Train Chasers!

RING RING (it's Rach calling) "There's something going on down here, at the railroad tracks by highway 18, there's lot of people with tripods and cameras hanging around all up and down the tracks..."

So begins our quest for the day.  Then the texting started (Rach is black, I'm red):

10:06     There's more where the tracks cross
10:06      Must be a special train coming?
10:07     You should google it!
10:08     I am!
10:08     Well hurry up! Chop chop!
10:09     Not finding anything... And someone keeps texting me!
10:10     Tony says it's Thomas, but it's old people out there with tripods so I don't agree.
10:12     I keep getting info on the band Train instead of the choo choo type, they must  be coming to White River
10:13     Try locomotive?
10:14     Now it's finding loco
10:17     Oh well, you guys should just go down there
10:17     I am
10:19     Good!

After a quick run into the bedroom to throw on some clothes, hair into a pony tail, then a FAST trip down the hill, find a parking spot and ask someone what's going on:

10:26      It's a steam loco coming from Tacoma

Then I contact Rick and he ends up coming down too.  I find a front row seat on a concrete platform with some kind of railroad controls in a metal housing, right next to the tracks (I'm actually about 10+ feet from the tracks).  We wait and wait and finally hear it whistling off in the distance!  Tooooot!  Toooot!  It rounds the bend but isn't what I was expecting, an old iron horse type old-west locomotive (bummer).  Instead it was one built in 1941 and retired in 1957 and has been doing excursions since 1974.  Wikipedia even reports that in 1983, a poll of Trains magazine readers chose the 4449 as the most popular locomotive in the nation.

OK, so it creeps by, people paying $129+ for a 6 hour train ride hanging out of boxcars and windows, obviously having a grand old time.  We get our shots and I'm greeted back at my car by a surly "policeman" (aren't all policemen surly?) claiming that I was stumbling and likely to have gotten hit by the train and was trespassing on private property.  Turns out he was a BNSF police - I didn't know there was such a thing!  He looked at my ID, wrote down some info in a small notebook and told me I got a warning. (I was NOT stumbling and nowhere near enough to have gotten hit, but now I know better!)

We decide to head up the freeway to the crossing in Covington since it's going so slow we'll beat it easily, even if I was detained by a railroad cop.  When we got up there there was another crowd gathered, waiting and making driving treacherous.  Lots of passers by stopped to ask "What's coming?" and we got a "Ooh!" when we'd share that it was a vintage steam locomotive.

After that shooting we headed home and did some putsing around the house and figured out a good spot to get it on it's return trip and the right time to be there.  We found our out-of-the-way spot and began the wait.  I think we were there about 4:45 or 4:50 even though we figured it'd be there about 5:30.  I mean, once it's past it's past, can't re-do!  So we waited and waited.  We picked spots that were maybe 100 feet apart so we would text each other while we waited.  It was 5:29 and I asked "Should we wait another 5 minutes? 10?" and I could hear Rick's phone chirping.  He was in mid text when we heard that same Tooooot!  Toooot! that we'd heard a couple times already that day.  Pretty good timing!  That time I got a lot closer to the tracks and moved out of the way safely but was still close enough to feel a good "whoosh!" as it flew past, a lot faster than it had in the morning, it was headed downhill now...

We rounded out the day with some take-out from the Fred Meyer deli and a JW party at a park, a going away party for some and a graduation party for another.  It was nice weather but cool in the shade and there were plenty of folks for Rick to meet.

Not quite the day we were expecting to have!  But a nice divergence from the regular weekend doldrums...

3 cats hacked up hairballs:

Melinda June 27, 2011 at 9:10 PM  

So well written!! You have the ability to have the reader believe they are there too, the supposed stumble and the surly BN cop – just like your Iceland blogs, I was there with you!!

The train came through Chehalis, twice! Coming and going. We too raced to see it, the steam whistle is just so cool! let’s see.... where are those photos? Oh that’s right, we forgot the *&%# camera!! I’m happy your competent selves got such excellent photos! Of course there were lots and lots of tripods lining the tracks here, but were we among them? Noooo.....

Rick Williams June 28, 2011 at 4:27 AM  

As you do and have done so many times previous, you smoked me yet again. Your train pictures were worlds away better than mine.

I think you'd better put them up on Smugmug!

Maggie June 28, 2011 at 10:55 PM  

Steam engine? STEAM ENGINE??? What's the big deal about that? eh? And that red color? Where is the rotten old filthy sooty black? Nah nah nah nah nah!!!

About Me

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After 2 unsuccessful marriages I spent 12 years as a divorcee, only to fall prey to another man's wiles. We had a fun 5 years together and then he decided he wanted more freedom so once again I'm single.

So I'm freshly divorced at 57 and have 5 great kids and now 7 grandkids. My kids are still a major part of my life but I'm busy helping my aging parents on Kauai.

I've lived in California, Hawaii and Oklahoma before finally settling here in Washington. I love Washington and come back to visit family, friends and take care of my garden often but will be temporarily a resident of Kauai.

I've moved 30 times in my life (no, my parents weren't in the service, at least not since I was about 2) and finally planted roots when I got my little house that I've owned since '91.

My family are Jehovah's Witnesses, I've been one since '72.