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.


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