Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Day in North America 2008

Well, on Saturday, July 26, it was that time again... time to go shoot photos for "Day in North America". Sponsored by Railroads Illustrated magazine, DINA occurs once a year. It's a date when railfans throughout North America are encouraged to shoot photos of railroad-related subjects, and then submit them for publication in a special issue of the magazine. I have participated almost every year for the past 10 years or so. This year, I was scheduled to work 2nd shift in the afternoon (wonder if anyone photographed any of MY trains...) but I still had the morning free.... here are the results:

I began the day at Saginaw with a pair of Gensets tied down on an industry job...

A Great Northern wood-chip gon, now in BNSF maintenance-of-way service, was on hand on the Saginaw transfer. A great catch!

"Rocky the Goat" logo

BNSF 9614 leads a coal load into Saginaw...

BNSF 5510 leads northbound Z-ALTWSP north of Justin...
KCS 2018 at Metro. This train was delivering UPS loads for BNSF's Z ALTWSP to pick up.

The KCS 220 job waits in the clear while the BNSF train picks up UPS loads...

Finishing the "pig dance"... The KCS gives the BNSF conductor a ride back to the head-end of his train.

A few logos from DINA...

Coming next: "This is my railroad". Stay tuned...


np: kids still sleeping past 9 am. This is the last week they'll get away with that... school starts August 25!

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Recent railroading

I've been preoccupied with things other than trains lately, and haven't gotten out to shoot photos much during most of the summer. But I have been out a couple times... On Sunday, July 13, M joined me for an evening trip to Saginaw, where we shot a couple of BNSF industry jobs, some monikers, and a UP empty rock train.

Hamming it up for Dad...

Waiting for a signal at Saginaw Interlocker

Geeps and gensets side-by-side

"Lost Job"

A trio of GP60s leads northbound rock empties.

A southbound waits at Hicks to meet the rock empties.
Coming next... my Day in North America shoot from July 26.
np: Kentucky Colonels - "Shady Grove"

Labels: , ,

Friday, August 15, 2008

Coolin' off down south

The primary objective of our New Braunfels trip was to cool off -- in the clear waters of the spring-fed Comal River, and at the legendary Schlitterbahn water park. We enjoyed both, and had a great time. I hadn't been to Schlitterbahn since 1994, and it had been over 20 years since I'd been tubing on the Comal. (When I was in grade school and junior high, I went to summer camp in the Hill Country, and they always took us tubing down there at least once each summer). There is something satisfying about sharing something with my kids that I enjoyed when I was about the same age as them.

Dad, this water is COLD! The spring-fed Comal River is much cooler than a swimming pool -- a great way to cool off on a 100-degree day.

Day One: Comal River. We rented tubes from one of the outfitters near Landa Park. For $10, you get a tube, along with unlimited rides on their bus, which will take you to the drop-in point, pick you up again an hour or two later at the take-out point, and drive you back to the top. Or if you just want to ride the rapids, that's an option, too... pull your tube out at the bottom of one of the fast sections, walk back to the top and ride 'em again... and again... and again... until you're ready for a break on one of the slower sections.

It doesn't look that crowded in my photos, but it was just a big ole party down there... lots of groups of 10 or 15 people together, with extra tubes to carry coolers of beer... some people even had their dogs with them.... fun times! I found myself wondering what had taken me so long to get back down there...

Fun times on the Comal...

M clings to my feet as we cruise down the Tube Chute...

We survived!

M at the Camp Warnecke rapids. I was only a couple years older than him the first time I rode them...

Day Two: Schlitterbahn. Widely considered to be one of the world's best water parks, Schlitterbahn is located on the banks of the Comal, and actually uses river water for most of its rides and attractions. The park -- already one of the biggest I had seen -- had expanded twice since my last visit. It now consists of three separate sections. Ticket prices include rides on the shuttle buses which carry passengers between the park's three sections. I didn't take many pictures, but that doesn't mean there was any shortage of fun. It did get real crowded in the afternoon, though... and the lines for some of the more popular rides were extremely long. But it was worth it to see the kids enjoy a day at Texas' best water park.

M at the bottom of the Downhill Racer -- that ride was FAST!

Taking a break at the kiddie pool...

That pretty much wraps up our New Braunfels weekend, but I was compelled to snap a final photo during a break at the Love's Travel Stop north of Temple...
Would someone care to explain the connection between Jesus and Low-rider cars? Anyone?
np: Marti Brom - "Love, not liquor"

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Lockhart - architecture & ghost signs

A few street scenes, ghost signs, and some architecture from our recent trip through Lockhart, Texas...

Texas Hybrid Seed Corn - near San Marcos, TX

Caldwell County courthouse - Lockhart

Masur Bros. Hardware & Coca-Cola ads - Lockhart

Masur Brothers Hardware & Farm Implements

Staffel's and Wendland's signs - Lockhart

Pool Hall - Lockhart, TX

Joe Masur Furniture - Lockhart

Coming next... tubing on the Comal River and a visit to a legendary water park. Stay tuned...
np: Sidehill Gougers - "John Henry"

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Barbecue pilgrimage

The weekend before last, the kids and I took a road trip down to New Braunfels. Due to their travel plans for this week, it was pretty much the last chance we'd have this summer to do a Schlitterbahn visit, something we'd been wanting to do for a while. So on Sunday morning, we loaded up the truck and headed south...

Game on! How did kids ever survive long-distance highway trips before the Nintendo DS?

Southbound on I-35W near Hillsboro

As anxious as we were to reach New Braunfels, we all agreed that a slight detour to Lockhart was in order. Why Lockhart? So that we make our biennial pilgrimage to Smitty's Market, one of the sacred shrines of Texas barbecue.

Smitty's Market - Lockhart, TX

If barbecue is a religion, there's little debate among people "of faith" that the Barbecue Holy Land begins and ends in Lockhart. With its three legendary barbecue eateries (Smitty's Market, Kreuz Market, and Black's), one can enjoy a Trinity of post-oak smoked, mouth-watering goodness. Alas, since Kreuz Market observes the Sabbath day as a day of rest, our choices were narrowed down to two. It wasn't much of a choice, actually... Smitty's tall smokestack on the edge of the downtown area summoned us like a beacon from above, and the full parking lot out back told us we were in the right place.

Smitty's pit bosses

Watch your step when you walk in that back door... an open fire will be at your feet, feeding smoke into the enormous brick pit that lines the entire east wall. And it is HOT in there... no air conditioning in the pit area... just a few open windows. Pit bosses busily scurry around, opening and closing the pits, tending the fire, tossing cuts of meat onto the cutting block, weighing them, and slapping them down onto sheets of brown butcher paper in front of salivating customers. They'll ask how many are in your party, and then tear off that many additional sheets of butcher paper. Those are your "plates". You'll also be offered side dishes of white bread and saltine crackers.
Before the feast

Once you've paid for your meat, you head inside to the air conditioned dining room to purchase your drinks -- and sides, if you want any. They offer beans, potato salad, tomatoes and avocados. You'll get a plastic knife to slice your meat and a plastic spoon for your beans or potato salad, but no forks -- Lockhart-style barbecue requires one to eat with his or her hands. Then it's time to find a seat at one of the long wooden picnic-style tables. Don't bother asking for barbecue sauce... they might keep a bottle of it somewhere behind the counter, but you don't need it. The Smitty's experience is about two things -- smoke and meat. Sauce would only get in the way. Oh, and do I even need to mention -- once you've had Lockhart barbecue, you'll never be able to enjoy "regular" barbecue again? I didn't think so.

After the feast: look at those glazed eyes and inane grins - we're barbecue addicts!

Even after all that brisket, the kids somehow still had room for dessert. So we got them some Blue Bell ice cream "to go".

Finishing dessert

It was almost time to head for New Braunfels, but before we left Lockhart, we made a quick tour around the downtown area to look for ghost signs. Stay tuned for the next report...


np: Ralph Stanley - "Worried Man Blues"

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, August 03, 2008

RWH at L&W in TX

A "no time for the blog, just the pictures" edition...

It's Shiner Sunday -- quick... cover that "Lone Star" sign! On Sunday, July 27, Ray Wylie Hubbard was scheduled to perform at Shiner Sunday at Love & War in Texas in Plano. You'd damn well better believe I was waiting for this one... I hadn't seen RWH in 3 years! He doesn't do many Sunday shows around north Texas...

How cool is Shiner Sunday? You get to mingle with the performers before and after the show. Meeting the guy who penned the line "what you won't find up in heaven are Christian coalition right wing conservatives, country program directors and Nashville record executives" will probably be one of my top highlights from 2008!

My friend Mike -- never one to pass up an RWH performance -- joined me for the trip to Plano.

The intro from KHYI's Brett Dillon...

Ray Wylie Hubbard ROCKS! They blew an amp during the closing instrumental of "Wanna Rock N Roll"...

RWH says, "One more"... He closed with "Red Neck Mother"

Liz of "Liz & Lincoln", who opened for RWH

Liz & Lincoln join RWH and his band...

The railroad tracks (behind the crowd) were empty during the entire show. Maybe next time we'll get a train...
Other news: The kids and I will be starting a road trip to New Braunfels in about 7 hours. Destination: Schlitterbahn, with a side of barbecue. (It has been discovered that Smitty's Market in Lockhart is open Sundays...) Check back in a week or so for a trip report.
np: Ray Wylie Hubbard - "Name droppin'"

Labels: , , ,