Madison is one
Yesterday was Madison's birthday. It is hard to believe my sweet grand-daughter is one. She is growing like a weed. I am on a trip to a union meeting in Anaheim today. I miss her and look forward to seeing her when I return.
It is a crystal clear morning in Mojave, California. I am sitting here next to the railroad tracks watching trains go by and sipping my morning coffee. Next to me is a Union Pacific freight train with three engines on it. Another train just went past, one of a parade of freight trains I have seen this morning. Mojave is not far from Lancaster and Palmdale but in terms of thinking it is very far. Lancaster and Palmdale are like the furthest reaches of the LA suburbs but Mojave belongs to the desert. In Palmdale and Lancaster there are Starbucks and 24 Hour fitness. Burger King and Motel 6 is as city as it gets in Mojave. Mojave is also a railroad town, a major junction for the two biggest California railroads and there is a constant roar and commotion of trains. But, despite the hubbub of rail activity here what owns Mojave is the wind. In the afternoon the desert zephyrs kick up and anything that can move even a little, does move. This is also the home of some of the most free thinking aeronautic folks in the world. The first non-stop non-refueled flight around the world, the first civilian flight into space and many more amazing flights took off from here. So it is the wind and the desert and the trains and the planes that make this place Mojave. Mojave is not LA in the least little bit. Mojave is just Mojave. There is no other place like Mojave in the world.
Yesterday I drove to south from San Jose to the Tehachippi mountains. I arrived in Bealville, California to find a train in the siding there. He was waiting for another train to pass in the opposite direction. So, I went to the top of the little hill there and photographed the train that came the other way. I know the routine there very well. I have been coming here for about 38 years taking pictures of trains. I have come here with my father, my wives and my children at different times through the years. I have seen trains with loved ones who have passed from my life here. Yesterday was my sweet grand-daughter Madison's birthday. Soon, it will be my grand-children whom I will take here.
Over the years I have shot many thousands of rolls of Kodachrome slide film here and other railroad places. Yesterday I shot my last roll ever. I finished that roll of film and switched to my digital camera. Then, I kept shooting. There is a tree on top of a hill in Bealville that overlooks the tracks. That would be a good place to leave my ashes after I die. It has a great view of the tracks and the passing trains.
Yesterday evening Elaine Whitebook took me to dinner to celebrate my recent birthday. It was great seeing Elaine. She is a really good friend. We talked late into the night. She was a regular on our whine and dine bicycle rides and moved south more than a few years ago. It was a very pleasant evening.
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