Friday, June 27, 2008

NRHS Convention - Quanah Zephyr

Saturday, June 21 was the final day of the NRHS Convention here in Fort Worth. NRHS had arranged for a "rare mileage" excursion (i.e., a passenger train operating on track that is normally freight-only) to operate between Fort Worth and Quanah. The train left downtown Fort Worth early on Saturday morning. I got a few photos as it headed north out of town...

With a BNSF locomotive leading an Amtrak unit, the 13-car Quanah Zephyr approaches Northside Drive north of downtown Fort Worth.

The Quanah Zephyr crosses Saginaw Interlocking...

Heading northwest on the BNSF Wichita Falls Sub just out of Saginaw. This would be the first scheduled passenger train to travel the former Fort Worth & Denver main line through Wichita Falls in more than 40 years.

Since the train was heading directly out of the morning sun northwest of Saginaw, I elected not to follow it any further. I wish I'd stuck with it as far as Dickworsham, a siding east of Wichita Falls. There, the Quanah Zephyr met an eastbound coal train, which was being alternately attacked / vandalized by a disturbed individual with an obvious "axe to grind". Zephyr crew members quickly locked down their cars, and the axe-wielding maniac was soon taken into custody and carted away. Passengers on board the train were treated to a great view -- and got some spectacular photos -- of a BNSF Special Agent drawing his sidearm on the lunatic. As I told my friend Steve, a New Jersey resident who attended the convention, "That's how we do things here in Texas."
Coming next... a San Angelo road trip.
np: Kris Kristofferson - "The show goes on"

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

NRHS Convention - Day Two

On Tuesday, June 17, Grapevine Vintage RR operated a special excursion train for the NRHS convention. The train departed Grapevine in the morning, headed east to Coppell for a series of photo runbys, then returned to Grapevine and went west to the Fort Worth Stockyards. I hadn't seen the 2248 operate in a few years, so it was a nice opportunity to get out and see some operating steam.

"Photo Line Boss" Ken Fitzgerald. Love the bullhorn!

The first photo line. Ken would have his work cut out for him keeping this group under control...

Passing the Grapevine depot

Heading east from Grapevine toward Coppell

After returning from Coppell, the 2248 took a spin on the Grapevine turntable before heading west to Fort Worth.

Servicing the 2248 at Grapevine

NRHS fashion statements

The always fashionable Skip Waters - President of the North Texas Chapter of the NRHS

On Wednesday, the NRHS toured the Texas State Railway between Rusk and Palestine. On Thursday, they rode the Trinity Railway Express between Fort Worth and Dallas. I wouldn't catch up with the convention again until Saturday morning, when the Quanah Zephyr (rare mileage excursion from Fort Worth to Quanah and return) departed Fort Worth. Stay tuned for more...

np: Johnny Bush - "Devil's Disciple"

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008

NRHS Convention - Day One

This year's NRHS (National Railway Historical Society) convention took place in Fort Worth. The NRHS holds their convention in a different city each year; this the first time I can recall them having a convention here in Texas. Themed "Lone Star Rails 2008", the convention attracted hundreds of railfans, railroad historians, and railroaders (both active and retired) to our fair city from June 16-21.

Although I am not an NRHS member, Skip Waters, the president of the North Texas chapter, invited me to give a multimedia presentation at the convention's "Welcome Barbecue", which took place in Saginaw on June 16. I assembled a ProShow presentation of some of my best recent photos of trains in the Fort Worth area and set it all to music: "Fort Worth, Texas" by Ray Price, and "Cow Town" by Webb Pierce. My work seemed to be well-received by the largely non-Texan crowd.

Here are a few scenes from Monday's barbecue.

Visiting with friends and fellow 'fans: Randy, Ken, and Steve.

The NRHS crowd greets the northbound Heartland Flyer.

This Genset powered one of several trains to roll through Saginaw during the NRHS Welcome Barbecue.

L watches an empty sulfur train roll through Saginaw at dusk.
On Tuesday, we photographed an NRHS steam excursion on the Grapevine Vintage Railroad. Stay tuned for more...
np: Waylon Jennings - "Ride me down easy"

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Big power, big train

On Sunday, June 8, the kids joined me for a train chase to Cresson. Fort Worth & Western ran a "Cresson Turn" (Ft Worth to Cresson and back) with 5 locomotives (including all three of their SD40-2s) and 51 cars. The Barnett Shale drilling projects southwest of Fort Worth are generating an enormous amount of traffic for our local shortline; FWWR is operating trains this long -- or longer -- just about every day.

Our first photo was this picturesque broadside view of the train crossing Mustang Creek.

Climbing upgrade approaching Cresson - FWWR 2017 in the lead.

Arriving at Cresson, where the crew would set out their entire train to the siding. (Note that the yard tracks in the background were already full).

Santa Fe CTC signals are still in place on the line west of Ft Worth, which FWWR now operates under Track Warrant Control.

We observed a pair of Colossus sketches at Cresson.

Running light back to the yard office after setting their train out.

Coming up next... Day One of the NRHS (National Railway Historical Society) Convention in Fort Worth.


np: Billy Joe Shaver - "I don't seem to fit anywhere"

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

unofficial class reunion

Last Sunday, it was an absolute pleasure to visit with four friends from San Angelo who I haven't seen since I graduated from high school. The alcohol was a-flowin' and we were feelin' fine!

Standing: Junie, Mary, K and me. Seated: Jocelyn and Melissa (both of whom I dated in high school.)
The social networking site "Facebook" played no small part in our little get-together. K and I both joined FB back in January, and before long, we were back in touch with some old friends. Melissa now lives in Florida and was my first FB contact after I joined. Thank you, Mark Zuckerman...

Browsing the old CHS yearbooks...

Stay tuned... I'll have lots of railroad stuff coming up soon.


np: Led Zeppelin - "Bring it on home"


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The A-Kon experience - 2

Why is L dressed like an Akatsuki?

L and her friend, S in full Akatsuki garb. The Akatsuki are a group of ninja assassins from the "Naruto" series.

So, this was L's costume for A-Kon 19... L went dressed as Deidara. Just the two of us went on Saturday; we had only a couple hours to spend there before I had to come home and get ready for work. On Sunday, we returned with a second Akatsuki in tow -- L's friend S, dressed as Sasori.

L was Deidara, the blonde at the far left. S was Sasori (upper left).

"My little Akatsuki's" do some shopping in the comic market...


... magazines...

... pocky!
And now for my costume... when L first started talking about going to A-Kon, and the possibility of dressing up for it, I immediately thought of the only anime show I had any kind of identification with. There was just one show that I felt I could relate to, and it had the added benefit of allowing me to "kick it old-school", of being able to show those young punks the kind of anime that MY generation grew up with. True fans no doubt know the show by its Japanese name, "Mach GoGoGo" But to the layman, it's simply "Speed Racer."

Striking a pose as Go Mifune.
I was pleasantly surprised by the reactions I got to my costume, from people both young and old. A couple of young women (late teens / early 20s) came up and asked for a hug. There was the 40-ish mom who told me she remembers rushing home from school every day to watch the show. And a middle-aged t-shirt vendor congratulated me on representing the "early history" of anime. But the best reaction was from a little boy, probably about 4 years old... his eyes lit up when he saw me and he knew just who I was. "Speed Racer!" To him, I was the real deal. I gave him a high-five, posed for a photo with him, and told him to go see my movie. K told me after we returned home, "you must feel like a rock star". Well, pretty much...

I must have posed for at least 50 photos during our two days at A-Kon. A couple shots have ended up on the various Photo Galleries on the A-Kon site. One of them even ended up as the main photo on the A-Kon "Activities" page. I have no idea how long this link will remain active, or how long my photo might remain on it, but it's worth checking out:

feelin' like a rock star with my girl

np: Webb Pierce - Cow Town

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Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The A-Kon experience - 1

Why is this convention hall filled with people?

Filled with dealer tables and freaks in costumes, something BIG must be going on...

It's A-Kon 19 in Dallas! A-Kon is an annual convention celebrating anime, manga, cosplay, gaming, and all things in between... and if you don't know what any of that stuff is, look it up -- I had to!

They would get there or die trying... The person I met who came the farthest was a dealer from Colorado...

A little bit of background info... L has been interested in anime and manga books for about the past year or so after her friends introduced her to some manga titles like the "Naruto" series. Several months ago, L urgently announced that we just HAD to go to this anime convention in Atlanta in September. I had never heard of such a thing, but I figured if there was one in Atlanta, then there must be an equivalent (superior, actually... since everyone knows we do things bigger and better in Texas) convention somewhere in the D-FW area. It didn't take me long to find a website for A-Kon 19.

After looking at some of the photos of last year's event on the A-Kon website's Photo Gallery page, I was almost as interested in attending this event as L was. Even before we registered, L was busily planning her costume... and just to show that I was "in the spirit" of things, I planned one of my own. No, you don't get to see it quite yet; I'll post photos in my next entry. In the meantime, surf around on the photo galleries on the A-Kon site; you just might spot me.

A few words about Cosplayers... these people are f-ing NUTS! This was my first exposure to the world of Cosplay and I was blown away by how much time and work some of these people put into their elaborate costumes. Most of the costumes were consistent with the anime / manga / gaming themes (everything from Pokemon to Power Rangers to Halo 3 to Mario Brothers were represented) but there were also costumes as random as the Ghostbusters, Spider Man, Burger King, and Darth Vader. We didn't get to attend the actual Cosplay contest; it was held on Saturday night and I had to work. Maybe next year I will ask off for that day so that we can attend and possibly even participate. But we saw more than an eyeful during our day and a half at the convention... here is a look at some of the more noteworthy costumes.

A group from the popular "Naruto" series

Some familiar faces, along with some relative unknowns...
One of the main attractions of the convention -- besides running into Cosplayers at every turn -- were the convention halls full of dealer tables, hawking no end of dvd's, books, t-shirts, art work, Japanese candy and snacks, paper parasols, weaponry... you name it. There was some serious commerce going down. I'll share more in my next entry.
Everyone is welcome in Yaoi-land -- even heterosexual men! (But I didn't see very many...)

We also spent some time looking through the various entries in the Art Show...

I'm not sure I'd hang this on my wall, but L might...

more works of art

Hmmm, exactly what I was thinking.
Stay tuned for more from A-Kon...
np: Hagfish - "Aquarium"

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Monday, June 02, 2008

24 hours of trains

During Memorial Day weekend, I attended part of an event sponsored by the North Texas Chapter of the NRHS. This was their 3rd annual "24 hour train watching party" in Saginaw, Texas. Held on the Friday and Saturday before Memorial Day, fans are invited to come watch BNSF, UP, and Amtrak trains roll past the Saginaw Heritage Center for part or all of a 24-hour period beginning at 7 pm on Friday.

UP 1915 makes a late night move past the depot...

Shadowy figures and a southbound rock train.

All train movements were logged on the official train sheet.

To help pass time between trains, NRHS chapter president and event coordinator Skip Waters scheduled video and slide presentations, trivia contests, door prizes and give-aways, and even a horn-blowing demonstration.

Setting up for a digital slide show

I did NOT stay for the whole 24 hours; I had to work second shift on Friday and Saturday (dammit!) But I logged a few hours on Friday night after work, and then returned with the kids on Saturday afternoon for the horn-honk.

High sun photo line... don't worry, guys... the light will be better in about six hours.

Auto-Maxes, lawn chairs, and mullets. Oh my!

There must be a train coming...

Hey Dad, when is Troy gonna let ME blow the horn?

M always likes to hang around on the caboose.

Thanks to Skip Waters, the North Texas chapter of the NRHS, and the Saginaw Chamber of Commerce for hosting a very enjoyable event. It was a nice time for fun and fellowship; many attendees -- both locals and out-of-towners -- are on the Railspot and Texoma Railfans lists, so it's one of those times to put names with faces and just enjoy the comaraderie without worrying so much about "getting the shot".
Railspotter LnCS (if that IS his real name), visiting the D-F-Dub from Aggieland, posted photos and videos from the event in near "real time"... here, take a look:

np: Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder - "Get up, John"

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