Monday, March 14, 2011

Amtrak In The Snow

First, my most sincere apologies for not posting more frequently. No, as I have been asked, I am not going away or abandoning the blog. I have found, however, the work continues to get in the way of my hobby (a point I hope to ameliorate within the next year or so), and, in order to upload my videos, the connection has to be beyond what I have at my cabin in the Sierra Nevada mountains -- that is, faster than "dial-up." Yes, I fully realize that even our current president is faster than dial-up, which provides bushels of clues about dial-up itself.

That said, I present a very cold video that, trust me, made my feet even colder.

Above, eastbound Amtrak California Zephyr #5 slugs uphill as it approaches the signal and crossing at Dutch Flat.

As you can see, there is much snow -- and ground fog as well. The temperature is roughly 20-degrees. The area had just seen two very heavy storms which left about 7 to 8 feet at Donner Summit. Locally, we got about 2 to 3 feet in the first dumping and an additional 3 feet subsequently.

When I travel, I usually carry my camera bag replete with Nikon super-zoom P100 and the Flip HD video. I had just finished shopping in Colfax and was driving home when I caught sight of a green signal for the #2 track. Unfortunately, not thinking I'd be encountering much, I'd dressed that day in Keen Newports (see photo), no socks and no coat. Silly me.

I stopped the RAV-4 near the tracks with the Flip HD video. Snow, as I had clearly forgotten, can be deceiving. My first stride plunged me into about one foot of water, hidden by the snow itself, after I'd broken through a crust of ice. The second stride put my sweats into about three feet of snow. The third and continuing strides held me knee-deep or more in snow and the final step landed my other foot into another watery dip.

So there I stood, my feet and calves wet, sweats drenched from the knee down, open shoes, no socks, no coat, waiting a good five minutes for the approaching Amtrak. In 20-degree weather. I know this because my SUV has a temp readout on the dash. It took all that I had plus the Flip's image stabilization to keep my shivering from being patently obvious as the Zephyr approached and passed.

Of course, once finished with the video, I had to slog my way, in the snow and water, back to the SUV. Happy days. I couldn't feel my feet -- no shock there. Only by taking a hot shower did I begin to feel my toes, later.

Details: Amtrak engines #133 on point, and #199 behind (elephant-style) are GE Dash9-P42-B's with 4,200 horsepower four-stroke engines, DC final transmissions, B-B trucks, 2,200 gallon fuel capacity, weight of 268,000 pounds each, built in 2001. Amtrak purchased 87 of these units. Those 8,400 horses are pulling just nine cars -- not much of a challenge that day.

Thanks for sticking by me at MP154, and I'll be doing my best to increase the frequency of posting, more photos, more videos.

Take care and be safe!



Toaster 802 said...

Thanks BZ!

Milepost 154 said...

Sorry to place the trains on hold, but my work got crazy. However, I JUST caught a TRAIN MEET on my Flip HD about an hour ago, and I'll be posting that next. Caught Amtrak with two private varnish cars on the end, and then caught SIX GP-40 EMDs rocketing uphill, with a flanger on the end, to combat coming snowfall.

Way cool!


Well Seasoned Fool said...

Nice video.

Bloviating Zeppelin said...

Thank you kindly.

But if you think that's cool, you ain't seen nothin' yet.