Thursday, September 27, 2012

I saw the most amazing thing

CN actually doing some maintenance of way. I was puttering in the garden, doing end of the summer clean-up chores, when I thought I heard something odd approaching on the railroad tracks. So the dog and I hustled down the path to see what might be coming -- I figured that if nothing else, I might manage to thrill Ranger Bob with a photo of an ancient diesel locomotive still wearing an obsolete paint job. No such luck. It was instead a parade: first a CN crew-cab pickup truck, then a Fairmont Tamper, and finally a machine I didn't immediately recognize -- and, to be honest, I was so stunned to see CN apparently indulging in actual maintenance of way that about all that registered was that it was big and painted yellow.
Fairmont tamper heading up the hill toward Summit
I'm guessing it was probably a ballast regulator (back end of it in photo below), but that is just a guess. I'm still in shock that CN is actually doing maintenance. Then again, maybe all the little weird dips and speed bumps and the fact that the freight trains that use that line can't go much above a walking pace may have finally contributed to management realizing that doing some maintenance can be a whole lot cheaper than trying to lift a derailed train out of a cedar swamp or a river.

If you really want to see what bad track looks like, enlarge the photo. If it's classified as anything higher than an Excepted track, some FRA inspector doesn't know how to do his/her job. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

The New Normal?

Lately every time I venture out of the woods, most of the flags I see are at half-mast. Between remembering victims of mass shootings and American personnel (military and diplomatic) dying overseas, I'm beginning to wonder if there are ever any days when all the flags are fully raised.

Monday, September 10, 2012


I've been neglecting this blog lately. Too many distractions at this time of year and I'm not talking about politics. Our garden's done reasonably well so I've been kept busy canning and freezing produce and trying out new pickle, relish, and jam recipes. It's been an unusual Fall (which matches the unusual Spring, I guess) in that it's staying warm later than usual. No frost yet, and in past years we could count on a hard frost right around Labor Day. The good news aspect of that is it means we've actually been able to enjoy a few vine-ripened tomatoes this year -- usually we end up picking them all green and letting them ripen in the house. The bad news perspective is that I'm starting to get really nervous. We're being lulled into a false sense that summer's going to last forever, and then winter is going to arrive with not much autumn weather in between. The potted plant on the front porch should not still be lush and green -- it's a potato plant. It's September. It's supposed to know it's time to wither and die. (That plant is the answer to the question "What do you do when you're planting the garden, get to the end of the last row of potatoes, and have one seed potato left over?") One of these days we'll go to bed thinking it's still summer and wake up to six inches of snow on the ground.