Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Up at 5 o'clock once more! But, I get to enjoy the ride today on the all-day
Pass bus tour to Skykomish. Skies are kinda cloudy as we leave Wenatchee
would become darker as we roll along westbound.
It is, however, a sunny drive up Tumwater Canyon with a nice view of the
Dam, complete with salmon jumping out of the water.
Our first stop is the highway rest area at Nason Creek, just east of the ex-GN
From there, the buses would split up to various destinations. Once reaching the top
of Stevens Pass, we were literally
in the clouds with poor visibility and a fogged up
windshield! Our bus captain
Mike of Malaga, WA, scrambled with some paper towels
so the driver
could see! At Scenic, one bus pulled into the rest area parking lot,
another headed for the BNSF tracks.
We continued on down for our second stop at Skykomish. Because of the huge
soil-contamination project going on (http://www.skykomishcleanup.com), we
parked out at the highway and walked the short distance into town. Crossing the
Skykomish River, we are hit with a chilly blast of wind. Practically none of us
bothered to bring coats on the trip as it was 95 plus in Wenatchee the
Scott Tanner and I led the others down to the Sky museum where Bob Kelly was
there to greet us with a smile and announced, "sweatshirts were available for
upstairs". We all bought them. In fact, they
sold out of their pile just on our busload.
Bob told me later, they got more
from their warehouse, then got some from the
Cascadian Inn to sell. It was COLD
with that wind!
It was nice and warm in the museum although some folks walked around town,
dodging the raucous construction going on just feet away from us. Eventually,
wind died down and Bruce Barsness and I walked over to see where they had
the Skykomish depot, temporarily.
We were way ahead of schedule, and would be all day. Our next stop was over at
Fred Black's X-228 caboose which he had generously opened up for inspection.
had removed all the non-GN items inside and had also displayed some models
the lawn outside. That's Fred in the red jacket and GN cap looking
at his caboose.
Next stop was "The Ballpark" at Skykomish where Cascadian Inn was catering a
lunch for us. Hamburgers, chicken and pork, plus beans, macaroni salad and
dessert. After chewings, I took a stroll down to the Sky River for a look.
After lunch, we were off for the X-294 caboose and Iron Goat Trail interpretive
Center at Scenic. We spent an hour here and a few of our members hiked quite a
ways along the lower level trail.
Last stop was the old Tumwater Dam built by GN to power their early
The salmon were really jumping, trying to get over the dam (and
ignoring the fish
ladder just to their right). It was very hard to take a
picture of them as they leaped
at random and by the time you got the shutter
released, they'd be back in the water.
Some of them were HUGE.
Back into Wenatchee an hour early. Scott Tanner went off to dinner with his
who had just arrived from Edmonds. I helped Greer with a CD problem, then
John Langlot's PowerPoint presentation with the Wenatchee Ice House
pictures. At five,
Bruce Barsness and Bill Sornsin and I headed back to the
Applewood Grill to try and get
a trackside seat for dinner. It turned out they
were having a mild wind storm on the
porch and kept us inside (dust was blowing,
too). We sat in the bar and still had a
glimpse outside. After a hearty chat
about this and that, we headed back to the hotel
where I set to work on my notes
Now it is 8:10pm and I can hear Baolu's train setting off detectors down the
(it's about 30 minutes late). She text messaged me saying in coach
there were NO diner
reservations until 9pm! (how primitive!). We'll be hitting
Applebee's when she gets in.
Train arrived about 20 minutes down. Baolu was in the last car where they put
"local Washingtons". Attached to the rear of the train was a dome car in
scheme (didn't catch the name as it was getting dark). The train was
held in Wenatchee
for TWO HOURS according to Bob Kelly because of a brush fire
in the Trinidad area.
As of Wednesday morning, this train was an hour or so late
Applebee's was good -- we were amazed at the CROWD at every table and the bar
for a Tuesday night. I had an iced tea and dessert, having already eaten my meal
Bill and Bruce. Baolu had the trio of mini burgers, hot wings and hot
Not bad! (Yours truly wound up eating some of it.)
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Only got about 5 hours sleep and gotta "lead" a bus tour today! I'm still so
full from two
dinners last night that I skipped breakfast and had an apple
instead. I talked to Bob Kelly
in the hallway who said that he didn't know if
the trains were running because of last
night's brush fire. Then I foolishly
interrupted John Tracy to mention this and was yelled
On to the bus. They gave us this huge 48-person coach for our 24 people! This
be a bit unwieldy. Our driver, George, was a pro, however, and he got us
in and out of
where we needed to go.
We left at 7:30 and headed to "Brown's Flat" or "Monitor Curve", whichever you
The scanner chatter revealed quite a few movements EAST of Wenatchee,
where we were. I received a call from Bob Kelly who said he and Father
WAY up on a hillside and Bob said he would let us know if anything
passed them towards
We waited. There was a bit of cloud cover, but this curve shot with the orchards
and the Wenatchee River is about the best one on this side of Leavenworth.
Finally, the 1668.1 detector sounded off and I lifted my arms in triumph. It was
interesting axle count - 107 - odd number of axles and a short train (25 cars
What could it be?
It was a "Boeing train" heading east. Once I heard the whistle for Monitor
I phoned Bob and Fr. Dale to let them know it was coming. It was a
good shot and I
didn't realize it until Bruce pointed it out later, that the
Lines East boys didn't see too
many Boeing trains, so it was fun for them.
On to the next stop at Cashmere. Our bus driver pulled right up in
front of the Apples
& Cotlets place. This would be a good place to hang out with
flush toilets inside for
comfort with many folks electing to take the tour of
the factory to see how the candy
The rest of us railfans clustered around the scanners trying to make sense of
It was obvious a lot was happening in and out of Wenatchee, but on
the OTHER side of
town. Oh well...
After about an hour, one fellow with a scanner said he heard a train at mp 1695
is just coming into Merritt. Cool! But it might be a bit of a wait. We
kept thinking the DS
would turn at least one train loose westbound through the
work order at mp 1652.
Which would get to town first?
Soon it became evident it would be the eastbound, into the sun. Someone pointed
the signal had turned green over red. The 1668 detector sounded off.
into position. Finally the hot-footed Z train came rolling down the
hill for a fine shot
with the Cashmere depot in the foreground. It was 1045.
I was all smiles as we walked back to the bus. Then I got onboard. One of our
just ripped me a new one: "Why aren't we going to Leavenworth?" "I thought
visiting all the stations on this line!", etc. etc. I apologized that he
hadn't been enjoying
himself, but it did no good. So sorry, whoever you were.
We took a show of hands of what to do next with our remaining 75 minutes: 1.
up to Dryden and HOPE for another train; 2. Head back to the hotel; 3. Head
to the hotel, but stop at Monitor curve again and HOPE for a train.
showed option 3.
Back to the curve. After 30 minutes as promised, we gave up as no train
I called Bob Kelly high in his aerie perch and told him we were
heading back. Once we
reached near Olds Junction (west end of Wenatchee), there
was a Rail America train
heading up the W-O line to Omak/Oroville. I called Bob
and let him know the scoop.
Coming into town, I suddenly remembered to tip the driver and quickly passed the
hat among the folks (thanks guys and gals!). We were back at noon.
Just as we got off the bus, I got a call from Baolu who had wandered over to Old
to do some shopping. I was tired and a little cranky and agreed to go pick
her up and
have some lunch at Red Robin. It was delicious. Their Bleu Ribbon
burger which is
blue cheese and BBQ burger, mmmmmm...... I needed that.
Afterwards, back to the hotel. I skipped the Business Meeting (I'll probably get
at for that, too) but after a nap and taking down these notes wanted to
head out to
see Father Dale's presentation on "O. Winston Link, Then and Now".
It was a good show.
On the next show: Appleyard Explosion with Chuck Strawn, I was recruited to fire
the CD (those pesky laptops). It turned out to be both a movie, then a
presentation. I got the movie going, then Bob Kelly said he would
fire up the PowerPoint
Back to the room for a nice shower and to get dressed for the banquet. Stan
one of our members from Hawaii presented me with a Hawaiian
a circular string of "Milk Duds") and I proudly wore it
during the banquet.
We were a little early so, Baolu and I headed to the hotel bar for a few
glasses of Cabernet. We ran into Mike Sharpe and a couple others
there, too. When
it was "Happy Hour" time, we took our drinks downstairs to the
banquet hall. At the
entrance, I bought $50 worth of raffle tickets, then headed
over to the drink line.
Bruce Barsness kindly bought me #3 glass of Cabernet, so
I was feeling pretty good
again. (Thanks, Bruce!)
Our table consisted of: Scott, Jan and Christopher Tanner, Father Dale Peterka,
Kelly, Bruce Barsness, Baolu and myself. They had really organized things
with the tables. Thus, I was surprised when they announced, "OK, time
to go eat!"
CHARGE!!!!! Yep, 300 people got up at once and headed for the buffet
and I held back to let the line quiet down (we were still burping
lunches' tasty burgers).
When we did hit the buffet, it was pretty good. Chicken Piccata or beef, salad,
lots of side dishes (yes, I did eat all my carrots!).
NOTE: I saw another group meeting downstairs (not GNRHS) holding a meeting about
"How to Deal With Difficult People". Hmmmm....maybe I should have gone to that
President Buck came over and said Hi to Baolu. Then we thanked all those who
with the convention, welcomed first-time convention attendees and GN
John Strauss gave his talk on Passenger Service in Wenatchee and I recognized a
lot of his stories from his various GN books (which I study).
Then the door prizes and the raffle. In the door prize, I won a porch swing wind
(but I don't have a porch!) and Baolu won a BNSF safety hat.
The raffle prizes were four brass GN gondolas and then the two
1931 Winold Reiss calendars I had donated. Can you guess
which door prize I won?
That's right. My own calendar. I donated it back AGAIN
and two other lucky folks
It is now actually Thursday morning and Baolu and I are getting ready to head
All-in-all, it was a fun convention and from a technical standpoint, it
was a very well
run convention (Thank you, John and Bev Tracy!!!!).
See you next year in Duluth.