America 2012

Feb 2012 17

Day 17 - Helper UT

5:00am and I gradually become aware of an almight noise outside. Not a soothing noise like a train might be either. No, it's a car engine being revved like there is no tomorrow. It goes on and on and on. I prise myself out of bed and to the window and see it's the vehicle next to mine. Eventually, after what feels like an eternity it drops to an idle, revs once more and drives off. Talk about respect for your fellow lodgers!

So I tried drifting back to sleep but lay there half dreaming about law enforcement officials chasing me around town. Eventually I did get to sleep, and had a good sleep in.

When I finally emerged it was a most magnificent day outside. Gloriously sunny! Balance Rock stood basking in the sun, watching over Helper.

And to think yesterday it'd been snowing! Now there was almost no sign of the snow and it was almost shorts and tee shirt weather.

I didn't have any plan for the day and there hadn...

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Feb 2012 16

Day 16 - Rawlins WY to Helper UT

Took me a while to wake up this morning. That's the problem with a good book; they can keep you up far too late! Bundled into the car, fueled up and set off. Hit the freeway, and that was as exciting as it got for the next few hours. Cruise control across Wyoming. 600km. I passed about four trains, all Union Pacific. That's right, I'm back in UP country now, land of the interesting loco. BNSF trains can be very smart, but they're very homoenous with little variety. UP trains tend to be far more interesting with all sorts of curious power lash ups present, and the chance of old paint schemes.

I stopped at Echo, just inside the Utah border, to see if anything interesting was around. Nope, just some stale grain cars.

I was curious to see the motel actually showing signs of life. I headed onto the 80, then US40, then US189. Stopped for supplies. Looked like there could be some snow in the distance.


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Feb 2012 15

Day 15 - Gillette WY to Rawlins WY

Good morning Wyoming, and time to go visit the Powder River Basic. I fueled up and headed off for the drive down. Didn't see much for a good hour or so, as it takes a while to get into the coal fields. This is real miner country, and the previous night while looking for a restaurant I witnessed the locals drag racing their pickup trucks at the lights. These aren't so much boy racers, as cowboy racers. Gillette is very much a mining town where you're more likely to find a CAT dealer than a car dealer. The impression I get is there are a lot of young single males working on remote coal, gas and oil fields, getting paid a lot and with nothing much to spend it on. So you end up with everyone driving around in souped up pickup trucks.

Anyway, I cruised along for a while, before trying to find some railroad action. From last time I remembered I had to veer off the main highway so I picked a side road at random and went hunting. The signs at the entrance were confusing, saying NO ...

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Feb 2012 14

Day 14 - Livingston MT to Gillette WY

There is something about a grain train slogging its guts out right outside my window that makes an excellent alarm clock! In fact the room was shaking a little from all the noise. So that was my 7am wakeup call, but I decided it was a bit too early and had another hour of sleep before the same routine woke me up. This time I decided that I would chase this train up the hill, after all what is the point in staying in Livingston if I don't chase trains over Bozeman Pass???

It was a doozy of a train with an interesting CN/BNSF GE/EMD theme going. I've seen a couple of CN trains up here, which is odd since CN stands for Canadian National and last I checked I wasn't in Canadia. I jumped in the car, fuelled up and roared up the pass. Caught him at all the good spots and got some video too. It was snowing a little too which was exciting.

At the top he slowed down and I was lucky enough to catch the previous helpers returning.

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Feb 2012 13

Day 13 - Cut Bank MT to Livingston MT

Set off after a bit of a delay thanks to work, to find the viaduct here and the Amtrak. Found both, although wish I'd driven down to the bottom of the canyon for a more impressive shot.

I also found a giant penguin.

(Note, quite a few places claim to be the coldest place in the nation. It was pretty mild here today)

I drove on down the highway and saw just how big and open it is down here on the plains of Montana. The hills were wide and undulating.

I saw a big windfarm off on a hill, but no trains. Then just before Shelby I saw a headlight waiting at the signals. There was a lot of radio chatter, sounded like a hi-railer was making life difficult for everyone.

Then a no-grainer arrived on the scene and the two passed. I roared back up the road t...

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