Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

TrainCon Passes Through Fernley

Around Reno, Lisa went back to our bedroom to collect her camera bag and begin setting up to shoot video as we passed through Fernley. It was here that we faced a setback.

The external battery pack for Lisa’s (and my; same model) camera wasn’t there. This is a custom rig that Lisa built to allow her to power our Sony DSC-H2 cameras off batteries for far longer than the AA batteries for which they are designed, and without having to plug into a ground power outlet. It runs off D batteries that run to a pair of dowels that fit into the AA slots in the camera. This gives it the same voltage but a vastly longer battery life. She can thus record entire Business Meeting sessions without stopping to change batteries. (Indeed, she can record for longer than the capacity of the camera’s memory sticks; you have to stop at least once every 45-60 minutes regardless of the size of the memory stick or else the camera will shut itself off.)

The battery pack, which fits onto the outside of the camera pack by the same sort of clip arrangement used for some of her amateur radio holsters, wasn’t there. Now it’s possible that the holster got left behind in Fernley, or fell off in her pickup or my apartment or my minivan. We certainly hope that it fell off in one of those places and not in the back of the taxi or some other place where it’s gone forever. But in the shorter term, this is going to cause us a bunch of unwanted complexity at Chicon, as Lisa had pretty much counted on being able to record from anywhere in the room without having to worry about batteries or power outlets. We’ll have to scope out the room in which the meetings will be held as soon as we can to see what our prospects are. While I do have three high-capacity sets of two batteries and a charger, we don’t know how long they will last. I do also have the AC power adapter, but we really didn’t want to have to try and plug into an outlet, especially after hearing that the Hyatt gets very touchy about anyone using any of their power outlets.

Lisa was very unhappy with losing her custom-built battery pack. After all, this recording business is her little niche of WSFS and she’s proud of her accomplishments. She puts down the lapse to having been sick for most of the past week, which led to her forgetting several things, as her head was stuffed with cotton while she tried to pack for the trip.

There wasn’t a huge amount we could do about the battery pack in the short term, so Lisa loaded her camera with alkaline batteries and set up for our own personal “money shot” of our home as seen from the passing train.

As TrainCon departed Sparks, Lisa and I pointed out local sights to our friends. Approaching Fernley, we told folks to look sharp to the right side of the train. Then we finally got to say, “There it is!”

Okay, well, maybe this wasn’t that exciting to anyone but us, but we were happy to show people where we live. I was also relieved to see our house unchanged. I had had this horrible image of us blasting by at 60 MPH watching the Lyon County Fire Department douse the flames on our house.

Beyond Fernley, the scenery isn’t hugely impressive for quite a while, and besides, it was time for dinner in the diner. I had and enjoyed the crabcakes, and thought maybe the no-sugar-added vanilla pudding would be okay. A 212 blood sugar an hour after dinner, even with the benefit of walking up and down the platforms when we made our station stop at Winnemucca, said otherwise. Lisa had us walk up and down the length of the train, including going up and down each stairwell, and my blood sugar dropped back down to normal levels.
By then it was time to start getting ready for bed. We had previously asked our car attendant to let Lisa make down our beds rather than having the attendant do it. The attendant was going around making down beds pretty early because current work instructions require her to go to bed right after the Elko station stop in order to be up and awake by the 3:30 AM stop in Salt Lake City.

Lisa started the process of converting our bedroom from a lounge to a sleeping room. On the radio, which we had kept tuned to the railroad frequency, we had heard the dispatcher tell our train that they’d need to stop at a certain milepost because of “a person on the line.” Our train slowed to a stop within sight of the lights of the casinos of Elko. We heard the engineer tell the dispatcher that someone was lying across the tracks, but when the train pulled up, he’d gotten up and walked toward the train looking confrontational, then stopped and wandered off into the bushes. The engineer was reluctant to get moving again (and the dispatcher agreed) on account of if this was a potential suicide attempt, when the train started moving, the guy might jump in front of the train again. They didn’t want the conductors trying to look for the guy, who might have been drunk or stoned and potentially dangerous. It took nearly 45 minutes for the local authority (police or sheriff) to show up, beat the bushes, determine that the person wasn’t there, and send our train on its way.

Elko station was only maybe another kilometer or so down the line, and thus our long delay was followed by a short station stop. This bitterly disappointed the smokers, who I heard complaining the next day about how they weren’t allowed to get out and smoke after having just “sat there at the station or an hour.” When I told them what had happened, one guy said, “Well, they should have just run him over! I wanted a smoke!” Sigh.

After the annoying 45-minute delay at Elko, Lisa and I rigged up our respective sleep-assistance devices (my CPAP, her tinnitus-masking static-making radio), and we turned in for bed. It didn’t take me long to get to sleep. Alas, even with cough syrup, Lisa was still troubled with bronchitis from her cold, but she eventually managed to fall asleep herself.
Location: Between Elko NV and Salt Lake City UT
Tags: amtrak, fernley, lisa, reno, traincon, trains

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