Southern Alberta Railfan News


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October 23, 2013

Ahh the joys of night shift

I suppose having a job that lets me work 3/5ths of the year isn't all bad, but sitting in a hotel room on night shift with no actual work to do really isn't as much fun as it sounds like. It has given me time to work on the model railroading blog on the site here, as well as do a few other things to the site. It's presently 01:20 (in the morning) and I'm sitting in my room at the iHotel in Red Deer. I managed to do a bunch of house keeping in the Beyond the Usual section, basically combining the pages for Walhachin, Savona, and Kamloops into 3 other pages based on railroad subdivision rather than place. A big part of that decision was the lack of new content from that area (I live a little further from there than I used to), and the fact that the Kamloops page has always seemed a little awkward to me. Particularly on the CP side, where was I to cut off the divide between the Shuswap Sub page, and the Kamloops page? At this point, problem solved!!

The other thing I did there was add a bit of new content. I now have set up pages for the CP's coal branches, the Fording River and Byron Creek subdivisions, as well as a place for shots west of Cranbrook on the Moyie Sub. I've been using any downtime I have in the hotel to either head out and go railfanning (hence all the shots from the Leduc and Brazeau Subs in the Southern Alberta section), or slowly catching up on adding content to the site. If you're interested, carefully watch the updated dates attached to most of the pages, and you'll see what's new! Thanks for looking!

September 7, 2013

Been too damn long

Okay, yeah, I need to update this way more often. Life's a bitch, right? At least I've been busy!! After somewhere around a 2 year absence the site is finally back online. I've got lots on content waiting in the wings, but not online yet. I lost a good portion of 2009 to 2012's photos due to a hard drive failure (gonna try get that recovered yet someday here.) The biggest difference is right off the homepage, where the Model Railroading link takes you to the blog I've started to chronicle my adventures in modelling.

Now playing: Pop Evil - Good With The Bad

I'll try to keep this up a bit more now...the new job as of January (of this year) has me working 3 weeks on, 2 weeks off, so I think I can squeeze out some time in there, or at least in the hotel room at work!! As usual, watch the updated dates on the front page to look for new content. All for now...

October 4, 2009

Another long-overdue update

Wow, has it been a while, or what? All I can say it that I've had a heck of a lot of shit happen so far this year, some good, some not so good. Much of the reason for the lack of updates on the news page is that I haven't been able to decide what I want to say, and then there's the work. As mentioned last update (10 months ago), I typically work 65 to 70 hours a week, so the other side of life takes up most of what time I have left over at that point. Believe it or not, there are better things to do than spend a bunch of time writing here. Seeing as I'm taking the time here, I may as well give a bit of a rundown on the significant events of the last 10 months.

January

Let's just say that the year did not start off so well. On the third, I was out railfanning near Nobleford (see the shots here) when the tranny went out of the van. Shena and Eliana were in Lethbridge, Miles was with me and it was cold. Nothing I did got anything going on the van, so I carried the crying son up to the yard at work. Fortunately, the boss was there, and since we did not have a second vehicle, he let me use a farm truck for the week. I picked up the wife and kid in town, and headed for home just a little unhappy. That same evening Shena, who was expecting at the time, had some bright red spotting. A trip to the emergency room seemed to reveal nothing, but an ultrasound the next day showed that she had miscarried. That through the next week for a loop, both emotionally, mentally and logistically. A couple weeks after that, having gotten serious about getting a second vehicle due to the van breakdown, I bought a pickup. It was a beautiful 1975 F250, with the 460 ci engine, good for no more than 9 MPG. After a rotten start, January ended on a bit of a high note in that regard.

Now playing: Chickenfoot - Oh Yeah

June

I had an interesting day late in June. While driving the big rig north on Highway 36 near Brooks, I had a car run a stop sign in front of me. Thanks to braking, and some evasive maneuvers, I nailed it just ahead of its front axle. I tore the front end off the car right back to the engine, but all three people in the car walked away. They were not from the area, it was a lousy end to their vacation, but to get a grand total of 3 broken ribs and some bumps and bruises, in trade for their lives, is not bad! Since my crash there have been at least three truck/car collisions that I can think of off the top of my head in Alberta, and all three resulted in one or more fatalities in the smaller vehicle. It even made the paper, in the Brooks Chronicle. You can see the clipping here. Crazy, eh? That's me, third from left talking to Constable Argue, second from left, from the Brooks RCMP detachment. Great name for a cop, don't you think?

Now playing: The Offspring - I Choose

August/September/October

The last few months have been quite the busy time for myself and family. In August we began looking to buy a house in Lethbridge. Late in the month we put an offer on a place, and had it accepted. September was occupied by dealing with all the paperwork, and on the 26th we moved into our new house, where I'm sitting as I type this. We are busily settling in, and the place definitely feels like home already. Not only that, but Eliana started kindergarten in September as well (damn, I'm getting old.) Obviously driving the beast of a pickup mentioned above 20 miles each way to work isn't going to work, so we've been considering solutions to that for a while. A couple weeks ago I went for a couple test drives in 2009 F150s, and yesterday signed paperwork to trade the beast in on a new F150. 29 MPG (to be confirmed) versus 9 is a great deal as far as I'm concerned, especially when they're giving me $3300 for it (including the $300 from the government's Retire Your Ride program) and I'm getting a truck listed at $39k for just over $28k. I'll have to post some photos once I take delivery of it sometime this week. Come to think of it, I've got a bunch of shots of the big rigs I've driven as well that I've been meaning to post sometime, so perhaps I will need to make a "Trucks" page in the artsy section.

Now playing: Rik Emmett - Talk It Over

Website updates

Just a quick note here, as I've got to go help make supper. I haven't done much railfanning, due to work, but what shots I have gotten are posted, the most recent from the Crowsnest Sub taken on August 30. Check the dates on the home page, poke around, and you'll find the shots. There are a couple new pages in the "Beyond the Usual" section from our vacation to Mount Robson in July, along with some stuff in the Artsy section from that same trip. Enjoy, it's time for me to run. - Darren

December 28, 2008

Happy New Year, Southern Alberta style

Given the time of year, I suppose I should start with the customary greetings for the season, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Hopefully everyone out there got what they were hoping for, or at the very least, didn't get the stuff you didn't want! It's been a while since the last update (again), so I will give a rundown of what's been updated. The Southern Alberta pages have been completely rearranged, as the code with the number of sub-directories was getting a little cumbersome. Now it's the same as all the other pages, and linked off the homepage. You likely noticed the new homepage image on the way in, so that's another new item. There are some new shots on the Taber Sub page, just in the vicinity of Lethbridge yard. The Crowsnest Sub shots are all on one page now, none of this close to Lethbridge, far from Lethbridge nonsense. I have still been working a lot, so there is nothing changed for the Aldersyde Sub. I've had a couple days off around Christmas here, in addition to the vacation at the beginning of December, but I've mostly been catching up on the train journal and photo processing. I did a bit of railfanning, more on that later.

I added a couple new galleries in the Beyond the Usual section, some oddball stuff from southern Alberta, and a trip to the Crowsnest gone wrong. Perhaps the most surprising updates this time around are new additions to the Steam pages, and a few new shots in the Artsy Shite galleries (check the Skyscapes and More pages in particular) Still to come, but not today, are more shots from the Thompson Canyon and Chilliwack areas, from that trip in the first week of this month. They are processed, but I haven't done any of the HTML work for those shots. I figured a year end wrap on the news page was somewhat higher priority than they were.

Year end summary

It's been a good year for train sightings and this website this year. As of today I have 522 trains, and 1550 locos recorded for this year. I don't have a tally on how many shots I've taken, but I can add up the number of shots added to the site. For shots taken in 2008, and I know some of the older stuff was added this year, but I can't remember which ones, I added 89 various train shots to the site. Not too horrible, all things considered, what with a very busy year and all.

Now playing: Wide Mouth Mason - Rust

Crowsnest or...bust?

As mentioned above, I actually had a couple days off this past week. The guys at work who run west (Kamloops/Chilliwack/Abbotsford) are going to be off all this week as well, account no loads going that way, but I'm planning to work Monday through Wednesday, and then take another 4 day weekend. Christmas was Thursday, and CP was shut down for Boxing Day as well, so I planned a day of railfanning sans wife and kids (first one since moving out here in July!) I was up at 0-dark thirty as usual, and out the door just after 0600 MST. With a strong west wind blowing I took my time to head down to Lethbridge Yard, where I perused the power sitting at the shops, a total of 18 units. There was no UP power parked there, just SD40-2s and GEs, all of them CP. The numbers, for those who care were, well, email me, I'm too lazy to type it all out. There was some UP power on a freight tied down in the yard, 8259 and 8271 sandwiching CP 9760. Over by Kipp (MP9 Crowsnest Sub) there was a train that had been there since before noon on the 25th, behind CP 9763 and 8507. With nothing moving, and the dawn still to come, I figured on heading west to the Crowsnest Pass. I got fuel for the van (yeah, I'm done...25 year old father of 2 plus one and driving a minivan) and a couple chocolate bars at Fort MacLeod, before continuing.

Now playing: George Thorogood - Move It On Over

A few minutes later the radio finally came to life. The Alberta South RTC answered the call, and promptly gave away most of the subdivision to a foreman from 0730 to 1500! On hearing that I turned around to head back to Lethbridge, hoping for something anywhere but west of town. The next foreman on the radio asked what was coming for trains, and was told that the first westbound was ordered for noon at Lethbridge, and the first eastbound wouldn't be until after 1500! By this point I was *somewhat* pissed with CP, and was considering heading south. When I left in the morning I was quite prepared. I had my southern Alberta Backroads Mapbook, my Railway Mileposts: British Columbia Vol 2 in case I made it that far west, and my passport. What with CP being kind of useless today, I called Shena, and headed south. I grabbed Tims at 43rd Street, and hit Alberta 4 South. After a half hour delay in the border line, and a stop to piss at the rest area, I was on I-15 and headed for Shelby.

Now playing: Triumph - Never Say Never

Fortunately, my work has taken me south a few times, so I knew where I was going. Not only that, but trip reports from Altamont had given me some preparation for what the landscape looks like down there. At Shelby itself there was a freight tied down, presumably from Christmas, with BNSF 5405 5031 and 5227. The local switcher and a local were there as well, the 2891 and 2100, plus BNSF 2088. A westbound stack got out of town ahead of me, and I had to stop to shoot and eastbound grain train powered by BNSF 5129 8202, CN 2692 and BNSF 776. Those shots were taken with the 28-80 3.5-5.6 IV, but after this trip I am NOT using it for train photos anymore. It's a great shot for around the house with the family, but it is just not up to the task of train shots (more later.) I caught the stack train 10 miles west of town, and stopped a few miles later to grab a shot of him. That was taken with the 50/1.8 II and turned out all right for the conditions. His power was the 7741 and 4649, so I have a BNSF GEVO in the collection now!

Now playing: Chilliwack - My Girl (Gone Gone Gone)

I wasn't sure what to do at this point, as it seemed like the stack train was stopping, possibly due to the high winds. I carried on west, hoping for more potential shots to turn up. I sort of wanted to get to Browning and check out the big curve I've seen in more than one Altamont report. Several miles down the highway (US 2) I saw the tail end of grain train, a 2x2 DPU train. While looking for somewhere to shoot him, I kept overtaking the tail end of the next train in the fleet after getting comfortably ahead of the last. I wound up being west of Browning, with 5 westbounds coming my way. I had to go all the way to Summit to catch the first one, a stack train with 5509 and UP 3896 up front. The wind was blowing somewhere around 60 mph or more, kicking up an insane ground blizzard. It made for a nice shot with the 50/1.8, if somewhat dark and cold. I then moved about 2 miles east, climbed the bank a bit and got a head on with the 200/3.5 on another stack train, this one with 4577 and 5089 up front. The next train was one that I had overtaken right at Browning, a hotshot of almost solid autoracks, behind 5386 and SOO 6040. I think he was the V-LPCHYD, as that is the train which derailed a bit later at Java, on the west side of the pass and blocked both main tracks.

Now playing: Green Day - When I Come Around

I then made my way back to the Two Medicine River bridge, and the most photographed barn in Montana. I knew the next train was the grain train, and I hadn't gotten his head end power yet. Wouldn't you know it, while setting up and waiting, the head end snuck past me, so I had to settle for a shot of the DPUs on the bridge. I boogied up to Bison, and noted his power there (BNSF 7524, 7496 up front, DPUs 7428 and 5731). I went back to the bridge, but there were no more trains crossing it as the DS said someone had lost their air at Java. From Trainorders it looks like that was actually a derailment, but I don't think anybody knew that at this time yet. The 7741 was stopped at Grizzly, with another stack behind him with 4 units, BNSF 7592 5017 833 and 7653. I then worked my way back to Shelby and home. There were a couple trains at Sweetgrass, BNSF 4645 and 5181 had just brought a train north and CP 9823 and a sister were there to take it up to Lethbridge. At MP22 Montana Sub (just south of Warner) CP 9825 was leading 2 more AC4400s and 30 grain cars south, and that was a wrap. Not a bad day for having to change plans completely! For those who haven't looked, the shots from the trip are on a separate page in the Beyond the Usual section called BNSF in Montana. Anyway, that's all folks...time to upload (on dialup) some of this shite! Have a good one, and an even better 2009.

Now playing: Dr. Hook - Years From Now

October 19, 2008

Back in the saddle?

If you have been paying attention, I have, in fact, been back online for some time now. The move to Alberta went very smoothly, and I've been working my ass off since. I've been updating various photo pages as I have time (very scarce these days). Check the dates on the home page, and look for something recent if you want to see new stuff. I'm all tapped out for stuff from the Valley and Canyon now, unless I go through and find shots which need LOTS of Photoshop magic. As you can see on the home page, I do have some content from southern Alberta, but not as much as you might expect me to produce in over three months. I've been seeing about twice as many trains out here, but most of them are from the cab of an '04 Freightliner, so I can't shoot them. As well, I work about 70 hours a week, so that leaves little time for railfanning. Finally, stuck on dialup, it takes a while to upload stuff, especially photos, so finished pages sit on the hard drive for a while before uploading. Just bear with me, and there will be more content in time. A trip back to the Valley is in the works for late November/early December for our anniversary, and a day of railfanning (the canyon, duh!) is planned for during that week. If all goes well, those shots will be posted within a month of being taken. Until then, as Red Green says, "Keep yer stick on the ice" Darren out.

Now playing: Meat Loaf - Everything Louder Than Everything Else

June 30, 2008

Going offline

A quick note to say that with the move to Nobleford happening today, this post, and a similar one to Rotundus at around 0740 PDT are going to be the last for some time. I'm not sure what kind of internet service I'm going to end up with, but dialup is a very real possibility (at least at first). If you're desperate for updates, keep an eye on this page and Rotundus, and they'll be up as soon as they are available. Keep it on track! Letrain out.

June 18, 2008

Uber-update?

I have done a lot of uploading to the site since the last update on this page, in a couple different batches which went unremarked on this page. I've added content to most sections of the site, the bulk of it on the Mission/Matsqui pages (all three), but also the SRY Raillink page in the Valley section. In the Fraser Canyon I have one new shot for you, at Boston Bar. Up in the Thompson there is content from a canyon trip on the 12th of April, as well as a whirlwind trip to Alberta a couple days ago (more on that in a bit.) Those shots can be found on the Lytton and Spences Bridge II pages. That Alberta trip gained me shots from Savona, the Shuswap and Laggan subdivisions. The updates aren't limited to train shots, either...there's also a couple shots in the "More" and "Details" pages in the Artsy Shite section.

Now playing: George Thorogood - Get A Haircut and Get a Real Job

Alberta or bust

This story has what should be the biggest news involving the guy behind this site in a LONG time. Since the trip to Calgary over Easter mentioned in the last update here, I've been working on getting a job out in southern Alberta, with a view to buying a house in the next two to three years. Considering that house prices are much cheaper out there, and I don't have a hope of affording the ridiculous prices in the Valley, this seems to be a good time to make the move. I had put an ad in the Lethbridge Herald after returning from Easter, but only got a couple calls and no results from that. I sent out a number of resumes in response to various ads, mostly on sajobonline and did get a couple responses to that. One guy was going to be coming out here in a week or two when I spoke with him, so I waited patiently for that and finally met with him in late May. After saying he would get back to me in a couple weeks, and a couple phone calls to remind him I still had no response, and had pretty much given up hope. I was a day or two away from handing out more resumes locally, and applying to a few more southern Alberta jobs when my phone rang Friday morning. It was Harry, the guy I had talked to probably three weeks before. He wanted me to come out to see his yard and whatnot once, and speak with me one more time before very likely hiring me. My current (soon to be former) boss had said the day before that we probably had a job with the excavator and truck for Saturday, so I told Harry that I most likely couldn't make it out that weekend, but I would try to get a couple days in the next week to come out and meet with him.

Now playing: Train - Swaying

Unfortunately, that is where it got complicated. I didn't see any way to make a Abbotsford to Nobleford round trip in less than 2 days. One of my co-workers was planning to leave for vacation for a week and a half starting today, so the second half of this week was out. I knew I had some work already lined up for Monday, and Wednesday (today) had a doctor's appointment scheduled for 1325 PDT, with a specialist so I didn't want to be cancelling that if at all possible. Then, just after supper, before I had showered up or anything, my current boss called me to say that the Saturday job had been put on hold and I had the day off. On further discussion with him it was decided that a trip over Saturday and Sunday was my best bet. So, I quickly showered, got insurance for the little red car (the trusty Asuna), loaded up my gear, made a coffee and blasted off at 2100. I went through the tollbooth on the Coq at 2230, and hit Merritt for fuel and a Tims stop. Because I had been up all day, and worked as well, I made it as far as Chase when I finally had to stop and sleep. I managed to grab a couple cool shots of the moon interacting with some clouds and the South Thompson River before crashing for 2 hours at 0105 PDT on Saturday the 14th.

Now playing: Bon Jovi - Blaze of Glory

I really wanted to keep rolling, so after a two hour rest, I departed Chase at 0310. I stopped for fuel in Golden, then rolled on to Calgary. I poked my head into Dave's place for a few minutes to freshen up, then hit the highway south to Nobleford. I got there about 2 hours later, and spoke with Harry from Vandenberg Hay Farms for a good hour, at which point I accepted a new job with him. I got a tank of fuel from him before heading back to Calgary. I missed a couple trains enroute, after not really seeing anything from Abbotsford to Nobleford, due to my focus on getting from point A to point B. Once back at Calgary I visited my brother- and sister-in-law for an hour and a half, before visiting Dave for a couple hours (including viewing some blackmail-worthy shots of Dave in Egypt) and crashing on the couch around 2030 MDT. I planned a 6.5 hour sleep, which I extended to 7 hours when the alarm went off at 0300. Once I got coffee made and my gear loaded back into the car I departed Calgary at 0353.

Now playing: Led Zeppelin - Your Time Is Gonna Come

Now that the pressure was off a bit, I was willing to try get a few trains on the way home. There was very little happening on the Laggan, just one train around Calgary, and one that I missed around Canmore before stopping for fuel and Tims at 0515. I then made it to Field where I got some power off a westbound (CP 9840/8872) and an eastbound stack train behind CP 8818 and 9646. I headed up the hill when he departed, and shot him at the west switch Cathedral. I then got and shot an eastbound hotshot at Donald on the Mountain Sub, 8866 leading. There were a couple trains on Rogers Pass that I missed, and then one or two around Revelstoke. I overtook a westbound at Clanwilliam, but he was just too quick for me to shoot at Summit Lake, a shot I really want to do one of these days. I settled for an across the lake broadside east of Three Valley, just past the big hotel resort. I then got a couple trains around Malakwa and Cambie, and missed the F-units (4106/4107) on an eastbound passenger train in that vicinity. I did get (but didn't shoot) an eastbound behind CP 8899 at Sicamous, then stopped for fuel in Salmon Arm. I also topped off the oil and tires, and missed an eastbound potash train while doing so. There was some power at Chase and Geddis, as usual, and a number of trains on doubletrack east of Kamloops that I didn't bother to shoot. They were 8653 on an eastbound coal train, 8648 with westbound loads, a work train behind 9676 and 9782, a lot of power for 30 CWR loads, and an eastbound doublestack lead by CP 9722.

After getting some salt and grease from rotten Ronnie's to offset the six donuts I had for breakfast, I boogied over to Savona for a westbound coal train, the 9823 which I shot. There was a work train (ballast) with 2 SD40-2s on the siding, and a CN eastbound on their side behind 2292 and 2634. I missed a couple more before stopping to shoot a sulfur train at Mile 70 east of Spences Bridge. That was all for trains, I arrived at my grandparents for Fathers Day at 1640 PDT, a 2300 km round trip in less than 48 hours. I must say though, the Asuna did excellent considering it hadn't been out since the canyon trip in April, it managed almost 42 mpg. Anyone want to buy it, as I don't want to take it along as I move to Alberta.

Site changes in store?

Given the upcoming move to the Lethbridge area (Nobleford is 20 minutes out of Lethbridge), I've gotten the current batch of photos due to upload ready to roll, and don't anticipate doing more in the next week and a bit. Once I get established in Alberta I want to build up a bit of a body of work before I start posting photos here. I may upload some to railpictures.net, but I don't know what sort of internet connection I'm going to have yet. When I'm ready, I may do some sort of parallel site, retaining all of the Fraser Valley Railfan site as it exists, and starting with a parallel "Southern Alberta Railfan" site, accessed from an index where you choose one or the other. I would probably move the Laggan Sub pages to the SA Railfan side, and leave the rest for FV Railfan. It's gotten late here, so I'll leave the sample index for another day, but I hope to post something for feedback in the near future. Until then, keep yer stick on the ice (TM Red Green). Letrain out.

Now playing: Guns N Roses - You're Crazy (from GNR Lies)

May 7, 2008

Just a quickie

More photos have been added, exactly a month after the last batch, how about that, eh? They are, again, all local stuff, on the Mission/Matsqui III page, as well as the Cascade Sub and Yale Sub pages. It's late here on the wet coast, so all I can do is point you to a story on Rotundus relating to the Alberta trip, and upload this stuff so I can get to bed. That's all folks!

Now playing: The Eagles - Try And Love Again

April 7, 2008

More photos

See what happens when a guy doesn't have to work that much? Got home from work around lunch time today, slacked off for a bit, made lunch, then got to work. I vacuumed for the missus, started a load of laundry, AND got 8 more photos ready to roll for the site here. The new ones are all from the local scene, on the Mission/Matsqui III page. Not too bad for an afternoon, eh? Here it is, barely 1630 PDT, and I've gotten all that done in the last 4 hours or so! Time for a drink!

PS

Forgot to mention last time, I got the missus real good on April Fools Day. Our kitchen sink has one of those sprayers on the side that work when the trigger is pressed and tap is on...if you know the trick, 'nuf said. Otherwise, I'm not saying more for fear of reprisals from the lady of the house!

Now playing: Triumph - Stranger In A Strange Land

April 2, 2008

Two updates in a week?!!

Unheard of, I know, but I added a couple more shots this evening. Newest ones are on the Chilliwack II page, a pair of shots of a work train from Banford Road. I'd do more (lots to come from the Mission/Matsqui area) but I really don't have the motivation to do so tonight. Maybe this weekend, if (and that's a big if) I'm not railfanning!

Now playing: Crowbar - Oh What A Feeling

March 31, 2008

April Fools?

It's been a while since the last update, but that's not unusual around here. This time around I've got a few photos, and a surprise (to those who don't know me personally) in store. To cover what I mentioned last time, I've got all of my photos from 2007 backed up, and a bunch still to process from this year (a never-ending battle!) Some of those backups still have to be distributed, but at least I have a copy in a different province! I headed off to Alberta for the Easter weekend, and dropped a copy at Dave's. So, don't worry, even if there's some disaster in the Lower Mainland, my photos will likely survive! The trip out to Calgary was nothing special. We drove out Thursday night after work. I slept for 3 hours when I got home, then ate some supper, put the kids and stuff in the truck, and drove through to Calgary. Due to a couple longer stops for coffee, fuel and to feed the youngun (he's only 6 months you know) it took 11.5 hours, but that was to be expected. Friday was a bit of sleeping in the morning, then just hanging out for the afternoon. On Saturday I headed out railfanning with Dave, and got three shots on the Laggan Sub page, including Morant's Curve which had been on the wish list for a long time. We just missed a good locomotive fire (GE of course), and didn't see many trains, but overall had a decent day.

Sunday we went to church, then visited my aunt and uncle where I got good and shitfaced. 6 or 7 rye and coke/rye and sevens later I was feeling pretty good. Shena drove back to the inlaws as I was in no shape to drive. Monday was one hell of a hangover, felt like ass until at least lunchtime. I had originally booked just the Monday off, with the intent of driving back on that day, but I called the boss Monday morning, and got Tuesday off as well. We left Calgary a little after lunch, and headed south to check out Lethbridge. It's a nice little town, so here's the surprise. We are VERY seriously considering, even planning to move there. I've got an ad in the Lethbridge Herald this week (typing on Monday night, it'll be in there for a week and should be in Wednesday's paper to start.) Depending on what sort of response I get, and how the timing works we could be moving in as little as 5 weeks, but it'll probably be 8 weeks, maybe a bit more. We also looked briefly at Coaldale, as it's only 10 minutes out of town and we may end up there as well. I guess I'll have to change the website name to Southern Alberta Railfan (SA Railfan) from Fraser Valley Railfan (FV Railfan) or something like that! Anyway, back to the trip.

We left Coaldale westbound just after a pair of westbounds came through, but in spite of overtaking them before Lethbridge, I did not stop to shoot them. We stayed on Highway 3 the rest of the afternoon and evening. Driving into the Crowsnest Pass I was absolutely drooling. It was in the golden hour or two prior to sunset, and the country around there is absolutely beautiful. Just about every bend in the highway revealed another shot possibility, and let me tell you, there are some beauties around there! There were no trains available to speak of, and the kids were getting a little antsy, so we kept on rolling to Sparwood, where we stopped for the night. On Tuesday we left somewhat later than we should have, and hit Hwy 3 westbound. I know that the highway has some wicked hills and curves from there to the coast, so at Fort Steele we headed off north along the Windermere Sub to Golden. Again there were very few trains, and especially on the southern half, nowhere to shoot them. We got fuel and food at Golden, sitting at KC Junction to eat, where I shot an eastbound as seen on the Mountain Sub page. We got stopped for 45 minutes at the top of Rogers Pass due to some avalanche control, and paused for food in Salmon Arm, as well as fuel at Hope. It was a long day, but we got home right around 2130 PDT so we didn't do too horribly.

That should be a wrap for this time. I have a bunch more shots in the works, but they're all local stuff, so I'm not in a particular rush to get them posted. I've got plenty of stuff to do at this time, plus the weather's getting better so I have yard work to do and that sort of thing. Keep watching this space, and Rotundus for updates. Until next time, Letrain out.

Now playing: Meat Loaf - A Kiss Is A Terrible Thing To Waste

February 6, 2008

More shots available

I finally got those shots from the last canyon trip up. There's a total of 6 new shots, on the Ashcroft and Spences Bridge pages for your viewing pleasure. The snow from last time is mostly gone, but the weather is still crap. I did get the first sunny train shots with my 500 f8 that I bought in DECEMBER the other day, so that was kinda nice. You'll be seeing that shot, and others, if and when I get my shots from 2007 backed up (it's a work in progress) and the latest shots processed. In the meantime, I've gotta upload this shit, and I've got a rye and seven calling my name.

Now playing: Matthew Good Band - Jenni's Song

January 30, 2008

Snow day

There's about 6 inches of snow on the ground outside right now, so I don't have to work today. I've got a bunch of new photos posted in the Lower Mainland pages (Mission/Matsqui, Cascade Sub and Yale Sub to be exact). I've gotta take my little boy to the doc later, but hopefully I'll get a chance to go out and play in the snow after that. I've got a few more shots in the pipeline yet, from that last canyon trip in 2007, so I might get those up in the next couple days. Til next time.

Now playing: Wide Mouth Mason - Crystal Ball

January 5, 2008

Happy New Year, and all that crap

I suppose this time of year I have to say some sort of HNY and all that. I'm getting too old to party it up on New Years, so I can't say it gets that much reaction out of me. Haven't been working much of late due to the slow time of year, but that doesn't mean I'm getting lots done on the site. I've had a bunch of stuff to do at home, as well as selling on eBay and other stuff, so it's been put off a little. Here's the rundown on what's new: lots of content in the Artsy Shite section, plus a few photos on the Hope/Yale and Spences Bridge II pages, just like I promised! Enjoy, eh?

Now playing: The Offspring - Spare Me The Details

December 13, 2007

Old Folks at the wheel

I had an interesting encounter with an old driver the other day that lead me to think about old folks behind the wheel in general. I do have to say, I'll try to be nice, because I will end up old myself (someday), and not all old folks are bad drivers. My grandfather is approaching 70 and still very competent behind the wheel of a truck or smaller vehicle.

Tuesday morning I was taking a load out to Langley without my trailer. I had an excellent run out as far as the Langley bypass and Glover Road. I was westbound on the Bypass, and pulled into the left turn lane to head south on Glover. This image here might help you get the idea. There was a car sitting in the lane already, but it was a good 20 feet back from the stop line. I figured, alright, some people do that, even though it's a bit retarded. Now, I've been through that intersection enough that I know how the light cycle works. The left turn light I was waiting for is a delayed one (goes green after the opposing traffic has been allowed to go, and is then stopped by a red). It also has a sensor in the pavement so that it does not activate needlessly. The woman in front of me sat through THREE full cycles of the light, with me behind her, without moving, or realizing that something wasn't right. At that point I set my parking brakes (air, of course) and walked up to tap on her window. She looked only slightly startled, and I said "The reason you're not getting a light is because you're too far back from the stop line, you're not on the sensor." She thanked me, and pulled up to the proper place to stop as I walked back to my truck.

That was all fine, but what she did next is what really concerned me. When she pulled up, the light cycle had just passed the point at which we would have been able to go. While waiting for the light to come around, especially once the cross traffic had stopped, she started to pull up towards the intersection more. The oncoming traffic got their light, complete with left turn arrow. She continued to edge forward. By the time we got the green, she was probably halfway into the intersection, well over the crosswalk. When our light went green, she took off fairly quickly (mind you, my truck doesn't exactly rocket off the line loaded.) When she completed the turn, she cut into the right lane which merges in as a free-flow turning lane. That cut over fortunately did not affect any traffic as there was none, but was not particularly safe, or legal. I followed, making my lane change legally, and carried on.

Now I'm not saying all old people should have their licences pulled at a specific age. There are enough competent older drivers who should be allowed to drive. People like the woman above though, should at the very least be retested. She demonstrated a lack of understanding of how traffic lights work, and either ignored, or forgot how to make a safe, legal lane change, which is what her cut over maneuver was. What I might suggest, would be mandatory retesting of older drivers. This could be done on a descending timeline. If we test drivers at 60, 65, 68, 70, 71 and every year beyond that, we would ensure that those senior drivers who can no longer operate a vehicle safely, don't. Those holding higher class licences (1/2/3 etc) could have the option of downgrading to a class five (passenger vehicle), while those who could not pass the class five exam, would have their licence suspended until they are able to demonstrate an ability to drive competently (pass a road test). To avoid financial hardship I would suggest that the exam fees from age 70 and onward be paid by the government, as thanks for their years of hard work and tax paying. What say you? Drop me a line and let me know what you think.

New photo content

I've added a few shot since the last update as well, plus a new shot on the front page. The following pages have had photos added: Boston Bar, Thompson/Morris, and Yale Sub. Once again, a page in each main subsection, a good geographic spread for ya. I don't have much left to come out of the archives, just a few more for a second Spences Bridge page, and a few from the Hope and Yale area. Beyond that I have a couple shots of the performers on various Holiday trains, and I have to sort through the archives for artsy shots. Once I have all of that done, maybe you'll get to see the photos from the most recent canyon trip described below. Be patient, I'm a busy man! Darren, out!

Now playing: Kid Rock - Amen

December 4, 2007

More stuff online

Once again this time I've got a bunch more shots added. Not only that, but I've got a trip report for you! For those who are just interested in the new shots, here you go. These pages have new photos added to them: Cascade Sub, Saddle Rock/Spuzzum, and Spences Bridge. A little bit of everything this time around!

OS: Fraser Canyon, December 1, 2007

On the first Saturday of December I managed to get away up the canyon for a day. Dave had been thinking about joining me, seeing as he was down for a few days, but he decided to just relax instead. All week the weather had be looking pretty good. It snowed in the canyon around Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by a couple days of nice weather to let the roads clear. In the last couple days leading up to the trip the weather forecast got progressively worse, but it ended up working out. I was up early, and on the road most of the day. Final tally was 30 trains, 63 locos, 14 hours 24 minutes and 626.6km.

The alarm went off at 0445, and after getting my fat lazy ass out of bed, checking road conditions and the email, departed at 0528, with 210750.1km on the odometer. I skipped the Tims at the automall in search of some variety in donut selection. As a result, the first train of the day was a CP coal train tied down at Arnold, MP77 CN Yale Sub at 0552. He had 9817 on 124 TILX cars, and 9645 on the tail end. After a fuel pump scare (had to get out and beat on it), I got the car started and departed the Tims at Lickman Road at 0608. I missed a couple trains on the way up due to the darkness, so my next sighting was just south of Boston Bar, at Hicks, MP3 CN Yale Sub. It was a westbound CN doublestack at 0732, with CN 5713 and CN 2666 up front. At Boston Bar (0738, MP1.3 CN Yale Sub) there were a pair of trains tied down in the yard waiting for crews. The first was a westbound CP freight, with CP 8536 and CP 9816 on about 90 cars. The other was a CP potash train, also westbound, behind 2 GEVOs, the CP 8843 and CP 8775.

As I was departing the Bar, a CN grain train was arriving (0742) at MP125.4 behind CN 5796 and CN 2532. I caught a westbound CN coal train at MP120 CN Ashcroft Sub at 0748 with CN 2670 and CN 2613 up front, and then got the first shot of the day at MP119.8 with CP 9577 and 8713 on grain train. I used my newish 75-300 to get one way too dark shot that's going to take a lot of work to salvage. I then made it to Cisco and reprised this shot with a CP hotshot behind the 8550 and another AC4400. He went by MP104 CN Ashcroft Sub at 0815 dragging 60 tanks and 40 platforms west. I fueled up at Lytton at 0827, 200.1km into the day. Next up was another CP hotshot, this time at Morris (MP89 Ashcroft Sub) behind CP 8555 and CP 9616 at 0859. Not bad, eh? 9 trains before 9 AM!

The next train snuck up on me a little bit, so I wasn't able to shoot him. He was one of the new 1x1x1 coal trains from CP, with CP 8710, 8715 and 8836 doing the honors. It was train 831, at MP87.1 Ashcroft Sub, at 0906. Once he cleared some radio intel indicated that there was a bit of a gap coming. I kept moving on the highway up to Ashcroft, and managed to overtake an eastbound I had been following much of the morning. I got him (no shots) at Ashcroft, MP47 Thompson Sub at 0955, CP 8532 and CEFX 1033 bracketing an 89 platform stack train. At Ashcroft CP 5796 and 434558 were on standby, mixed in with a bunch of cars at the ore reload. Just after grabbing some snacks a CN westbound rolled by, precluding any shots. This was train 303 at MP48.4 Ashcroft Sub, at 1009, 118 cars of mixed freight behind CN 5438 and CN 2544. On his block (MP47.5, 1016) was a grain train (825) with 2 ES44DCs up front, CN 2241 and 2228. I did manage a couple of broadsides with the short end of the 75-300.

For once the gate on the road up to Ashcroft Treating was open on a Saturday. I roared (no muffler on the little car) up to the top of the hill, and caught a CP doublestack, train 107 at MP43 Thompson Sub, while scoping photo angles. He had 8634 and 8606 up front. Once he cleared, I got the car into position and settled in. When it's 10° below zero outside, you try to stay in the car if possible. I was able to do just that for the next train, a CN work train headed east over the bridge at MP45.8 Ashcroft Sub, train 906 at 1107. He had an SD75I (5701) running long hood forward with 20 side-dumps and caboose 78110 trailing. At the same time a CP coal train, a 1x1 this time showed up. He had one of the Olympic units, 8859, up front and 8721 on the ass end. He was train 803, by MP43 at 1109. After a bit of a wait, CN 770, an eastbound coal empty showed up at MP45.8. He had 5670 and 5458 on 110 cars, in the -10° C cold at 1126. The next train on the menu was a CP eastbound, a stack train at MP44.4, at 1201. He had 8705 and 8770 on each end of 90 platforms. At this point I was ready to head back to Ashcroft, and eventually the highway south. I had seen a truck on the road earlier, but he had what looked like a sled (turned out to be a quad) in the back and I assumed he was not a problem. Sure enough, I got down to the gate and it was now locked. I drove up to Ashcroft Treating, tracked the guy down, and after a bit of razzing from him got the gate unlocked and headed on my way. Another 1x1x1 came by as I was exiting the gate, with CP 9587, 8538 and 9825 at MP44.5 at 1228.

The coal train met a potash train at Ashcroft, the CEFX 1028 with CP 8717 and 124 empties. He came by MP46.5 at 1238. Before that, I got a series of shots of CN 107 at MP47.3, with CN 2531 and BCR 750 (which later died at Yale) for power. I headed back towards Spences Bridge and got ahead of the 2 westbounds. While waiting for them to show I got a CN eastbound, the 5638 on train 802 (grain MTs) at 1314, MP69 Thompson Sub. CN 107 was at MP70 at 1318, CP 9587 followed at MP69.8 at 1327. There was a 353 behind them as well, but I first got, at the Bridge, an eastbound CP grainer. When I heard him on the radio I was thinking "you've got to be f***ing kidding me!" but sure enough it was CP 8858 and 8797 up front. That's at least the third time that I've seen both Olympic units on the same day. Stopping to get him let CN 353 catch me, so I got him at MP77 Ashcroft Sub, 128 cars of freight behind CN 2554 and 5696. I then made it to Thompson for CN 354, at MP84.7 Thompson Sub, 1444 with CN 2510 and 5263 for power.

Back at North Bend I spotted CP 9594 and CP 401035 (the snowplow) in the yard. There was a CP coal train at Boston Bar that I had missed earlier, CP 9714 and 9701 on each end. Quiet rail traffic, and the fading light let me make it to Yale for the next eastbound, CP 9806 and 9514 on eastbound potash MTs at MP26.7 Cascade Sub. At Katz the siding was filled with baretables and CP 9807. On the east edge of Agassiz I got a CN eastbound hotshot, with an SD75I and 2634 up front (MP57.2, 1815). I then got through some snowy road conditions to MP61.54, where I got CP 8577 and 9711 leading 95 platforms and CP 9663 on the rear. The final train was another grain empty, this one a CN at Mission, with 2263 (ES44DC) on the head end at 1916. And that, as they say, is a wrap. All in all, a pretty decent day.

Now playing: DragonForce - Dawn Over A New World

November 16, 2007

Content additions

I've been keeping busy the last few days, even though the site is now up to "code" so to speak. The current project is to catch up on the backlog of photos to be posted here. The fortunate thing is that with the site being kosher, I am able to do most of the coding by way of copy-paste. I really don't have all that much to say at the moment, so I'll leave you with a listing of the pages that have had photos added (there are lots of new shots to enjoy): Mission/Matsqui, Mission/Matsqui II, Chilliwack, SRY Raillink, Other, Cisco, Lytton, and Ashcroft. Take a look! Darren out.

Now playing: Silverchair - Anthem For The Year 2000

November 13, 2007

Up to standards

It appears as though I have the entire website up to HTML 4.01 standards. I have to verify that yet, to some degree, but I think I'm done. That means the site should display properly for all browsers (I test in, and use, Internet Explorer). Those who use something other than IE, let me know how it looks. I've added a bit more content in the Beyond The Usual section, and have a bunch more on tap for most of the other sections. For now, that's all folks!

November 2, 2007

Yeah, still busy!

The good news is, I'm making money doing it! Work's been busy, I've been doing a lot of stuff on eBay, plus I've got a new son (born in September). On top of that, I'm working, with Scott's help, on getting this website up to proper HTML standards. That's been going well, to the point of I was able to add some new shots this evening. You'll find them on the Mountain Sub, Shuswap Sub, Laggan Sub and Kamloops pages, all in the Beyond the Usual section. Seeing as its late, I have to check my email and eBay yet, that's all for today. Enjoy the new shots, and look for more to come soon, unless Scott gets me the next HTML lesson before then. Darren out.

Now playing: Cream - Strange Brew

April 9, 2007

Busier than...

"a three-legged cat trying to bury a turd on a frozen pond" as Grumpy would say. I've been neglecting the site for a bit here, for a few reasons. For one thing, work has finally picked up. It was DEAD slow January/February, but was much better in March, and that's continued into April. Don't forget, I've got a wife and kid making demands on my time as well. Not only that, I've got yard work to do now that the weather is a little nicer. The one section I have left to finish is the "Best of" pages, all others are ready to upload as I type this. I've been putting that off because I had intended to rescan my old film best-of shots, which is a heck of a lot of work. When you consider that I am over 2 months behind in my train journal (recording my shorthand field notes), 300 plus shots behind in processing my digital images (only from this year so far!), that looks less appealing. I've now decided that the bestof pages are now going to feature only my new (post 04/2005) digital images. I did get my new truck near the end of March, so that is REALLY nice. Talk about an upgrade, going from a 1981 Louisville to a 2007 MACK! I'll have to take some photos of the new one soon, then I can post those shots I promised last time on a comparison page. Another factor in the delay on the site is that the weather has FINALLY gotten better. This winter was miserably grey and rainy. That should have let me get caught up, but it didn't. Now, with the good weather, and the early arrival of daylight-savings, I can get out to do more railfanning, which leads to the neglect of the site. Oh, well, what can you do, right?

Now playing: Soul Asylum - Runaway Train

February 22, 2007

Receiving material

If you ever order a load of something with a dump truck, be there when it's scheduled to arrive...if its a tight driveway, meet the driver at the road, and let him know whether to back in or drive in. When you plan the route into a site, don't forget, a truck needs LOTS of room to turn (especially my old girl, 101). In planning where you want it dumped, don't forget to look UP! If I'm lifting my box, the last thing I want to do is snag a phone wire, or, heaven forbid, a power line. That's a great way to screw up a day. I haven't done it, so I don't know how bad it makes a day, but I'm sure it would be something like getting a truck stuck so bad that you need to call out a tow truck. Trust me, that's NOT fun. Don't ask me how I know ;-) Next time (if I remember): my truck!

Now playing: Elton John - Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me (Live)

February 20, 2007

Back in the saddle

It's been a bloody long time since I posted anything significant to the web (short of a few photos on Railpictures.net), let alone to this news page. I'm tired of not being able to share my newest photos, especially the ones rejected at railpics. So, I've rebuilt the site from the ground up, saving very little of the old site. The bio is all new, the scoring system is still there, mostly for Dave's sake, and the links page has been updated. The images sections are very different from what was up here. I'm dividing them by region, rather than by date, though I am hanging onto a bestof page. Since I last had this site online I've gotten a digital SLR (April 2005) and gone to fully digital shooting (April 2006). As such, the shots on the site will be primarily the digital ones, with a few film highlights around. I also plan to use the news page here as a bit of a soapbox for some of my pet peeves, very much like a blog. See, I'm a truck driver, and there's a lot of people in this town who can't freaking drive, so I'll be ranting about various driving issues now and then. Until then, enjoy the site!


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