January 21, 2009
MLK Weekend at JT, running and working.
What a beautiful weekend to be out in the high desert of California this past weekend. Of course the wind had blown for over a week previous and sooner or later it was bound to stop. The temperatures throughout the nation were in the single digits while we wore single shirts throughout the day, the evenings got down to the low 50’s and the skies were clear and the waning moon was still bright. The early evening activities were waiting for the International Space Station to streak across the sky. With two showings Friday night and one pass on Saturday and Sunday evening as well, it was quite a sight seeing the floating mass arc across the evening sky. How do I get a window seat on that puppy? How the view from a lawn chair strapped to the wing of the shuttle and a cool pack of beverages along side, watching the world go by. I could imagine the stories that could be spun on that trip.
Bill Shepherd was back in town and Bruce Thompson was right behind him through the gate. I followed less then an hour later on Friday afternoon. Mike and Nathan Thompson bounced up the road by late afternoon and Greg, Becky and Sydnie Ratliff found their way in before it was too late. Rumors of a crowd from San Diego way brought Matt Zacharzuk, Darren Saylor and Amber Palomino from that way on Saturday, Matt stayed till late on Sunday. Terry Watson cruised in every morning to see the action and help where needed, he even spent some time in the shop car working on the mill in there. The Tolans arrived Saturday morning and spent the weekend also.
Saturday was a steam up day for the Heisler and it ran till the packing gland decided to do a counter clockwise spin from its place of rest. Jeff Tolan steamed up his Chloe as well. The Saturday project was to add another row of block to the retaining wall for the lift project and to place the cap upon that so that we could calculate the this weekend. Of course the new row of block needed filled before Bill could place the cap, so a mixing crew was formed to do that project as well. Greg ran the spot stick while Bill looked through the eyepiece and calculated what needed to be known.
The mound of fill dirt that was impeding the visual aspect of where we needed to grade was bisected with shovels to aid us in seeing where we needed to go. Most of it was used for back fill against the new wall; the rest was Moses’d to each side of the road bed. After much, very much, discussion it was agreed to leave the wall at its current height and live with the fact that this railroad is built on a hill. For there is a two foot rise from the retaining wall to the frog of the new switch off the upper loop to the new yard, ninety feet away. Do we raise the wall and push a locomotive and cars above your shoulders to a long level yard, or do we shorten the flat section of the yard to the ease of unloading and the steepness of a grade to the switch? I hope you’ll agree on our compromise and plan to attend the upcoming Narrow Gauge Meet Cocktail Party at the lift in March. The lift will be at a perfect height.
Sunday we tackled the grade and cussed and discussed the alignment for the yard. A frog was cut into the upper loop, a switch was starting to take place and track panels that had been stored down in the car barn were brought up and bolted into place. By early afternoon ballast was in place and things were looking really good that this effort was taking root. Of course four more tracks need installed as well as their switches, the grades need worked on and etcetera. But, it’s looking good!
Jeff and Kevin Tolan had made there way up to the cut on the 15” and were clearing the debris from the latest ‘Dexpan’ placement. It is amazing what that stuff will do and two weeks later the stuff is a powder in the drill hole, nothing but fractured rock in its wake.
All but Bill and I left by late Sunday afternoon and things got down to quiet. By the time the ISS passed around 7:00 in the evening it was real quiet, peaceful and serene, it was great time to reflect on the accomplishments of the past weekend, the past years and even the past decades. It has taken a lot of people a lot of time, talent and toil to make what we have out here. And some times it is just amazing to just sit back and reflect on what we have out here to enjoy, count our blessing for what we have, and what we don’t have to endure as well.
Monday was quiet till I got up. Trying to do more then one thing at a time, I fired up the Heisler, put things away that we didn’t need out anymore. Returned things to their rightful spots and tidied up the place in general. After steaming up it was a load of trash to the front gate, by train of course, put cars back in the barn and coil up the hoses. Run a few laps and put the Heisler away as well. After the morning run, I worked on the new switch, leaving the points work for a later date. Bill was busy on the culvert south of the Station for the Yard tracks there; he also worked on the walkway on the north side of the station too. By Tuesday he had the rock wall placed back around the Tedder garden area east of the station, he never stops I tell you.
Bill is going to be in and out of town through March and I’m trying to get with Greg to get a day or two extra out on the lift project. Greg stopped by on Tuesday to show me the steel work for the lift trolley; it is going to be nice. Being we have power for a welder at the lift that will make things easier too. Things are looking good out there, plan on attending soon; hope to see you, Brian.
Snow comes to Joshua Tree
8 years ago