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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