The section of track our home overlooks is called Cable. It’s a single track with a short siding at the far end of the valley. Usually, a ballast regulator and a tamper are stored there on the siding. When the equipment is needed for track maintenance, the crew drives down from the highway, parks their vehicle and starts up their respective machines. The crew obtains “Track & Time” from the dispatcher (located in Omaha, NB), and moves the machines out onto the main (the Main is the primary track). In this photo, you see an auto-rack train headed West (down the mountain towards Bakersfield) and a TOF (Trailer On Flatcar) of truck trailers headed East (towards Mojave).
The siding is located at the upper left of this photo — The following photo is the best I can do from this distance. The worker’s white truck is on the right-of-way (that dirt path adjacent to the train tracks) and the two pieces of equipment are there on the spur. You can’t see it in this photo, but the hazard lights atop the machines are on and rotating, meaning they’re ready to move and are just waiting for the o.k. (Track & Time) from the Dispatcher. Since the two West- and East-bound trains have cleared, the workers should be able to move out fairly soon. We won’t see them again until around 2:30 or 3:00 p.m. at the end of the work day.
There’s always some kind of action on the railroad or on the highway. We watch the various loads moving on the highway, some of which we can’t begin to think what they are and how they’re going to be used. Oftentimes, there’ll be a special move on the highway. One fairly regular move we’ve observed on the highway is a huge flatbed tractor-trailer with its load wrapped in tarps. The tractor-trailer is escorted by the Highway Patrol (lights flashing), guide pickup trucks fore and aft, and a motorhome. The convoy never stops except for gas or to switch drivers. We don’t know what the load is, but the motorhome is for the drivers to sleep in when they switch on and off their shifts. This load usually moves at night when there’s less traffic — it makes quite a show with all of the rotating beacon lights.
I wake in the middle of the night at times and when I can’t get back to sleep, I get up and go to my office. I draw open the blinds and sit in the dark and watch the traffic flowing on the highway. I think about the drivers and how difficult a life it must be for them — it’s night time and people are usually asleep, but these people are working. I think about my own work years and thankfully, I never held a job that required working at night. But my husband did — he was on 2nd shift (4p.m. to 8a.m.) for many years. I think that contributed to my night-owl habits; that and running a home-based secretarial and desktop publishing business.
Have a good day today — be safe, be well and be happy. Be sure to remind those you love that you love them.
UPDATE — 10:43 a.m. and this locomotive comes up the valley with the EC-4 Track Inspection car trailing behind.