Thursday, April 30, 2009

844 Mark 2

Today we were trying to see the 844 with a head of steam rolling into Oroville. Trying! We missed it! Can you believe the train was on time! When we were in Roseville on Monday, the engineer said the train would NOT arrive on time. We thought we'd find the tracks south of town and follow it's progress. We saw a lot of empty track! Then, in Oroville, we saw the train.

The Roseville yard had it contained behind a fence; not so in Oroville. It's right out in the open in the train yard on Mitchell Avenue. The train will be the "kick off" event for Oroville's Fiesta Days. On Saturday, it leaves town at 8AM to snake up the Feather River. I won't be in town to see that event, but I hope Chet can do so. Keep watching this space, we might yet get a picture of the 844 with a halo of steam as she come chugging 'round the bend.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The 844

Today we saw a mechanical marvel from 1944—Union Pacific Engine #844, the last steam train in use in the United States. The train is HUGE at 454 tons, 23,000 gallon water capacity, and 6,200 gallons of No. 5 oil. According to the engineer we talked to, the train uses recycled oil from cars and other trains. I asked the delicate question of MPG and he said, he did not even want to know!

The 844 is based in Cheyenne, WY and once in awhile makes goodwill runs across the US. The train is on an anniversary run this time from Wyoming to California. In Roseville, where we saw it, the train was part of the Roseville Centennial Celebration. The next stop is Oroville, CA, then the Railroad Museum in Portola, CA. The train is scheduled to roll into Promontory Point, UT on May 10, to celebrate the 140th anniversary of the first Transcontinental Railroad. It was on that day that the last spike, The Golden Spike, was driven into the track to celebrate the joining of the eastern and western United States by rail. That was quite an accomplishment. You can follow the progress of the train by clicking here.

It’s fun to look at the behemoth. There is nothing tiny about this train. The wheels are over 6 feet tall. The water tender is enormous. The nuts and bolts are oversized too. The train is a plumbers delight with faucets and pipes and valves littering every spare inch of space. In order to keep this monster running properly it needs to be oiled and lubed every 100 miles! I have not seen the train moving, but we plan to be in Oroville when it arrives to see how well this monster moves. It’s said it can reach 70 miles per hour! That’s a lot of steam!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Spring along the Feather River

Spring in northern California is a sight to behold. Today we drove a few miles in the Feather River Canyon and enjoyed the colors of spring. The poppies were blooming along the side of the road, along with the purple lupine. While a few blossoms on the redbud were still evident, they are mostly replaced with greenery.

One of the interesting views along the highway are the two bridges at Pulga. It's rare to see a bridge go under another bridge, but that happens in the Feather River. The trains use one side of the canyon and the cars use the other, and every so often their paths cross. In fact, there are 2 sets of double bridges on the Feather River. I wonder if that happens anywhere else?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Mt. Lassen and the Sundial Bridge

This weekend we took a drive to Lassen Volcanic National Park. We had a beautiful spring day for the drive. Along the way we were treated to wildflowers, green fields, oak trees, “digger” and Ponderosa pines, and (as a special treat) a bald eagle! As we rose in elevation, spring devolved into late winter with patches of snow on the ground. At sea level we had a 90+ degree day without a hint of snow, at 6000 feet, we had feet of snow on the ground, and temperatures in the mid-70s. The road that bisects Lassen was closed due to 7 to 10 feet of snow clinging to the last vestiges of winter.

A national park “out of season” is truly a thing of beauty. There are few people enjoying the pristine quiet of nature. The smell of pine trees was ripe. Hearing the ice crack as the sun heated the ponds was amazing. While many of the trails were closed, there were a few open where we could see geese and ducks eeking a living on their frozen turf.

After a stroll and a picnic lunch, we descended to the valley floor to roast in Redding. We walked the Sundial Bridge, a beautiful structure that floats over the Sacramento River. We drove back home after a fine dinner at the Sierra Nevada Tap Room. A good day to enjoy northern California.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Spring images

Take a minute and look at the elegant wings of a bee. They look like stained glass. Delicate yet durable to fly from blossom to blossom to collect sweet pollen. How can something so fragile be so strong? Looks can be deceiving I guess.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Back Home Again

It’s springtime in Northern California. That means all the flowers are in bloom as well as all the allergies that go with them. It’s that sneezy, drippy, pollen-y time of year. It’s also beautiful. The grasslands are green too. This is the only time of year when California is green!

We’re here until the other DrC gets his problem solved. We have a good medical facility nearby with reliable doctors who know us and care for us. Our main job is to stop his pain. I want to thank everyone for thinking about us and sending us their prayers and good wishes. You are all very special to us.

In the meantime, visions of travel yet to come are still happening. There’s camping with friends in the Canadian Rockies, a European river cruise, and a trans-Atlantic cruise all happening later this year. We don’t want to cancel those events, so his pain WILL be controlled by the time they roll around. There’s power in positive thinking!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Best Laid Plans...

There’s an old saying about the best laid plans of mice and men…and like those plans, ours have gone awry. So, instead of taking a 7-week cross country RV trip, we are heading “back to the barn.” We’ve been on the road for 9 days, we’ve stayed at one of our favorite parks and we’ve seen some good friends. It’s not as much as we planned, but that’s the way it goes. We should be home on Wednesday.

Since you know how much we love to travel, the reason has to be pretty good, and it The other DrC has trigeminal neuralgia that is become very painful. So, we are heading back to see the doc to see what can be done to stop the pain. When we solve the problem, we'll be back on the road. Watch this space to see what happens next.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

On Snowbirds and Fishing

It’s another beautiful day at the Lake. The weekend campers are gone -- the snowbirds remain. As I look at license plates, the snowbirds are indeed escaping the cold of Utah, Montana, South Dakota and Washington.
There are also real snowbirds too: egrets, herons, hawks, and eagles all making their home in this little piece of heaven. Unfortunately, I’ve not seen any turkeys in the park the year, and the ducks and woodpeckers seem to be light on the ground too. I wonder why? There are crows gathering material for nests, so I’m guessing they are going to be staying awhile. A lone seagull soars overhead. A few mud hens paddle in the shallow water along with a lone goose with a broken wing.
There’s one more “critter:” the fisherman. He (or she) launches a boat early in the morning in hopes of catching something. A few fish do get caught, but most seem to tease the fisherman then evade him by swimming away. No matter if the fisherman caught something or not, he’s happy as can be. He had some “quality time” on the lake where he could soak in the beauty of the day…and if a fish came along, so much the better (for the fisherman, if not the fish).