Friday, September 27, 2013

Fall has arrived in the Desert

A quick trip out to the tracks yielded some surprising notes on the past summer. The clouds had come back to Corona and with it cooler temperatures as we left a little later than planed from the house. As we cleared the Pass and dropped into the Coachella Valley it cleared and be came a clear yet blustery day. The first views of the summers rains were evident as you enter the gorge and start climbing the grade up to Morongo. The normally dry and road rutted wash showed that it had over four to six feet of new cutting from recent flooding. The roadway was not affected but the dirt road that used to go up the wash is gone in most places, replaced by a new course of the river or just cut away completely. Near the top of the grade where the water course was blasted out of rock to make way for the road it is washed clean, no sand or rock filling it as you go by. On the highway sand in the middle of the road tells stories of water crossing in the low spots. I brought along my buddy Honda Ray for the day as he helped load the trailer he should get to see where it was going. Past attempts to get him to come out and see the place had failed, this was a free trip for him. Breakfast in Joshua Tree was had and John Griffin and Terry Watson showed up as we ate. It is nice to get to catch up on things from the locals perspective.  As one turns up Quail Springs and nears the turnoff many low spots in the road still have sand patches that have not been blown away by the traffic that passes. Turning up Willow the water had ran on the lower section and the road itself is in good shape, a grading session might of happened when the road was damp enough to do good. It is not as wash boarded as it has been earlier in the year. The little yellow ground flowers are abundant half way up the road, reminding one of a good spring flower show. The summer rains had run in the washes but no damage on the railroad was noted, a good soaking helps the recent roadbed construction and the much needed moisture was evident as the Juniper bushes and tree where a healthy dark green. We quickly unloaded the dump trailer and Ray was off to see the place, Terry caught up with him and gave him a tour of the full size cars, he was impressed with the 15" and did want to see more of that; told him he would have to come out on a scheduled event for that as I didn't have a key for that. John Griffin has been doing a great job on the 7 1/2" track, filling bridge abutments and keeping the squirrel holes along the right of way filled up. He has been using the Edward's Freight Motor that was a donation from the Henning's as it was intended and is hauling buckets to where they are needed along the tracks. He has moved quite a bit of fill over the summer. I even took a trip or two around the system as all good superintendents should, surveying the whole place and deducing where we should concentrate our efforts this coming season. The only thing that needs done is to address the growing vegetation along the right of way from summer rains before they get much bigger.
 Ray was checked out and given the chance to see the railroad from the helm as I cleaned up and readied the truck for the trip home. We put things away and all to soon it was back down the road towards home. Autumn has come to the high desert and I am ready to get back out and continue our projects. Hope to see you out soon.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Summer is almost over and Joshua Tree time is around the corner.

With the Summer rapidly coming to a simmer it is time again to gear up for some time out at the tracks. I know life around my house has been all but a blur with many things happening over the course of time. Many at the same time. I've worn more than one set of tires off of the Motorcycle in the past six months. Some new additions to the rolling stock and engine roster have come my way as well. Looking forward to gracing the rails with them all. I will be adding the dates for the next season for all to be able to plan a trip or two or three out to the desert. We have had some decent amounts of rain this summer and things are a bit greener. If the precipitation keeps up a good Spring showing of flowers could grace us. Hoping to get a lot of work done on the infrastructure this fall and winter. Completion of the roof and steel work on the 7 1/2" Engine House should keep us busy in the steaming area. And of course the High Line extension will forever be an interesting endeavor. Work on the turntable at the end of the switchback can see some improvements, it would be nice to let the fill around the turntable stabilize to the most it can till it gets put in. Hoping to alleviate any future problems with settling.  Hope to see us grade and lay track to above Tedder Shed, where the siding "Pauline" will be. A water line will have to be constructed to that point and from then on water will be under the grade for future needs. Up keep on the existing trackage will always get attention, probably more so now as my new engines have 'skinny' wheels. As this list gets longer and longer as does the track to run on. Looking forward to a good year and to see all again and meet some new folks as well. October is around the curve.