Friday, February 20, 2009

Ryan's Express

The following is a photo journal created by Ryan Baker of Flagstaff, Arizona.
Ryan is an employee of Burlington-Northern/Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF).
Recently, his job took him across Northern Arizona right after an unusually intense snow storm.
Ryan hitched a ride on a westbound train to Needles, California, where he then picked up an eastbound train to drive to Belen, New Mexico.

Although I have never communicated with Ryan he sent this photo journal in email form to a mutual friend of ours who lives in Prescott, AZ, who then in turn forwarded it to me for my enjoyment and with the author's permission I now share it with you.

The particular stretch of railroad featured in this photo journal parallels Old Route 66 across Northern Arizona from the Kingman area to the Flagstaff area which is my favorite stretch of the Mother Road and one which I have driven perhaps a hundred times in my life and hope to drive a few hundred more times.

It is a spiritual journey of sorts for me, not just a physical one so these photos mean a lot to me as I've never driven through that area when it was as snowy as shown below.

Ryan does an excellent job in his photo captions (inside quotation marks) and Ryan took each of these 28 photos so with that, enjoy!

"Just west of Canyon Diablo about to make the turn and start up the 'hard pull'".

"Mile Post 335" (San Francisco Peaks in background).

"Approaching East Flagstaff"

"San Francisco Peaks from Bellemont"

"Audley (just west of Seligman)"

"About to dive down into Pica before the assult on Yampai hill starts.
(you can see the water tank for the steam locos back in the day.)"

"Climbing Yampai at a whoppin 27mph.....that's a good speed for that grade."

"Inside one of the few remaining section houses on the entire transcon.
This is at Nelson."

"Sitting next to the section house at Nelson waiting for the Kingman local to get out of the way."

"Just west of Peach Springs. Lots of snow here. Was told it was very unique to have this much on the ground here."

"Crozier Canyon"

"Valentine, AZ.

"The next day..."

"Cauaght a 2.1 horsepower/ton stack train out of Needles. Seen here we are gettting run around by a V train that only boasted 2.9 HPT, so they weren't doing too much better than we were on the stiff climb up to Kingman.
It took at least 10 minutes for them to get by us as we were both moving at full power but down in the 20-30 mph range on the grade."

"Climbing out of Kingman"

"Crozier Canyon eastbound"

"On the approach to Cherokee crossovers"

"On the approach to Peach Springs"

"The section house we werwe stopped at the day befroe as seen from the south main, which is on a different alignment than the north main."

"The two alignments (near Nelson) slowly come back together.
South main is on a 1.4% grade, North main is on a 1.8%."

"They come back together at the entrance to Nelson tunnel."

"It's a short tunnel, but cool nonetheless."

"A westbound near Audley. Seligman is on the other side of the mountain towards the right."

All photos and captions courtesy of Ryan Baker, Flagstaff, Arizona.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Templeton Rockhounding Tomorrow Follow-Up

Today I visited the recently disked field adjacent to and north of the Templeton CHP office.
I went with "JJ" Jeffrey James and although his health limited how long we could be there to just about an hour or less we did find some petrified whalebone as well as some agatey biconoid fragments.

Close-up of a vertebra that was split in half lengthwise.

All three of the pieces I found today.

I only did a fraction of the hunting that I'd like to do and plan to go back as soon as I can before the grain starting to sprout in the field becomes an issue; anybody want to join me?


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Templeton Rockhounding Tomorrow

Jeffrey James and I will be rockhounding for petrified whale bone and biconoids near the CHP office in Templeton tomorrow so I will report back by the end of the day with how it went and perhaps have some pics to share with you all, too.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Random Musings of a Ramblin' Fool XVI

Valentine's Day/President's Day/NBA All-Star Weekend Addition

This is going to be a veritable "kimapalooza" of a Random Musings installment and I hope you enjoy it. Actually, I better lower expections so my story now is this is merely an average Random Musings and if it sucks don't blame me, it's free and you volunteered to read it! ;-p


For starters, this has been quite a weekend for me chalk full of little things.

My fat ass walked 6.8 miles yesterday and 2.3 miles today and add to that I was walking my friend Erin's dog Jax who is

I'm still not used to having a girlfriend on Valentine's Day and I must say it's nice even in spite of the bummer of said girlfriend being located 360 miles north of my current location. ;-p

Despite the current economic crisis there are a lot of people visiting Atascadero from out of the area based upon the motel occupancy I've seen here in Atascadero this weekend. That or they're Atascaderans who have gotten a room to celebrate Valentine's Day. ;-p

As I compose this I'm watching the NBA All-Star game and I must say it's been one of the best I've watched in quite some time: they're actually playing some defense for a change. Wootz!
Final score: Western Conference All-Stars: 146 Eastern Conference All-Stars: 119

California is getting nailed pretty hard by a powerful Pacific storm that continues to wind up although it feels like it's getting bogged down and taking longer getting here. I love winter storms (the windy and rainy type) and for a while it was looking as if we might not get any more heavy-hitting storms following those that buffeted us early in December of last year. Last month was one of the warmest January's on record for Southern California and for a time it appeared that climatic trend would continue unabated for the forseeable future.

As a rockhound I am hoping these storms scour all the local and regional creeks and other drainages and dump lots of cool new material in said drainages as well as on the beaches as collecting inland as well as at the coast has been not nearly so great in recent years during the current multi-year drought.

We can't talk about last month's warmth without mentioned the terrible drought that we are in danger of suffering later this year unless this current wet weather pattern dominates the rest of this month into next month. In all likelihood the current weather will not last but at least some of the edge will be taken off what would have been a much worse drought without the current spate of storms.

Speaking of storms, the California state government is on the brink of financial collapse as a result of the budget stalemate. There is no effective leadership in the legislature within either party. We must make across-the-board cuts (I certainly have had to on a personal level so why not everybody else?) as well as increase taxes although that runs the risk of doing more harm given we are already over-taxed. However, the special interests, particularly labor unions, are threatening Democratic lawmakers with retaliation if they support cutting measures that would effect their interest group. The net effect of every interest group selfishly playing that game is that nothing gets cut and since Republicans won't sing off on a budget without adequate spending cuts while opposing more taxes which the Democrats in typical fashion support is that both parties are playing chicken with our state government and we all stand to lose.

Inside the Beltway, things aren't looking much more inspiring than in Sacramento.
Our nation's current problems require decisive action; half measures certainly won't do.
What is coming from the Obama Administration appears to be half-measures intended to keep the political flow as bi-partisan as possible. Normally I would applaud this as constructive but not so now. Decisiveness is imperative now and some sort of average of what both parties want will accomplish nothing which reminds me of the old saying that a giraffe is a horse designed by a committee.
The Republicans are lost and have no leadership and seem to only stand for opposing the bail-out plan while not having any ideas of their own, particularly, what they would have us do instead of said bail-out plan.
It is now clear President Obama is not the naive in-over-his-head "babe in the woods" many (including myself) once thought back when he was merely a candidate. It is also disappointingly obvious he has yet to become notably effective but his Presidency is yet young so much has yet to play itself out so hopefully these discouraging trends will reverse themselves.
It is worth noting that Obama is the same sort of pragmatic political chameleon that President Clinton was both of whom sold themselves as Liberals while running for office but once in the White House then shifted to the political middle much like Bush the Younger did in falsely claiming to a be Reagan Conservative and a true Evangelical Christian and then proceeded to do little to make either group happy.

Business has been painfully slow on eBay of late due to this economy. We have great stuff and plenty of it and our customer service is second to no one's but folks just don't have the money to spend they did a few years ago. All our customers are happy but there just isn't enough of them to make ends meet. Fortunately, I'm in the GEMboree in Northridge at the end of the month and that should help.

While we're mentioning things taking a dive it is worth mentioning that it appears parts of those two satellites that collided last week are now making reentry into Earth's atmosphere as reports of fireballs falling from the sky are way up over the past several days including one in Texas and one in San Diego County and these appear to be slower-moving debris as opposed faster moving meteoritic objects.

Speaking of meteoritic objects, my large Sikhote-Alin didn't sell at the Tucson Show as I had hoped so I need to call Geoffrey Notkin tomorrow and see what our strategy is now. I believe his plan is to blog about it and take some professional photos of it and put it on his website and create some buzz for it as it is one of the largest ones from this locale he has seen on the market in a few years that is also in such great condition so maybe it will sell in the next month or so.

It appears my Cal Poly student roommate will be moving out and moving home to Torrance, CA, and back in with his parents upon graduation next month due to the scarcity of jobs resulting from the current economic distress. Consequently, I need to line up a new roommate so if any of you know of anybody who would fit in here living with me and another guy in his late 30's please let me know. The rent is $500 per month base rent plus we split the utilities three ways which usually comes out to about $150 per person for a total of about $650 per month. The room will become available around April 4th give or take a few days.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

East Santa Margarita Lake Photo-Trek

Yesterday a buddy of mine headed out towards Pozo with our dogs and went trekking back towards the dam from the River Road access point. I decided to take a photo journal of my little adventure and share it with you. Note: the Santa Margarita Lake and Salinas Reservoir are one and the same and both names are used here interchangeably.

Heading out Blinn Ranch Trail which follows the old road for much of the way.

Towering cumulonimbus with Salinas River thickets in foreground.

Not-so-grainy image of the fearsome Chupacabra I encountered.

Leafless trees growing in the Salinas River bottoms.

Winter dormancy leaves these Salinas River vines looking dead.

Pink patch of duckweed growing on the surface of the Salinas River.

More patches of pink duckweed on the surface of the Salinas River.

Close-up of duckweed.

I've always envisioned the ancient Chumash camping next to this outcropping.

For some reason this oak always catches my attention when I walk by it.

Wind ripples the surface of the Salinas River.

Blinn Ranch Trail headed westerly and outbound towards the dam.

From the same location looking back from whence I just came.

Cumulonimbus build-ups looming up behind a grove of Digger Pines.

View from within an old cellar.

Outside view of the same cellar of a long-abandoned farm building.

View of the cellar roof which was also the floor of the old building.

An old nearby water cistern.

An even larger nearby water cistern.

An old oak tree with a lot going on.

Panarama of the aforementioned old farm structures.

A giant brown and green Tribble growing in a young Digger Pine.

A big burl with a big smile.

High and dry cattails obscuring a bass-breeding pen.

Our turnaround spot overlooking Santa Margarita Lake.

Towering cumulonimbus over the horizon to the south.

Heading back at this point I captured Tequila on the right side of the photo.

Machesna Mountains as background.

Woodpecker Valentine's Day Massacre of this Digger Pine.

Whatever this is called I love the delicate beauty of its texture.

At this point the weather started getting stormy and ominous.

This storm cell made me nervous as it approached us.

Thankfully, it passed right by us sprinkling with only a few drops fo rain.

This isn't to say I wasn't concerned about lightening getting us out in the open.

Then a faint rainbow appeared and I felt safe.

Okay, I merely felt a bit safer.

The towering cumulonimbus to the south never let up the entire time.

I love this scene: dark cloud, rainbow, oak tree, reddish plant, etc.

Another oak that always grabs my attention whenever I walk here.

Winds from that storm whipping the surface of the Salinas River.

I doubt you can see it but this rainbow ends on top of a house.

This oak grew out of a crack in the rock here.

Looking back from whence I just came along the old road.

Looking in the direction I'm headed along the old road.

This scene really grabbed me for some reason.

I love Digger Pines and don't know why they are so unpopular.

This is a magnificent old oak at the trail head parking lot along River Road.