved into the area in the late afternoon, and changed over to snow as the temperatures dropped. Would we be able to start home on Saturday? Stay tuned to find out...

Vacation was almost finished, but the next wave of snow was just starting...

Coming next: heading home via El Paso.


np: BaD Radio on KTCK 1310 AM "the Ticket"

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

chasin' in the basin

Spring Break Day 5 - Thursday, March 18, 2010

Lauren wasn't feeling well on Thursday morning, so we decided to take the day off from skiing. I knew of a few trains running nearby on the UP Carrizozo line between Tucumcari and El Paso. It was another day of great weather, so I decided to head for the Tularosa Basin to get some photos...

I've always enjoyed the landscape around Carrizozo. As you drive down from the mountains to the lower elevations, the pinon oaks give way to wide open prairies... dig those wide open vistas!

Above Nogal, NM

driving US 380 near Carrizozo

I missed the first train (they really move out there in the desert) and had to wait a couple hours until the next one showed up. I drove to Alamogordo, did some shopping, and then headed back to Carrizozo. That gave the light time to swing around to a more favorable angle. I'd lost interest in the Carrizozo line after the lower quadrant semaphore signals came down (geeze, has it really been 11 years?) but the line still offers some photo opportunities worth checking out.

UP 7349 leads a west/southbound stack train, south of Carrizozo.

Near Three Rivers, NM. Sierra Blanca, where we had skied the past two days, looms in the background.

Pacing north of Tularosa.

Approaching Tularosa, NM

It was an enjoyable chase on a line I haven't photographed in several years.

Also seen in southern New Mexico during our travels was the work of graffiti artist "Irot" / "Riot". Irot's trademark cyclops creature caught my eye on a number of abandoned buildings and structures. I'd first noticed them on Monday as we drove from El Paso to Ruidoso, so I made sure to return for a few flicks...

Riot / Ante in Alamogordo

Riot in Mescalero

Irot near Ruidoso

Vacation time was winding down, but we still had a day left... check back soon for more.


np: The Simpsons on dvd - Season 7, Disc 1

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Epic Ski - Day 2

Spring Break Day 4 - Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Another great day of skiing... a little warmer than the day before, and less crowded. Gotta love those spring days when you can shed the jacket and ski in short sleeves. I even broke out my favorite pair of shorts for a few hours in the afternoon.

The only thing missing was the extra layer of sunscreen. They'd be sorry about that later...

Another great day on the slopes. This must have been the first run of the day; they still had their jackets on...

It's still hard for me to believe sometimes that L knows how to do this... and she gets better every year...

Good times!

M's birthday usually coincides with the Spring Break holidays, so he's become accustomed to celebrating it in New Mexico. After a "Pasta Mania" dinner at Alto Lakes, we returned to our lodgings to open presents.

Celebrating M's 9th birthday

The piece de resistance: the Lego Imperial Flagship. It would take us most of the rest of our week in New Mexico to assemble this monstrosity. M wouldn't have it any other way...

Up next: a day in the Tularosa Valley.


np: Split Lip Rayfield - "Used to call me baby"

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Monday, May 10, 2010

Epic Ski - Day 1

Spring Break Day 3 - Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The sunny skies and excellent snow definitely brought out the crowds... Ski Apache employees told us this was the busiest day they had seen in 10 years. The lift lines would be long, but it was a great day for skiing...

getting close... mile 10 of the 12-mile drive

Beautiful day

MV had never skied before; she did great and didn't even take a lesson.

stoked about skiing!

One of many rewards for the adventurous skier at Ski Apache: a view of the Tularosa Basin including White Sands National Monument.

Jesus Rocks (and he says hello)

Stay tuned for Epic Ski - Day 2...


np: Matthew Sweet - "Sick of Myself"

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