kevin_standlee: (Confusion Ahead)
We set no alarms last night and I got almost a full eight hours of sleep. After a nice breakfast in the Tonopah Station Hotel restaurant, we set off for home about 10:45 AM. With only 200 miles to go, we knew we didn't have to rush. We congratulated ourselves for not making the mistake we made on the trip back from San Antonio, where an attempt to drive Las Vegas-Fernley in one day at the end of the trip nearly killed us.

Avoiding the 8 Ball )

About 3:45, we arrived home. The house was in one piece. The various wildfires (and a fire at the asphalt plant across the tracks from us) did not affect our home, thank goodness.

After nearly 1,700 miles driving over the past nine days, we were happy to be home. We unpacked some of the stuff from the minivan, restarted the house (I remembered to turn the water heater on this time) and got the swamp cooler and air conditioning systems running, and tried to relax. I do have to run out and get a few groceries for tonight and for tomorrow morning, which is an ordinary work day for me, but otherwise we're going to try and wind down.

While I'm sorry we couldn't also attend NASFiC this year, I can see that such a trip would have wiped us out. With nearly three weeks planned for the Worldcon trip (for which we set out in just under three weeks), we need some time to recover and prepare for Helsinki. We won't have the luxury of traveling with a minivan-load full of our gear, so we need to think carefully about how to pack.
kevin_standlee: (Beware of Trains)
Just as Lisa and I were getting ready to drive over to the grocery store this evening, the radio scanner lit up as a Union Pacific train crew radioed the dispatcher and said, "We just hit a truck at milepost 273.5."

Tying up the mainline the hard way )

While this was disruptive for the railroad, disturbing for the crew, and of course devastating for the owner of the now-ex-pickup truck, all in all everyone got lucky. There could easily have been three dead people on the tracks, victims of their own stupidity in trying to drive over a railroad track without benefit of a grade crossing, and a derailed train and injured or killed crew. As it was, there was only property damage, delay, and inconvenience, and an expensive lesson for a foolish pickup truck driver.
kevin_standlee: (SMOF License)
My Nevada license plates for the minivan were waiting for me when I got home on Saturday, and Lisa installed them before we headed to Reno for shopping yesterday.

Officially Licensed SMOF )

I doubt anyone will get it except when I'm parked at a convention or an SFSFC board meeting, of course.
kevin_standlee: (Wig Wag)
Union Pacific 844 is on its way back from Sacramento to its home in Cheyenne WY. After spending the night at Sparks, it set out east about 8 AM, and Lisa and I were waiting for it when it got to Fernley.

Lisa was set up well in advance, while I followed the progress of 844 via the train's Twitter feed. When the train tweeted that it was passing Thisbe (the siding west of Fernley), I knew that it would be here in less than ten minutes, and sure enough, along she came:

Bear in mind that this site is right across the street from our house. And people ask why we like the place.
kevin_standlee: (Wig Wag)
I didn't push things too hard going out of Yreka, taking the secondary roads through Montague and Hornbrook first and sort of following the old SP route. One of the crossings still has an old "wig-wag" type crossing warning. In Hornbrook, I noticed a monument trackside commemorating the president stopping here briefly on a train trip in the 1920s between the Bay Area and Portland -- this used to be the main north-south rail route -- to sign the local American Legion chapter charter.

Casino Luck, Railfanning )

I got to Mehama just before 5 PM, about when I originally expected, after traveling since 10 AM with two longish stops and several shorter ones. I was very tired and not particularly good company, so after unpacking some and having dinner, Lisa told me to go to bed early, which I was happy to do.
kevin_standlee: (Wig Wag)
Staying at a hotel only a few miles from where we were going meant we didn't have to rush out of the hotel this morning. After the included breakfast, we moved out to the van and drove over to the Colorado Railroad Museum, arriving shortly after they opened at 10 AM. After buying our admissions, I was about to go look at the "orientation video," but Lisa suggested we go on outside before it got too hot. This was a good idea, because the morning overcast had not yet quite burnt off. We headed outside. Lisa stopped to put together her camera equipment and I spotted rabbits grazing on the grass. (She got a picture of one later.)

We looked all over this wonderful collection of both standard- and narrow-gauge rail equipment focused on Colorado's rich railroad heritage. Lisa took lots of photos, which I'm not going to narrate here, although I did give them short descriptions when I posted them to Flickr.

We stayed four a bit over four hours, including having lunch on the grounds, and we had at least a brief look at everything there. We could probably have stayed longer, but (a) it was getting hot; (b) we were both getting tired from accumulated travel fatigue, and (c) we were getting anxious to get moved in to the hotel downtown.

This was a good railroad museum, and some pieces of it, such as the lovely roundhouse/restoration shop, were particularly noteworthy to us, given that we're members of an Oregon railway museum. We enjoyed our stay and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in railroad history, particularly narrow-gauge and Colorado-based roads.
kevin_standlee: (High Speed Train)
Cheryl passes on to me this story about Bavaria building a maglev link to their airport. Upon first reading, you might think I'd say "Great! Another high speed train! Trains are great!" But in fact, I think this one is a really stupid idea, just like the Shanghai maglev referenced in the article. (The CEO of my company has been on that Shanghai system; he was telling me about it a while back when I happened to be seated with him at the Company Christmas lunch.)

I'm lukewarm about maglev systems in all cases, because they can't share existing railway infrastructure. This means you can't build a high-speed line that shares the legacy tracks into existing stations, which significantly increases the cost of construction. Also, thanks to imovements in conventional railway technology, maglev is not really that much faster than existing steel-on-steel high-speed systems. The new TGV line will run at up to 350 kph in opearation, and came close to beating the maglev speed record in a test run earlier this year.

In any event, if you insist on building maglev systems, then why build a system where the stops are so close together that you never get a decent benefit out of it? Maglev speeds are so high that you should be thinking of stops hundreds of kilometers apart, not dozens like an airport-to-city-center line. Although I still think it's a dumb idea, a maglev between Los Angeles and Las Vegas is (ahem) on the right track, distance-wise.

Munich would be better served by a more conventional railway link between airport and city center, running on relatively short headways at fast, but not necessarily hyper-fast speeds.

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