The guest list started to fill early for the long weekend, no known gate crashers as everyone is invited to start. Al and Lynn Ratliff were up early as usual. Greg and Becky Ratliff made it up before dark on Wednesday or real close to dark. Becky's folks,Dave and Trish Gray showed up mid day and use the Villa Thompson for the weekend. New member and enthusiastic one at the Josh Klenske came up with the whole family, wife Mary and their two kids Katherine and Daniel. I made it up sometime after dark after many stops on the way. The weather was ideal for a late night chat and Josh and I made it till past midnight with all the others filtering away as the night progressed.
Thanksgiving day was yet another beautiful day in the high desert. As the sun rose so did the temperature, and likewise in the afternoon. The early project was to get the Thompson Mogul out and fire it up; as the cook only has the morning to play before getting the bird ready to eat this afternoon. She fired up as easy as usual and soon it was around the place steaming away. After Greg and Al were stirring the big project of moving the steel needed for the engine house bays from their resting spot in the car barn to the engine house was tackled.
The Three Companies westside flats have a myriad of uses. And as idlers and load bearers they work out perfect. In order to move 20 and 21 foot long heavy pieces of steel one needs two flats with pivots to hold the load spaced with two idlers in between. And at least one car as a idler on each end for safety and aesthetics. With the heavy lifting out of the way the train made its way up and backed into the engine house side track for off loading. All the other necessary gadgets were accumulated for the welding project and that was about all that was done in the way of progress for the day.
Thursdays feast of Thanksgiving was being prepared and readied for a 3:00pm seating. As we eat outside when blessed with decent weather it is nice to enjoy the meal while the sun is still present above the mountain as it cools fast after the big orange ball drops for the day. Deep Fried Turkey with all the fixings was experienced by the Ratliff's, Gray's and Shepherd's. After dinner it was around the warmth of the fire at the patio. Soon we were blessed with the presence of the Tolan boys, fresh from their 'dine and dash' trip from home to spend their 'black Friday' getting coal smoke on them.
Friday was an early steam up day with the C&S Mogul, a few posed shoots were taken about the facility for an upcoming segment on the website that the prez,Tom Arnold, wants to try out. Mike Thompson brought out Nathan and Emily to let their mother do a little shopping too. Mike is working on finishing the fill below Thompson cut and completing for now the extension to Joshua Tree so we can consolidate projects for a push up the hill. The welding crew was busy welding up the legs for a bay in the engine house as quickly as the saw and cutting crew could supply the proper lengths. When all the legs were together they were welded to the rails and the whole assembly was rotated so the welder, Brian, could weld at closer angles to flat then vertical. My welding resembles pigeon droppings in that it might not look good but it sticks. We got one bay in place and ready for concrete before session was over for the afternoon and plans for an early trip to the lumber yard for ready-mix was in place for the a.m.
Saturday it was off to Barr for the concrete and other stores for the necessaries; adult beverages, ice, big juicy steaks... A little rain tried to fall, but not enough to dampen the project de jour. The concrete was off loaded at the Team track at the station and off up the hill to the batch plant for mixing. In no time the bay was set and a waiting game was in place as we just used up our work bench, after a few hours a replacement jig was rigged and we could return to welding up the last bay. With direct sunshine going to wane soon and a threat of rain being more a reality then a possibility the batch plant was cranked up as it started to sprinkle and soon the third and final bay was set in the engine house. A quick clean up and it was up to the fire to warm up. It rained quite a bit overnight and it was still spitting come day break. A much needed moisture was wetting the desert, this spring should be a good flower show.
Sunday an impromptu clean up of the area was undertaken and the forms were removed from the engine house bays, revealing another daunting task had been completed. Thanks to the crew that dirtied their hands and invested another installment of 'sweat equity' on our little Mainline thru the Rocks. Come on out and 'wring' out the out year and ring in the new out at JT, should be something going on from after Christmas till the 3rd of January, see you there.
|Thanksgiving 2009 at Joshua Tree & Southern|