Yellow Choo Choos
I'd finished a long drawn out repair on my main motorcycle.
It needed a test ride to make sure that the repair might last.
Mark had offered me a replacement battery for my original six year old.
The 65 mile round trip to Prairie Rhonde would be perfect. It is slightly
northwest of Opelousas. That was it. I brought the camera simply
because I know I can't go anywhere without wanting to bring home a
memory. I suppose I'm a hoarder. It's a symptom of something, I've
heard, but never investigated. Don't tell me.
The repaired bike was flying like a sewing machine on amphetamines.
I couldn't keep it off 80 and I hadn't gotten into top gear so I passed up
Nap Rd, my cut across between La.182 and La.357. Shish, I was in down-
town Opelousas, snarled in traffic. I like Opelousas. It kinda reminds me
of Jefferson Davis Parkway near the Fairgrounds in New Orleans. At
least my kids know what I'm talking about.
Up ahead I saw a train crossing North Union St, aka La182. Fine, I'd
veer west on Grolee and then inch closer to the tracks to check it out.
Most of the Union Pacific trains fly through town. This sucker was
creeping. Was it ill? Lately, I've been overly concerned that trains might be sick.
I don't know what it is? I get his deep compassionate feeling and worry.
I was able to beat it to the next crossing. It looked like a UP
setup, but something was wrong. Had it been defrocked?
Where I had expected it to be, it wasn't I figured it was
headed to Eunice on the main UP line. No, it had turned up
the old Texas and Pacific rails headed toward Ville Platte.
I have never seen a train on those rails, ever. I've seen
engines at the carbon black plant and the tank car plant,
but never an assembled train. What was strange was that
the engines had two different markings and neither of which
were AKDN (Acadian RR based in Opelousas and owner of
And it was creeping. I saw no green smoke and it wasn't
making bad noises. I immediately thought that maybe the
condition of the rails only allowed for that speed. Then I
thought that there were no automatic crossing guards on
this city stretch and that it was just too dangerous, being
summer and all the kids going crazy, for a train to go very
fast. And again I was concerned with its health.
There's your high tech crossing.
The two yellow choochoos were headed to a little yard.
They already had a bunch of tank cars and seemed to be
looking for more.
I shot down Statesmen St. and turned north on 3043. I'd
head to the crossing that I know well. How well? Very.
It is where the train shop is. When I got there, her lights
were shining my way. It was an "Oh boy" moment.
Would yesterday repeat itself?
I thought I was having anticipation vision. That's where
you want something to move and imagine it doing so, but
it isn't. Like downloading with a dial up connection.
I shot the other way from the crossing toward the train shop,
a virtual Easter egg basket of old diesels. My choochoos
would come this way if they ever got going.
The bell started ringing and the lights flashed. Had my
I ran the block back to the bike. The engineer had waved
to me and I was giddy.
I figured it had to get some more cars. I got on the bike and
raced out to Mark's house to see if he wanted to "chase" the train
to VP. He had kicked back already and doesn't chase trains kicked
back. Train chasing is an aggressive sport and you have to be on your toes.
He is a professional and understands that which is why he is still
at the top of his game and not under some damn ol' train.
I re raced back to the highway crossing after checking a back road
crossing behind Mark's place where I saw no train.
I returned to the highway crossing.
My engines had backed up pretty far. Almost as far as they had been.
Off in the distance a fast freight flew into Opleousas on the
UP line. I became jealous. I was stuck with this plug while
just over there it was all going on. My youth was like that.
To be more exact ........
I rode back to Statesmen St. I could see, I thought, the
train at the front of these cars, the ones it had passed by earlier.
I envisioned a light house.
I thought of the two engines.
I opened a bar.
And I woke up. Most of my dream had real locations in it.
Checking out the map above will be a guide to the reality of
of some of it.
I say, since it was 5pm, the train had been "tied down"
for the night. (I got to use that phrase again and it came out
a lot smoother.) Maybe I'll head back early and escort it out
to VP? If it leaves at 11:00, we'll have a date.