Thursday, October 30, 2014

Mud wars

Ted O’Brien.
Election-Day being only a few days away, the mud-wars will soon end.
We get bombast every year, but this year I seem to be in the middle of a ding-dong donnybrook, a contest for the state senate seat of incumbent Ted O’Brien, a Democrat (Gasp!).
His challenger is Rich Funke (“funk-eee”), a handsome one-time local TV-news anchor.
Mr. O’Brien, by contrast, is sort of a chump. He has a receding chin, and compared to Funke is not handsome.
Rich Funke.
REPUBLICANS seem to think this election is serious. Like if O’Brien is re-elected all Hell will break loose. That the current balance of power will continue and Democrats will raise taxes, publicly fund election-campaigns, etc.
Funke, of course, promises to clean up Albany, and get western New York’s fair share.
Uh yeah, why do we always hear this? NY politics is driven by New York City, and always will be. Western NY representatives sit idly by while New York City determines things.
As if Funke is gonna change that.
Like HELLO; if Funke gets elected he’ll set up in Albany, and probably flood us with self-congratulatory press-releases, paid for by us.
Like what a grand job he’s doing fighting New York City politicos by making speeches.
According to the polls, Funke has an immense lead.
Name recognition.
Yet O’Brien seems to be winning the mud-wars. Funke is accused of sexism, and has said things that make him an easy target.
The election is also about the SAFE-Act, an act, post school-shooting, that makes private gun ownership difficult.
Funke is perceived as pro-gun, whereas O’Brien voted for the SAFE-Act.
The SAFE-Act has become a litmus-test for western New Yorkers. Middle America versus city-dwellers. Gun-toting rural folk against those against gun-violence.
I’ve even seen efforts to get western New York to secede.
Thankfully, this all will end in a few days.
Cuomo will get re-elected, and probably Funke, who will then set up in Albany to collect his pay.
The mud-slinging is fun to watch, but I’m tired of all the fliers stuffing my mailbox, and the noisy vitriol on my TV.

• The “SAFE-Act” (The New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act of 2013) was passed shortly after the school-shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. It severely limits private gun-ownership. It limits ammunition to 10 rounds per magazine, and requires registration of so-called assault-weapons. It also requires background-checks to buy ammunition, and dealers are required to report all ammunition purchases. There are a slew of other requirements that limit gun-usage. Opponents insist the SAFE-Act reverses the Second-Amendment right to bear arms.
• “Cuomo” is Andrew Cuomo, current governor of New York. It could be said the SAFE-Act was his doing. He’s running for re-election too. The gun-lobby wants to throw him out.

Monthly Calendar-Report for November 2014


Here it comes! (Photo by Bobbalew.)

—Another FABULOUS shot!
At least to me it is.
Last month’s was fabulous too.
The November 2014 entry of my own calendar is a westbound mixed up Three passing an empty eastbound slab-train down One at Brickyard Crossing.
I usually don’t do well at Brickyard.
Brickyard Crossing is where Porta Road crosses the old Pennsy main, now operated by Norfolk Southern.
Brickyard Crossing is the only grade-crossing in Altoony. It doesn’t get much traffic, so wasn’t bridged.
There used to be a brickyard adjacent, but now it’s gone. Railfans and the railroad still call it “Brickyard Crossing.”
It’s a great place to watch trains, but not to photograph ‘em.
Northeast of the crossing is an embankment that overlooks the tracks. It’s okay in late afternoon, or if it’s cloudy, but in mornings trains are too backlit.
So go back across to the southwest side of the tracks. But that’s below the railroad-grade, which always looks wonky.
The grade-crossing also has crossbucks, flashing lights, and gates.
I’ve tried to use ‘em as a foreground, but it never works.
But this time it was cloudy, I was propped against the crossbucks-pole, and I was using a lot of telephoto.
An empty slab-train came down Track One. It’s all gondola-cars, used to transport heavy steel slabs to a rolling-mill.
Two slabs per car, one slab at each end.
The train is empty, going back for another load of slabs.
Yet here came a westbound, up Track Three.
Strong telephoto (I wasn’t maxxed, which is 300 mm) takes out distraction. It’s kind of what your eye sees.
What makes this picture extraordinary is the slab-train on One.
I’ve taken similar pictures, but if it’s only one train, it’s dull.
I tend to avoid Brickyard, since it’s usually a lousy shot.
Whether I went there or not would depend on conditions.
This picture is cloudy, and I could use a sunny shot.
But that’s late afternoon.
I’ll never forget the first time my brother-from-Boston saw Brickyard. I had to pull teeth to get him to go there.
Railfan overload; at least two trains at once; maybe three — I don’t remember.
And they are right in your face!
He was was glad I took him, but it’s not a good place to photograph.




Corsair! (Photo by Philip Makanna©.)

—The most recognizable shape in aviation, the inverted gull-wing Chance-Vought F4U Corsair.
The November 2014 entry of my Ghosts WWII warbirds calendar is an F4U Corsair.
And it’s the four-bladed propeller, which signifies the 2,300 horsepower Pratt & Whitney R-2800 Double-Wasp engine, 2,800 cubic-inches.
A two-row air-cooled radial engine of 18 cylinders.
My WWII warbirds site doesn’t cover all iterations of the Corsair. It gives a rating of 2,000 horsepower. That’s the three-bladed propeller, the first Corsairs.
The Corsair is a fairly large airplane, compared to the P-51 Mustang.
They had to be built strong-enough to withstand being slam-landed on an aircraft-carrier deck.
I don’t know if a P-51 could stand that. It’s a smaller airplane of 1,695 horsepower.
The Corsair has that inverted gull-wing because of its gigantic 14-foot propeller.
They could reduce the size of the propeller, lengthen the landing-gear, or do what they did: give it an inverted gull-wing, which raised the airplane high enough on its landing-gear to clear that propeller.
Japanese fighter-pilots called the Corsair “whistling-death.” The Corsair apparently emitted a whistling sound.
So far all the Corsairs I’ve seen, and I’ve seen quite a few, are the three-bladed propeller. I’ve yet to see four-bladed.
Many years ago, back in 1951, I made a field-trip with my Cub-Scout troop to Willow Grove Naval Air Station north of Philadelphia. —I would have been seven.
A Navy fighter-jock strode cockily out to his Corsair, and fired it up.
I will never forget it.
A giant plume of yellow flame gushed out the exhausts, and down the flanks of the Corsair.
“Won’t it catch fire?” I asked worriedly.
“No!” exclaimed our guide, laughing.
Soon the Corsair was roaring over our heads to practice tailhook landings on the runway.
A tailhook-landing is how they do it on aircraft-carriers.
A cable is stretched across the carrier-deck, and a tailhook on the plane snags the cable, which keeps the plane from sailing off into the sea.
A cable had been stretched across the runway, just like an aircraft-carrier.




Heritage-unit! (Photo by Jason Eddy.)

The November 2014 entry of my Norfolk Southern Employees’ Photography-Contest calendar is a stacker being led by #1069, the Virginian Heritage-Unit.
It’s an EMD SD70-ACe; meaning it has AC traction-motors.
Norfolk Southern had 20 of its new diesel locomotives painted in paint-schemes of predecessor railroads.
Virginian Railway was merged into competitor Norfolk & Western back in 1959. Norfolk Southern is a merger of Norfolk & Western and Southern Railway back in 1982.
#1069 is the BEST-looking Heritage-Unit. The Heritage-Units get used all over the railroad in regular service.
The Pennsy Heritage-Unit. (Photo by Mike Kimmel©.)


The DL&W Heritage-Unit. (Photo by Mike Castellow©.)

The NYC Heritage-Unit. (Photo by Mike Kimmel©)
Others are #8102, painted in Pennsy colors, and #1074, painted as Delaware, Lackawanna & Western.
Another is #1065, painted in New York Central’s lighting-stripe scheme.
I’ve seen 8102, but not 1065 or 1074.
Seeing a Heritage-Unit is fairly likely.
I’ll never forget the first time we saw 1069. My brother and I were chasing 765, the restored Nickel Plate steam-locomotive.
We were in Altoona, and an eastbound pulled in and stopped.
#1069. (Photo by Jack Hughes.)
1069 was the last locomotive in the consist.
“What’s this?” I said. “Virginian no longer exists.”
My brother thought it was a Virginian locomotive.
“It’s one of those Heritage-Units,” I exclaimed.
And in my humble opinion, #1069 is the best-looking of all 20. 8102 and 1065 look pretty good, but not as good as 1069.
#1069 is leading a southbound stacker on the newly refurbished Crescent Corridor through Spencer, NC.




The California-Kid without flames. (Photo by Scott Williamson.)

—Normally I don’t think much of ’34 Ford hotrods.
But this car looks pretty good.
The November 2014 entry of my Oxman Hotrod Calendar is a ’34 Ford three-window coupe hotrod.
It’s very tastefully done, although normally I prefer the ’32.
The car’s owner was inspired by “The California-Kid,” also a ’34.
“The California-Kid.”
But that car has flame-paint, and this calendar-car doesn’t.
To me, flame-paint looks silly. It can detract from the beauty of the car.
Fortunately this car’s owner didn’t do anything stupid. No flames, and the fenders are still there.
About all the guy did is chop the top: three inches in back, and three-and-a-half in front.
The body is a fiberglass reproduction, but the fenders and running-boards are original, as is the frame.
That snarling radiator-grille is also original, and the headlights are from an early Ford truck.
The car has a ’66 289 Ford Cobra V8, topped by an Edelbrock manifold and carburetor — that is, it sounds driveable.
Although you probably hafta be careful to not bottom it, since it looks fairly low.
It’s a great-looking hotrod, but I still prefer the ’32.




Look at that ’41 Chevy! (Photo by William W. Rinn©.)

—You probably hardly see it in a blog-picture, but that car next to the train is a ’41 Chevy.
The November 2014 entry of my Audio-Visual Designs black-and-white All-Pennsy Calendar is Pennsy’s Fort Pitt passenger-train from Chicago east to Pittsburgh speeding over Pennsy’s Fort Wayne racetrack in northern Indiana.
The train is pulled by a brace of two Erie-built Fairbanks-Morse A-units, purchased first as freight-locomotives, but then regeared for passenger-service.
I know as a railfan I’m supposed to look at that train, but the first thing I noticed was that ’41 Chevy on the parallel highway.
As I understand it, the ’41 Chevy was one of the most popular used-cars of all time. Others were the ’57 and the ’64.
Our family had a ’41 Chevy; we had it in the early ‘50s.
A ’41 Chevy in the early ‘50s is a bit of a stretch, but it was a very nice car, at least in appearance.
We bought it from a family in our church, who thought the world of it, and babied it.
It had a visor and spotlight, owner-installed add-ons.
It wasn’t a typical four-door sedan of six side-windows, as pictured, a small window behind the rear door.
It was four doors, but only four side-windows; I think a “custom.” I think all GM brands had “customs.”
Transferring a babied car to my father was like consigning it to the pits of Hell.
My father never maintained any of his automobiles. —Unless they didn’t start or run.
Death to my father’s cars was -a) if they blew up, or -b) if they failed inspection.
Some of my father’s cars were junked, but I think the ’41 made it to a hot-rodder.
The ’41 looked nice, but I don’t think its previous owner did maintenance. Oil maybe, but it overheated on the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Pittsburgh.
My father, ignorant of car-maintenance, removed the thermostat — a bad move — and replaced the gasket with a cut-out from a Ritz cracker-box.
The radiator was probably later boiled out, the thermostat reinstalled with a proper gasket, and we continued without incident all the way to Arkansas — from south Jersey.
My sister always says “Name one car that didn’t break down on the first day of a vacation-trip.”
Well, there was one, our ’53 Chevy, otherwise known as “the Blue-Bomb,” that went all the way to St. Paul and back without breakdown in 1960.
My father parked it illegally in a church parking-lot, declaring “The Lord will watch over it,” while we took the train up into Canada for over a week.
I’m not making this up, dear readers. My father was a Bible-beating zealot.
The ’53 Chevy was the car I learned to drive in.
Our tires were always cast-off baldies picked up at a junkyard. He repaired exhaust-systems with Campbell soup-cans from our trash.
When I pointed out bald tires before a long journey from Rochester home to northern Delaware, I was angrily told the Lord would protect them.
My mother was always incensed with my father’s cars, but he refused to buy dependable transportation or maintain what he had. It cost too much!
Pennsy dieselized late, and needed so many locomotives Electromotive Division of General Motors, the most reliable diesels, could not fill Pennsy’s demand.
Pennsy had to buy from other diesel-locomotive manufacturers, like Alco, Fairbanks-Morse, and even Baldwin.
Baldwin’s early diesels were worst. They’d break down and cripple out on the railroad, which clogs the railroad.
A crippled train has to be rescued. You can’t just drive around a crippled train — you need the railroad.
So Pennsy paid the price for late dieselization: locomotives prone to breakdown.
I guess Fairbanks-Morse locomotives weren’t too bad. But you no longer see Fairbanks-Morse in the locomotive market.
In fact, Alco is gone too, and they were pretty good. They were using General Electric traction-motors, then tanked when GE ended the contract and brought out a locomotive of their own.
Now GE just about owns the locomotive market, and EMD plays second-fiddle — but a very strong second-fiddle.
Seeing this picture I have to remember this is the world I was born into. The picture was taken in 1949, when I would have been five.
So a ’41 Chevy is not extraordinary. In fact, it’s predictable.
But at 50 mph that ’41 Chevy was passed by the Fort Pitt, which was probably doing over 60 mph — maybe as much as 80.




Overkill. (Photo by Peter Harholdt©.)

—The November 2014 entry in my Motorbooks Musclecar calendar is a COPO 9561 427 1969 Camaro.
Ahem, this car has been in this calendar before, February of 2012.
COPO stands for Central-Office-Production-Order, the system Chevrolet had for accommodating fleet buyers of specially-optioned cars, usually taxicabs, police, or gumint.
Yet Don Yenko, a performance-oriented Chevrolet dealer in PA, was slipping Big-Block Chevrolet engines into the Camaro.
Chevrolet’s top performance-option for the Camaro was the Big-Block 396, yet apparently a 427 cubic-inch version of this motor was available for full-size Chevrolets and Corvettes.
Yenko wanted to put this engine in a Camaro. Supposedly such a combination would spank a 396-Camaro.
Yenko was responsible for some extraordinary cars, for example the “Yenko Stinger,” a souped up Corvair.
Yenko’s Stinger.
So he proposed Chevrolet make a 427-Camaro as a COPO special-order.
Soon other Chevrolet dealers could order the same car.
COPO 9561 was a sleeper. You’d never know it had that killer motor.
Such a combination would be just about unbeatable in a straight line, assuming you could get the lightly-loaded drive-tires to not melt in a cloud of smoke.
But you dare not hurl it into a corner. With all that weight on the front-end, a 427-Camaro would plow into the weeds.
A Camaro could handle quite well, assuming you didn’t have a gigantic heavy motor over its front-end.
The best Camaro was the Z/28, the option for Trans-Am racing.
A powerful SmallBlock of only 302 cubic-inches powered a Z/28.
Such a combination, being lighter, was less likely to plow in a corner.
In fact, race-driver Mark Donohue won the Trans-Am through 1969. His car was a Z/28 entered by Roger Penske (“penn-ski”),
The 1969 Penske/Donohue Z/28.
But it wasn’t exactly stock. It was a Z/28 heavily finessed. The stock Z-28s weren’t as good a Donohue’s Camaro.
Given a choice between a Z/28 and one of these COPO 9561 Camaros, I’d take the Z/28.
I ain’t interested in goin’ off the road.
Essentially a COPO 9561 can only be drag-raced.
And it looks like photographer Harholdt is burning out.
As mentioned earlier, this calendar-entry is a repeat.
I managed to buy another Motorbooks Musclecar Calendar, but it’s not Harholdt.
Which is a shame, since my new calendar is overdone. Harholdt was just simple illustration.



There’s a smokestack growing out of that Geep. (Photo by Mark Smetco.)

—Boobie-prize!
The November 2014 entry in my All-Pennsy color calendar makes one of the most grievous errors a photographer can make: it has a smokestack growing out of the subject.
I’d like to think the photographer was aware.
But he shot anyway, it’s a train, dude!
I considered cloning out that smokestack with my Photoshop — that is, clone sky over the smokestack.
But I didn’t. It would have been messy, and obvious. The sky is of varying intensity.
I also surmise the publishers of this calendar don’t have much to work with. Color photography from back then is not that available.
Plus so far there haven’t been many diesels, no freight diesels at all.
The picture is three Pennsy diesels leading a coal-train in 1967 through Oroville, Ohio.
And for sticklers, that third unit is Detroit, Toledo & Ironton, but it’s leased to Pennsy.
All the units are EMD GP-9s, but the second unit is cabless.
Pennsy had over a hundred GP-9s, and at least one is left, #7048 at Horseshoe Curve.
#7048 is at left. (Photo by Bobbalew.)
#7048 lasted into the Conrail era, but is now just on display.
It replaced a Pennsy K-4 Pacific (4-6-2).
It’s easy to make the mistake; telephone-poles, water-towers, fire-hydrants. Your eye sees only your subject, but your camera sees everything.
I also have lots of pictures with foreign power, but it’s usually just shared run-through, not leased.

Labels:

Monday, October 27, 2014

Another surgical-strike to Altoony

....Meaning down Wednesday, chase trains Thursday, return home Friday.


Eastbound around the bend into Gallitzin on Track Two. (Photo by Jack Hughes.)

(“guh-LIT-zin;” as in “get”)
I hadn’t planned on doing Altoona in October.
Too many medical appointments were piling up.
In fact, if it had been October 15th through the 17th, I couldn’t have done it.
Too many medical appointments would have had to be rescheduled.
But my brother Jack in Boston was itching to go, to possibly get fall-foliage pictures.
I was keeping the final week of October open.
But my brother wanted to go the week before.
I looked at my schedule, and doing so meant rescheduling only one appointment. And it was counseling, not that important.
I also had to do a blood-test earlier than planned. But not much earlier.
So I only had one appointment to reschedule, and it was rescheduled a month later.
But my brother wanted me to join him, so my counseling is delayed a month.
I was going to Altoona a week earlier than I had allowed for; but only one appointment was rescheduled.
I’m not that anxious to go down there any more. I’m feel like I’m played out — that I’ve photographed just about all I can do with Allegheny Crossing.
But my brother is just now getting into it.
He started at many of the locations I had already used, but now seems to be moving on.
He was finding locations I hadn’t used which look fine.
He also had bought a railroad-radio scanner like I had, and is becoming familiar with scanner transmissions.
He also is familiarizing himself with the schedule and train-numbers. I never got very interested in that.
In other words we educate each other. I pretty much know the milepost locations, and if we have time to beat a train to another location.
He also is finding locations I’ve never used, and has an idea what is coming.
I didn’t have my scanner. It needs a new battery, which I didn’t have yet.
But we also had our smartphones getting the Station-Inn radio-feed on the west side of the mountain.
Except they were delayed; his quite a bit.
So we had a mish-mash on the western slope. First his scanner would broadcast the original transmission, then my smartphone would repeat it about 15 seconds later. Then my brother’s smartphone would broadcast the Station-Inn radio-feed about a minute after the original (????).
Down in Altoona I’d lose the Station-Inn radio-feed for lack of cellular-data transfer.
So we were supposed to be very hip and on top of things, but weren’t in my humble opinion.
I arrived Wednesday afternoon; my brother had arrived the day before.
He chased trains all day Wednesday, but didn’t get anything spectacular.
After checking in at my bed-and-breakfast, Station-Inn in Cresson (“kress-in”), I drove down the infamous Cemetery-Road to find my brother.
Station-inn is a bed-and-breakfast for railfans. It’s an old hotel hard by the ex-Pennsy main through Cresson.
The Cemetery-Road is a one-lane dirt-track through woods down to a faraway rural cemetery.
It’s parallel to the railroad-tracks as they attain the summit of Allegheny Ridge.
I found my brother, and we shot some photographs. But in October we lose light quickly. By 5 p.m. my shutter-speed gets too slow.


Along Track Three next to Cemetery-Road. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

The picture above is shot about 4 p.m. I was still at 1/400th of a second.
I shot others after that, but all are blurred. I gave up below 1/100th.
Our serious train-chasing was the next day, Thursday, October 23rd.
We started out headed for Cassandra Railfan Overlook (“kuh-SANN-druh;” as in the name “Anne”), where morning-light would be fabulous.
But we got distracted by something on the scanner.
We gave up on Cassandra in pursuit of 18N, all auto-racks eastbound.
We saw it going through Cresson, but weren’t in position to photograph it. It was on Track Two, climbing slowly.
Track Two means it will go through Allegheny Tunnel, the original Pennsy tunnel in Gallitzin. Instead of Track One, New Portage Tunnel, south of Gallitzin on the outskirts. (Track Two can be either way, and is usually westbound.)
We decided to try to beat it to Gallitzin, since Track Two eastbound into Gallitzin makes a great photograph.
It was in sight as we parked our car, slowly rounding the bend.
So my brother hobbled as quick as he could to the photo location on the Jackson St. overpass.
He still has his broken leg, but is no longer on crutches.
I still have my bad left knee, which has me hobbling.
My brother managed to snag a shot; that’s my lede photograph.
He got the picture I wanted to take, but couldn’t due to hobbling.
From there we drove down into Altoona to photograph the train threading the express tracks.
But our shot was blocked by a local doing switching next to us. Probably the same local that blocked shots in Altoona a month ago.
And of course dropping and picking up freightcars takes a long time.
Uncouple the car you wanna place, so you can go get the car you wanna pick up.
Then go back and get the car you wanna place, and couple it to the car you picked up.
Then you can drop the car you wanna place, and depart.
And you have to do every move without injuring your coworkers, who could be killed if run over.
As it any wonder shippers switched to trucks when maneuvering freightcars takes so long? About the only advantage to a railroad freightcar is they can load so much more than a truck.
Where we went from there I can’t remember. I’ll just run all the good shots we got.


Westbound on Three at Cassandra Railfan Overlook. (Photo by BobbaLew.)


Eastbound stacker on the drag-tracks passes another in Altoona. (Photo by Jack Hughes.)


The UPS train. (Photo by Jack Hughes.)


Eastbound on Two at Slope Interlocking. (Photo by BobbaLew.)


Westbound on Three through Gallitzin. (Too close for this kid.) (Photo by Jack Hughes.)

(Not too close for Jack, but too close for me.)
Where we’d go was partially determined by what we heard on the radio. And what my railfan friend in Altoona, Phil Faudi (“FOW-dee;” as in “wow”) was telling me.
Phil is extremely knowledgeable, but was monitoring the railroad-radio from his house and calling my cellphone since his beloved wife Rita has Multiple Sclerosis, so he doesn’t lead me around any more.
He did at first; it was railfan overload!
We went to Cassandra Railfan Overlook, but it was no longer morning light.
We also went to 24th St. bridge in Altoona over Slope Interlocking, because Phil said the westbound UPS train was coming.
The UPS train is a hotshot, mostly UPS trailers on flatcars.
But it was getting late, and our light was quickly fading.
It had been cloudy in the morning, but finally the sun came out in the afternoon.
We gave up and ate out with Faudi and his wife, the first time my brother and Faudi met.
Whether my brother and Faudi could chase trains is debatable. Faudi is a stickler for safety, as am I, but my brother takes chances.
My brother had me in one location I didn’t like right next to the tracks in Gallitzin. I was right next to Track Two, so when Faudi called I asked what track the approaching train was on.
He said Track Three. If he had said Track Two I would have skedaddled. As it was, I didn’t like being eight feet from Track Two, since a train might appear from behind me — it’s signaled both ways.
I also fell on the rock-ballast, twice.
My brother took more pictures Friday morning before leaving, but I left right away.
This is the way I usually did it; I leave as soon as I can — I wanna get home.
The light was better, since the sun was out.
My brother got RoadRailer, a train of highway trailers on railroad bogies.


RoadRailer west through Lilly. (Photo by Jack Hughes.)

RoadRailer will be discontinued. It was a nice idea, but hard to put together, and can’t be backed or pushed.
The 25-year lease on the railroad bogies is about to expire, and the railroad isn’t interested in investing in new bogies.
RoadRailer trailers will continue to be railroaded, but on flatcars, not as a RoadRailer train.
Despite the mish-mash, we did pretty good.
The line is quite busy anyway.
My brother called and said he had a blast, especially finally meeting Faudi.
To me this is same railfan overload I had at first with Faudi.
Which means I wonder if he’ll play out like I have.
Will I go again?
Probably.
I have new places to shoot at.
If I can accompany my brother’s joy chasing trains, that’s enough reason to go.

• Station-Inn has an Internet broadcast of the railroad-radio frequency. They also have a webcam. I have both on often.

Labels:

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Twenty-one years ago....

.....on this date, October 26th, 1993, yrs trly had a stroke.
I recovered fairly well; I can pass for never having had a stroke.
But there are small detriments.
My speech is slightly compromised. It isn’t generated by my original speech-center, which was killed.
It’s being done by some other part of my brain, which wasn’t designed for speech.
People tell me I sound fine, but my brothers hear the difference.
Slight hesitation getting the words out, and occasional lock-ups.
As such I don’t like making telephone-calls. I stumble through them.
Sometimes I have to warn the person I’m calling I may lock up, or need them to repeat what they said.
“Whoa, dude! Yer talkin’ to a stroke-survivor. You talk at the speed of light and I can’t follow.”
I find most people can deal with this, but occasionally I get people who are intolerant. Often they are REPUBLICANS, but not always.
And of course I get plenty of people who insist I’m fine — who have no idea what a stroke-effect is.
I also have compromised balance. It’s not bad, but I do balance-training at the YMCA. Which makes a difference.
My finger manipulation is no longer what it was. I no longer play piano; and am sloppy at this computer keyboard. Spellcheck is mostly flagging mistypes.
I also can’t hold a tune. People get mad I can’t sing with them.
I also have increased tendency to cry. It’s called “lability.”
It was much worse at first — now I have it more-or-less under control.
I also can’t concentrate, like to read a book. I can concentrate well enough to drive or ride motorcycle — you don’t tell a Hughes I can’t do those things. But with a book or magazine my mind starts wandering, no matter how interesting it is.
And I let others drive for me if I can. Otherwise I can’t really push.
I let my brother drive in Altoona chasing trains. If it was me we might miss beating a train to a location.
Reading this blog people insist my communication is fine.
But that’s writing, not speech.
My wife used to make telephone-calls for me, but now she’s gone.
So I make them myself, although they get put off.
I use e-mail if I can, since that seems to work better.
“Just call ‘em up!” people tell me,
Uh yeah, easier said than done.
So here I am, a stroke-survivor, not in a nursing-home, living alone on my own since my wife died.
I know people who’ve had strokes in much worse shape than me, semi-paralyzed, or paralyzed, or severely compromised speech or none at all.
Everything works; nothing is paralyzed or even limp. My speech is slightly compromised but I can pass for someone who never had a stroke.
The other day I met a guy who had some sort of brain-injury similar to a stroke.
He seemed okay, but I could tell.
He also noted he doesn’t like making telephone-calls.
But he can drive, which I think is great, because he was really clobbered.
I used to say my stroke was like being hit by a Peterbilt.
But that was 21 long years ago.

• My beloved wife of over 44 years died of cancer two-and-half years ago. I miss her dearly.
• “Hughes” (“huze”) is me, Bob Hughes, BobbaLew.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Fall Foliage on the Livonia, Avon & Lakeville


LA&L #428 at the north end of the excursion. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

“So didja have a good time?” asked a guy in a conductor’s uniform.
“Well, more-or-less,” I said.
“So what can we do to make your ride better?”
“Well, I’d like my wife back.”
The Rochester Genesee Valley Railroad Museum (“jen-uh-SEE”) ran a fall-foliage railfan excursion on the Livonia, Avon & Lakeville Railroad (“ah-von;” not the make-up), which runs by its museum.
It’s the first railfan excursion I’ve taken since my wife died two-and-a-half years ago.
It was all I could do to not start crying right there in the coach-seat. I teared up a few times.
The Rochester Genesee Valley Railroad Museum was founded in 1937 as a chapter of the National Railway Historical Society (NRHS). I think it may have been first, a founding chapter.
In 1971 the chapter purchased an old station along Erie Railroad’s branch into Rochester. The station is south of Rochester in the tiny rural town of Industry.
The group restored the station, and put in tracks for railroad equipment.
They began collecting stuff in 1981, old railroad cars and locomotives destined for the scrapper.
In the ‘90s they built a railroad up to the nearby New York Museum of Transportation.
It was finished in 1993, and now a portion has been electrified so trolleys from NYMT can operate over it.
The museum rosters over 40 pieces of railroad equipment, including nine operating diesel-locomotives, two steam locomotives, seven cabooses, seven freightcars, and coaches from New York Central’s Empire State Express which were converted to commuter-service.
Those coaches comprised our excursion, and are in fair shape; a little tattered, but operable.
I am a member of this organization, and have been since 1985. I’m not active; I only joined to get their newsletter.
They hold monthly meetings, but I rarely attend.
Upset with the National Railway Historical Society, the group cut loose in 2010, no longer an NRHS chapter.
I voted for it = cutting loose.
I’ve ridden their railroad, although it ain’t the Pennsy main.
We could only do about 10 mph, and I was in a track-car trailer. A track-car is a small conveyance with a car-engine and railroad wheels.
Track-cars found use on railroads, but now the track-cars are regular pickup trucks, etc., with retractible guide-wheels so they can operate on track. —And use highways to get to a location.
The railroad out of Industry is fairly steep. The New York Museum of Transportation is at a higher elevation.
The railroad pretty much follows the lay-of-the-land, up and down over hill and dale. The group couldn’t afford the cuts and fills a regular railroad might do.
I also rode their railroad years ago in a caboose pulled by a locomotive. My impression was guys operating the equivalent of Lionel trains, except they were real.
Livonia, Avon & Lakeville is a shortline that goes back to 1964.
In fact, the railroad itself goes back to 1853, when it was constructed as the Rochester & Genesee Valley Railroad, which later became Erie Railroad’s Rochester branch. It connected with the Erie main in Corning (NY).
Tracks between Livonia and Wayland to the south were abandoned in 1956. In fact, the original railroad grade is pretty much obliterated into Corning.
Livonia, Avon & Lakeville was formed because Erie-Lackawanna (a 1960 merger of Erie and Delaware, Lackawanna & Western) proposed abandonment of the line to Livonia from Avon. This included a short branch to Lakeville on Conesus Lake (“koh-NEE-sis”).
The area south of Avon didn’t wanna lose its railroad-service, so local businessmen formed the Livonia, Avon & Lakeville. Operation began in 1965.
LA&L gave railfan excursions at first. The line is quite scenic.
LA&L’s first steam-engine; #17.

But it was kind of a secret. I didn’t ride it myself until 1971.
LA&L had a steam-engine at first, ex-Buffalo Creek & Gauley #17, a 2-8-2 Mikado.
But it broke down and was sidelined before I rode the railroad.
#17 was eventually scrapped.
Time to drag out my early LA&L pictures.

The first railfan excursions I rode were very rudimentary. Perhaps two or three coaches pulled by a tiny 44-ton switcher. My black-and-white pics are that.
A 44-ton switcher weighed about 44 tons, so could be crewed by only one — per union rules.
The LA&L was fairly steep up into Livonia. Expecting a 44-ton switcher to do that was a bit of a stretch.
But it could do it, if few enough coaches were being pulled.
One pic has three coaches.


Northbound out of Livonia. (Photo by BobbaLew.)


Southbound around Bullhead Pond in the scenic Triphammer Creek valley. (Photo by BobbaLew.)


Out in the farmland, back to Livonia. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

Livonia, Avon & Lakeville got another steam-locomotive, #38, a small 2-8-0 Consolidation.
I rode behind it.
It was sort of a teakettle, but fairly strong for a teakettle; about 1900 instead of before the turn-of-the-century.


#38 in Livonia. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

Under the Bronson Hill Road bridge on its way to Livonia. (Photo by Bobbalew.)
I remember once getting its engineer to “lay rubber,” that is spin the driving-wheels. Breaking traction of a steel driving-wheel on a steel railhead was fairly easy.
The engineer just yanked back the throttle and it “laid rubber.”
#38 was eventually sold, and I think is still in use.
Meanwhile Livonia, Avon & Lakeville’s freight-business was growing.
It was being cultivated.
Representatives were trying to drum up lineside business, especially those needing rail-service.
The greatest accomplishment was getting Sweeteners-Plus to locate out in Lakeville.
Sweeteners-Plus is a distributor of corn-syrup.
LA&L would deliver tankcars of corn-syrup to Sweeteners-Plus, then Sweeteners-Plus would distribute it to tank-truck.
Corn-syrup is used to make soda-pop.
But LA&L didn’t stop there. It later went on to get a grain-elevator to install lineside on its line to Livonia.
Farmers would truck their grain to that elevator, and the elevator loaded covered hopper-cars for the railroad.
The elevator is off Bronson Hill Road, where the line to Livonia went under a rickety wooden overpass.
That overpass was eventually filled in, and the line east of there to Livonia abandoned.
In my ancient picture of #38 approaching that overpass, the bridge was still there.
LA&L discontinued its passenger excursions due to ballooning insurance costs.
Not too long ago Barilla, a pasta manufacturer, was considering building a giant factory in western NY.
It would require delivery of grain in covered-hoppers, railroad-service.
LA&L got Barilla to build north of Avon, and would supply the covered-hoppers.
By now LA&L was becoming serious. Conrail sought abandonment of the old Erie Rochester branch from Avon north to Rochester. LA&L got it, connected to its original line in Avon.
LA&L also got control of an old Lehigh Valley branch to Rochester. That branch was partially abandoned, as was Lehigh Valley, but it served a large lumber-yard south of Rochester.
LA&L could serve that lumber-yard.
Both lines, both Erie and Lehigh Valley, were gone into Rochester, so LA&L got trackage-rights on the old Rochester Bypass, originally West Shore, so it could get freightcars from CSX. (The Bypass is CSX.)
LA&L’s website has an LA&L freight crossing the Genesee on the old West Shore bridge.


Crossing the Genesee River on the Bypass.

Livonia, Avon & Lakeville became an Alco bastion.
Alco is American Locomotive Company of Schenectady, NY, a long-time manufacturer of railroad steam-locomotives.
American Locomotive Company is merger of several earlier steam-locomotive manufacturers.
When railroads started changing to diesel-electric locomotives American Locomotive Company started building diesels, and changed its name to Alco.
Alcos were pretty good, more economical with fuel than EMD diesels (EMD was General Motors’ Electromotive Division); EMD was the premier diesel-locomotive manufacturer at first — and for many years.
But Alco was using traction-motors and other electrical equipment manufactured by General Electric. GE decided to bring out its own railroad locomotive, discontinuing supply to Alco.
Alco had to discontinue building railroad locomotives, and many of its engines were scrapped as they aged.
Yet LA&L remains true to Alco. I think all of its locomotives are Alco.
So a railfan excursion with Alco locomotives is worth doing.
I dropped off my dog in Canandaigua, and then made the long trip to Lakeville, where the excursion would load.
The trip took 40 minutes — I had allowed an hour. So I was alone when I got there; didn’t know anyone. Except another railfan who worked at Transit as a mechanic. This guy is a chatterbox. He’s at all railfan gigs.
We struck up a conversation — one-sided of course. He was supposed to ride the excursion prior to mine, but missed it because he had forgotten his ticket. He had to drive all the way back to his apartment to get it.
Needless-to-say I heard that story hundreds of times, repeated to every person he could buttonhole, including complete strangers.
But at least I knew someone at this shindig.
But I missed my wife.
Other than that, I knew no one, so had no one to talk to.
And who says my wife would have been interested? She wasn’t a railfan, yet accompanied me on most of my railfan gigs.
So now I always feel bad we never did anything she was interested in. In fact, she was only interested in being with me.
I was at a bereavement-group meeting the other day, and a lady said she always went to the car-races at a speedway in Canandaigua.
“Did you follow this at all?” I asked her.
“Yes,” she said. I’m more inclined to think it was her deceased husband, and she just went along.
As she continued to attend, she picked up a few things, and could thereby become interested.
But car-racing and trains are not female gigs.
So now I’m told this denotes sexism on my part.
After my wife retired she started doing crafts: quilts and knitted rag-rugs.
Would that we attended craft fairs; I’m sure there were plenty, but we never did.
I always had my railfanning to pursue.
It was a nice excursion, despite not being allowed to ride in the vestibules.
I’ve ridden railfan excursions that were horrible. I did one that got in at 3 a.m.
The steam-locomotive ran out of fuel = coal. We had to be rescued by diesels.
The locomotive tenders — there were two — had to be refilled with water, from a single piddly fire-hydrant. Two giant tenders; it took almost three hours.
Other excursions couldn’t exceed 10 mph, which ain’ no fun. The LA&L excursion was doing about 40; clipping right along.
And I didn’t notice “clickity-clack.” Has LA&L switched to welded rail instead of bolted?
I wouldn’t be surprised. LA&L is very serious.
Livonia, Avon & Lakeville has been in business 50 years. It’s become extremely successful, more than the average shortline, or so it seems.
It’s their cultivation of lineside business. LA&L is out in the middle of nowhere, but they attracted rail-users.
Quite often a shortline is just a feeble attempt to continue rail-service to an existing shipper. Passenger excursions get added; boys with their big toys.
I remember when LA&L started it was splitting weeds.
Now the line looks like a class-one railroad.
i remember when LA&L’s maintenance facility was just a small barn or two in Lakeville.
Now a giant maintenance facility was built outside Lakeville. It looks like a class-one maintenance facility; tracks galore.
LA&L has been so successful it moved to operating other shortlines.
Like Bath & Hammondsport.
Bath & Hammondsport was originally a tiny railroad from Bath (NY) that supplied rail-service to Hammondsport (NY).
But Bath & Hammondsport started operating the old Delaware, Lackawanna & Western main from Cohocton (NY) down to the old Erie main (now Norfolk Southern) in Gang Mills near Corning.
My wife and I rode it while it was still independent.
It was depressing! The DL&W main was a 60 mph railroad, yet we had to stop and flag every grade-crossing.
LA&L now operates it. I saw two LA&L Alcos on it.
I don’t see any lineside business development yet.
The DL&W main was also out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere, essentially an extension to Buffalo.
The Erie’s old Rochester branch was also out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere. Yet LA&L did well with it.
LA&L also operates New York & Pennsylvania, the original Erie main from Hornell (NY) west, also out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere.
LA&L also operates the old Pennsy line from northwestern PA up to Olean, NY.
LA&L Alcos are pretty. It’s those yellow stripes on the locomotive nose.
Often a railroad can’t afford a pretty paint-scheme.
So a railfan excursion on LA&L was worth doing.
But I miss my wife.

• RE: “The Genesee valley......” — The Genesee River is a fairly large river that runs south-to-north across Western New York, runs through Rochester, including over falls, and empties into Lake Ontario. That river runs through the vast Genesee valley; first breadbasket of this nation.
• “Transit” equals Regional Transit Service, the public transit-bus operator in Rochester, NY, where I drove transit-bus for 16&1/2 years (1977-1993). My stroke October 26, 1993 ended that. I retired on medical-disability.

Labels:

Friday, October 17, 2014

I’m not making this up

I decided I shouldn’t make people wait until my November Monthly Calendar-Report, or wade through it, just to read my ’41 Chevy stories:
As I understand it, the ’41 Chevy was one of the most popular used-cars of all time. Others were the ’57 and the ’64.
Our family had a ’41 Chevy; we had it in the early ‘50s.
A ’41 Chevy in the early ‘50s is a bit of a stretch, but it was a very nice car, at least in appearance.
We bought it from a family in our church, who thought the world of it, and babied it.
It had a visor and spotlight, owner-installed add-ons.
It wasn’t a typical four-door sedan of six side-windows, a small window behind the rear door.
It was four doors, but only four side-windows; I think a ‘custom.’ I think all GM brands had ‘customs.’
Transferring a babied car to my father was like consigning it to the pits of Hell.
My father never maintained any of his automobiles. —Unless they didn’t start or run.
Death to my father’s cars was -a) if they blew up, or -b) if they failed inspection.
Some of my father’s cars were junked, but I think the ’41 made it to a hot-rodder.
The ’41 looked nice, but I don’t think its previous owner did maintenance. Oil maybe, but it overheated on the Pennsylvania Turnpike near Pittsburgh.
My father, ignorant of car-maintenance, removed the thermostat — a bad move — and replaced the gasket with a cut-out from a Ritz cracker-box.
The radiator was probably later boiled out, the thermostat reinstalled with a proper gasket, and we continued without incident all the way to Arkansas — from south Jersey.
My sister always says ‘Name one car that didn’t break down on the first day of a vacation-trip.’
Well, there was one, our ’53 Chevy, otherwise known as ‘the Blue-Bomb’ (it was navy-blue), that went all the way to St. Paul and back without breakdown in 1960.
My father parked it illegally in a church parking-lot, declaring ‘The Lord will watch over it,’ while we took the train up into Canada for over a week.
I’m not making this up, dear readers. My father was a Bible-beating zealot.
The ’53 Chevy was the car I learned to drive in.
Our tires were always cast-off baldies picked up at a junkyard. He repaired exhaust-systems with Campbell soup-cans from our trash.
When I pointed out bald tires and tire-cord before a long journey from Rochester home to northern Delaware, I was angrily told the Lord would protect them.
They made it; which of course proved my father right,  and that I was rebellious and ‘of-the-Devil.’
My mother was always incensed with my father’s cars, but he refused to buy dependable transportation or maintain what he had. It cost too much!”
I could go on-and-on.
My younger brothers related various stories of misadventures with my father’s cars.
-A) They had driven up into Quebec with a camping-trailer, but came upon a road-block to their campground. A garbage-truck had flipped into a nearby lake. Their road was blocked trying to tow out the garbage-truck.
My father decided to drive around. He went off the side of the road, and blew two of the baldies.
Well, one spare, chillen. So the spare in their car got put on, along with a spare borrowed from another car. The bolt-pattern wasn’t right, but it was close enough.
They then continued to the campground, and my father had to go into town and buy two new tires. —I bet them tires cranked at least 60,000 miles.
My father was then able to return the borrowed spare.
My father also helped get the garbage-truck out of the lake (he was a good rigger), and was thereby declared a hero.
-B) My mother was taking my younger siblings up toward Philadelphia, and in so doing crossed the mighty Penrose Ave. Bridge across the Schuylkill (“skookul”) River south of Philadelphia. By then the area south of the Schuylkill was part of Philadelphia, and the Penrose Ave. Bridge was high enough to clear ocean-going ships.
The bridge was four lanes, but was being painted; such that one northbound lane was closed.
Traffic was crawling, and my mother had the air-conditioning on in a car my siblings called “The Tank.” The car was a 1964 Oldsmobile Dynamic-88, 394-cubic-inch two-barrel, but the AC wasn’t factory — it was an add-on.
As such, the AC radiator was installed in front of the car-radiator, compromising its effectiveness.
The car overheated, and blew its coolant all over the highway.
My mother then instructed my two younger brothers to walk across the bridge, and then back down to a gas-station on the far side of the bridge — to get water. In deepest, darkest Philadelphia at ages 8 and 9.
Meanwhile, the bridge-painters emptied a large drinking-jug into the car’s radiator, so my mother could get going again.
The boys made it to the gas-station, got water, and started back up the bridge.
My mother then drove to the gas-station, but apparently missed her boys.
My brothers, being Hugheses, attempted to spit on tug-boats far below going underneath the bridge.
A policeman stopped, queried my brothers, and corralled them into his cruiser — a Jeep Cherokee.
The policeman then proceeded to part traffic up and over the bridge, and then back, trying to find my mother.
My brothers were reunited with my mother in the gas-station.
To repeat, chillen, I’m not making this stuff up!
-C) At age-17 (1974) my younger brother (from Boston) was working at the same boys summer-camp in northeastern MD I worked at as a teenager 1959-’61.
He had a family-car known as “The CremePuff,” a white 1968 Oldsmobile Delmont-88 four-door hardtop.
For his day-off he decided to take some of his friends to Wildwood on the south-Jersey seashore. They went in that car.
In Wildwood the car’s timing-chain apparently jumped a couple teeth throwing off the valve and ignition timing.
That timing-chain was under a cover on the front of the engine, so was more-or-less inaccessible.
My brother, being mechanically-minded, installed a new condenser, and new points in the ignition-distributor. But the car still wouldn’t start.
My father was at home in northern DE, and my brother and his friends needed to get back to that boys-camp in northeastern MD.
My brother’s first phonecall to my father was to report he was gonna install the new ignition parts.
His second call was to report the car still wouldn’t start.
So my father said my brother and his friends should hitchhike back to the boys-camp.
By then it was dark, after 9 p.m. They were looking at a hitchhike of about 90 miles, through the pine-barrens of south Jersey, down the New Jersey Turnpike (where hitchhiking was illegal), up across the Delaware River on the Delaware Memorial Bridge, a huge suspension-bridge, then across northern DE on Interstate-95 (where hitchhiking was also illegal).
Granted, hitchhiking back then wasn’t the definite no-no it is now.
But it was after dark, and who knows what drunken ne’er-do-wells packing heat might pick them up.
My father lived the “life-is-tough” philosophy, and of course the Lord would protect.
Nowadays a helicopter-parent would drive to Wildwood to rescue their child.
In fact, who says ya hafta be a helicopter-parent? Perhaps my father could have rescued my brother.
My brother and his friends made it. They hitchhiked all the way back to that boys-camp. They got back about midnight.
-D) This final entry involves me, although by then I was out on my own, married and living in Rochester, NY. —I’m the oldest.
My parents and younger siblings decided to visit me, and would drive the so-called “Gutless Cutlass,” a 1966 Oldsmobile Cutlass with a four-barrel 326 with dual exhausts — so it wasn’t gutless.
Notice all the cars mentioned later were Oldsmobiles. This was a step up for my father, but the car-dealer was Chevrolet-Oldsmobile.
They’d call him saying they had just got a trade he might be interested in. Quite a few were Chevrolets, not just Oldsmobiles.
I would take them on a day-long journey through scenic western New York, down into the nearby Finger-Lakes region.
Things went fine until the radiator sprung a leak, and the engine seized coming back to my house.
The engine cooled enough to unseize, but the radiator was still leaking.
The car got us home, but the leak had to be stopped to get back to DE. At which point my father suggested world-famous “Schmutzee.”
“Schmutzee” is apparently epoxy paste that hardens into a solid.
“Schmutzee” could plug the leak.
My father worked at an oil-refinery in northern DE where my second brother now works. He has to explain all the refinery repairs that were made by my father with “Schmutzee.”
So my father purchased a tube of “Schmutzee,” and thereby plugged the radiator-leak.
I’m sure the auto-parts clerk wondered was “Schmutzee” was, and was uneasy parrying religious fervor, if any.
And on the seventh day, not resting, the Lord invented “Schmutzee;” and I finally found a way to get that word into a blog.

• “Hughes” is my last name; them too. “Bob Hughes” = “BobbaLew.”
• A “helicopter-parent” is one who totally shepherds their child, getting involved in everything, supposedly to protect the child’s welfare.
• The Finger Lakes are a series of north-south lakes in Central New York that look like the imprint of a large hand. They were formed by the receding glacier. The area is very scenic, hilly, and heavily wooded.
• On the eighth day the Lord invented duct-tape.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Leaf-peeping at Letchworth Park


The Upper-Falls and trestle. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

A few days ago I implied “blog-material” was “crazed experiences and utter madness.”
That’s not necessarily the case.
This past weekend my younger brother from northern DE, and his wife, came up to visit the old widower, me, I suppose partly to see if I was all right.
My wife dying was rather traumatic; still is, sorta.
I was kind of a wreck at first; still am, sorta.
I guess I’m doing all right. I haven’t burned the house down, and ain’t interested in suicide.
His visiting would be a challenge with my knee-problem.
My left knee is pretty-much bone-on-bone, and has me hobbling.
What we’ve done past visits is take my dog to the park. But for me walking that much is now out.
My brother suggested we go to Letchworth State Park, about 30-40 miles from my house.
It would mainly be driving, with some walking.
Well okay, I guess I can try that. It would be better than sitting around my house killing time.
Letchworth is a giant gorge carved by the Genesee (“jen-uh-SEE”) River from a higher elevation in southwestern NY to a lower elevation in central NY toward Rochester.
There are three waterfalls in Letchworth, at least two more in Rochester, before the Genesee attains the level of Lake Ontario.
The area was purchased by William Pryor Letchworth, and he managed to keep developers more-or-less at bay.
Developers wanted to harness the water-power of those waterfalls.
The gorge is about 15-20 miles long, around 600 feet deep in most places.
A flood-control dam was built at the north end of the park, and filled-up that dam-lake goes as far south into the gorge as the lower waterfall.
That dam keeps the Genesee River from flooding that area toward Rochester. The only time it’s been full is Hurricane Agnes, which did quite a bit of damage otherwise.
So the upper two waterfalls always look natural.
The upper waterfall is about 70 feet, and the middle about 120.
I would take my dog, who hasn’t been to a park for months. At age-10 she’s still a very high-energy dog.
I get depressed I can’t take her to the park.
A railroad also crosses the gorge, the sky-high trestle in my lede picture.
I’ve walked it, although you can’t any more. You could even walk it with a train on it. It’s around 234 feet above the river-bed.
That trestle is ancient and in bad shape. Trains can’t exceed 10 mph for fear of taking it down.
It was erected in 1875 when the first trestle, which was wood, burned.
The railroad will replace it. The line is operated by Norfolk Southern Railroad, and is the old Erie line to Buffalo. The line has become quite busy, as it’s now Norfolk Southern’s line across NY.
The trestle has become a bottleneck.
A train of auto-racks was slowly crossing the bridge as we drove in, but was gone by the time I got where I could photograph it.
So began my series of long hobbling hikes. I also had my lunging dog on a leash.
“Oh what a beautiful dog! Can I pet her?” We’re at Letchworth Park, surrounded by gorgeous scenery, yet my dog is getting more attention.
I took my dog to a car-show once, to accompany a friend I eat with who was displaying his Camaro. “That dog gets more attention than my car,” the guy told me.
My first destination was the restrooms, then the location of my lede picture.
Letchworth is a honky park. I don’t think I saw any African-Americans at all.
But lots of Asians; they had come in a tour-bus from Toronto.
Otherwise it was grizzled Harley-dudes and their bloated Harley-mommas.
Occasionally I saw young couples holding hands.
My college, Houghton College (“HO-tin;” as in “hoe,” not “how” or “who”) was about 20-25 miles south, so Letchworth was our default picnic-area.
Houghton is a religious school, not a party-school.
After taking my lede picture we hiked back to my car to go to Middle Falls.
We had come in my car, not my brother’s. My brother had also bought sandwiches.


Middle Falls. (Photo by BobbaLew.)

We then hiked to overlooks at Middle Falls. I took pictures, and I had to hand off my dog while doing so. My pictures are with my iPhone, then e-mailed home for processing. Doing all that is about 10-15 minutes per photo-site of my brother holding my dog.
During which my dog worries she’s being abandoned (gasp). She wants to be with me. My brother could never walk her; she’d keep coming back to me.
We then drove to a place called “Inspiration-Point.”


At Inspiration-Point. (You can see the trestle.) (Photo by BobbaLew.)

More pictures, then back to my car.
You can see both the Middle and Upper Falls, plus the railroad trestle, but I wasn’t inspired.
Unholster tech-device. “No service.” “WHA...? I just got a text from my brother Jack in Boston.”
Gorgeous beauty all around, but people paying more attention to their cellphones. Then there was the lady trying to photograph the Upper Falls with her iPad — holding up that big beige panel.
Sorry dudes, I prefer my camera or iPhone. And most of the cameras I saw had gigantic telephoto cannons on them, the photographer’s phallic-symbol. (I’m sorry, but nine-times-outta-ten a telephoto ain’t what I need.)
We then drove to Lower Falls, which ain’t much to look at.
We hiked a bit, and came to a long path: 176 steps down to the Lower Falls.
“I can’t do that,” I said; “but I can probably keep hobbling.”
“Easy view of Lower Falls, 1,000 feet,” a sign said.
We walked a ways, but my brother stopped to ask if I wanted to turn around.
“Let’s keep going,” I said, hobbling.
We went farther, but came upon a short staircase up to what appeared to be the “Easy Lower-Falls Overlook.” But we could see the Lower Falls from where we were, so didn’t attempt the steps.
Climbing steps is hardest for me; I have to just-about pull myself up. If there’s no handrail, I can hardly do them at all.
From Lower Falls we drove home, a long ride to the north end of the park, then via a grocery and the place in Canandaigua that grooms and daycares my dog.
It was a social visit, the shop’s co-owner who I used to work with at the Messenger Newspaper. Why he cares about me I have no idea, but he more-or-less keeps me alive.
We also passed a giant Arts-and-Crafts Show at the north end of the park. 89 bazilyun cars, and hundreds of vendors. It was so crowded the local police were directing traffic at the north park entrance.
One also has to remember Letchworth is mainly the Civilian Conservation Corps, part of FDR’s New Deal during the Depression.
All the steps, paths, and stone-fences are the Civilian Conservation Corps.
If it weren’t for FDR’s New Deal, Letchworth might not exist.
And so concludes a visit by my brother, pleasant and a distraction from the awful fate that has befallen me.
But I always return to that same awful fate.

• My beloved wife of over 44 years died of cancer April 17th, 2012. I miss her dearly.
• My current dog is “Scarlett” (two “Ts,” as in Scarlett O’Hara), a rescue Irish-Setter. She’s my sixth Irish-Setter, a high-energy dog. (A “rescue Irish Setter” is an Irish Setter rescued from a bad home; e.g. abusive or a puppy-mill. [Scarlett was from a failed backyard breeder.] By getting a rescue-dog, we avoid puppydom, but the dog is often messed up. —Scarlett isn't bad. She’s my fourth rescue.)
• The “Messenger Newspaper” is the Canandaigua Daily-Messenger, from where I retired almost nine years ago. Best job I ever had — I worked there almost 10 years (over 11 if you count my time as a post-stroke unpaid intern [I had a stroke October 26, 1993, from which I recovered fairly well]). (“Canandaigua” [“cannan-DAY-gwuh”] is a small city nearby where I live in Western NY. The city is also within a rural town called “Canandaigua.” The name is Indian, and means “Chosen Spot.” —It’s about 14 miles away.)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Oh Dora, look! A bus. PULL OUT! PULL OUT!

Right up the street the state highway I live on makes a sharp 90-degree turn west.
It probably used to be an ordinary four-way intersection where the state highway turned.
But the intersection has since been regraded so the state highway is continuous.
It’s still a sharp 90-degree turn, and you have to slow for it.
But ya don’t hafta signal. It’s the highway turning left.
Continue straight through the intersection and you remain on West Bloomfield-Pittsford Road, the road past my house.
Continue following the state highway, and you end up on Ontario Street at the intersection. Ontario Street goes into Honeoye Falls (“hone-eee-oye;” as in “oil”).
Turn right at the intersection, and you end up on Baker Road, an insignificant rural byway.
So here I am in my car, bopping lazily north on the state highway, having just left my house. (Past my house the highway is West Bloomfield-Pittsford Road.)
I’m headed for Honeoye Falls to deliver a stool-sample to my vet.
I notice a car approaching the intersection, driving south on West Bloomfield-Pittsford Road.
He has a stop-sign at the intersection to allow people like me to swing left on the state highway.
It looks like he will get to the intersection the same time as me.
I flip on my turn-signal, even though I don’t have to. The state highway swings left through the intersection.
I do that because I used to drive city transit bus, and I wanted people to know what I intended to do.
Okay, the dude has stopped as if to let me swing left, but then he charges right out in front of me. I had to brake to let him clear.
Like HELLO; I did have my left-turn signal on.
No problem, per usual. Drama avoided.
How many times did I do things like this driving bus?
“Oh Dora, look! A bus. PULL OUT! PULL OUT!”
I don’t blog stuff like this much any more. I get phenomenal avoidances just about every time I drive, some Granny paging through pictures of her grandchildren, some glowering intimidator, or some young hussy on her cellphone telling her mother about the bum she married.
One time a guy took to the sidewalk because I wouldn’t run a red light.
I did blog that.

• For 16&1/2 years (1977-1993) I drove transit bus for Regional Transit Service (RTS) in Rochester, NY, a public employer, the transit-bus operator in Rochester and environs. My stroke October 26th, 1993 ended that. I retired on medical-disability. I recovered fairly well.
• A “glowering intimidator” is a tailgater, named after Dale Earnhardt, deceased, the so-called “intimidator” of NASCAR fame, who used to tailgate race-leaders and bump them at speed until they let him pass. Glowering intimidators usually shake their fist at me, blow their horn, and give me the middle-finger salute as they roar past.