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Consolation Prize

August 30, 2011

Things didn’t quite turn out the way I planned this past Thursday, 8/26/11.

The game plan was to head west in the early morning to meet UP intermodal train ILBBC-21. The lead motor was UP 1988, the MKT Heritage locomotive. I would chase it into the Houston area, taking advantage of the morning light to properly illuminate an eastbound. I actually turned down a legal video job because everything seemed to be lining up nicely.

As soon as the alarm went off at 0615, I did a trace on the 1988.  “UP 1988, empty, departed Randolph (San Antonio), TX 3:31 AM”

Sweet! That should put it into the Columbus area around 7-10 AM, from where I would have a nice 60-70 mile chase into the Houston area. Time to hit the road!

As soon as I stepped out, I felt something funny. Like drops of water, or something. But it can’t be rain. Texas is in the midst of an unprecedented drought.

You guessed it. It was actually raining. No big deal. It’s just an isolated shower. I’ll just drive west and it will be nice. I’ll just check the weather radar for the Columbus area to make sure.

Good thing I did. The whole area between Houston and San Antonio was consumed with huge yellow and red splotches on the radar. That’s not good.

I decided to wait a bit, let the rain pass through, and I’d still be OK. By 9:45 AM, I did another trace on the 1988. “UP 1988, empty, departed Kingsbury, TX 9:30 AM”.  The train has only moved 30 miles in 6 hours! It was still over 150 miles west of Houston. So much for morning light in the Houston area. By the way, it’s still sprinkling with heavy overcast! It wasn’t meant to be.

I occupied myself with some editing chores. I had left the radio on just for entertainment value, when out of the blue I hear the Glidden sub DS give a track warrant to the KCS 1.

The weather was still ugly, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do. As I had all the gear already in the car, I was able to get to the Sugar Mill quicker than normal.  After a 2 minute wait, an officer special led by KCS 1 pulled into view.

I didn’t get the main prize I had in mind today, but having the KCS Southern Belle fall into my lap is a pretty decent consolation prize!

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