Thursday, July 03, 2014

Random Ramblings -- Flat Tires

Amtrak; Afton Canyon, California; September 1992
Railroad photography often involves using roads that are less than optimum to access good locations. Usually on long trips, I'll rent an SUV to help getting into some places, but even then you often don't know if you'll wind up with an SUV with tires suited for off-roading or soccer mom tires (and telling the rental car person you need good tires to get into remote locations is not a good idea). So, yeah, I've had my share of flat tires -- all with rental cars -- when out shooting. And a high percentage of these have come along the former Los Angeles & Salt Lake, now a part of Union Pacific.

We'll start with the shot above. We had driven into Afton Canyon, sort of near Barstow, Calif., in September 1992. The line was not terribly busy, but we knew Amtrak's now-defunct Desert Wind would make an appearance at some point. We had driven to just about the farthest point you can get when a tire gave out (and we really didn't have an SUV -- it was a mini-van). This meant a lot of rocky/dirt road driving on the doughnut to get out. We may have seen a freight or two (Afton Canyon is much busier now, but I haven't been back) and the Amtrak train. We did make it back to Barstow to get the tire fixed, but as it turns out a punctured tire would be the least of the worries for that mini-van before we turned in back in.

Fast forward 14 years and now we're on the LA&SL near Caliente, Nev., on February 13, 2006. We drove down the access road beyond town and climbed a hill for the shot below. Once up there, we noticed a tire looking mighty low. Well, first things first -- it wasn't going to help anything to miss the shot, so we waited for the train to make an appearance. Once again, it was onto a doughnut for an interesting ride over a road full of hazards, but we made it back to a repair shop in Caliente. While the tire was fixed, we had lunch within sight of the tracks but no trains came by. Upon returning to the shop, we retrieved the SUV, pulled out and headed to the station in town where we were rewarded almost immediately by a train. Turns out we didn't miss a thing.
Union Pacific; Caliente, Nev.; February 13, 2006

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