Sunday, April 30, 2006

Trip report: April 2006 Tehachapi Mountains

About this post
This is a trip report from a trip south, to the Tehachapi Mountains from San Jose, April 28 to April 30, 2006. I have no Internet access here, so I will post this when I return.

Lost Hills in Morning

Sat. Apr. 29, 1:00 am -- I am right off Highway five. I am in the San Joaquin Valley. I am in Lost Hills, California. I am at a Motel Six. This is the first trip in my new Subaru Forester. It now has 300 miles on it.

On the way down I alternated between listening to my old Modesto country western radio station (KUBB Country) that I used to listen to when I lived in Patterson and listening to CD's.

My first CD was the Eagles, Motel California. The "Motel California" (the one pictured on the old record album cover) is outside of Los Baños, but it is no longer called Motel California. I think it now is a Budget Inn, or something like that. Anyway, tonight driving down the valley the sweet smell of the fruit tree blossoms is over powering. A late bloom this year, likely caused by all the rain.

Driving at night. I put on the Grateful Dead, "Trucking" seems like the perfect song for going down I-5. "What a long, strange trip it's been." So many trucks, so many cars, so many people, so many trips.

Memories are strong driving at night. I sat the cruise control at 72. The Subaru kept its own pace. I thought of the past and people gone; my parents, my sister and my first wife (who died on a country road at night.) I thought of friends, now married, now parents and now moved away. I thought of others who have gone on trips totally out of my life and gone. I looked out into the darkness and wondered where out there their trips have taken them. I thought of my sons trips through life, their wives and all the roads that led to the present. I thought of Susie and her mom in London. I thought of the lunch today I had with Kenneth and how he shared a conversation he had with his new boss about his uncle, the wine maker, Susie's brother John. I thought about my wonderful granddaughter Madison and all these roads that led to her, including the death of her grandmother. I thought of how if they had not been traveled just the way they were, she might not even be here to start her own trip.

We all owe our existences to roads others have taken and often arbitrary decisions so many others made. Seemingly insignificant decisions: turn one way and not the other, take this elevator or that flight sometimes change everything. And the song plays, "What a long, strange trip it's been." I am in Lost Hills, California. I am at a Motel Six. I have my window open and outside my window I hear all the cars going by on their own long strange trips. When I step out my door and look out I see their lights coming out of the darkness and fading into the darkness.

Mojave, California, Motel 6
Sat. Apr. 29, 11:00 pm -- It was warm by 9am this morning. That is the valley for you. I am listening to an Eastbound (Southbound) Union Pacific frieght head past the motel. I love this place only $36.99 and you are so close to the tracks your teeth almost rattle when the trains parade through, that is so great!

International Power Set

International power set
There was an amazing number of trains today. The railroad through here was strained to support this many trains. Trains moved slowly from siding to siding. I saw my first freight train with locomotives from The US, Canada and Mexico. We ship raw materials to China and import finished good from China and much of that cargo travels by rail. Another train is going by right now. The parade seems endless.

I made a new friend, a fellow from Austrailia named David. He is passing through on his way to moving to London. His family owns Satui winery in the Napa Valley. Satui is a big name, so I guess they are doing pretty well. David and I have been hanging out together. His room is right next to mine. We may railfan together tomorrow.

I got pretty sunburned today. Must use the sunscreen tomorrow!

Tehachapi Loop, Walong Siding
I am at the loop

Sun. Apr. 30, 1:00 pm -- I just shot a train and another one is coming up the hill right behind him. I lost David this morning. He slept in and was not up when I got up. I thought about knocking on his door, but didn't. I really wanted to do my own thing. He wanted me to show him around. But, I wanted to be alone

The new Subaru is really a ball of dirt now with mud and dust. It has been so great being able to go to off-road places I have not been able to go since I sold the Explorer. There are still places I used to go with the Explorer that I can't with this vehicle. But, that list is very short. I am really going to have to clean the Subaru up when I pick up Susie and Fran.

This is snake country. Yesterday when I was at the top of tunnel two, I had to scoot under a barb wire fence to get to a photo spot. At one point I put my hand down on the ground and saw I had placed it about an inch from a snake that was starting to coil. I immediately withdrew my hand and placed it elsewhere. It made me think of Kathryn who got bit on the ankle by a rattle snake.

It is overcast and 70 degrees, which is fine since it is mid-day and the sun would be too high in the sky for good photos otherwise. Another train is coming up the hill. I am shooting mostly slide film this trip. I have shot some digital and about an hour's worth of digital video. But, I like slides. I like being able to tray up the slides and have a slide show. The days of being able to do that are numbered, very numbered.

I just talked to Susie. She is in her Hotel in London. It is so amazing that I can be sitting in my vehicle next to the railroad tracks and on a tiny hand-held device can talk to her in London. I had to cut short our conversation for a train. Freaking amazing really when you tink about it. Of course, here I am typing about it on my computer between trains as well. Another train is coming. Gotta go!

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