Sunday, 31 May 2015

Day 17 - Jasper to Lake Louise

It's horrendously late and I need sleep so I'll keep this short and brief.

Drove from Jasper to Lake Louise along the Icefields Parkway - saw 2 black bears (one of them was 10m from the car), a Grizzly Bear which walked towards a shop and 2 of the guys had to get ushered inside, lots of big horned sheep, visited multiple stops along the way and took lots of scenic photos. Visited the actual lake at Lake Louise, Lake Moraine and had time to film a couple of trains at Morants Curve.

I'll let the photos tell the story - I don't have the literary skills to describe some of the places we visited.

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Day 16 - Drive to Red Pass and back

Today I took the guys on a wee jaunt up to Red Pass and back. Red Pass is just past Moose Lake on Highway 16. The CN tracks run adjacent to the road for most of the way, however they're also mostly obscured by trees. So you get your shots at grade crossings, and they're few and far between. The weather is partly cloudy and warm.

Mt Robson Park - Yellowhead Pass.

Today is Saturday, and we had no idea how many trains we may or may not see. The road had a massive stretch of road works on it so train chasing along this stretch is out of the question.


In my collection of rail DVDs, many places like Geikie, Lucerne, Decoigne, Red Pass and Moose Lake are mentioned, and today we managed to visit all of these except Geikie. To see the trains at Geikie, you have to stop at the top of a hill and climb out to an outcropping. Two things prevented this - the trees and the road works.

Near Lucerne

As for traffic volumes, I got 2 shots at Decoigne, one shot at Lucerne, one shot at Moose Lake and 2 at Red Pass - the trains were coming thick and fast and the background scenery is just a killer. I can't wait to get this footage home and on the computer.


Upon our return to Jasper we had a late lunch then returned to the hotel to do some much needed laundry. The trains kept pouring in from the west - our hotel balcony looks towards the tracks, but too many trees in the way for a decent view.

Moose Lake
Lawrie and Grant did some shopping and went for a walk around town - the amount of money these two spend on their wives is appalling...

The Rocky Mountaineer at Jasper

David and I went looking for trains and didn't have to wait long - and then it happened: firstly The Canadian turned up and departed, then the Skeena turned up and it was turned around ready for tomorrows departure, then the Rocky Mountaineer turned up and it was turned around, which took two goes as it's so long.

Red Pass
By then the cloud started to roll in and the boys were hungry so we called it quits. Dinner and an early knock-off - it's 9:32 pm and still daylight.

Tomorrow we drive to Lake Louise.


Friday, 29 May 2015

Day 15 - Edmonton to Jasper

Today we left a sunny Edmonton and soon entered a wet and cold Edson and Hinton. However by the time we got to Jasper the weather had cleared a bit. But it was still about 6 degrees and a tad windy.

Anyway, the journey here was relatively benign - I stopped off at a large viaduct near hwy 757 in the off chance something would pass over, and instead of setting up the video camera I trotted off to take a photo of a beaver dam - next minute a train trundles over the viaduct. Somebody kick me.

A quick brunch at Niton Junction (no food between here and Edmonton) followed by lunch at Hinton. Edson was cold and wet and nothing was to be found.

The skies were overcast for the entire trip and deflated a journey that should have been full of cool mountain scenery.

Entering Jasper National Park I was asked to pay $39.40 for a Parks Fee which took me by surprise.

The only wildlife we saw were mountain goat - two were on the road and the male with his big spikey horns was up on the rocks looking a bit worse for wear.

Once at Jasper we encountered and failed to photograph a stack train - it was going way too fast - I was pacing it out of town at about 85 km/hr. Upon our return to Jasper we found that the VIA passenger train The Canadian had somehow slipped past us and was sitting at the station. It didn't leave until 4pm and in that time a freight that was waiting beyond the yard limits was allowed to pass through.
The Canadian sitting at Jasper
We checked in, and invariably while we were doing that, two more passed through. An early dinner which was served faster than you could take your first sip of your drink. It was supposed to be Chinese but it was as authentic as a TV dinner. It tasted OK but lacked a little something. Grant was hanging for sweet n sour chicken, but got sweet n sour chicken balls..... don't ask.

We hit the carpark beside the platform again and soon it was all on. Lots of trains passing through, a train was broken in two and more switching was done. Didn't get back to the hotel until 9:30 ish due to poor light and ultra cold wind. Two video camera batteries drained flat owing to the cold.

Today I learned how to use my camera remote so I could take photos whilst recording - instead of touching the screen - results above and below.

Tomorrow we're off for a wee morning drive.


Thursday, 28 May 2015

Day 14 - Exploring the Railfan Mecca of Edmonton

Today we explored the railfanning Mecca of Edmonton - and what a let down.

It started off with shabby service at the hotel restaurant where we had to wait over 30 minutes for our breakfast (people who came in after us got their food before us) - it was blatantly obvious that the people the waitresses knew got their food before us. Minimal tip given. Negative feedback given on their website.

This negative attitude permeating through me continued on for the rest of the day - it seemed that wherever I tried to go there were road works preventing me from pulling over, or there were track gangs preventing trains from running or the location was totally unsuitable for filming. I was totally gutted at the lack of rail traffic. Thankfully Sally the SATNAV behaved herself and any wrong turns were my fault, which just fueled the fire.

About 4 hours spent at East Junction - 3 trains seen - pitiful. Then I heard on the scanner that an incoming train from the west had to detach locos upon arrival and had to get a move on owing to the number of trains arriving....but we'd skipped lunch and we were getting hungry...what to do...
I hatched a cunning plan: we'll go back to the hotel, freshen up, put on warmer clothes etc. then get a takeaway dinner and eat it beside tracks until it gets too dark.

We ended up at my old haunt of Union Junction on the old 156th Street grade crossing which is now blocked off, with pizzas each....and for the sake of Lawrie's and Grant's wives who may be reading this, they both had very small pizzas that appeared to be very healthy, salt free and reduced fat....and if you believe that...
Perfect light conditions and four trains in 20 minutes (one of them was stopped right where I parked), a bit of a wait then it was on again.

Sitting at Union Junction waiting for me to turn up and take a photo - or maybe a green light into Walker Yard.

CN putting on a tremendous show at Union Junction.

Big smiles for the funny man.

The dreaded Canpotex train - these things are long with about 150 cars all the same...except for the graffiti.

The light was fading fast so I took the guys for a cruise on the good side of Walker Yard before it got dark. "Look at that !!".

Today's weather was a bit bizarre - by 10 am the cloud had burned off so the entire sky was blue, but the northerly wind would cut right through you - so although it was really cold - sun burn did feature again.

Highlights of the day for me were interactions with people - one train that went past had a female conductor and she looked back at me with a look that said "how dare you scoff down a pizza in front of me after I've just spent 18 hours on a train, I'm tired, I'm filthy, the engineer smells and I'm  hungry." I just gave her the old "oops, caught with my hand in the lolly jar" look. She grinned like a maniac.
The next train to come along the conductor was on the front sill as she had to climb off and throw a point further down the track. When she realised that she was being videoed she did a big pose and put on a big grin. Awesome. Seeing people smile when they don't have to is always good.
That's been the attitude of all the CP and CN employees we've interacted with - ultra friendly and only too happy to answer some pretty stupid questions.

I think we're all pretty sick of the city, the traffic and the people and can't wait to get back into the mountains again. I know I am. Tomorrow we'll do just that - Jasper here we come. Looong day expected.

Speaking of graffiti....when I last filmed these things in 2004 (or whenever it was), hardly any of the freight cars had graffiti on them - now it's the opposite - spotting one without a tag is becoming difficult.


Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Day 13 - Calgary to Edmonton

Today kicked off with breakfast at Denny's as we didn't feel too fussed about having it at the hotel - it was going to cost a lot.

Something familiar beside Denny's in Calgary

Today we relocated from Calgary to Edmonton - a 3.75 hour drive that took us about 7 hours.

Where we could, I tried to follow Highway 2A instead of taking the main Highway 2. This road is less populated, you can pull over and stop where you like - and it follows the railway tracks.

Being a CP connection from Calgary to Edmonton, I didn't expect to see much in the way of rail activity, however we were pleasantly surprised.

I left Highway 2 for 2A at Crossfield, where as soon as we got into town, the lights and bells started up. A switcher set from Calgary was spotting some tanks and hoppers and every now and then it had to go over a grade crossing. Lots of good close up footage on a bright sunny day. Eventually it disappeared around a corner and I made the D to move on.

These refurbished GP-9s look very slick. They're now called a GP20C-ECO

Further along the road near Carstairs I espied a light in the distance and a CP Canpotex turned up and went sailing through at a great rate of knots. Filmed that one too.

Further along near Bowden I saw another light in the distance. This time a CP manifest with lots of tank cars - mostly LPG. A Union Pacific loco was an unexpected sight. Filmed that as well.

More grain elevators photographed. 

From there on it all went dead, and we encountered many track gangs making repairs and all signal lights were off. Lunch at Lacombe and at Leduc we finally had to resort to going on the main drag to get to Edmonton. Canadian drivers have yet to discover the use of the little stick on the steering column we refer to as an indicator. Their driving is appalling - the speed limit is an obvious recommendation and there's no-one around to enforce it anyway. Doing 110 kph along the freeway and I'm getting overtaken by trucks.

I called into a hobby shop where I resisted an overwhelming urge, but did spend a few bucks. The traffic was insane - being 4:30 pm didn't help I suppose.

We're staying at the Travelodge East Edmonton for 2 nights - cheap motel, average facilities, dodgy neighbourhood. Internet plays up, so if you can see this, jolly good.

A day of exploring tomorrow, and I swear, if one of them asks to go to the Mall, they're walking home.


Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Day 12 - Lethbridge to Calgary

Today is officially the half way mark, and we've covered some serious territory. We learned today that a town we passed through a few days ago has since been hit by floods following a rain storm. Cache Creek is a bit of a disaster area. It was one of the places we were going to stay but I chose Ashcroft instead. Gut feeling more than lucky choice.

The 250 k drive from Lethbridge to Calgary started off with a stopover back at Kipp Yard near Coalhurst. We sat and watched a lot of kick shunting - or kick-off switching I think it's called - where the locomotive accelerates with a load of freight cars, a guy operates the coupler release bar (running beside the freight car) then he radios the loco engineer to hit the brakes and the freight car rolls into the pre-selected track by guys operating manual turnout levers. It usually goes really well and is fully of wonderful noises of freight cars banging into each other, but if you push too hard the freight car crashes into the one already on the track and things get damaged, if you push too slow then it gets stuck on a turnout. Yesterday everything went perfectly but today the loco engineer was a bit fast and some almighty bangs were heard....hoping like heck that huge tank of LPG wouldn't erupt. Train spotter stuff.

A Union Pacific Canpotex freight departed westbound so we continued to the next grade crossing to watch it pass. The sky was heavily overcast so any photos taken weren't that flash. Either that or I'm useless at using my camera.

Grain empties departing Vulcan. They usually start out as very long trains but once they've dropped a few cars at each silo, it soon gets smaller.

We continued north back to Calgary taking the back roads and ended up at Vulcan. The townsfolk have embraced their name and they decorate the town with Star Trek stuff. A huge day of mourning when Leonard Nimoy passed away.

The first sight to greet you at Vulcan.

The main reason for going this way was to see the grain elevators and maybe espy a train or two. One train seen and lots of grain elevators. Massive structures.

Grain elevator and silos at Vulcan

We continued to High River then went straight to the Hotel Blackfoot - this place is superb.

I took the guys for a tour around various places where you can see trains roll by but the weather turned sour and the traffic was diabolical, so we ended up back at our favourite haunt at Alyth Yard where Jerry (a local raifan) was waiting for our arrival. Lots of switching and one or two trains passed through. I managed to lock the scanner onto the radio transissions of the ground staff and that made the experience a bit more interesting and logical.

By now we had confirmed what we suspected - the Satnav database is way out of date as she was trying to send us across roads that were blocked off by new freeways, and she didn't recognize roads that I was on. Luckily Lawrie was handy with a map and we managed to get the Neverlost system unlost.

Driving the back roads of the Alberta plains - ho hum.

Owing to the lack of eateries in the vicinity of our lavish hotel, I managed to convince the guys to go into a pub for a pub meal which turned out to be OK but a bit of a new experience for the other generation on this tour...they weren't impressed with the music or the volume... I got the barmaid to find out what a song was that was playing - Papillion by Editors. It talked to me (I liked the 90's techno sound and the Indie voice of the singer).

As you can guess, not much to report. Lawrie and Grant seem to have a wonderful time no matter where we might be, because there's always an old car to stir Lawrie up or an old tractor for Grant to get excited about somewhere. David loves containers, so all it takes is a double stack train to go by and he's happy.
There's a permanent haze blowing through from the north from all the forest fires and the sky is now overcast - not cold unless the wind picks up. Tomorrow we go to Edmonton - via back roads again.

This hotel is soooo good. Either the guy at the desk did his homework before we turned up or he's a genuine All Blacks fan.


Monday, 25 May 2015

Day 11 - Exploring Lethbridge

Today had one purpose: film / photograph trains crossing the Viaduct at Lethbridge. The problem was we didn't know how often it was used.

The first task was to do a spot of grocery shopping, and while the guys were in there, someone heard a train horn - but one like no other. So we high tailed it to the line that branches off to the USA and David saw some lights when we crossed the track. Initially I thought it was a highrail truck, but it turned out to be a track inspection train - one loco, one equipment car and two old coaches. I didn't feel obliged to film it so I let it go - as it turned out, it would re-appear again later in the afternoon.

My plan of attack was simple: go to the yard at Coalhurst, and as soon as it looks as though something is heading east, shoot back to the bridge. We arrived at Coalhurst and one of the trains parked up there looked like it was being prepared for departure - then a van pulls up and two guys jump in the loco. We shot back to the bridge to the same spot where we were yesterday, the light was perfect and a light zephyr was pushing over the tops of the grass. Soon after my prayers were answered and a medium sized manifest turned up.

Video frame capture of the first train filmed passing over the bridge.

Since it didn't look like anything else was due to depart, I walked back to the guys to see if they were interested in chasing it - suddenly this snake slithers across the path 6 inches from my feet. Heart rate jumped to about 240 bpm.

As it turned out, the train only went as far as the Lethbridge Yard where it was spotting and picking up. There was no where to go to see the action so we returned to Coalhurst where an SD60 was being used as a switcher and the crew were breaking up a train. While I was filming this, the scanner burst into life: ".. there's a white Dodge on the road and someone videoing me, can someone check it out please..." "That's us !!"
Post 9/11 fear mongering is still rife in the CPR, and as a result, a guy came tootling up the road to see who we were. He soon realised that we weren't wearing tea towels and he ended up being a gem of information - namely that there won't be any trains across the bridge until 4 pm.

Lunch time.

We returned to the bottom of the bridge to have a snooze and a read and then relocated to the opposite side of the bridge that offered an excellent view at track height.

Lawrie and the bridge.

At almost 4pm on the dot a long grain train came followed soon after by the track inspection train. At about 4:50 a Union Pacific led Canpotex train trundled over. The overcast sky was having a detrimental effect on the light and I decided to almost call it quits - then thunder started rattling the bridge - time to go.

Panoramic view - the only way to photograph the whole thing.

A very filling dinner at the Swiss Chalet Grill.

Tomorrow we head back to Calgary.


Sunday, 24 May 2015

Day 10 - Calgary to Lethbridge

This wee jaunt took us from the insane traffic of Calgary (and it was Sunday morning !) to the city of Lethbridge. Driving through downtown (yesterday) the buildings were blocking the satellite signal and it was amusing to see Sally the Satnav have a total fit with the map display spinning around in circles.

Not much to report for our efforts today. Usually the train radar (gut feeling) is working well but today it was on the fritz. I diverted to Okotoks to see if anything was running through - nothing to be seen or heard, and just as we were returning to HWY 2 - oh look, a train. Dammit. It was going way too fast to double back so we continued on.

With most of the guys falling asleep during this long leg that was over mostly flat ground, the radar started to kick in - ie, I needed to do No 1s and we were getting close to Fort McLeod - I chose an empty road by the tracks and as I was walking to a small tree, a light appeared in the distance. It was the long Canpotex (Canadian Potash Exporters) train - and it was our first sign of a Union Pacific unit. It was too important to film to get stills sorry. I know how bitterly disappointed you all are.

On the way through Fort McLeod, a black plume of smoke suddenly appeared - we must investigate. By the time we got there the fire service were already in attendance extinguishing a car that was totally gutted. It wasn't an old car either.

The Alberta plains are not scenic - no-one takes photos of flat land. So one has to resort to seeing beauty and artistic impression in man made features. Here's an example .....

This is why we came all the way down to Lethbridge.
All these little hills have walkways that go to lookouts so you can see the bridge from differing angles.
After checking in (totally seemless) and lunch at Subway, we returned here to wait for a train. I forgot the scanner so couldn't keep tabs on what was going on in the yard at Coalhurst. I sat on the hill for about 2 hours waiting for nothing to happen.
While I was there, the guys took a walk and discovered a few things....back to that later.
I watched people jogging past, families walking together - no trains. One of the kids that went past excitedly pointed at something in the ground and squealed "there's one !!". What on earth is he excited about? Then he did it again. I was puzzled.
When I met up with the guys, they happened to mention that they saw a snake and that one was heading my way - saucer eyes time. They'd talked to a kid who said it was a gardener snake. Lovely...and here was I making a wee nest in the long grass for myself.

Anyway, the sun was shifting, but it wasn't late so I took the guys over to Coalhurst where the big yard is, and after about 30 minutes of watching and waiting, we realised that a train was departing for Lethbridge and it would pass over the bridge. The big problem was that I didn't have a plan in place for getting to the other side of the bridge for these late shots, so I didn't have a map reference for the Satnav so we had to wing it. The usual viewing place would mean we'd be looking into the sun. Several ideas were mooted but by the time Sally sent us around the block, the train was already passing over the bridge. At least we got to see it. Thankfully we have a whole day here tomorrow to repeat these stuff ups !

Can you see the mistake ?

To help you out, 96 metres does not convert to 214 feet - it should be 314 feet. Not a good look when a bunch of rivet counting train spotters are reading it...

Early-ish dinner and retire. We've had some late nights and it's good to get in early. Good grief - it's almost 10 pm and it's still daylight.

Not that we should ever admit it, but we're glad that the Alberta hotels also supply body lotion....the low humidity was making my legs look white with dry skin - well that's my excuse anyway. We're skulling back water like crazy. Another sunny day in paradise.


Saturday, 23 May 2015

Day 9 - Banff to Calgary

Today we drove from Banff to Calgary via Canmore and Exshaw.

First things first, we went back to the station to see what we could see - lights off, nobody home - no trains and no radio chatter. Great.
So we took a little scenic divergance up to the Sulphur Mountain Gondola car park which gave us a bit of a view of the surrounding mountains.

Back to the station, lights are still off, however a burst of life from the scanner - a west bound calling the signal at Canmore. Finally. Some guy was doing some cherry picker training in the carpark and I got fed up with the noise so we relocated to Canmore. With 20/20 hindsight, I would have stayed here instead of Banff. No tourists and a cool little town. Once again, no trains, no radio chatter. Lunch and then the scanner erupted with a flurry of activity from Exshaw - excellent.
We took highway 1A to Exshaw where there are multiple industries that use rail. We found a neat little trio of refurbished GP20s that were switching the yard. Lots of good shots with scenery to boot.

A frame grab from my video camera - taken at Exshaw

The switching crew then stopped for lunch and we continued to Calgary, leaving the Rockies in our wake.

A minor glitch with check-in - the hotel would not accept my Westpac VISA Debit plus card as an incidentals payment method. I ripped into the guy at the desk (Indian) and he was going to pass on my choice words to his boss. I'll have a word to the bank about this wee problem as well. The hotel would not accept anything that had Debit on it.

On the road again and I took the guys for a tiki tour around the outskirts of Alyth Yard. We stumbled across a small industrial area that was right beside the main junction where the tracks from Lethbridge and Edmonton meet with the main line to Vancouver. Lots of photos, lots of footage and 2 new railfan friends made.

Alyth Yard, Calgary.

Dinner and back at the hotel at 9:45 pm - very late.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Day 8 - Golden to Banff

Today was a relatively short drive from Golden to Banff. It was another day of "Look at that !!" - and for good reason.

No sooner had we left Golden and entered the Kicking Horse Canyon, Lawrie piped up and said "Bears !!", and there they were, two black bears feeding on spilled grain on the railway tracks, barely 50 metres away.

We thought that was to be the wildlife highlight, but it got better.

We stopped off at Field where I got my "money shot" - the one good shot that makes a DVD sell. This small town is just 360 degree scenery.

Field, looking west

Field, looking east
Field, looking north.

We had an early lunch then departed for the Kicking Horse Pass and the Spiral Tunnels. I was sort of disappointed with these as there are so many trees blocking the view. All you can see is a couple of tunnel portals and a bit of track way off in the distance. For all the hype surrounding this place, you'd think they'd make the effort to make this place visible.

The next stop was Lake Louise where we called into the old station which is now a restaurant. I got two shots here which were OK. Gophers were in abundance and one of them took a disliking to me, sounding a chirpy warning to his mates that some idiot with a video camera was hanging around. The restaurant owner said that they're not really a pest, except when they make dens in your lawn - then the bears come along and make a crater digging them up looking for a feed....bears ???

We departed Lake Louise for Banff and along the way I spotted a dark shape behind the wild animal fence and pulled over - it was a Grizzly Bear. Massive animal - made the black bears look lovely. As stated, he was behind the fence that lines both sides of the highway. About every 3-4 k's there is a bridge that allows the wild animals to cross the road.

Grizzly Bear near Lake Louise - 20m away.

Once at Banff, we checked in and headed out to look for trains. Signals were off, so we took a cruise around town to see the sights: a huge hotel, a waterfall, two large Elk (Wapiti) happily grazing in the city centre...all the usual things. Dinner and a return to the station, still nothing.

A place we did not stay at in Banff.

Another cruise around town and time to knock it on the head.

Internet is dodgy here - it took 20 minutes just to upload these 3 pics. Three bus loads of Chinese tourists staying in the same hotel using up all the internet data.

Although we'd booked at the Spring Grove Hotel, we were transferred to the Voyager Inn next door. The two places are run by the same people and they fill up the Voyager first and use the Spring Grove as their overflow. I half expected something like this to happen so it wasn't a drama.

Only four trains filmed, although a lot more were seen/heard - about 6 or 7 passed through at about 4 am.

Tomorrow we'll try again at Banff before heading to Calgary, which is a short drive again.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Day 7 - Revelstoke to Golden

7 days already ???

Today we drove from Revelstoke to Golden which took us over Rogers Pass....holy moley.

Although the primary reason we're here is to see trains, one cannot help but be distracted by the scenery...and there's plenty of it.

Since the planned drive is only 2 hours, we kicked off by taking an exploratory cruise around Revelstoke, which lasted about 5 minutes - the first train came through, or more accurately, departed Revelstoke. Revelstoke is another crew change point so all trains stop briefly while they change crews. I then dropped the guys off at the Museum where they spent about 1 hr and 45 minutes looking through while I sat outside filming trains. I got 2 coalies and a stack train, so that wasn't too bad.

The guys watching an approaching train at Rdevelstoke.
We then headed east towards Rogers pass, stopping occasionally to look at the scenery and read information boards etc. I had my eye on a snow shed that I wouldn't mind filming and as we knew we had a train coming up behind us, we stopped there and waited for it. Just as I got set up, the Rocky Mountaineer emerged - so that's now three times we've seen this train. Since I got my shot, the next stop was the East Portal of Mount MacDonald tunnel, where we waited and wait for our freight to turn up. It finally did, and since it was east, it didn't go through this tunnel but took the alternative route through Glacier and the Connought tunnel. It didn't matter, the background scenery was pretty good.

Tail end Charlie heading towards Glacier with the Mt MacDonald portal on the left. The scenery is bigger than the trains.

We took a quick glimpse at Glacier where it soon became obvious that the only way to see a train going into the tunnel was to cross the tracks and trespass - not a good idea when it's right beside a CP depot. So the drive over Rogers Pass continued, across lots of bridges, through lots of snow and avalanche tunnels, all the while looking at the scenery and the trees - lots of trees.

The next stop was at the small hamlet of Donald where I took a dirt track (Donald Cemetery Rd) to a bridge - it wasn't visible through the trees but drove past a stationary coalie waiting for the freight that we'd been leap frogging since Revelstoke.

Did I mention the scenery ??

One of the many peaks in the Selkirks taken in Rogers Pass.

Next stop - Golden. We checked in to the Days Inn then went for a cruise around some potential spots. I showed the guys the main coal train depot where the coal trains are serviced, where I "accidentally" drove through the yard then across it - it was a paved road and someone had ripped the No Trespassing sign down!!) then we went to KC Junction where the yard tracks meet the main line tracks. Using the scanner I tracked the progression of an approaching train and it turned up right on time.

A grain train with tail end Charlie heading west through Golden.

My "Canadian Trackside Guide" has proved to be invaluable.

Back to the scenery thing, Golden is in a small valley along the banks of the Columbia River - the same river that flows all the way down to Oregon and Washington and out to the Pacific. At the moment it's muddy yuck and there's lots of logs washing down it. Golden also lies between the Rocky Mountains to the east, and the Columbia Mountain Range to the west, with the Selkirk Mountains being the visible mountains. My hotel room looks across to the  Selkirks and the sun is setting behind them now as I write. Stunning. There's still a bit of snow on the peaks, but the locals are all saying how it's been a very mild Spring, hence the dirty rivers and lack of snow on the ground. Rogers Pass is a change in time zones and we're now another hour ahead (put our clocks forward). Despite my vigilance and the obvious heat of the day, I got a bit more sun on the chrome dome and I now have white marks from wearing sandals all day. Expecting more high temps through the week, up to 30 in some places - and it's not summer yet !

Nowhere to buy lunch, but Lawrie had left over pizza (I mean lettuce, carrots and fresh fruit) which he shared, and I had some chippies in the car. Dinner was some arty farty bistro where prices were high, portions were OK and they thought they were clever by trying to serve me artichokes and other fancy stuff that tastes vial - yeah right - I had a chicken breast and some fries (cooked in duck fat of course !!). By being fussy I saved a bit of money. We've now learned that 7 Eleven sells sandwich packs - thank goodness.

Tomorrow it's the long drive to Banff - this'll be interesting - don't be surprised if I don't post an update tomorrow.

Later - EJ

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Day 6 - Kamloops to Revelstoke

It's late, I'm tired and this will be short...

We departed Kamloops thinking it was a pretty cool town and arrived at Revelstoke thinking this place is even better.

The drive out of Kamloops takes you along the Shuswap (shoe swap) valley and into the lake districts. The arid scenery of Kamloops is soon replaced with green trees, lakes and snow capped mountains - stunning.

Along the way we saw many trains heading west, however we were on a freeway and couldn't stop. So the first place to pull over was a small town called Chase. A coalie was parked up and a stack went through (railfan talk). The guys visited a book shop and I stood and waited....nothing.

When the coalie departed we took off and went to a little known place on Notch Hill Road. Here the track forms a horseshoe and is used by west bound trains only. The east bound trains take an alternate route. Ooops - The only trains in this area are Canadian Pacific. On one leg of the curve the tracks go under the road, on the other they go over the road on their own bridge. We waitied for ages but finally a coalie turned up. It was roaring uphill in notch 8 and only managing about 5 mph. it was a terrific show of power versus gravity.

Tail end Charlie exiting the tunnel side of the Horse Shoe Curve. About 154 coal loads to help push.

We skipped Salmon Arm as we stay there on the return journey, so the next stop was Sicamous where we managed to catch a stack on the bridge crossing the river.

The next stop was at the site of the Last Spike - where I managed to video a train going past the memorial.

The next objective was to film a train at a small lake front just past Lake Victor near the Three valleys Resort. The sight of road works made my heart skip a beat but we got there in time, knowing full well that a train was bearing down on us pretty fast. I had no problems getting my feet wet to ensure I got the shot. What a stunningly scenic place.

The last stop was Revelstoke. I attempted to get the guys to the Museum on time, however the train we were chasing had (what we thought at the timke) triggered the crossing lights and we were stuck there for ages. It turned out they were faulty, so I had to reverse out. Museum will be visited tomorrow.

28 degrees - another layer of sunburn - lunch at a roadside Cafe and dinner at an Italian restaurant. Excellent service, which is usually initiated by our accents. Accommodation is at the Swiss Chalet - by far the best lace we've stayed.... across the road are the railway tracks. About 6 trains filmed, but in amazing scenery.

Tomorrow we're off to Golden - I think...