I wrote an associate:
I've been so puny, distressed mentally and physically I haven't been on my bike once in it seems two weeks. Today is Amtrak Friday. It is the day after NO Amtrak Thursday, a day of reflection, patience and penitence. Amtrak Friday is like Mardi Gras and Lent but in reverse chronological order. That said, I may put on my beads and head out leaving all my projects 80% done which is a high score in these parts.
May I did and the outing seemed to fix everything amazingly without a hangover after 239 miles of medicine.
Riding a dirt bike, they say, is next to swimming as a full body exercise. There was no exception for riding a dirt bike on Louisiana roads. Transitioning between trail riding and those roads, either way, is hardly noticeable.
Enough about therapy and road conditions.
Let me put the pictures up so I'll have something more to say, otherwise the above would be the end as I hate to ramble on senselessly about nothing substantial. (blatant sarcasm which is used throughout all of my ramblings)
Don't go running for the door. This will not be a collection of old engine pictures. Below are shots from the SILX / Acadiana RR siding in Opelousas taken about a week ago. The ex Santa Fe engine in the background will play a part in this epic.
Later: Sigh, now as I survey this ride report I find that it is mostly pictures of old engines.
These old engines are family like the ones in New Iberia
I've been keeping company with them for a long time.
I know you recognize those familiar faces. They are like old dogs around the card table.
Remember these shots if you can. It is time to reel in the present, or recent past as the case may be. Writing up these ride reports is like the "present" to me. For one I don't remember what came next along the way so it is like doing the whole thing over. The shots do rekindle a conception of what they were sometimes. If they don't I won't linger and quickly make up something. Please do not use this article for your masters dissertation. No, I didn't copyright it though my wife said I should since she's stingy.
I had it in my head, since I'd been sick and thought I was dying of some hideous disease, to do a full day's ride. If I fell off in a ditch and past on, so be it. I have no concept of time and space past light and dark. I knew what I wanted to do and was going to do it. Don't admire that attitude, kids. Determination needs
a guidance system.
First I'd go to New Iberia just to clean up that end of my immediate territory, then I'd go to Lafayette, then to Iowa and then to Kinder and then to Opelousas and back to Lafayette to meet the Sunset Limited (Amtrak) at the station. Not having a sense of time and space did not matter. I would make it so as I can bend what needs bending.
Nothing was going on, much. Not much besides the usual. I take that back after looking at the pictures, see?
The "Change Out The Signals" crew was hard at work. In two weeks they had almost finished three miles.
Mz Allegheny was still struggling with her uphill battles. Here she is seen passing one of the COTS refreshment tents.
Setting up the buffet table near the station.
Exiting New Iberia, headed to Lafayette, I waved to the girls as I moved on.
I sensed a strange quietness on the rails.
At the Lafayette Yard nothing was happening. The radio had been dead quiet except for L&D's new channel which can be entertaining.
Sorry about all the railroad shot. I did it to emphasize the motionless still quiet. (redundant reinforcement) I sensed I've lost more hearing that I realize. It seemed the railroading world had taken off, also, for Amtrak Friday. I talked to a professional railroader later and he didn't know what was going on either.
At Rayne I took the same old shots since these "Castles of the Plains", as I once romantically referred to them, stand tall along the present rail line and the once rail line of the Texas & Pacific / Opelousas Gulf & North Eastern railroads.
Something had caught my eye as I'd ridden into town from the east on US 90, the old Purina feed store.
I have an affection for feed stores since I once worked in one and know the musty sweet smells and choking dust of quick lime.
I had crossed the tracks and noticed a rail bed going to the rear of the building. Of course the business had been serviced by the railroad.
The crossing has stop signs which made it physically impossible to take a shot down the rails while operating the bike on an incline stopped.
I almost went inside but was afraid I'd get emotional.
Moving west I crossed the tracks between Rayne and Crowley. No trains.
Arriving in central Crowley, I was shocked to see hopper cars lined up on the very very old and shaky rails in the Missouri Pacific's side of the tracks. (Verified by historical research, but I always knew it.) This is the way it WAS done. The picture is reenactment of the past. I don't believe actual loading still goes on here but it does at the big Louisiana Rice mill on the south side of the tracks.
I'd thread my way along the cars toward Western Avenue.
The line of cars had been cut for the crossing. Plainly, rice production is getting ready to go full steam and these cars are here so there is no interruption in loading. Acadiana RR will be busy pulling the cars up to Eunice to be picked up by a train we will see later.
The line continued out to the switch which takes AKDN to the main line and the La.Rice Mill. That is a tree in front of that car. I almost thought the car was damaged.
Above US 90, behind the tech school, on a little used siding, were more ready cars.
I headed west. Across the Mermentau River there is a siding. BNSF parks their machinery there. It was not created for parking machinery. It's original purpose will be under investigation. It is off Beroid Rd.
"Beroid" is a well known name in the oil drilling business.
Past Jennings US 90 stretches out. I kept looking for trains and there were none. So, from New Iberia to Iowa Junction, from 10:30 to whatever time it was, there had been no trains on the BNSF rails. Something was going on. Could the COTS team have shut down the railroad? Had they broken something?
Oh the history at this place, Iowa Junction. It just grabs you. I've often wanted to walk the rails down to the actual crossing but I'd have to leave my bike under the overpass and then I'd get arrested as a rail walker since I don't have the proper credentials to do that. It is frustrating.
I had contrived a theory. They are often unproven, unfounded and discredited. This was that trains were being rerouted over the Union Pacific rails between Livonia and Kinder. A UP train waited on the Kinder line above Iowa Junction. I knew I'd find one doing just that. I was overcome by a moment of jubilant self righteousness. I almost became emotional once again. The shot below like the one above, was taken off the bridge in one pass. I was clicking.
I went under the bridge and met the railroad man. He was in his high rail truck. I was somewhat shocked to find him there and went into offensive mode. No, I didn't want to be offensive to him. I use "offensive" in the football sense. I wanted to gain the advantage in any confrontation that might be brewing because of my presence below a railroad overpass and next to the tracks. I suppose trying to take the offense may have been offensive. I approached his truck as he was getting in. I suspected that he was calling the sheriff's department to have me investigated and I wanted to squash that if I could.
I said hi and introduced myself as a railroad enthusiast or something. I forget which term I attempted though nothing you can say sounds legitimate and usually reflects that in their mind you are a nut. Get a grip guys. Nothing works. You can try "railroad historian" but they question you as having some self embellished, scholastically sounding, lamely empowering title which heightens the humor of your attempt. I needed to get past that moment as I quickly added that I had noticed that there were no trains from New Iberia to here. He didn't look at me strangely which caused me to stammer. I always expect the stare. I kept going since he was quiet. Dead air is not where you want to be with someone who is sizing you up, they think harder in dead air. I further asked if the trains were being rerouted through Livonia. He finally answered that he had no idea and "that's not even his railroad". I looked at the UP red white and blue shield on his truck and realized he was right about that. What worried me was that it didn't interest him since it was none of his business.
He didn't care.
I reflect that was a very narcissistic. Narcissism is a symptom of these times and it seems that even below the Iowa overpass it reared its ugly head.
But, alas, his narcissistic approach to life worked to my advantage. He did not question me at all and seemed glad to be leaving and I never heard sirens. I didn't matter and that was fine.
I think I later saw him rolling down the rails on his railroad.
Later I reflected he was a team player and not personally narcissistic but possibly brand narcissistic.
BNSF and UP have a history. I'm not sure if bad feelings are woven into the mix or not.
I could care less. It's not my business.
As he left I went out on the rails as I heard squawk from the engine's cab. The dispatcher was giving instructions about the switch. I quickly returned to a vantage point away from the rails. A green bandana'd man resembling Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow appeared out on the tracks. He surprised me during an awkward moment. He seemed shocked and fled back to the engine.
The train had stopped for what? Possibly he liked my bike? I wanted to run up and ask him if he knew anything about the detour. Just before I did that he started moving. I guess I could have run along beside him but probably I'd have had to stop just as he was giving me THE ANSWER, and that sounded like a bad dream so I remained restrained.
And just let him go.
I headed north toward Kinder. The truck looked familiar.
Named for what we do most of our lives.
The Fenton MP depot. I didn't stop in Fenton. The last time I did the sheriff questioned me about being
a questionable character. I told him I wasn't until he questioned me and that whoever thought
I was questionable was mistaken and should question their questioning judgement before they did.
He fled, also.
Entering Kinder from the south on US 165 I came to a place UP was using as a supply yard. These places, though now devoid of historic structures, do have histories. There is a spur or sidetrack here.
Looking sorta North. The main line is in the distance. That side track is in the forefront.
Looking sorta south.
I think I was getting tired and was coming to grips with time and space. Plus, this discovery of the side track had been enough discovery on this Kinder visit. I moved east looking for more trains which I knew would be lined up waiting to go to Iowa Junction and Lake Charles.
East of the intersection of the UP, once the Louisiana Western RR, and the UP, once the Missouri Pacific, or even earlier, the Watkins Kansas City and Gulf RR, I shot under the US 165 underpass. The rails to the left go south to Iowa Junction, the ones under the overpass go to Beaumont, and to the one on the right to Alexandria.
Looking east you can see the merger of the Iowa rails and the Livonia rails, for lack of better names.
Moving farther east, this is looking back to the west.
And to the east.
"Lauderdale Wood Yard Road". So, there was a yard for picking up wood?
I got to Elton. Like Basile, Elton seems to be a poverty stricken place founded during good times and left with little support after those times passed. Both towns are on the edge of the forests. That may tell the tale.
The rich folks live on their farm property. The working class lives in town. Just a thought.
Elton and Basile are not Natchez.
Natchez was where the rich plantation owners, many from Louisiana, had "residences".
Rice seems to be about all that's going on besides the Indian casino.
Heading east. Was this a home/store?
Past Basile I spied UP 550, the old local I'd been wondering about. It's been running these rails for a long time. I wonder about its home location. Where does it sleep? It seems to always be teamed with a renter.
Rice from Eunice/Crowley?
It had been here.
You can see her in the distance. The last car is a tanker. I missed the pickup by minutes.
Next up was Eunice. Now, do you remember the engines we saw in Opelousas? I think we can assume that 2533 now belongs to AKDN. Why it is still sporting the professional looking LTEX signage is beyond me. Maybe it is a renter? Anyway, it seems to be stationed in Eunice. The only thing AKDN has going here is the run to Crowley down the old NOT&M rails.
The other engine there is Greenie, AKDN 4106.
Why there are two engines in Eunice is, again, beyond me.
Oh, the pull may be so heavy it takes two.
I just remembered all of those cars.
More hoppers were on the exchange.
I got to Lafayette at 5:00 and to burn time I took a shot of the once cross tracks of the Atchafalaya line (the BR) and the Lafayette to Alexandria Southern Pacific rails, looking north. L&D RR still uses the BR to Breaux Bridge. Having a train as a background was new. Well, maybe not.
Looking south toward the junction with the east-west main line.
I chose S.Pierce as my Amtrak shot. The boxcar on the old Alex feeder would work.
It never came, but bad weather seemed to be. The old song "Smokestack Lightning" came to mind. At 5:30 I went home. Amtrak Friday had been anticlimactic.
I didn't get wet or blown over and I'm convinced there will be other Amtrak Fridays
Domestic Saturday is next and then Saints Sunday.