Sunday, December 22, 2013

Your right, it is not from this month at Joshua Tree. It was taken during Easter this year when things were warming up and blooming. This season so far we have had plenty of precipitation with hopes for more yet before Spring.

 Just a quick note out to all to have a Merry Christmas and hopes and wishes for a prosperous New Year. If you get any coal, I'll take it.

We will be out after Christmas for the New Years Weekend and to start the New Year off right. This year the holiday is smack dab in the middle of the week so if you get a day or two off make a trek out and enjoy the fresh air and views from the High Line. We've a few projects up our sleeves depending on the weather. And I know of three locomotives, oh five, that will be out sometime over the week.

Hope to see you in the next week or if not you can read about it next time. Any questions you can get a hold of me over the internet at or call 951-768-0137. Merry Christmas, Brian, 7 1/2" coordinator.  

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Thanksgiving Weekend in the High Desert

Late fall in the High Desert is like playing black or red on the roulette table, sometimes you keep winning and sometimes you keep losing. This past weekend you would have gotten three out of the four and a green one, neither side won.

Wednesday afternoon Greg rolled in with Becky and Sydnie and Caleb in the sports car. Mom and Dad of course had gotten the jump on us all but that's expected. Colette made it by dark and I rolled in about 8:00 and that was it for the night. A decent night, cool but nice by the fire, ample wood kept it toasty.

 Thursday morning was clear and calm with the sweaters coming off real quickly. I did a pictorial on how we unload with our system as a retort to questions asked about it. Mostly from non steamers but still a good set of pictures. See the Picasa link somewhere down below for the pictures. About all I get accomplished was unloading before it was time to start the project of deep frying the guest of honor at dinner this afternoon. We did two this year as it was only eight of us for the dinner, and of course that allowed for many a sandwich over the rest of the weekend. The day was decent if you spent it in the sun. Dinner was about 2:30 so we had a little warmth out of the soon the be falling orb over the western hills. The only bad part about an early turkey dinner is waiting it out for a decent time to hit the hay, as it time for a nap just about dark, which is only 5:00. I toughed it out till just past seven so that nobody would have to take the early bird award from me as I usually am first to give it up for the night anyway.

Friday was play day! The 4-4-0 get steamed up and with the Alco running Thursday with the Edward's Freight motor getting a spin in. Count Dad's 47 Tonner along with Matt's PE freight motor showing up early Friday made for five engines. The Tolan's showed up Friday with Chloe to make it six, Jeff was home from college for the weekend so Lori even came along so she could actually see him for a bit. Saturday Gene Petralgia from down Chula Vista way with his Goose #8 made it seven pieces of motive power, and at one time we had five rolling at the same time. Kevin Tolan rounded up a few helping hands and gave the turntable its annual lubrication. Greg made next years chore a little easier by putting a Zerk fitting in the table deck so we don't have to lift it off of it's perch anymore. Mid afternoon Friday we had our only rain which just gave us an excuse to pull the steamers into the engine house for a spell and smoke out the place. At least we were dry and the sprinkles didn't last that long anyway. Soon we were out running again till it was time for dinner. It was cloudy off and on Friday night and even tried to sprinkle again around dinner time. No such luck, it cleared and the rest of the weekend saw no other threats of precipitation.

Saturday was a gorgeous day in the desert, the last day of November showed nothing like it should be that day. I had been running rocks up to the Bjerrum siding area most of the afternoon Friday and it was time to address a little track work on the upper grade. Terry Watson was in and out all weekend as was John Griffin. Gary Conley made it out for a quick trip around the railroad, even a trip up the high line to the end of track. It was a blessing to see Gary out for even a little bit, he enjoyed the outing and soon it was back to the house as I'm sure it taxed him quite the bit for such an outing in his condition. Loads of fill and four track panels soon were up the hill and things got busy. An errant drill bit slowed the progress down for a while but after sundown Saturday we had 40 feet of track added to the grade. Sunday we added another twenty to the total and after Mondays grading session we had most of it able to operate over it. Letting it sit and settle till next time will help the situation. A final manicure and we can continue up the hill. We are now into digging out the hill again, we have a section that has filled in with runoff from quite a few years of erosion , it is easy digging and the soil will not go to waste as we only at the most have to roll it down to Bjerrum for stockpile till needed. Our goal of to the end of existing grading looks a little more possible over this season. All too soon we will be in the trestle district again.

Monday Dad and I ran two more loads of fill up the hill at ten buckets a load. And we took up Gibraltar and her little sisters up to the fast growing rock pile as well. All in all it was a great weekend for family and getting a few things done around the place too. Even if it seemed like we didn't do much very quickly we got a lot done over the weekend. Next time out is New Years, it is a great place to be away from the hustle over civilized New Years celebrations, out at Joshua Tree it is a little more casual to say the least. Hop to see you out sometime again over the new year. Enjoy Christmas and all the other holidays too. Enjoy the pictures;