Commemorative Train

More train geeking.  Amtrak engine 156, with the “Phase 1” 40-year anniversary commemorative paint job, on the California Zephyr route.  This engine has been heading back and forth between Chicago, IL and Emeryville, CA for several weeks now.

Seems like every train has had some special train car in tow.  The Zephyr often shuttles Amtrak equipment between California and their shop in Beech Grove, Indiana.

Click on all photos for larger versions.


April 24, 2014: AMTK 156 Eastbound near Tolland, Colorado.

April 24, 2014: AMTK 156 Eastbound near Tolland, Colorado.  Amtrak California #90225 Cabbage Car in tow.


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Winter Light

The shortest and coldest days are upon us in the northern hemisphere.


California Zephyr, Dec. 7, 2013

California Zephyr near Pinecliffe, Dec. 7, 2013 (click for larger)


It hasn’t been above freezing for a while now.  To make matters worse, on one of the coldest nights when temperatures were below zero on the Fahrenheit scale, the power went out for about 7 hours.  No heat during that time.

I’m still very busy with work and haven’t had much time for hiking or photos.

I was able to grab a short hike one afternoon this past week.  The temperature was 8, but I was dressed fairly warm.  No one had been on the trail so mine were the only human footprints.  I did note there were quite a few deer tracks and was glad they weren’t all hunted.

After about 30 minutes, I was walking along, lost in my thoughts, as I often am on solo hikes, when I suddenly became aware that I was following the tracks, not of a deer, but of a mountain lion who was going in the same direction I was.


Mountain lion paw print in the snow.

Mountain lion paw print in the snow. This print was about 3.5 to 4 inches wide.


When a mountain lion leaves tracks, the front paw leaves a print and then the back paw steps almost exactly in the same spot, over-printing the front paw print.  So much of the time it’s hard to get a good print because its been stepped on twice.   Because it’s a cat with retractable claws, there is rarely a claw mark, unlike canines and bears.

After studying the track for a few minutes, I opted not to continue following it.  I felt a bit chilled after seeing the size of the paw prints, especially the distance from one print to the next.  That was one big kitty.



Take Me Away

Amtrak #5 heading west this morning.

Amtrak #5 heading west this morning, with a car chasing along.

It’s still difficult to find spare time.  Both businesses are doing well, but that cuts both ways. It’s been stressful. Days off are spent doing chores.

It was a year ago that I hopped on the train and rode it through Colorado, Utah, Nevada, California, Arizona and New Mexico.  Last night I dreamed about hopping on the train and going as far as Reno then heading back.  That idea really appeals to me right now.

It would be so relaxing, because as a captive on a train, there is nothing to do but to eat, sleep, and watch the scenery go by.  Forced passiveness.

Why Reno?  Because it’s 24 hours from Denver.  A day and a night in one direction.

When I woke after the dream, I went online and checked fares for next week. Unfortunately, the fares discourage improvisation. The bedrooms are booked.

I miss hiking and exploring and taking photos.  Now we are entering winter, and with the clocks falling back an hour, short days and darkness.