Lundi Gras 2019

by Jim on 2019/03/04

In the midst Jimbaux think of you, and how it used to be.

It’s Lundi Gras, and it’s time for me to head west from New Orleans for Mardi Gras week, less than a month after being evicted from my home, for a few days in my new place of exile.

I was supposed to head west yesterday, Sunday, a day after the Endymion parade, but I wanted to get the crib cleaned up, and there was a huge rainstorm coming through town anyway.

So, it’s Monday morning, Lundi Gras, and I am taking a walk through Mid-City.

That, above, is a southeastward view across North Carrollton Avenue on the Lafitte Greenway, the former Southern Railway Bernadotte Line.

Above and below are seen the former American Can Company building, which ceased serving as a can manufacturing facility in the late 1980s; it was served by the Southern Railway on the Bernadotte Line and was one of the last customers along the since-abandoned right of way.

There were no cars at Masonry Products, the last remaining customer on this line, and that is common lately, sadly.

Appropriately, as there was so much more hope in my life and in my whoadiehood 10 years ago, the Led Zepellin song “Ten Years Gone” is what was playing on Media Player as I just shot down the computer and put it in the bag. 

So, at 10:00, I leave the Mid-City crib, stopping at City Park Fuel at the end of Esplanade Avenue to get gasoline and using a new ZIP code to make the purchase for the first time in my life, bound for Bayou Vermilion via Baton Rouge, the first time that I go to my state’s capitol city in nearly seven years, and I encounter a Kansas City Southern Railway train crossing the Canadian National Railway’s Hammond District.

It was time to turn back south to Whataburger, and this next image is the first DSLR image of this essay.

The reason that I photographed that building is that I doubled back after realizing where I was when I saw the building seen in the next picture, to which I returned to get this image.

Yes, this is where Alton Sterling was killed.

I remembered how, yesterday, I thought that it’s funny that the persons who turned me on to Tupac Shakur and Rage Against the Machine when I was much younger were the system-justifying white boys with whom I went to high school!

Driving through Baton Rouge made me think about her again, made me feel pain and longing.  It’s weird; I wish that she could see who I’ve become, but I’m more wish that she could see who I could become if I were allowed to become him.

I’m thinking that “Plastic Man” by Seether should be the song that I use for today’s blog post.

It’s Whataburger time!

I hadn’t been to Whataburger in a few years, since the day before Thanksgiving 2016.

It didn’t meet my expectations, because the chicken thing that I wanted to order was not there, and, crazily enough, I expect to eat at the Lafayette Whataburger for supper!

I then went to the Payless Shoes place behind the Whataburger to buy some shoes from the going-out-of-business chain.  All of this driving around Baton Rouge is bringing back plenty of memories. And it makes me kind of feel hopeless.

Oh, I was thinking about how if there was a universal basic income, people would be less likely to quit jobs of places that are scheduled to close or go out of business, like the Payless Shoes place that I just visited, because they wouldn’t need to have another job and to take the first available opportunity, even if it’s an opportunity that comes before you in your current employment. In that sense, basic income would encourage more loyalty to employers. People like finishing what they start, at least if they have opportunities to do so.

This is an example of a basic income assumes that people are good, while socialism and neoclassical capitalism assume that people are bad.

Oh, you don’t like that I am “being political”? Well, you do the same, every day, all the time.

There is an old line from a song from a great Canadian band about this.

As I passed the big Exxon Baton Rouge polymers facility, after I just drove over the Hammond district, I remember driving this highway with her, me mentioning something about it, and her saying “a lot of pollution” as she looked at it.  I have thought about that sometimes lately.  I was thinking about how we really need to get our act together right away with climate change.

Now what?  It’s time to head north before heading west, because I wish to explore, for the first time in more than a decade, the old Yazoo & Mississippi Valley railroad line going north from Baton Rouge, what is left of the old mainline from Baton Rouge to Vicksburg, and the rebuilt branchline to Zee westward from Slaughter.

So, I arrive in Slaughter and immediately see this.

Well, now I know what a train on this railroad looks like, but, damn, it ain’t like it was back in the good old days.  At least there is something here, though.

A few minutes later, it started moving; so, I turned back south and landed at Safer Drive, where some DBQ packets fell out of my truck, I retrieved them, and I got this shot.

Yeah, this job shouldn’t exist, I shouldn’t be in it, and my flame has burned out.

Next, I got set up at Port Hudson-Pride Road.

Earlier, when I was in the area of the old Illinois Central Railroad Hammond District, I was thinking about the time I spent foaming that area for a cousin’s wedding, but, just now, I thought about the times I would stay in KSJ’s apartment when I would visit Baton Rouge.  In retrospect, those are right around the same times, and may have even been the same time.

Let’s see a cropped view of that same image.

I like that!

I was thinking about how this is what passes for “travel” for me these days, that I have expended my ability to travel anymore, but I’ve got an acute education with it that I share and, therefore, patronage of my work is there for reimbursing for my education!

For being that close to the track (head-on and almost-head-on shots are overdone), that was not a bad series of shots from that view.

Here is a list of cars, from beginning of the train to the end of the train, that the WAMX 1519 was pulling.

  • WFRX 615258
  • WFRX 615243
  • WFRX 615167
  • WFRX 615020
  • WFRX 615173
  • WFRX 615024
  • PROX 64121
  • SBLX 24271
  • TILX 401511
  • OCAX 86071

Okay, now, it’s time to go to Zachary, where I had to wait a little while for the train, and the drive into Zachary from the north reminded me of Bogalusa!

I set up at Avenue A and had to wait for what seemed like but really was not a long time for the train to show up.

I photographed the church.

The temperature was dropping, which perhaps contributed to the perception that time was moving slow (I don’t know), and then the train showed up.

I like that picture.  It’s a good picture of a moderately-interesting train on a revived old railroad.  It’s just a far cry from the Canadian National Railway GP9Rs and Grand Trunk Western and Illinois Central Railroad GP38ish and GP40ish locomotives that I saw leading trains of CN family boxcars, loaded pulpwood flatcars, and Gulf, Mobile & Ohio woodchip hopper cars on this line more than 15 years ago.

Before I left, I photographed this drainage assembly between the church and the track.

Suddenly, after that Avenue A shot, I really feel like blowing off of this chase and getting to my destination, whatever that even means. I think that there are several reasons for this. Since I first found the train under sunny rays, the skies have gotten cloudy and the temperature has dropped a little bit. It’s feeling cold, dead, and late, and I have plenty of driving to do before I sleep.

And miles to go before I sleep and miles to go before I sleep!

So, the shots wouldn’t be all that good, nothing really better than what I’ve done already, with the possible exception of the bridge over the track at Scotlandville, but I don’t know how useful that would be.  Furthermore, I am now going back north to slaughter, because I want to head west along the branch to get to the paper mill at Zee, because I am looking for information as much as I am looking for photographs.  I want to be able to see what’s down there, what is at the mill, what the mill looks like, what cars are at the mill.

Plus, I don’t want to add too much to my shot total, but I think I said that already. Plus, I don’t want to wear down my vehicle and the need-to-be-replaced tires too much.

The time is now 15:00, and I am once again arriving in Slaughter proper northbound.   I’m actually kind of hungry right now. That Whatachicken meal really didn’t fill me. I’m disappointed in that. I hope the burger that I get at the Whataburger on I-10 in Lafayette does better!

Yeah, if you didn’t know that “Slaughter” is the name of the town, then you might think that “SLAUGHTER POLICE” meant something different!

Here is a view southward along the old Y&MV mainline.

I remember that that track was where the CN Zee Job set out cars for the Gloster Southern Railroad, which owned and operated the former IC main north of here to a plywood mill at Gloster.

Next, we are looking north along the old Y&MV mainline, looking at the southern leg of the wye, the beginning of the Zee Branch, which had previously been the beginning of the Woodville Branch.

Okay, let’s have a look at the fire station with its marquee.

This is a neat little area.

I wish that I could spend more time here.

I remember seeing a CN crewman walking across the highway to that store after doing the GLSR setout.

I always love the vertical lettering on these old IC station signs.

I wish that I could have seen and photographed more trains here 15 years ago.

Anyway, it’s time for me to go.

At 15:12, on the highway westbound out of Slaughter, after I cross the track going to the north side of the track, rain started falling down here. 

I wish that I had got an earlier start out of New Orleans this morning. I might have gotten to see more of that train activities in Slaughter. I now feel like I’m running late. 

Supposedly, as best as I can remember, I am riding through the territory love the former East Feliciana Railway.

The Thompson Creek looks swollen!

I arrived at Zee unimpressed by what I saw, with no sign of pulp anywhere.

It was great to see the Zee Job, revived in back in action, if you want to even call that the Zee Job, since it’s a short line now, with nothing but lease equipment, but it surely ain’t what it was 15 or 20 years ago.  In so many ways, that is so very much the theme of my life right now.  It also makes me wonder what it is about me that attracts me to railroads, a thing that is always changing, just usually into something that isn’t as cool as what it once was.

Not one single car or locomotive that I saw on this foray onto the old Y&MV line north of Scotlandville is railroad-owned.

It was now time to head back south, and, with the layout of the railroads around here, the triangle created by the Zee branch, the old Y&MV between Slaughter and Scotlandville, and the Kansas City Southern Railway D Line, I was heading south along the old KCS D Line, which allowed me to easily visit the Baton Rouge Southern Railroad.

It’s just WAMX power all around, on both of these railroads!

We just live in a WAMX world now, man.  Deal with it.

Heading back south toward the Mississippi River bridge put me on an intersectional path with the old Y&MV line, and I happened to find the train again afterall.

A few minutes later, after I crossed the Mississippi River at 16:25, I am in Lobdell, looking back on the combined railroad-automobile bridge.

Last I knew, there were usually six total railroad movements on this bridge per day, not counting unit trains.

Now, I have to drive southward through Anchorage and Port Allen to I-10.

That is the Placid Refining Company in Anchorage.

At 16:36, I am coming southbound through Port Allen, about to get on I-10 and head west.  I was just thinking a minute ago about how I almost got offered a teaching job over here, and I thought about, back then, how interesting it would be to live in Baton Rouge and work across the river here.  That didn’t happen, of course.

At 16:39, I entered the on-ramp onto I-10 westbound at Port Allen, and I got on I-10 westbound. Here we go!

At 16:41, the sign that I just passed said that I have 47 miles to go to get to Lafayette. If I get no delays on the Atchafalaya Basin, this should go fairly smoothly.  I guess that I got plenty accomplished today afterall, and I’m happy about that, especially considering that I also didn’t leave New Orleans until after 10:00!

At 17:06, I am crossing Lake Pelba and thinking again about my idea of rebuilding the railroad across this part of the Atchafalaya Basin connecting Lafayette to Baton Rouge that was there until the great flood of 1927.  It would surely need to have passenger trains on it too, and that would risk pulling the Sunset Limited off of the Schriever routing, but it’s worth pondering, as at least there would be able to be a Hammond-to-Lafayette passenger service.

But there would be freight on this line, too!  The BNSF Railway would be able to interchange with CN in Baton Rouge!  That would seriously simplify interchange between the two railroads in Louisiana, and it could even lead to some new business, with increased or improved transit times, and maybe the Louisiana & Delta Railroad would handle that interchange.

I’m in the left lane, and somebody is passing me in the right lane. This is revolting, and it shouldn’t happen. Well, it looks like it’s not happening, but just that the person realized that I’m in a column with a bunch of other automobiles, and he won’t be able to get through fast, but I’ve seen it happen multiple other times today.  It’s stupid, and it’s why I wish I could be an undercover traffic cop just for this kind of stuff.  Well some other car just came and cut, and that’s very dangerous.

The time is 17:10, and I am back on solid ground, out of the Basin.  It took me 15 minutes to get across the Basin.  That’s not bad!  Modern technology is neat!  I’m so hungry!

At 17:23, I just passed over I-49.  That’s well under an hour to get from Baton Rouge, at the Mississippi River, to Lafayette!  That is great!

Let’s make a run by BNSF Railway’s Lafayette Yard.

Wow, it’s 2019, and there are still locomotives that look like that?  Neat.

I know that I am repeating myself, but I really do miss the Santa Fe and the Burlington Northern and the commonness of clean SD40-2s on regular trains.

Yeah, it’s my second visit to a Whataburger today, and that is not good, but, damn, the food was good, and I got beef this time.

I was thinking about how I almost considered bringing my Styrofoam Whataburger cup from earlier today in here to use that instead.  So, I’m thinking about how fast food companies, especially those with cult followings like Whataburger, should maybe use plastic cups and then encourage their people to recycle them, to bring them back each visit, maybe have some sort of incentive or reward system for doing that, like maybe having to pay for a cup if you don’t have it.

I was thinking when I ate my combo meal earlier today in Baton Rouge how environmentally wasteful fast food meals are, given all of the things involved in them that aren’t actually food, and I’m thinking it again now.

Although I eat more fast food than I should, I don’t often think about that, because I usually get just the main items to go, and not all of the condiment things, all of the extra paraphernalia that is not actually food.

Also, this place does have that honey BBQ chicken sandwich thing, which makes me wonder if the other place had it and just didn’t display it.

Anyway, I’m tired, and I’m eager to get to the homestead, but today has been great.

I purchased one of those honey BBQ chicken strip sandwiches afterall.

Why do I do this?

I really should stop, and, speaking of stopping, this is the end of this essay.

I left Whataburger at 18:37, 257.7 miles of driving after I had left Mid-City.

At 19:43, I arrived at the place that doesn’t really feel like home but is, as of my recent eviction, the closest thing that I have to a real home.

I hope that you were enriched by this essay.

Merci.

Jbx

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