One year ago Friday I was on a railroad photography expedition in Vader, WA with some good friends. As you saw on dogcaught.com this was a visit to record action under the soon to disappear cantilever signals. It was a busy night and we enjoyed all sorts of trains to photograph with the signals.
As it ends up these photographs were my last.
17 days after this expedition my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. As you saw in a post I chose to take a break from railroad photography so I could focus on my wife’s treatment. With changed priorities I chose to set some of my hobbies aside.
That was a tough choice but I felt my commitment to her was the most important thing. I still escaped on most Sundays for rail fanning around town with my daughter. Heck, we even made it out the Sunday after Tammy’s surgery. I used my iPhone periodically to photograph interesting things but for the most part this period was photography free. Thanks to Facebook and my great railfan friends I kept up on the happenings around the area.
Skip ahead one year. Today Tammy feels wonderful. She recovered from chemo, surgery and radiation and as a far as I’m concerned is back to normal. She feels occasional aches and pains but they are minor. She’s healthy and cancer free so I feel like the mission is accomplished!
I haven’t recovered my photography interest though. I’m not sure why but the idea of enjoying life through the viewfinder isn’t as appealing as it once was. I know that having a health issue refocuses your creativity. She and I spent lots of time problem solving and planning which used all the creativity we could muster. The result? My creativity feels exhausted. My motivation is lost.
For now I will continue my hiatus from photography. I do plan to enjoy railfanning and hanging out with railfan friends since my interest in trains and railroading hasn’t waned at all. When my motivation and creativity return I will once again drag my camera along.
Constant change is the rule in Vancouver. Last week when I visited the depot looking down the alley next to the Great Western Malting elevator was nearly impossible. The scrapper near the depot had piles of scrap and equipment which blocked the view. The next week rail cars blocked the way. This week construction had moved moved the scrap out of away so for the first time in several years I was able to capture an image of Great Western’s plant switcher.
The Port of Vancouver renewed the track recently so concrete ties, fresh ballast. and a renewed surface now replace the track which previously was pretty rough. A new set of automatic switches with switch indicators control the crossover between the tracks. Instead of just 6 cars they now pull 12 to dump. All good changes to improve the flow of business.
The fact remains though that the building structures still tower over the trains here. Despite all of the changes, the trains remain diminutive.
I’ve been away from blogging for a bit. Over the last month or so I’ve worked on several personal photography projects and have just taken a break. As time permits and my projects wrap up I will certainly be posting again.
It amazes me every time I arrive in the dry, arid portions of the Columbia River Gorge and find flowers. My mind always associates flowers with more moist conditions. How wrong my mind is!
When I visited Maryhill in mid-May the Arrowleaf buckwheat and the various balamroots were in full bloom. I spent the day hanging out with friends at this curve west of Maryhill and with the variety of rail traffic I was able to capture several of the flowers along with the train traffic. Since these flowers are such a stark contrast to the sagebrush and usual vegetation out here I couldn’t resist.
My favorite from this cloudy day, is this image of a westbound coal train passing through the rocks west of Maryhill. Not only is there a wonderful flower in the foreground but the rock cut is peppered with even more!
I feel like I sound like a broken record because I’m starting another post with “another trip to the Gorge”. I guess I shouldn’t whine too much because not everyone can easily visit such a wonderful place on a regular basis. I should feel proud to be able to start off another post with “another trip to the Gorge”, right?
Sunday’s trip to the fabulous Columbia River Gorge was an opportunity to hang out with a friend visiting from Wisconsin. Scott previously lived in Oregon so he wanted to spend the day hanging out in one his favorite places. With sunrise scheduled for 5:18 we decided to leave Scott’s hotel at 5 and find some trains in the morning sun.
Our first stop coincided with the eastbound morning Z train making a meet with a grain train at Cooks. This location was right on the eastern edge of the morning low clouds hanging around the west side of the mountains. In the minutes before the Z train’s arrival the scene migrated from full sun to cloudy. Of course just before the train arrived the sun disappeared altogether. Thankfully the sun came back just enough to highlight the subject and give me this wonderful photo.
Throughout the rest of the day we visited Rowland Lake, West North Dalles, MP 99 on the UP, the Lyle rest area and associated rock out croppings, the rock spires at MP 81.5 on the BNSF, and finally Rowland Lake again. In the middle of the day we stopped in for a nice lunch in The Dalles and relaxed while the trains took a break and the sunlight was less than optimal. The middle part of the day had plenty of lulls so we engaged one another in interesting conversations ranging the gamut of rail related topics as well as technology, science, and some politics.
Near the end of the day we found ourselves at Rowland Lake again. BNSF lined up 2 trains to head right into the sun so we found our various locations around the lake for photographs. I chose to capture this photo of the evening Z train between the Oak trees. Now, before you say “wow, you had great luck with the barge and tow boat Steve”, understand this is a composite photo. The barge passed through the scene about 9 minutes prior to the Z train. I felt the combination depicts what actually happens quite frequently on the Columbia River so I chose to put the two images together.
That’s it for this Gorge visit. Someone else approached me about a July or August trip so it looks like “another trip to the Gorge” is in store!
A westbound grain train hauls another 110 cars of export grain west to meet up with ships to haul it overseas.