Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Merry Christmas Story!

As a young man still a year out from high school graduation, I remember our family spent many weekends at Kalaloch Beach, off US 101, north of Aberdeen. That explains how came to be leaning out the window as our family bus was heading west, and I captured this “basic’” Geep, switching at Fort Lewis on the 16th Subdivision, American Lake Line.

The history of the Northern Pacific and Fort Lewis intersect each other over time. The American Lake Line into Fort Lewis is now Burlington Northern Santa Fe. And there has been talk of abandoning the water level main line through Steilacoom.

This area near American Lake played host to massive military maneuvers between the Washington National Guard and the US Army, back in the early 1900’s. Subsequently, 15 square mile Fort Lewis was established in 1917. At one time, Fort Lewis had it’s own shunting railroad known as the “Big Red” railroad.

Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM) was formally established as one of 12 joint bases worldwide on October 1, 2010.

The merger of the former Fort Lewis (est. 1917) and bordering McChord Air Force Base (est. 1947) was directed by the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission. JBLM covers 90,000 acres (140 sq miles) and provides support to Soldiers and Airmen assigned to U.S. Army I Corps, 62nd Airlift Wing, and other tenant units and resident commands.

Services are provided by civilian staff, serving under Installation Management Command, augmented by Airmen OPCON/ADCON to 627th Air Base Group.

The Deputy Joint Base Commander is also the 627th Air Base Group commander.

The base supports 60,000 family members who live on and outside the base, and nearly 30,000 military retirees living within 50 miles.

Railroad Stuff: Northern Pacific ordered a total of 179 GP-9’s between 1954 and 1958, road numbers 200 through 375. Many were erected without dynamic brakes. Northern Pacific 221, built by Electro Motive Division as a 1,750 hp GP-9. Without dynamic brakes. Build date  June 1955, serial number 20308. Wrecked at Lincoln Nebraska and declared a constructive loss in October 1983.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Restaurant: Impossible - Zoog's Re Launch

It’s not about the food, it’s about the family. That’s a key message dished up by Food Network representatives about the “Restaurant Impossible” reality TV show’s episode filmed last week at Zoog's Caveman Cookin' in Port Hadlock.

Celebrity chef Robert Irvine has filmed about 125 episodes of “Restaurant Impossible" since the program debuted in January of 2011.

Clearly, what he encountered at Zoog's made an immediate impression. Irvine’s Twitter feed on Nov. 19 included this post: “Day two of my mission in Washington, Zoog's Caveman cookin'. To date the worst I have ever, ever seen. Seriously, wait till you see this one."

The episode on Zoog's is slated to air on Feb. 4, 2015.

Until then, owner Bret "Zoog" Forsberg and his wife, Michelle, are limited to what they can say in public about the experience, or the new-look restaurant. Zoog was all smiles on reveal night, mingling with customers. (Full story PT Leader.)

Final Chapter: Zoog's Report Card

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Restaurant: Impossible!

The sleepy hamlet of Port Hadlock Washington, population ~3,676, is on the map these days! Located about 10 miles south of Port Townsend, Port Hadlock is playing host to a top rated cable TV show, Food Channels "Restaurant: Impossible," hosted by Chef Robert Irvine.

Robert's Restaurant Impossible is a place called Zoog's Caveman Cookin' Restaurant & Lounge.

The premise of the show is that a flailing restaurant owner, faced with shuttering, reaches out for Chief Robert Irvine for help.

Restauranteurs reach out to the Food Network for help to save a failing business. For the most part, not understanding the economics of running a business leads to failure. Incompetence and mismanagement are also in the failure model.

For many, despite heroic efforts to turn a troubled business into a success, fails.  Usually they were so deep in debt, rescues was "Impossible."

As an example, one of Gordon Ramsay's rescue's reverted back to his loosing business model, and within a year the restaurant became a bank!

Chef Irvine observes and analyses:

•  management and staff
•  financials
•  physical plant (structure, layout, efficiency)
•  menu
•  and observes a "typical" customer service, wait staff interaction with customers.

Based on these observations, he develops a strategy to institute changes. That may include:

•  behavior modification of management and staff.
•  revamping of menu to one that maximizes profit.
•  physical remodeling of structure.

On the physical side of transformation,demolition and reconstruction recommended by Robert Irving, is supervised by his "Builder" Tom Bury and Interior Designers, of which there are several.

To house and manage the resurrection, a Tent City is erected in which the tables, chairs and decorations are deposited for final disposition.

While the Designer from time to time renovates tables and chairs, in many cases, worn out furnishings end up in huge dumpsters brought on site.

The tents also house Tom's workshop where woodworking projects and electrical resurrecting is accomplished by the army of volunteers, with Robert giving the first blow!

"Restaurant: Impossible" relies on local voluntary press coverage to announce the "target" restaurant, and through press coverage, solicits a task forces of  volunteers, from those who know how to wield a paint brush, to licensed profession plumbers, electricians, and structural construction.

Last week, a local newspaper ran a story about the next "Restaurant: Impossible" candidate, Zoog's  in Port Hadlock. The story included a link to the producers of the program, asking for volunteers. I volunteered, but was too late to get on board.

Monday afternoon (Nov 17, 2014) I drove down to Zoog's in Port Hadlock, naively hoping to meet Robert Irvine and Tom and the Design team. And shoot photos of the project in progress.

Having schlepped a video camera on my shoulder for more than 20 years, I was anxious to see the taping in progress.


I spotted a woman crossing over from a parking lot, holding a brief case in her arms. Thinking she may be one of the producers, she said "No" she was one of the owners! Remembering the "Cone of Silence" between the owners the rest of the world, I inquired about Robert Irvine.

She said, "That's him at the front door."

There he was! Robert Irvine!

As I raised my camera to take his photo - he was not more than 10 feet from me - a Producer raised his arm blocking my camera.

"Food Network" does not allow you to take photos of him."

The cameraman with him shooting his familiar one-take entrance into the restaurant!

So I saw Robert Irvine for less than five seconds as he entered the facility with a trailing cameraman. I asked the Producer, who was nice enough, for access to shoot photos inside Zoog's, to shoot photos of the process, and to shoot photos of Tom Bury at work.

The response to most of my questions, the stock answer, ""Food Network" does not allow  this, that ... yada yada." I suddenly felt I was lurking around an ICBM Missile Silo!  My shooting was confined to the exterior of the building.

Tuesday November 18th.

A large mural covers one side and part of the front of Zoog's.

Painted by a local artisan, James Mayo, they remind me of the cheesy roadside attractions that proliferated the country back in the 40', 50's and 60's.

The murals, combined with a few unfavorable comments posted on Yelp and TripAdvisor, prompted me to return on to capture the murals before, as I believe, they will be painted over.

When I arrived, a Sheriff's K-9 unit was just packing up, having been charged with guarding the several tents behind the building, stuffed with the interior contents of the building, plus all the tools - saws and what not - utilized in the re-construction.

The renovations should be completed Tuesday evening. At the end of each program, the "reveal" to management and staff, followed by a re-launch of the restaurant,  showcasing the improvements to local community.

According to the local press, dinner services for general public will commence on Thursday. So in less than a week, the crew of "Restaurant: Impossible" will have spun the lives of the owners and staff completely upside down.

According to one of the producers I chatted with, the "Zoog's" remake will be aired in February 2015.

Relaunch:  Zoog's reopening

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Railfan Five Challange

I recently received a note from a fellow Blogger Steve Boyko, Confessions of a Train Geek, to share five photos that visualize my introduction to and development as a ferroequinologist; to accept the Railfan Five Challenge.

My journey on railroading began at age 14. The family had moved from Seattle to Prince Rupert, BC.,where my dad served as Chief Engineer on the tug Comet. Till then, my only contact with "railroading" was a tin-plate Union Pacific M100000 train set, which I got bored with a packed way in my closet following the third turn around the set!

I developed a routine of riding on the Comet with my Dad from her tie-up at the Ocean Dock to Pillsbury Point, where the rail barge was unloaded and loaded with up to 24 cars, on a "milk run" between Prince Rupert and Ward Cove, Alaska. While it has undergone upgrades, that same facility is where the current  AquaTrain is loaded for her journey to Whittier Alaska.

On one occasion, the engineer of the yard goat threading cars onto the barge asked me if I'd like to ride back to town with them. A routine I quickly adopted! This locomotive, CNR 7206, was my introduction to real railroading!

A ride on a real locomotive; I was hooked!

On Christmas 1957, Mom and Dad gave me a subscription to Trains Magazine. The first issue arrived in February 1958. That magazine opened a whole new world of trains, propelling me forward.

One of the photo purveyor who advertised regularly in Trains, Harold K. Vollrath, helped me assemble a full collection of the Whytes wheel inventory.

I also began a subscription to Railroad magazine. This was the "pulp" version of Trains!

The Comet and her rail barge tied up at Ocean Dock, directly across the street from the CNR passenger station, adjacent to the round house.

Our house was at the south end of the yard. So to go down to the tug and hang out with Dad when he had engine room watches, my Sister and I, along with our scruffy Scotch Terrier, Maggie, would walk a trail along a trail parallel to the yard, which lead us to the back door of the round house.

From there we made our way through the round house up to the station, and across the street to Ocean Dock.

Depending on the tide, we had to make our way down a rickety ladder onto the rail barge, follow a narrow passage around the bows of the barge, and descend another ladder down to the after deck of the Comet.

I fell in love with the round house and the mesmerizing chant of what I began to learn about General Motors locomotives, and the intoxicating smell of diesel oil and exhaust. When we landed at Prince Rupert in August 1957, I quickly learned that Canadian National Railways was dieseling, and that the days of steam in Prince Rupert were quickly coming to an end - within weeks!

Freight operations had already made the transformation to diesel, and so the only steam left was a trio of Pacific's used on First Class 195 & 196, a jaunty 2-8-0 Consolidation used to work outside the yard limit marker, schlepping local freight out to the Port Edward Pulp Mill and a handful of canneries.

CNR 7536, an 0-6-0 switcher had just been replaced with the SW-9 7206.

I quickly made friends around the operation. The Road Foreman of Engines Johnny Bateman, took me in his office at the rear of the round house and laid down "Rules of Conduct."

•  No walking on rails
•  Watch for moving equipment

Over at the station, I met the Yard Master Morris Bishop, who reinforced my "Rules of Conduct", and befriend a fellow who was a year ahead of me.

Frank Cantafio. Frank worked as a Yard Clerk on the weekends, whilst still in school.Yard Master, clerks, and telegrapher were on the second floor of the station.  To this day, I recall the smell of oiled hardwood flooring and burnt coffee!

Frank would let me tag along when he made up the consist for the Time Freight. We'd climb to the top of the last boxcar, and write a list of car numbers, from rear to front, as we scampered along the roof tops!

Doors began opening for me. I met Don Vaale, night trick telegrapher. I wrote a Blog article about him.  I was gobsmacked when a few years later, I got an email from him! He had stumbled across his story on my Blog!

Time freight 922 left town eastbound at 18:20k, and I quickly discovered a neat time to be at the Yard Office was about an hour before departure. There in the Office, the train crew assembled.

Don received train orders from Smithers via telephone. He typed a manifold of flimsies,a set for each crew member.

A conductor, Stan Wozney, asked me if I like to run up to Terrace, on the so-called Log Train. Mom and Dad never restricted my Sister and I from new experiences; a deal was struck to ride the Log Train.

The Log Train ran off the Time Table, protected by Train Orders, displaying white flags and white bullet lights and a railroad authorized time piece. (This was real railroading, as I came to realize.)

In those days, the line was signal track, with station sidings about every 10 miles. There was no radio communication.

Broke down? Bust a knuckle? Burn a journal? Set out flag protection and torpedoes, and hoof it to the nearest station, or one of two trackside phone boxes.

My first over-the-road trip was with a gregarious gentleman, Bill Geddes, my second illustrating photo.

Over the next two years I made many trips to Terrace with him and Hugh Macintosh, fireman, and of course the fussy Stan Wozney.

The first time I met Mr. Geddes in the cab, he explained to me that once in a while, not often, these locomotives would explode!

At the log spurs outside Terrace, we would make up a log train to drag back west to the pulp mill at Port Edward. And we did switching movements in the Terrace yard, making dismantling cars for the mixed train to the aluminum smelter down at Kitimat.

I learned how to read switching hand signals, learned what "loading" was, air brake functions; a cornucopia of information.

It was a sad day when my Dad announced in late 1959, we would be moving back to Seattle.

Back in Seattle, I was the proverbial "fish out of water." I can't remember how I found out about it, but in 1960, with my newly acquired drivers license, I joined the Puget Sound Railway Historical Society. They met monthly in a former Northern Pacific business car on a siding next to Owens-Corning Glass on East Marginal Way in Seattle.

Great comadry, watching 8 mm films - mostly over or under exposed with no sound, and 35 mm slides - mostly over or under exposed with wise cracks about the photographer, and plenty of donuts and coffee.

There was one fellow there, Maynard Lang, who displayed magnificent 16mm sound films he had shot of Rayonier logging, Simpson Logging, and the Class 1's serving Seattle. His brother was a fireman on GN Electrics up in the  Cascades.

I joined him at a card table over refreshments to learn more about his work, and he introduced me to my number three influence in railroading, Elwin (El) Purington.

El and I became great friends. His specialty was making stereo recordings of trains! Hed began his hobby recording on a wire recorder!

He also provided sound track for railroad films.

He had a great vehicle, not only for chasing trains, but also attracting round house personnel! The photo shows the shop crew at Northern Pacific's Auburn facility, admiring El's XKE. (El is the baldie.)

We spent many hours making stereo recordings. Our favorite haunt was Black River Junction south of Seattle. There we could capture Great Northern, Milwaukee Road, Northern Pacific and Union Pacific, all in one fell swoop! And often with a combination of road movement!

Because of speeding issues, and subsequent chastisement by insurance companies, El down graded from XKE.  I spent a miserable weekend in Vancouver BC on a PGE train chase, sleeping in the back seat of the Corvair with my feet hanging out the window!

My further learning the ropes around Seattle was through other members of the Puget Sound Railway Historical Society, highlighted by joining a work party dispatched to Union Bay on Vancouver Island. Which leads me to my fourth photograph highlighting my learning about railroading.

We had gone over to Union Bay to prepare newly acquired locomotives and a rolling stock for shipment to the Societies property at Snoqualmie Washington. I'm furthermost left in photo.

 In an action packed three-day weekend, I learned a lot about STEAM.

Up to this point, I sophomorically proclaimed "Diesel is King."

What a wonderful learning experience that weekend. I learned how to start a fire, shovel coal, bank a fire, the wonderful aroma of wet-steam. And we all took turns running Number 14 up and down the tracks of the defunct Canadian Collieries (Dunsmuir) Limited.

Last, but not least, my fifth and most important influence in learning railroading (and life), was my Dad.

He reluctantly posed next to a grinder set on the Speno Rail Grinder/Profiler train that we encountered profiling on the Northern Pacific down at Auburn.

As a tugboat engineer, my Dad was absent from home, for long periods of time. I remember as a kid, when he would call us via the Marine Operator, that we had to learn to say "over!"

My Dad had worked on the Canadian National Railroad at Youbou, Vancouver Island, and as a section hand at  Blue River, B.C. He and his brothers Al and Hector and a few other guys, road the rails to make money on the Canadian wheat harvest.

A well respected amateur marine photographer, Dad encouraged my love of photography. And I was always pleased when he upgraded his camera, as I would be the recipient of his trade off.

Once or twice a month, Dad and I would take off for a day of photography! We'd leave our house in West Seattle and head for Foss tie-up on the Ship Canal, nearby Great Northern's Interbay Round House, Puget Sound Tug & Barge tie-up at Pier 57, south along Alaska Way waterfront checking out ship, thence to Northern Pacific Stacy Street yard, Duwamish Interchange, Union Pacific, Milwaukee Road, and then south to Auburn Northern Pacific facility.

Clearly, my pilgrimage learning about railroading was the plethora of interesting people who were willing, neah, anxious to share their knowledge with me.

I pass along the Railfan Five Challenge to Leland Weiss, author of the Lost Rail Blog, to select five photos that illustrate his initiation to and progress in learning about railroading.

Monday, October 20, 2014

M/V Simushir Safely Landed!

Prince Rupert Port Authority announced the safe landing of Simushir early Monday morning.

She is alongside the Prince Rupert Container Terminal at Fairview, just south of town.

•  11 crew members are safe, working on engine room repairs.
•  Captain Dmitry Chernysh has been treated and released from hospital in Vancouver BC.
•  Replacement skipper flying to Vancouver from Sakhalin, thence to Digby Island airport at Prince Rupert.
•  All vessels involved in salvage have return to normal duties.

A new day dawning!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Foss Maritime: Always Ready!

Two Foss tugs are in the news this evening!

The Corbin Foss is laying over at Valparaiso, Chile, and the Barbara Foss is towing a stricken container vessel to Prince Rupert, B.C.

The Corbin Foss is on an  an epic voyage from Bremerton Washington to Brownsville Texas, towing the aircraft carrier Constellation. She arrived at Portina Bay on Thursday October 16th.
Leaving her tow on the hook, she's in port for refueling, re-supply, and a complete crew change. From Bremerton to Valparaiso, she averaged 5.1 knots (5.8 mph). By comparison, joggers can reach a speed of 6 mph, or 5.2 knots!

You can follow her progress by clicking the button in the right margin of this Blog.

Meanwhile, her sister the Barbara Foss, left her AquaTrain rail barge alongside at Prince Rupert, and is towing the stranded container ship M/V Simushir to Prince Rupert.

The Simushir is owned by Sakhalin Shipping Company, SASCO, and her unusually narrow beam contributes to her ice-class hull's ability to navigate through ice on northern routes.

The container ship Simushir lost power off the Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands), specifically off the coast of the southern Island, Moresby, Thursday (Oct. 16th). Video of the Simushir shows how tender she is in open ocean.

■  IMO: 9179385
■  Gross tonnage: 6,540 tons
■  Summer DWT: 9,405 tons
■  Length: 135 m (442.9 feet)
■  Beam: 16 m (52.4 feet; a typical US fire hose is 50 feet in length!)
■  Draft: 4.9 m (16 feet)

Initial contact with the Simushir was made by the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Gordon Reid.   She passed the first towline Friday evening at 6:30 PST.She struggled to pull the container ship off-shore, but her towline parted three times!

A CH-149 Cormorant helicopter from 19 Wing Comox was dispatched to the scene. The helicopter evacuated the vessel master to Sandspit, where his care was turned over to BC Emergency Healthcare.

The financial director of Russia’s Sakhalin Shipping Company, the owners of the vessel, told Tass on Saturday, that “Captain Dmitry Chernysh injured his face and arm while on the bridge during the storm. He was evacuated by helicopter of Canada’s border guard service and delivered to a hospital in the city of Vancouver where he underwent an operation on his face and his arm was given care, too.

Now he has been discharged from hospital (Sunday) and is in a hotel.” “Other crew members are on the board and feel OK,” he said. “On Tuesday another captain will fly from Sakhalin to replace injured Chernysh.”

Unfortunately, he was the only crew member who spoke English.  Interesting.

The Barbara Foss arrived on scene at 5:30 pm Saturday and has control of the situation. Sunday morning, the Council of the Haida Nation reported the Barbara Foss towing the Simushir north of Kiis Gwaii (Langara Island) traveling east at 7 knots, destined for Prince Rupert.

The Ice Breaker CCGS Sir Wilfred Laurier and USCG Buoy Tender Spar accompanies them; the Gordon Reid is back in normal patrol.

There is much to be considered with the stranding of the Simushir. Development of the Alberta Oil Sands, and North Dakota Bakken Crude, both "dirty crudes," project a heavy increase in tanker traffic to the Far East, with up to 500 tankers per year transiting this Great Circle Route, past the Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands.)

This stranding has created much angst, especially with the First Nations, about the safety of vessel passage. What can be accomplished should a vessel suffer a propulsion breakdown?

To the south, an emergency response towing vessel (ERTV) rescue tug, Jeffery Foss, is stationed in Neah Bay, Washington. She's on station to assist vessel stranding in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. But that leaves a vast stretch of open North Pacific virtually exposed to potential disaster, a fact that convolutes conservationists and energy promoters.
In closing, it should be noted that both the Corbin and Barbara Foss have been on station with the Canadian National AquaTrain service between Prince Rupert British Columbia and Whittier Alaska.