BNSF 1929 Castle Rock 14 Oct 19(PID:48910846403) Source
posted by alias Ween (Colorado) on Thursday 17th of October 2019 01:12:50 AM
BNSF 1929 leads the Pikes Peak Local the wrong way south on the normally northbound Main 2 as it leaves Castle Rock, CO behind a pair of SD40-2s. Sometimes in this hobby, one can simply luck into a shot by being at the right place at the right time, and at other times, one has to really work for a shot. And pray. And curse. And fret. And break traffic laws. And hope not to die. This shot is all of the latter ones. But first, some background... The Pikes Peak Local runs south on the Joint Line out of the Denver area for Colorado Springs on late Monday and Thursday mornings. Since Columbus Day was a Monday and a day off for me, I headed out to try and catch the only standard cab-led train that runs a significant portion of the Joint Line. However, I learned after I set out for Sedalia, the normally southbound Main 1 was under a prolonged MoW window. I still went to Sedalia to wait, hoping the window would clear and southbounds would roll. I had my scanner app going, but I wasn't hearing much from the dispatcher. After a couple of hours sitting there with my window rolled down, I heard what I thought was the rumble of a locomotive. Nothing scanner-wise or signal-wise gave me any indication that anything was coming. But the sound grew louder. For those not familiar, Sedlaia sits right smack dab between Mains 1 and 2, Main 1 being on the south side of town and Main 2 being on the north side. I was parked south of Main 1 looking north. As the sound grew louder and louder, I looked out my windshield, through the trees and houses and my eyes caught glimpses of orange...a train running south on Main 2! Following the orange, I thought I caught a glimpse of a yellow centerbeam. My brain started putting things together...I was watching the Pikes Peak Local pass by! Without wasting a second, I fired up the car (well, I turned it on and the electric motors propelled me away from my spot of parking since I drive a hybrid) and set out for the chase. The question was, "Where was I going to catch this rare move?" The most obvious answer was the Crystal Valley Parkway on the south side of Castle Rock with the town's namesake rock in the background. I had shot plenty of northbounds from that spot, but never a wrong-way running southbound. This was my chance. I was crunching time and distance numbers in my head, seeing if it was even possible to get there in time. At the outset, I thought, "No problem!" It's about 12 miles and I had a 55mph (marked) Hwy 85 and a 65mph (marked) I-25 to make my journey. But my certainty soon turned to doubt as I hit lunchtime traffic and traffic lights. I would leapfrog ahead of the PPL only to watch it catch up and/or pass me as I hit congestion. I pushed the boundaries of reasonableness as far as speed goes, and even though I made some headway on the Interstate, all lanes were jammed with people going the exact same speed so I couldn't weave my way through any faster. Exiting the Interstate, I hit another light. Realizing my chance for the shot was rapidly shrinking, I was able to swap out the lens on my camera and load my pockets with my phone and wallet so I could just jump out of my car and start running for my spot. My last stretch of road was the Frontage Road on the east side of I-25, normally marked 55mph but lowered to 45mph thanks to construction. I was hoping to have a clean run down the Frontage Road, but a panel van turned right in front of me. Knowing I could accept no further lollygagging, I passed the van just as my lane was ending and merging into his. I'm sure he was not thrilled. Now I was in the homestretch. It was hammer down time. At this point, the speed limit became a suggestion rather than the law. Fortunately, no cops were there waiting to catch nuts screaming down the road for a train. I got to the turn for the Crystal Valley Parkway, and I had debated with myself during the trip if I should park on the west side of the bridge or the east side. The east side meant I would have to backtrack a bit, so I figured I'd waste no distance and park on the near side. I threw the car in park, shut it off, and free-handed my camera in my left as I took off in a dead sprint for my spot on the bridge. I had estimated I had maybe 50 to 100 yards to cover, but as I was running, I realized I was dead wrong. Turns out, after measuring after-the-fact, I had to cover 443 yards from where I parked to the spot where I took the shot. That's almost 4 and a half football fields to cover...in a sprint. It was after about 200 yards of sprinting across the bridge that I saw the PPL start to come into view. I could then look ahead and see where I needed to be. My brain was telling me I wasn't going to make it. This is where the cursing started. But I kept the legs churning. Now I had another problem. I still had my sunglasses on and the lens cap was still on. For the final couple hundred yards, I was working out the game plan in my head: come to a stop, glasses off and to the ground, lens cap off, camera on, line up the lens to shoot through the chain link fence, focus, fire, and pray. Despite my sprint, my labored and heaving breathing, my chest beating bloody murder, I was able to steady the lens, align it so it didn't include any of the fence in the shot, and get the thing to focus and produce the image you see above. I literally had not one second to spare it was that close...and that's not hyperbole. And then with the shot out of the way, I realized I was going to live. Despite my throat starting to swell from the forced breathing of the dry air and my heart going faster than a coke'd-up midget, I started the intentionally slow walk back to my car. So, was it worth it? Was a pair of SD40-2s leading a once-in-a-decade-or-two shot (for me, anyway) worth it? Was it worth driving like I was on the streets of Qatar? Was it worth a 443-yard sprint? Well, let me put it this way: I can't tell you the level of pissed off I would have been had I gone through all of that torture and pain and NOT gotten the shot!
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- Published 07.04.22
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