Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Triangle Trip

Yesterday evening, Lisa and I went out for a bit of a drive. We originally were going to wait for Amtrak to pass before we left, but when I checked the train status, they seemed to be stuck at Sparks, so we headed off for a little desert drive.

We've done this drive before, heading east on I-80 to the rest area, south on US-95 to Fallon, then west on US-50 and 50A back home.

Not shown on the map above was a diversion at Nightingale Hot Springs to have a look at the the Land of Instant Boiling Death (if you get off the road and step into a thinly-covered hot spring). Even in the summer heat, there was at least one hole venting steam, but I did not take a picture.

We continued on to US-95 and turned south past the rest area and over the UP grade crossing about which we've written and taken photos in the past. US-95 and the railroad parallel each other here for a while, and lo and behold, Amtrak had caught up to us.

Amtrak in the Desert

This was a very quick shot taken mostly blindly (my sunglasses are useless for seeing anything on my camera phone) and of course backlit because I was facing west in the early evening, but there you go. The geotag on it is only a guess because I didn't make a good note of the actual spot so I could tag it later.

Pulling off the road to take a train photo also let other traffic go around us. I didn't want to drive any faster than the 65 mph speed limit, and not always that fast, and that means I'm much too slow for the likes of most of the vehicles driving this route.

We continued south and the railroad swung to the west toward the Upsal Flats (a particularly desolate area and difficult to access without a rail vehicle or a good 4WD or off-road vehicle) on the current main line, which is not the original transcontinental railroad, but a new route built during the period in the early 20th century when the Southern Pacific (by then the owner of the Central Pacific) was controlled by E.H. Harriman, who also controlled the Union Pacific and intended to merge them. (Eventually this joint control was broken up and it wasn't until 1996 that the two roads actually merged, realizing Harriman's dream.) During this period of Harriman's control, the railroad built a new route that bypassed the original line (which roughly parallels today's I-80 between Fernley and the I-95 rest area) and its difficult grades. The newer route is longer but has much easier grades.

At Fallon, we turned back for home, stopping to refuel because gasoline is slightly cheaper in Fallon than in Fernley. Then we continued west on US-50. I probably should have driven slower on the first two legs than I did, because instead of it being just after sunset as I'd hoped, I found myself looking nearly straight into the sun until just before we got home in Fernley. Fortunately, when we stopped for gas, Lisa washed the windows, or else we would have had to stop anyway, as the combination of dust and ash on the windows with the sun shining straight at me would have blinded me.

There was no particular reason for this trip. We just needed to get out of the house for a while.
Tags: amtrak, driving, fallon, fernley, trains

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