Whiskey Tango Friday

by Jim on 2012/05/31

[Jimbaux blames you.]

Whiskey Tango Friday Foxtrot

You know it.  It’s Friday afternoon, and, once again, we have the usual drill of Jimbaux popping of shots on his way from swampland and bayouland back to Woadieville, and, as usual, popping off shots on the Lafayette Sub, ya hurd may?  Those of you seeking photographic truth (whatever that is) might want to check back on the prior episode or wait for a Sunday Sermon of Biblical (?) proportions to come out soon; these pictures are not that great, though we do have an aged gem of a subject toward the end.

Shifting Through The Ashes

I was hauling tail on the freeway when, just before the Chacahoula exit, I look to the east down the track and see a headlight.  Now, the light sucks to holy hell as it’s right around 13:00, right at high noon, the worst of high sun, but I figured I’d stop to check out what was happening.  I got a shot and couldn’t decide whether or not I should go grey with it, as is often the remedy for sunny high-sun shots.  I decided on a compromise, one of which I know many of the “proper” folk among you will not approve.

How’s that?  Best of both worlds?  Worst of everything?  The lasso tool is indeed my friend, my friends; indeed.

Yes, that is the Chip Local, but I’m very sad to report to all of you, my dear Jimbauxlings, that it seems that good ol’ Chip has indeed retired.  Wow.  Apparently, that time I photographed him at the beginning of the month at Boeuf is the last time I ever photograph him in action.  Wow.

I really will miss Chip.  I’m serious.  The easternmost 70 miles of the Lafayette Subdivision just will not be the same without him.  I’m grateful that I was able to record him and his smile in his final years on the line.  I’m also grateful that many of you have come to appreciate the coverage of him seen here.

So Sayeth Mike . . .

Now, I really do appreciate the great comments left by Mike Matalis in the recent discussion on sensors and the stupid “megapixel craze,” but, coincidentally, he left a comment on my dawn haze Chacahoula post from a few days ago jokingly asking if something just bit him.  Why is that a coincidence?  Well, have a look at the below picture, which I took before I jumped back down from the top of the truck.

Ah, swampy southern Louisiana.  A few days before, I saw some vultures pulling apart the remains of a young alligator.

Nothing In Between?

When making the drive from bayouland to Woadieville, y’all probably know that I try to get the good shots, like the good locations of Raceland and Paradís.  However, there just weren’t any trains at those places when I needed them on this afternoon (and I wasn’t sticking around to wait until sunset.)  So, I guess getting shots there just wasn’t in the cards for this afternoon — or, as many of you Muslims, Christians, and Jews might prefer to say, it just wasn’t “part of God’s plan,” or something like that.  Whatever.  Anyway, what does that leave us?  I guess there’s nothing left to do but to check and see what’s happening at Avondale.


Check this out.  Here we see, at right, BNSF train M-CSXLAL getting a crew so  he can depart town.  BNSF doesn’t have any road crews based in New Orleans (or Avondale, but it has shuttle crews in Avondale.)  So, this is a Lafayette crew on its way home.  At left, we see some job that will eventually become the Union Pacific train MAVAX (Avondale to Alexandria) to leave the next day.

The set of tracks on the left is the former Texas & Pacific and Missouri Pacific and becomes the Livonia Subdivision, and the set of tracks on the right is former Southern Pacific and go to Lafayette.

In the below picture, some UP locomotives can be seen at the far right.  These are probably the power for the next IAVLB (Intermodal – Avondale, La., to Long Beach, Ca.) to leave.

Do you see the Avondale station sign just behind the crew van?

Speaking of the SP!!!

Well, what do we have here?!?!?!  Check this out!  Or, as one of my aunts would say, look-a-dis.

This is a real blast from the past, though you can see how horribly faded it is.  More than 15 years after the SP merger, it was great to see this gem, this Cotton Belt GP60.

Yes, that’s the sand-tower in the background.

I really do miss the SP, the railroad of my youth, and the railroad of Chip’s youth and even of Chip’s father.  By extension, I miss the SSW too.

Let’s get one last look at this thing before we call it a night.

Yes, all glory is indeed fleeting.

Pleasant Dreams?

That night, I had a dream.  You see, about a decade ago, when I was a punk-ass 19-20-something college kid, there was this girl I really, really liked.  Things didn’t work out between us, but I learned plenty in the process.  Well, a few weeks ago, I ran into her for the first time since then, purely by accident.  Then, a few hours after I took these pictures, as I slept that night, I had a dream that I was at her wedding.  I was the photographer there.  WTF?

What does it all mean?  Things, I now very clearly see, would not have worked between us because they should not have worked between us.  We’re both better off without each other, and it’s partly because of how I’m becoming more and more of a non-conformist the older that I get.  There’s no way that either of us would be able to put up with each other today.  Even though I generally avoid doing wedding photography, I interpret my role as the photographer at her wedding (and, yes, she really is married in real life now) in that dream as a sign that this photography thing is really what I do, and that it’s therefore who I am.  Does that make sense?  It’s very much in the spirit of the Nietzschean idea of master morality, but it goes far beyond that too.

I think that at this point that I should remind you that photography is not about taking pictures or how to take pictures.  Photography is about how to see.  People often talk about my “camera skills,” but the reality, and many of you probably already know this, is that by the time I bring the camera to my face and put the viewfinder to my eye, most of the skill that goes into making good images – the creativity, the composition – has already been exercised.  The rest is just technical details.

Unfortunately, the pictures in this post really don’t reflect nearly the best of what my imagination can offer, but just wait until the Sunday Sermon with pictures taken two days after these.  You’ll see how touched I truly am (as if you have doubts.)  Until then, I wish you the sweetest of dreams.

All for now . . .



1 Sam (aka Yogitastic) June 1, 2012 at 07:44

Ah, now I see a more complete picture… I dream about an ex- all the time. And I have to laugh because there is no way in hell that we would have worked. I wanted so much more than he could give and I knew he would have kept trying but he just wasn’t the right person for me. But it took a long time for me to figure that out.

But what really struck me about your post is the part about taking pictures – that you already have the picture in your head before the camera captures it. I am not a good photographer but I can see how that would be what makes a good photographer. Thanks for sharing this with me!

2 PPA June 1, 2012 at 09:04

An unmolested SP/SSW GP60 is a great catch. I assume UP did not feel the need to renumber it, or that it was in good enough shape when they acquired it to leave it as-is and got give it one of those yellow number panels under the cab window that they have done on so many others. Or it could have been way way down on the list of units to repaint.
The fading and weathering of the grey color SP used (originally much darker) reminds me of the current cloudy haze color used by the Navy and Marines on their aircraft. Not so pretty up close but nearly invisible in the sky.

3 Elven Marshall June 1, 2012 at 09:29

The Cotton Belt geep is a gem. Great find! I’m curious about the fuel tankless GE’s trailing. Are they yard slugs? I couldn’t quite make out their road numbers. Thanks for sharing!

4 Thomas Beckett June 1, 2012 at 10:41

Liked the shot of the unpatched SSW unit. They are almost impossible to find these days!! What’s the story on the stealth GE’s behind it??

Not going to try to interpret your dream-that’s way too deep for me, and knowing only what you presented about the situation leaves me at a disadvantage. That said, there may be something lingering there. After I moved here from NY, I had dreams about a coworker with whom I had become close, probably once a week for about 6 months. We have not had any contact in almost 3 years, which, given our resepective situations, is probably for the best. Definitely some strong feelings there on both sides, and we were pretty compatible, just not available to each other. Sometimes you have to walk away, even when it works. But there are also times when you just have to realize things would not work out with someone-you’re just going in different directions, regardless of how strong the initial feelings may be. It just takes a while to come to that realization. Hopefully you reach it before there is alimony and child support involved!! In the end, you have to be able to accept each other for all your quirks and idiosyncracies, even embrace them. If she can’t accept the itinerant, iconoclastic, philosopher photographer that you are, or you can’t accept whatever it is that she is, or is becoming, it ain’t ever going to work. Of course, you’re in a better position to see that now at 30-ish that you were as a punk 20 year old. We age, and hopefully grow, and gain some wisdom in the process. But ultimately, to paraphrase the great philosopher Popeye, we are what we are. Knowing that helps us know how we will relate to others(or not) in a long term close relationship.

5 EDITOR - Jimbaux June 1, 2012 at 12:11

My “iconoclastic” – as you describe – characteristic is the one with which she’d have plenty of trouble, if not the most trouble, which means her dogmatic nature is not something I could handle now either! I admire her, and she’s great at what she does, but it (both what she does and, therefore, the relationship) is not for me, and that’s just damned fine. It was partly her dogmatic, driven self that attracted me to her in the first place, but I’ve surely changed – or evolved – plenty in the last decade!

Those things behind the GP60 are just some yard slugs, I think. They’ve been there for awhile now, but I don’t pay much attention to them. They don’t have fuel tanks, though.

6 Thomas Beckett June 6, 2012 at 16:05

Back in the dark ages-1980 or so-I had a girlfriend who turned out like that. After a couple of years, it was apparent that our approaches to life were taking us down different paths-she was much more interested in a conformist ideal, where I was doing what I could to avoid the 9 to 5 job/house with the picket fence/2.5 kids suburban world-and that’s OK. Everyone can’t have the same outlook or ambition. At that point, you have to make the choice-learn to deal with what the other person has to offer, and wants out of life, or walk away. The walking away is always hard, because no one ever wants to deal with the pain of a break up-look how many songs are written on that topic!!-and often inertia makes it easier to stay where you are. After all, it’s easier to work with the devil you know than the devil you don’t, and most people are not comfortable with change. Still, better to endure the short term pain and free yourself, than avoid the short term pain only to subject yourself to a lifetime of anxiety or worse. In this situation, as I’m sure was the case in yours, we would have only been driving each other crazy, since our goals were so different. We have crossed paths occasionally in the last 30 or so years-she stayed close to my mother-and our encounters were always cordial, and a couple of times we could see that spark that drew us together in the first place, but I’m sure she would not have wanted the life I have, nor I hers. We both turned out OK. Like you, I have a hard time dealing with people who want things to be a set way. Life is not that well defined. You have to be flexible!!

7 Jimmy Matta June 2, 2012 at 01:50

I remember when the first SP/SSW GP60’s were roming around at the time in Roseville, CA It took weeks and one of the first shots of these babys was between the fueling station and a Building Got my 80-300 lens out and got a half decent shot of a SSW GP60 I still have the photo somewhere But it was one of many to come My last was at the Kirby Yard just north of San Antonio It was aged a bit but great shot Loved the SP/SSW Mopac and WP Now all I see here in Mount Vernon, IL Is UP NS and EVWR And sometimes NRE engines Just wanted too to thank you for your great reporting and even greater pictures there in LA Thank You from the bottom of my heart!!!!

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