Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

Playing With Trains Across Wyoming

We set out 45 minutes late this morning and got steadily later due to lots of stops, including swinging to the north along US-30 paralleling the Union Pacific main line through Medicine Bow rather than sticking with higher-speed I-80. On the other hand, we were still able to drive pretty fast along US-30, which was mostly empty and sometimes even four lanes of newly-paved highway. But we stopped to look at things, such as watching a train go by at the Medicine Bow depot. (The cameras were stowed, so I have no pictures of this.)

The only other time I drove this way, it was mostly at night and therefore I missed the amazing scenery. And the wildlife -- herds of antelope, for instance. (Again, I have no photos of them because I was driving when we passed them.) And the trains; lots of them. There would have been more, but UP appeared to be doing significant maintenance of way work today which would have tied up their main line with work crews. More about this later.

By the time we got to Laramie we were running around two hours behind schedule, but still hadn't stopped for lunch, and we needed to eat, so swinging in to town, we stopped at a park next to the Laramie depot and had sandwiches, using the last of the bread Lisa had bought at Mt. Shasta City on Friday.

Our lunch was enlivened by a group of maintenance of way vehicles passing through. Lisa took video of them going by, and almost every one of the crew on the equipment waved at us as they passed.

Here am I looking out into Laramie Yard (mainly to see if any more MOW equipment was coming), with the looming Union Pacific smokestack in the distance. This station has had no regularly scheduled passenger train service since 1997.

We'd noticed that gas was $3.83 at the Pilot truck stop on the west end of Laramie. To our surprise, gas was substantially more expensive in town and on the east end, so we backtracked a couple of miles to the Pilot. I wish we had noticed that the Diamond Shamrock across the street had matched the price, because maybe there the gas pumps would have worked properly and I wouldn't have had to stand it line for ten minutes -- once to give the counter people my card, and once again to pay and collect my card. This wasted yet more travel time, for relatively little cash savings.

On we went toward Cheyenne, with a stop at the Lincoln Highway monument rest area at the highest point on I-80, over 8,600 feet. I wanted to go by the Ames Monument, but didn't know how far the dirt road we would have to go and really felt time flying, so we pushed on.

Just before I would have swung on to I-25 south, Lisa said to go into Cheyenne instead, taking the I-80 business loop (old US-30) downtown. As we made the turn, we saw another MOW parade -- one that made the one back in Laramie look like a high school marching band compared to the Rose Bowl Parade. Lisa whipped out her camera and took a tracking shot of the parade as we drove along. She's not really happy with this video, because she forgot to shut off the auto-focus, so it kept trying to re-focus, but I think it's an impressive shot nonetheless.

Then we drove to the Cheyenne Depot, and Lisa got out to take more photos.

This is one of UP's rotary snowplows, taking it easy until it's needed next winter.

There are a number of old cabooses in this yard in various states of repair, including a fresh-looking one in Rock Island paint in the background here. I think this UP stop is where UP's "Steam Team" maintains the two UP steam locomotives, the Executive E3 diesels and other specialty equipment.

Lisa had me drive the van down to the far end of the parking lot and park parallel to the fence.

She then broke out the tripod, climbed on to the roof, and proceeded to shoot video of passing equipment. I just don't have time to upload it all tonight. I really ought to be in bed already, trying to catch up on sleep.

After it looked like the MOW folks were gone, she broke down her equipment. Of course, as luck would have it, while folding up the tripod, along came a UP freight on one of the tracks not being worked on; unfortunately, the camera was already back in the bag.

We had a brief look through the Cheyenne depot, but didn't have enough time to do the Depot Museum justice, so we didn't even try. It was already after 6 PM and we still had to stop and buy a few sundries at a grocery store before finally getting onto I-25 toward Denver.

What with all of the delays for sightseeing, we didn't get to the hotel in Wheat Ridge until 8:30 PM -- four hours later than I'd originally wanted. We called David Clark, who drove out here to claim the two boxes of his that I was transporting for him. I think he may have got the idea that we were staying the entire Worldcon out here, twenty miles from Downtown, rather than just tonight. We walked over to the Pizza Hut Express while Dave was driving to Wheat Ridge and got a couple of mini-pizzas, and some milk from the nearby convenience store. We're too tired to do anything more ambitious.

Lisa says, and I agree, that she's looking forward to not having to pack on Wednesday morning after we move in to the Crowne Plaza tomorrow night.

Today's wildlife of note: 5 antelope herds and a very lucky squirrel who started to run out in front of us and thought better of it. Train count: at least 20, plus sundry MOW equipment and the odd bits of rolling stock sitting on sidings.
Tags: lisa, trains, travel, worldcon

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