Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee
kevin_standlee

Normal Service Restored

I left Fernley around 8:30 this morning to head to the Bay Area, where I'll be working this week. Having got going so early, I took the opportunity to do a little exploring, attempting to find out what the results of Union Pacific's week-long blockade of the Donner Summit line were.

I'd read about Emigrant Gap during the days of steam in the book 30 Years over Donner (alas now out of print and only available at inflated prices), the story of a signal maintainer who lived for years in the little community clustered around the railroad at that location. I'd also seen what little is left of the site from on board the California Zephyr. But I didn't know where that site was or how to get at it by road. I took several false trips off the freeway before I finally found the access to the point I wanted. (For those of you who have driven through that area, it's the exit where the Nyack Lodge is located; if you go past the Lodge, you shortly come to an access road that leads to the tracks. I drove past the No Trespassing/Union Pacific Property sign before I even saw it.)


This is about all that is left of Emigrant Gap as a railroad settlement. In days of steam there were a whole bunch of buildings clustered along the hillside, including the house of the signal maintainer whose memoirs I enjoyed so much.


This is the view eastward (toward Donner Summit and Reno) along the tracks at Emigrant Gap. This is a rather odd grade crossing — if you were to cross both tracks, you'd fall off the side of a hill!


Railroad maintenance-of-way equipment is parked all over the place at Emigrant Gap, but the project is apparently finished, although I still only saw one track at Yuba Gap, so my information may have been wrong about this being a redoubling project there.


It takes a lot of heavy, specialized equipment to keep a modern railroad in top condition.

After my railroad detour, I skipped my usual coffee stop at Colfax and pressed on to Lodi Junction, where I was bemused to find that the price of fuel was the same as in Fernley. (Lodi Jct. hasn't changed; Fernley's price has gone up this past week.) I continued on to the Bay Area and picked up some small groceries before going to my hotel, where to my annoyance I found that my hotel room wasn't ready, even at 4:30 PM. I went off and had an early dinner and 90 minutes later got my room. I am once again at the EZ-8 Motel in Newark, where the hotel room is about what you'd expect for a $42/night (before AAA discount and room tax) motel in the San Francisco Bay Area. This time I can't even say, "Well, it's clean," because it isn't that nice. But it has a bed and a bath, and I'll survive, and I hope the food I bought stays okay in the mini-fridge. Also, this particular room has a power outlet on the same side of the room as my bed this time, so I don't have to run an extension cord in front of the door to reach my CPAP, which could be dangerous if an emergency came up in the night. It's not luxury my any means, but it's better than sleeping in my van.

After getting the computer running, I called Lisa and checked in. She tells me the cork is out of the bottle and trains are running again through Fernley.
Tags: motels, trains, travel
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