Wednesday, November 14, 2007

from one trip to another

How much damage do you think I could inflict on a Toyota RAV-4 during 6 days and 1,200 miles of chasing trains around California?

Before / after photos of my rental from Hertz

Actually, it wasn't quite that bad, but the vehicle I rented in San Jose (with 721 miles on the odometer) was definitely quite a bit more "broken in" when I handed it off in Ontario. It held up pretty well, though, and didn't give me any problems. I enjoyed driving it, and I didn't even miss my truck as much as I thought I would.
It was cool to spend a week driving a car with a GPS system. Even though I was well equipped with DeLorme atlases, the GPS saved me from getting lost a few times, and proved especially useful when I was trying to locate an In-N-Out Burger. All I had to do was punch in the address, and the GPS guided me there, hassle-free, every time.
the flight home
I had a window seat on the left side of the plane for the flight home from Ontario. It was cloudy over most of southern California and part of Arizona. By the time I recognized where we were, we were just south of Belen, NM, on about the same flight path we took when we flew home from Phoenix in March. By watching the railroads, highways, and other landmarks like rivers and lakes, I monitored our progress from Belen all the way back to D-FW. We had clear skies the entire way... a great flight.

looking down on Friona, Texas (in the Texas panhandle southwest of Amarillo)

Over Lake Grapevine. The plane below us had just taken off from D-FW as we assumed our landing pattern. I don't know if this would constitute a "close call", but it seemed a little close to me...

We got a great view of the new Dallas Cowboys stadium when we turned over Arlington.
During my week in California, I had spoken with my friend Stephen several times about his plans to spend the weekend with some other railfans on Rich Mountain (Arkansas-Oklahoma state line near Heavener, OK). So what did I do upon landing at D-FW? I collected my suitcase at baggage claim, picked up my truck, and without even stopping by the house first, I headed immediately for the Ouachita Mountains near Heavener. (K and the kids had gone to Kansas City to see K's grandparents, so no one was waiting for me at home). I hadn't been to Rich Mountain since 1997 and had been wanting to get back there, especially since the new KCS locomotives began showing up. And now I was on my way...
nr: John Steinbeck - East of Eden
np: Beastie Boys - "Hey Ladies"

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