Monday, June 25, 2012

Rotel at Safeway: Redux

Taking a break from relaxing yesterday (Sunday) afternoon, I looked out my living room window and spotted a bright red "object" in the Safeway parking lot. So I got my binoculars and was gobsmacked to see a Rotel tour bus!

"Das Rollende Hotel" is precisely that. A fully self-contained tour bus manufactured by VanHool, a world-class motor vehicle and rail based transportation entity, based in Belgium.

The Rotel vehicle is based on the VanHool T916 "Acron."

This vehicle carries 24 passengers - with 26 sleeping compartments in the rear of the vehicle. (A compartment for the driver and the Tour Guide.)

I chatted briefly with a very pleasant Tour Guide, Martina. She explained they were on the reverse of the Vancouver BC / San Francisco schedule, heading for San Francisco.

While Port Townsend is not on their official itinerary for the West Coast tour, they took the ferry across Admiralty Inlet from Keystone (Coupeville) to Port Townsend.

And Safeway is on the highway a half mile from the Port Townsend Washington State ferry dock, presenting an irresistible opportunity to load up on goodies.

Rotel runs tours world wide, catering basically to German and European tourists. In fact, it is a chore to gather information, as their web site requires use of a translation service, such as Bable Fish. However,  Bable Fish has been taken over by Microsoft. And to no ones surprise, Microsoft's Bing Translator managed to mangle the once user friendly Bablefish.

In the Blog title appears the word "Redux." Redux has several meanings, including the revisiting of a subject. This is my second encounter with Rotel, the first being many years ago at Crater Lake Oregon, where wife number one and I explored on our honeymoon in 1966!
Typical Sleeping Compartment

I advised Martina that I planned to feature their visit to Port Townsend on my Blog. I hope the passengers will be amused to learn that their shopping trip in Port Townsend Safeway has been recorded for the ages …

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Union Pacific's "Phase Two"

Union Pacific Railroad 1432, Argo Yard, Seattle, April 10, 1963. Although I didn’t know it at the time I shot this photograph, I am a mere six months away from enlisting in the USAF. Another story, another time!

This particular summer, I was employed as a surveyor with the US Coast & Geodetic Survey – now the National Oceanographic & Atmospheric Administration.  I was part of a marine survey crew updating a nautical chart covering the area between Mukilteo, Clinton and Hat Island in the Puget Sound. That's another story, another time! 

What we have here - and Union Pacific had an impressive fleet of them - is the utilitarian F3. Stock livery with an annoying single “blat” air horn. They sounded bad enough under normal operating conditions. But if the horn got choked with rain or snow, you'd begin to look for a Holland & Holland to put them out of their misery!

The four rectangular and two porthole openings, along with the chain link fencing, are the hallmarks of the early so-called “Phase II” F3’s.

General Motors never referred to “phases” in their catalogs or other official literature. It was locomotive enthusiasts who created the “phases” to mark the progression of models as cosmetic changes were made.

These were my favorite – the chain link fence version!

As I recall, Argo Yard was built by and maintained by the Northern Pacific Railroad. Union Pacific wisely signed a document known as “track rights” which gave the Union Pacific direct access to Seattle and the Puget Sound, over Northern Pacific steel, without having to lay basically a parallel rail line up to Seattle from Portland.

While the Northern Pacific had a small engine house, yard office and servicing facilities in the northwest corner of this facility, Union Pacific had offices and a servicing facility in the southeastern corner.

Those were the good old days.

Now it's a bland Burlington Northern Santa Fe landscape …

Railroad Stuff: Union Pacific Railroad 1432, built by Electro Motive Division as an F-3, 1,500 hp, released March 1, 1948, serial number 4637. Retired to Electro Motive Division in February 1964.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Fathers Day 2012

For the past two weeks, I have been constructing a Blog article concerning the recent destruction by fire and subsequent sinking of the crab processor, M/V Deep Sea over in Penn Cove last month. I'm in the process of scanning more than 200 slides taken by my late Dad, who served as Chief Engineer on the M/V Deep Sea in the formative months of 1960. There will be a full accounting of this episode in my Dad's life, so this photo is a "preview" of things to come.

My schedule to publish the full account of the "Saga of the Deep Sea" was to have taken place today - Fathers Day - but unforeseen events sabotaged my time line. Last week, I was severely stricken by an event that resulted in me riding an ambulance up the hill to Jefferson Hospital. In the final analysis, it became a TIA, similar to a stroke.

In the past, I have been reticent about making a big deal about Mothers Day and Fathers Day because I am sensitive to the fact that there are many folk who have been deprived for one reason or another of that "luxury" in life. So, forgive my indulgence. I am motivated to acknowledge my late Dad.

Bunkering in Eureka, California

In chatting with my only sibling, my sister, we both agree that Dad was not a mean tyrant. For many years, he was away from home, working as an engineer on tugboats in the Puget Sound and Alaska venues. But he had boundaries, and we knew exactly where they were. I think it was because of his upbringing, that he knew that a firm voice, not yelling, no dramatics, was most effective in getting "our attention."

I remember one breakfast when we lived in Prince Rupert (1957-1959) that he casually mentioned to Mother, he suspected someone was driving our car while he was on his round trip to Ward Cove. He was writing the mileage down when he parked the car. And checked it when he returned two days later. My heart stopped. I began choking on my breakfast. But that was all he ever said about the car being driven. He never confronted me! But message received! And I told my buddies, "No more joy rides in my Dads car while he is in Alaska!" 

It is a complicated story, but the bottom line is that I ended up working on a summer permit on Alaska Freight Lines tug M/V Martin. Turned out that my Dad was Chief, and I was Wiper #2. He took me aside and told me that I worked for the Second Assistant, to follow his instructions, to avoid any hint of "favoritism" in the engine department because he was Chief. No problem.

The most frightening person on board, a rough-hewn Norwegian Skipper. The man had a way with words!

Fifteen days after we left Seattle, we had made Anchorage with our tow. I had never heard such rough and crude language from that crew. Most had a completely different outlook on life than I. I was determined to get off that damn tug and fly back to Seattle post-haste! I went up to see the Skipper, who gruffly acknowledged my desire to leave the vessel. Told me to come back in an hour for my wages. As I descended down to the foc'sl, I had to pass the galley.

My Dad was sipping a cup of coffee. He motioned me to join him, and asked me why I was not in the engine room helping my engineer service the engines. I told him I had requested my pay from the Skipper and was flying back to Seattle.

Long story short.

I remember his words to this day. My Dad told me about character.  He explained that he had worked with rough, tough and crude characters most of his life. In logging camps. In railroad camps. On fishing boats. On tugboats. But they had not diminished who he was, nor his beliefs. That character was the ability to do the right thing despite the arguments around you, when nobody is there to check on you. To bond to your beliefs and values.

His point well made, now I had a really serious problem. Facing  the skipper to tell him I changed my mind again and was staying aboard!   The man had mastered the skill of coining new virulent curses. He tossed me a new one - involving m**** and f*** and w*** and so on, and told me to get back to work!

Months later, when it came time for me to leave the Martin to return to Washington State University, I actually cried. I yearned to stay on board. And I had learned to see the good side of fellows who had a far different outlook on life than I. And I enjoyed learning from them. I was beginning to learn how to absorb the positive, and eliminate the negative.

And the Captain wished me well with my education ...

That lesson from my Dad molded my deportment for the rest of my life.

Thank You, Dad.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Fourth Class 922

Canadian National Railways 9076 + 4800. Departure track, Prince Rupert, Skeena Subdivision, August 12, 1959. It's a late summer evening, just about 9:30. Gardner-Denver's are pumping air. Carmen walk the train doing last minute departure checks on Fourth Class Freight 922.

This was a ritual I loved to watch and listen. To this day, more than 50 years later, I can still hear those magnificent General Motors V-16’s chanting quietly, with the occasional “pfist-pfist” of the air system.

We lived about three blocks from where this photo was taken, and my second floor bedroom window overlooked the Yard.  See red arrow above.

In the wintertime when it got dark really early, and the wind and rain were pelting my window, I would open it just enough to hear the units pumping air, the sound undulating with the wind.

The distant grain elevator was torn down in 1987, replaced with a larger modern facility at Ridley Island, 10 miles east. 

Then when pocket watches hit 21:30, the head light would switch into high beam, carving a hole in the rain drenched darkness, the brakes would release and the throttles eased up to run two, creating a “thump thump thump” ripple down the length of the train as slack was eased out.

Once the crew car cleared onto the main, the engineer would whistle off the high ball, and those magnificent motors would roar into life into the night.

With 65 cars in tow, they are heading for dark, lonely, north Canadian wilderness. Next civilization is 100 miles to the east up the mighty Skeena River.

Railroad Stuff: Canadian National Railways 9076, F-7, built by GMD, London Ontario, as road class GFA-15d, 1,500 hp, August 1952, serial number A-358, remanufactured as an F7Au in December 1972, damaged in a wreck on the Nechako subdivision in 1976, and received a “new” nose from retired 9046. Retired in 1989, and scrapped at Sidbeck-Feruni in May 1994.

Canadian National Railways 4800, GP-7, built as 7555 by GMD, London Ontario, as road class Y-5-a, 1,500 hp, August 1953, serial number A-534, reclassified as GR-15a in 1954 and renumbered 1700, renumbered 4350 in 1956, and renumbered 4800 in August 1957. Wrecked with sister 4808 in a rock slide at MP 40.7, Skeena Subdivision in February 1967 and retired as a constructive loss in June, 1967.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

"City of San Francisco"

Southern Pacific 6034, Richmond, California, April 1966. Gads! What a sight and sound as a quartet of PA’s heading for 16th Street in Oakland, with ferry connection to San Francisco. This is a perfect example of being at the right place at the right time, having camera in hand.

I was stationed at
Hamilton AFB in Marin County, and had been visiting my Uncle in Oakland for a Sunday afternoon of TV beer and football. I was heading home via the San Rafael Bridge when I decided to check out the SP.

This is Train 101 the westbound streamliner “City of San Francisco” looking like fuel injectors need some attention! These four ALCo PA’s were in a group of 38 units dedicated to the West Oakland pool, for San Francisco to Portland, and San Francisco to Ogden varnish.

Note the icicle cutters on the roof, to deal with icicles in the tunnels and snow sheds on the Donner Summit.

The “City of San Francisco” made the headlines twice:

The first time was in August, 1939 when it derailed in the desert near Harney, Nevada. 24 passengers and crew were killed, and 121 injured. There was speculation that a saboteur had created the disaster, but there was no solution to the incident.

The second headline occurred when the “City of San Francisco” was caught in a blizzard in the Sierra Nevada Mountains at Yuba Pass in 1952. From January 13th through January 19th, 20 crew and 196 passengers were stranded, until relief lead them out by foot to a nearby highway.

The leg from Omaha to Chicago was pulled by Chicago & Northwestern power. In 1955 the Milwaukee Road assumed the service. In a cost-cutting move, the "City of San Francisco" was combined with the "City of Los Angeles" in 1960.

Here is the
timetable for the “City of San Francisco”, with equipment list. A detailed consist is found here. It all came to an end when Southern Pacific turned over the keys to Amtrak in May, 1971.

Railroad Stuff: SP 6034, ALCo-GE PA-3. 2,250 hp, built 1953.