America 2010

Mar 2010 19

Day 29: Auburn to Christchurch

For those who are worried, yes, I'm back in NZ now, safe and sound. Customs was a breeze.

Journey started with early in Auburn, CA with daylight saving kicking in overnight, so one hour less of sleep and one hour less of packing time. Managed to get everything into my suitcase just fine and checked out of the hotel right on 11am. Headed down to Roseville to try and see the big UP yard there, which I found alright, along with the massive traffic jam alongside. Seems there is a big Sunday farmer's market there, and so everyone was out trying to park, or leave, and meanwhile pedestrians were everywhere. Made for a very slow escape, but from the car I could see the yard and a bunch of tunnel motor locos in UP paint, so that was a nice bonus. No photos, camera was well packed away.

Stopped in at the local Walmart to do some last minute shopping. Found some padlocks for my suitcase after losing one and the key to the other on my first day here. Pretty clever really. While...

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Mar 2010 15

Day 28: Donner Pass Railfanning

Well the forecast wasn't good, and I80 was closed to trucks at Applegate and then shortly after to cars at Auburn. So imagine my surprise when I awoke to find beautiful clear skies and the pass wide open! Jumped in the car and set course for Crystal Lake Rd. GPS wanted to take me on a huge detour to avoid a 4 minute traffic delay on the I80, but I knew better and shaved 30+ minutes off its time. Modern technology huh.

Drive up was fairly uninteresting until I hit the snow line, and then wow!!!

I80. Note lack of road markings. Can make things a bit interesting. Note railway formation at right in second photo. Look very carefully and you can see a snow shed just above the cars.

Arrived at Crystal Lake Road, or rather, the spot where it would be were there not 6+ feet of snow on top of it! Parked the car and started getting the snow shoes and my backpack ready. Another guy was just setting off on skis when ...

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Mar 2010 13

Day 27: Lake Tahoe to Auburn

Woke bright and early for a big day. Huge snow storm was predicted for Donner Pass today, up to two feet of fresh snow! Starting at 10am. So 10am I was on the road and heading up to the summit. While it wasn't snowing yet it certainly wasn't far off, and by the time I got to Soda Springs it was coming down pretty thick. Almost as soon as I parked a train came through the crossing, so got a quick video of that; hand held, quality could be interesting.

Packed up my backpack with camera, video camera, food, cellphone, and so forth. Then suited up with all my cold weather gear and decided to head down my favourite snow-road to the Big Hole. Walked down to the tracks and found some shelter on the leeward side of a clump of trees. This stopped most of the snow from attacking me, but unfortunately I didn't have a very good view of the tracks. Think I caught a few trains here, and saw the flanger in operation which had been one of my goals.


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Mar 2010 12

Day 26: Wells to Lake Tahoe

Just a short post today. Woke up fairly early and was soon on the road. There were very impressive icicles on the church next to my motel:

Had a quick scout around town for trains but apart from one sitting in the loop, nothing was happening. The one in the loop looked like it wasn't going anywhere soon. I went up to a good lookout spot to see if anything was approaching, but the only thing I saw were some UP maintenance vehicles on the track; great, no trains any time soon.

By now the transmission had almost warmed up and stopped making raunching noises and bucking on every gear change, so I ventured out onto the freeway.

Two hours later I still hadn't passed any trains, but had seen some more track workers out on the rails. They were really out in force today. I did however pass a very photogenic run down old barn, so took the next off ramp and went back to photograph it.

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Mar 2010 12

Day 25: Wells Railfanning

Woke up really early, not quite sure why. Train horn? Looked outside and there was a dusting, literally just a dusting, of fresh snow. Checked the clock and it was only 7am, so got some more sleep. Woke up and thought it was 10am, rats, but then realised I was still on Mountain time, not Pacific time, which made it 9am. Confusing stuff these timezones.

Dressed up really warm; there was a cold wind blowing even down here in the township, and I was planning on spending all day out on the snow. I had on:

Underwear Socks Another pair of socks Merino long johns Polar fleece pants Ski pants Merino top with tube neck T shirt Down jacket Rain coat Neck warmer Beanie Gloves Insulated boots Sun glasses

That makes 19 items! Was I warm enough? You bet.

Headed off up the road and staked out a curve with great lighting and elevation for a nice nose shot… of course several hours later and I'd had trains come in every ...

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