I chase tornadoes.
Being that there were no tornadoes mentioned in the forecast, I turned my attention to the AKDN railroad between Ville Platte and Bunkie as it seemed like a reasonable tradeoff.
But, let me back up a bit to explain how this came to be. I had been perplexed about my inability to pinpoint when the railroad's trains visited its customers. After spinning for weeks, months and years, I decided to march into the corporate offices and demand a schedule knowing full well that probably there was no schedule and that travel was probably based on a "as need" basis.
Tuesday, gathering my gaul, I rode up to Opelousas and then over to Mark's to plead with him to hold my hand as I entered an area which was all too unfamiliar, dealing with strangers who probably would size me up as a nut. I, in their shoes, would. Mark agreed to be my "wing man". We timed our visit for lunch hour which was totally consequential. We entered the foyer, no one was at the window, we spun, what would be the next move? I knocked on the inner office door. A big fella answered and asked what he could do for us. Being taken back by the high pressure question, I stammered like an unsure kid at a spelling bee. Mark, a business man of many years, grabbed the reigns and saved the day explaining our simple needs. I, having recovered from my momentary panic attack, joined the conversation which was very laid back and enjoyable. If there had been a chair, I might have sat down and asked for coffee. The end result is that he gave us the schedules we had asked for with no hesitation, having to explain them two or three times for me to absorb. He finally asked me to repeat them back to him, which I did, hesitantly. He wished us well as he probably knew that at least I needed it. Upon exiting, Mark asked, "Did you get that". I'm still wandering if he wanted me to verify it for him or it was a test of my memory skills. I don't think I'll ask him and just let it go.
Nevertheless, we think we have what he said pegged. At least the part that I needed immediately after agreeing with Mark that it was Tuesday.
I decided that since I already had 80 miles invested in this ride (to Mark's and back), I'd use that investment to catch the train in Ville Platte. I asked Mark if he wanted to tag along but he was fighting computer problems and needed to best that monkey before he could join in any serious train chasing. I set out alone, a not too uncommon scenario.
But let me back up. On the way up to Mark's I'd taken care of some loose ends. Excuse me, this has nothing to do with the AKDN chase but with an old project I had once attempted, following the Southern Pacific from Cade to Port Barre. The DeClouet area had been a problem. I have since clicked on where the rails were having once again tried to assimilate Everett's map. The following 3 or 4 pictures are merely in house note taking as this is my journal and this page will be downloaded and placed in a vault maintained for high valued stuff.
Why hadn't I seen it before? Urg.
Next, I was almost to Opelousas and chose to come in on
Grolee St., one of my favorites since it passes through the
historic part of town and parallels the railroad. The arrow
points to the US 190 bridge, and you thought these pictures
were all about railroads. No.
The next bridge is the I-49 bridge.
Zoomed in, you can see the assent into Opelousas. When
that train comes up the hill, it is a sight.
Ok, through with that. I will now pick up where I left off
at the AKDN office. I told Mark "bye" and took off to
Ville Platte. The engine was not at the Union Tank Carp Plant.
Another moment of panic almost overtook me. I ran the rails
out to Cabot. (lower right corner of map)
There I saw the little engine sitting. It was motionless.
I guess "sitting" would have depicted "motionless"?
So was I. Then I decided to explore a bit. November helps
as the masking lushness is going away disclosing secrets
that are hidden most of the year like the small yard at Cabot.
Cabot sits on the edge of Chicot St.Park. The beauty of the
area doesn not stop at its borders.
So, I roamed around a bit. Above, you can see the roaming
on the map. This next shot I call "Hopper Car at End of Road".
This small shot does not do it justice. The larger version is
for sale in the office.
This is the park border. I laughed at that gate. It laughed
I went back to Cabot. I love this place.
I didn't see the engine and thought it had left w/o me.
No, it was moving cars around. I decided to make a run
for it and go to the Cleco Spur at St.Landry. I could wait
there just as well as here and besides, I didn't want to
I flew up 3042 and hung a deep lean to the right on La106,
slid past the Cleco road and had to U turn. I headed to
"Pictures taken here", a good place to take AKDN pictures.
That's Bayou Boeuf next to the tracks.
I took some test shots to get my adjustments right. Shame
is, I don't know how to adjust anything.
I looked for stuff to shoot. Then panicked that I may be
running my battery down and not be able to finish the day.
Shooting toward the Boeuf trestle and the St.Landry La.106
The Cleco Spur is still used for storage down to the red
I walked down the spur and shot back to the switch. I was
reaching for something to pass the time. I turned on the
scanner and there was nothing.
Here is where the road crossed over to a hunting club. I'm
surprised the gate was this far down. They seize what they
can. I guess the railroad helped hold the line.
From the hunting club side I shot the ROW going south. It
is behind those trees.
Then I heard something in the roar of the compressor station
which is very near and loud.
A white dot appeared.
Don't you think sequece shots are better than movies? I do.
Next, I made a tactical mistake that really screwed things up.
I got on 1 49 to get to Enola. Dumb Dumb Dumb. I did 70
but figured the train, which was going between 15 and 20
in a straight line would beat me. No, wrong again. I went
to Enola and no train, no little light, nothing, both ways.
I hauled it to Bunkie, no train, no little light, nothing. I hauled
it back to "Pic" and saw the light far far down the line. Was it
before Enola? I'd run down there. It was further than I thought
and I paniced, u turned and went back to "Pic" and waited and
Light at "Pic".
Finally at "Pic".
Then on to the farm road crossing seen directly above the
"Pictures taken:" label on the map.
Next, she crossed US 71 at Bunkie on the north arm of the
wye at the lumber yard.
And pulled up onto a siding next to the main line.
It was 4:30. I was a long ways from home. The DR 650
got wrung out between Bunkie and Breaux Bridge. I was
now chasing the sun. I panicked once more.
Below are 2 bonus shots. They are large, click on them
for the full effect. They were taken at Cleco.
This one is great. You can see the WTH expressions on their
faces. Jim is engineering and Bill is assisting. Jim waved.