Wednesday, November 26, 2008

RailRunners & Santa Fe relics

Ever since passing through the Albuquerque area during the last week of October about 8 years ago, I had wanted to get back and re-experience the fall color along the Rio Grande in that area. What better trains to photograph than the Albuquerque RailRunners, whose colors complement the cottonwoods, and which run on predictable schedules?

A southbound passes a colorful cottonwood near Isleta on November 4.

Mingling with BNSF traffic during a station stop at Belen

Departing Los Lunas, heading north in "push" mode...

A Southbound kicks up leaves as it approaches Isleta

Southbound in the late afternoon near Isleta.

Between RailRunner shots, we found time to discover a few Santa Fe relics around Albuquerque, including...

I thought I had found a nice GP30, until I came around to the engineer's side and discovered it had been hit by taggers. I'd love to see one of these repainted in BNSF "Heritage" colors (or even a fresh coat of blue and yellow) but its days on the BNSF roster are probably numbered.

SD40-2 # 6958 was in better condition...

Derelict Albuquerque shops building

Santa Fe logo at Albuquerque shops.

Coming next - more from Albuquerque, including ghost signs, fine dining, more fall color, and a flat tire. Check back in a few days... and Happy Thanksgiving.


np: Robert Nighthawk - "You call yourself a Cadillac" (from Mississippi Delta Blues Vol. 1)

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Hard Amarillo railway

More from November 3 as we spend some time along the railroad, working our way toward Albuquerque...

Main track labels at Eastern Blvd. in Amarillo

An empty grain shuttle for Silvis, Illinois blasts out of Amarillo shortly after sunrise...

Serendipity at Puente: I had time to spend a couple hours north of Amarillo in the morning while Miss C. caught up on her sleep. One photo I've been wanting to get for years is a shot of a train crossing the massive Canadian River bridge about 20 miles north of the city.

In an example of fortuitous railfan timing, just as soon as I had hiked into a suitable vantage point, a southbound loaded coal train arrived and rumbled over the bridge. These are the Distributbed Power locomotives, shoving hard against the rear of the train as it begins the steep climb out of the river valley.

Run-around at Dawn: Early afternoon on the Hereford Sub, a Z-train passes a stopped stack train between Canyon and Hereford.

Now into New Mexico, we enjoy a sunset at Melrose...

An eastbound races through Melrose, just minutes away from a crew change in Clovis.

Melrose at dusk. Light on the horizon at far right is another approaching eastbound.

Thanks for looking... check back in a couple days for a look at the Albuquerque RailRunners, and fall color along the Rio Grande.


np: Townes Van Zandt - "Blue wind blew"

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

grain elevator gallery

A few photos of grain elevators seen during our drive west from Amarillo...

Producers Grain - Amarillo

Hi Plains Industries - Dawn, Texas

Hereford Grain Corp. - Hereford, TX

Hereford Grain Corp and BNSF locomotive

A closer look...

Looking down the tracks at Bovina

Coming next: a selection of Panhandle train photos...


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Saturday, November 22, 2008

Hard Amarillo highway

"I ain't got no blood in my veins, I just got them four lanes of hard Amarillo highway" - Terry Allen

US Highway 60 - between Canyon and Hereford

Cowboy Motel - on old Route 66 in Amarillo

Zoot Suits / Tuxedo Rentals - Amarillo

irony in Bovina

Someone should tell her to stay off the tracks... ;-)

Stay tuned for more. Coming next... a gallery of grain elevators.


np: ESPN College GameDay - Texas Tech vs Oklahoma preview

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Amarillo sunrise

sunrise in Amarillo - November 3

There's something magical about waking up at sunrise in a different town. You arrived after sunset the night before, and the town's homes, storefronts, parks, and streets were obscured by darkness. Now, the rising sun illuminates all the sights that shadows obscured the night before. All is revealed -- the town's prevailing style of architecture, the color of its street signs and fire hydrants, even the expressions on its citizens' faces. From the beauty of a botanical garden to the ugliness of a scrap yard... from a uniquely-painted water tower to a carbon-copy Starbucks, nothing is hidden; nothing is concealed. The sights you're used to seeing every day of your life are gone, replaced by something new and different in the warm glow of early morning sunlight. The day is yours to experience and appreciate. Look around and enjoy the view.

Check back in a day or two as we hit the Hard Amarillo Highway...


np: Jill - "Just like Fonzie"


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Road trip 1: day one

A few photos from my recent trip to New Mexico with Miss C...

Gas prices before and after the trip. We couldn't afford NOT to go! Who could have predicted they'd be even lower when we got back?

Day One: Cleburne to Amarillo
(Sunday, November 2)

We didn't have to go far to find some fall color. BNSF 9943 passes colorful foliage near Alvord.

Heard's Hardware & Furniture - Bowie, TX. Ghost sign reads: "Matthew Heard & Cady. Implements - Buggies - Wagons - Stoves - Harness - Saddlery"

Hardware & Appliances

Matthew Heard storefront in Bowie

Kit's This and That / Perry Bros ghost sign

Ft Worth & Denver railway overpass west of Bowie

FW&D lettering and Burlington Route logo

We made it to Amarillo in time for a late dinner at the Big Texan Steak Ranch. If you've ever driven I-40 across New Mexico, Oklahoma, or the Texas Panhandle -- or most other highways that lead to Amarillo -- you've undoubtedly seen their billboards, promising a free 72-oz steak dinner to anyone who can finish it off in less than 60 minutes. It's a mandatory stop for anyone who enjoys: A) tacky road trip kitsch, B) a celebration of Texas "excess", and C) fine steaks. And Miss C. had never been...

We were in luck: when we arrived, a contestant was on stage, attempting to conquer the legendary "72". The steak was bigger than his stomach, however, and it ultimately conquered him, to the tune of a $72 price tag.

Coming next: Day Two - from Amarillo to Albuquerque. Stay tuned...


np: Mazzy Star - "She's my baby"

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

NM mini re-cap

It's Wednesday morning as I type this, and my 2-week vacation is about two-thirds complete. Here's a quick look at how it's gone so far...

Clockwise from top left: highway scene near Lake Valley, Whiskey enjoys a Blake's Lotaburger in Los Lunas, fall color along the Rio Grande, Miss C. gets to know the railroad west of Clovis.

Miss C. joined me for a trip to New Mexico from Sunday through Saturday. Highlights included fall color along the Rio Grande south of Albuquerque, a drive to the Monjeau Lookout near Ruidoso, a visit to the ghost town of Lake Valley, sunny skies, fine dining, great music, and lots and lots of trains. Check back in a week or so for a "real" update as I begin the full trip report. It'll take several posts to do justice to our trip in words and photos. Until then...


np: Banjo & Sullivan - "I'm at home gettin' hammered (while she's out gettin' nailed)

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Eaglesmith, etc

On Sunday, October 19, my friend Mike joined me for the trip to Love & War in Texas (way out in Plano) to see Fred Eaglesmith perform at KHYI's Shiner Sunday. It was my second time to see Fred, and Mike's first. For the uninitiated, Eaglesmith is an alt-country / Americana singer-songwriter from Ontario, Canada. He's got a unique sound and vocal style... imagine an up-tempo John Mellencamp with a growling, gravelly voice and more of a bluegrass influence.

Fred Eaglesmith at KHYI's Shiner Sunday - Love & War in Texas

His band lineup was a bit different from the last time I saw him... mandolin player Willie P Bennett was conspicuously absent.

Fred breaks out the bull horn...

They played several of my favorite Fred tunes... "Time to get a gun", "White Trash", "Wilder than her", "Good Enough", "Freight Train", "I like trains", and "Cumberland County". The slow songs sounded good, and the fast songs rocked... but they really could have used a mandolin in the band. Some of his songs just don't sound "right" without one.

Fred Eaglesmith entertains the crowd at Shiner Sunday

Between songs, Fred congratulated the crowd on embracing socialism (a reference to our recent federal "bailout"), conveyed subliminal messages to radio listeners (the 1st set was broadcast live on KHYI), and admonished an unfortunate brunette in the front row for carrying on a conversation while Fred had the stage. A word of advice when you go to see Fred.... if he is on stage talking or singing, shut the hell up. Don't say I didn't warn you.

The Ginn Sisters opened...

A band called the Ginn Sisters was the opening act... a trio of ladies with one on guitar and two on vocals, performing folksy acoustic songs. One of the sisters played a flute on a few of the songs. They joined Eaglesmith and his band on stage for part of the second set. In all, it was a fun afternoon and we got our money's worth...

The Ginn Sisters joined Eaglesmith on stage for a few songs.

* * * * *

Allow me to introduce a special lady in my life by the name of "C"... or "Miss C" if you prefer. She lives in near Fort Worth, has a kid (and 3 dogs), and works an 8-to-5 job in the health care industry. We've been enjoying each other's company on weekends (have caught a couple of bands down at the Aardvark) and occasionally meet for lunch. She's way cool... and I'll be seeing more of her. So will you.

Hangin' with Miss C at Fuzzy's Tacos after a show at the Aardvark.

Miss C is a dog owner. "Popeye" is one of 3 Chihuahuas.

L gets to know Popeye during a recent visit to Miss C's house.

Miss C models her degree from the University of Phoenix .

On the Road

It's vacation time... so you'll be without my services for the next couple of weeks. I'll be spending the next several days on a trip to New Mexico -- enjoying sunny skies, fall colors, trains, ghost signs, the outdoors, the open road, and the company of someone special (see above). Until then...


np: "Airplane II" on HBO

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