Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Steam

Lotsa railroad talk going on over at Lou’s place today. So, in honor of that railroad thing… which is waaay cool, doncha know… here’s a lil two minute vid I shot of the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic railway back in June, 2004. And the video IS little, literally. My camera (like most digital cameras these days) has video capability, but it’s very basic and the output is quite small in size and lacking in quality. But…it works, and this will give you some idea of what the C&TRR is all about. (I’ve posted about the C&TRR before.)

Just a brief aside… Being “of a certain age,” I can lay claim to have ridden as a paying passenger on a steam train. The year was 1968 and the place was Japan. I was en route to Wakkanai Air Station, which is on the extreme northern tip of Hokkaido, the northernmost of the Japanese Home Islands. The normal mode of transport up to Wakkanai was via “Scare America” from Yokota AB direct to Wakkanai. Fortunately for me, Air America was otherwise occupied at the time I had to get to Wakkanai, so the nice folks at Yokota scheduled me on commercial air from Haneda to Sapporo and via train from Sapporo to Wakkanai (there was no commercial air service into Wakkanai back then; there is now). Little did I know that I was going to ride a steam train…

My journey took place in the summer and it was spectacular. Hokkaido is a lot like New England when it comes to topography…mountainous, forested, and green, green, green. Summers are mild and winters brutal up that way, so it’s a very good thing my encounter with steam trains took place in the summer. The trip took about eight hours, if memory serves, and was further enhanced by the fact that one could open the windows up (wide! wide enough to receive repeated warnings from the conductor to quit hanging out of them...) and take in the air. Which was a mixed blessing…what with the cinders and smoke from the engine swirling in constantly. But Hey! That was part of the experience. And what an experience it was…

video

6 comments:

  1. Buck,
    Nope I'm in Castle Rock about 40 minutes outside Colo. Spgs, still get the beauty just not the traffic. Back to trains, we have a great Steam Engine train that runs from Durango to Silverton. It is a beautiful ride, and it makes you feel your back in time.

    Shelly

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  2. I forgot to asnwer your comment on my blog. No, I never rode the Cumbres-Toltec. Like you, I thought it a bit pricey. My mom and dad rode it several times and my uncle rides it about once a year - they love it. Sometimes when you live in a resort area, you don't do the things tourist do.

    Shelly, I drove from Antonito, CO, to Chama (which is the Cumbres Toltec route) in a snow storm to get to Durango to go skiing. The trip was wild. But once in Durango, I was very interested in the train there - I would like to have ridden it. Kind of ironic!

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  3. I'm still trying to figure out which president's face is in the cloud of smoke at the beginning of the video!

    ;)

    SN1

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  4. Shelly: Thanks for the clarification... Your part of the world is beautiful, indeed.

    Lou: Even though the C&TRR is quite pricey I noticed there weren't many, if any, empty seats on the day I was photographing it. Speaking of which... I have 48 separate pics and seven of those lil two-minute vids in my C&TRR photo directory.

    Buck: Teddy Roosevelt -- if you squint hard enough. Or Odin; I can't figure out which. ;-)

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  5. I'm still trying to figure out which president's face is in the cloud of smoke at the beginning of the video!

    Try for the life of me, I can't see any president's face. The image of this fine gentleman keeps coming to mind instead.

    Hokaido looks like parts of Wyoming, too. In fact I was sure that's where it was until I read your text. Wow.

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  6. LOL on the link, Bec. Literally! And Hokkaido is one of the most beautiful places on earth. When I was there the first time it was fairly remote and untraveled, even by the Japanese themselves (Hokkaido was the Japanese frontier, so to speak). Even after considering the fact Wakkanai had an annual average snowfall of 220 inches, I think it was one of the BEST assignments I ever had in the AF...topped only by London.

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