Weird World

by Jim on 2019/09/30

Jimbaux is still living with your ghost.

Yes, I am publishing out of order, and, yes, I am aware of it, but it’s the end of September, and I have gone for all of 2019 without making a 2019 blog article, as I am so busy adding to the backlog, working on so many pictures, and so many other things.

There is a reason that this particular post and the next one need to get out earlier, or, perhaps more accurately, there are reasons that these two blog articles constitute an appropriate way to break the chronology.

Anyway, here we go.  It is Monday 30 September 2019, and I am yet again headed across southeastern Louisiana, this time eastbound, as seems to be my lot lately.  In the interchange yard in New Iberia, I saw a couple of empty rice hopper cars bound for the rice mill in Abbeville, and I stopped at the Subway by the track in the eastern part of town and got a Chipotle Southwest steak and cheese wrap; we need to stop eating beef, or, at least, we need to start eating lab-grown meats, but, damn, those things are good.

Watch The World Die

Anyway, I followed the old highway from New Iberia to Garden City, where I got on Alice C Road to get to the Bayou Sale siding, and that’s where I caught up with the Louisiana & Delta Railroad job that I had earlier heard get permission to go east from Baldwin.

That he had to stop to close the siding switch behind him allowed me enough time to go ahead and get set up for the first shot of the day, which is a new shot for me.

Well, heck, since the branch starts right at the other end of this siding, since I have never photographed a solid train out on this branchline before (I have twice photographed switching being done at one of the carbon black plants on the line), and since the branch is so short that I won’t be out of range to hear the Union Pacific Railroad’s New Iberia Turn, the contemporary incarnation of the “51 Local”, train that I am really hoping to intercept, then maybe I can get a few shots on the branch, a few new shots.

My first shot of the train on the branch was at Alice C Road, just after the end of the curve formed and necessitated by the branch’s beginning.

Well, that is a new shot!  Furthermore, since my only previous action photographs on this branch were of switching at one of the carbon black plants, this is really my first on the branch itself action picture on this line.

Shortly before I took that picture, a message arrived in the inbox of the Jimbaux’s Journal Facebook page that would floor me when I read it later.

Let’s move on down to Clausen, where Louisiana Highway 317 crosses the track.

Yeah, that ain’t the Lockport Branch, it ain’t the Supreme Branch, it ain’t the Houma Branch (on which I never actually saw a train), it ain’t even the Abbeville Branch, and, as I have said before, I do hate these things because they are black, but it’s something.

Just south of here was, apparently, the location of a sugar mill that this branchline served; I am guessing that the mill ceased operations in the interwar period when many Louisiana sugar mills ceased operations.

Steve The Levee Rider did some great research on this little branchline!

Okay, let’s get out of here and head north, but, before we do, I need to stop and get a shot of something that I spotted on the way in.

That’s . . . interesting.

Back on Highway 90, the part of the highway immediately east of here until Ricohoc is some very easy driving; so, forgive me for having taken the liberty to check things on my smart device while I was driving, as that is when I finally noticed and read the shocking message that arrived just before I took the shot at Alice C Road.

My heart starting racing as I kept driving eastward, crossing the Wax Lake Outlet into Calumet.

I felt a strange mix of disappointment and vindication.

The great friend I had lost seven years before, my best college-to-early-adulthood friend, was reaching back out to me, finally suggesting that we get together.

I am thinking,

I may finally be getting back something that, someone whom, I lost!

And he did this at the end of a message in which he revealed, to my undying horror, that he was a Trumpism defender.

I am thinking,

I never really knew him.

How could he?  How could someone of such supposedly upstanding values do this?  How could I have been friends with someone who is hostile to my own existence and that of so many others?

I was so flooded with different and conflicting emotions.  At once, I felt both forgiven for whatever I had done (that I still don’t really know) for him to distance himself from me and less guilty for it.  To be sure, it is very possible to poorly or unfairly treat someone who himself has bad values, and, indeed, the universalist humanitarian geoist values by which I strive to live say that we must treat all people with dignity; so, I am not suggesting that two wrongs make a right.  However, what all of this meant is that whatever I had thought I had lost then I never really had in the first place.

It was all an illusion, like these pictures that you see.

It’s weird that today is September 30, weird that there have been so many shades of 2012 for me yet again this month, weird that he wrote to me today.

He defended Trump’s “civil war” threat tweet, like as if I am stupid.

One of my best friends, someone who has long been considered a man of moral standing, is defending authoritarianism.

It’s weird that I am weirded out by it.

It’s horrifying and demoralizing.

I wish that the fools around here would realize that nobody is safe in such an environment, or do they realize it and not care?

It’s weird that I am thinking about that autistic student that I had a decade ago, how I very secretly saw a little bit of myself in him, how that made me so uncomfortable.

I am just awestruck today.

Sometime after 18:30, I pulled into Berwick and stopped by the Atchafalaya River.  The reason that I stopped was that I wanted to photograph a train that was approaching, of course, but it was a good opportunity for me to settle down after what I had just read.

Comint indicated that a westbound train was coming, and I was sure that it was the Union Pacific Railroad’s new New Iberia Turn, which I was very eager to see and photograph.

It wasn’t.

Oh, well.

At this point, with the light fading fast, I was eager to get back to New Orleans before too late, but comint indicated that my desired train was not far behind the BNSF Railway manifest train that you just saw.  So, I followed the track in Morgan City until I found him, complete with that really neat old Southern Pacific GP60 that has been on this train for a few weeks now.

At first, I didn’t process that shot, since it isn’t really a good action shot, but it’s the only decently-lit shot that I’ve been able to get of that side of the locomotive, which matters because the “Southern Pacific” paint on the other side is mostly faded out, and that is the side that is always in the shade when this train runs, given the times that it runs.

The train had 42 cars, two of which were hopper cars for the rice mill in Abbeville.

These 12 pipe gondola cars, most of the Norfolk Southern family, went to Advanced Coating Systems at the Port of Iberia, I later learned.

That’s all for the pictures. It was now time to haul ass to New Orleans.

Lacy wrote to me today. 

I passed the Chacahoula exit at 19:16.

I mention that because that’s important now.

I had some crazy thoughts about high school over this past weekend, searched for a classmate on the internet, learned that his father died more than a decade ago, and found his sister’s Facebook page. 

At 19:57, I drove over Destrehan yard.  At that point, while thinking about what I’ve been doing on these drives lately, I realized that I have been photographing the “51 Local” for 20 years now. Gosh, I feel old. I also wish that I could bring to life some of those images from 20 years ago.

At 20:09, I drove past the Galleria building in Metairie. It occurred to me then that, while I saw the intimidating nature of the urban area as a challenge that I was eager to face 15 years ago when I moved here, I now feel like I am done with it, exhausted by it, repulsed by it, spent by the effort that I put into it, and burned out, probably via autistic burnout.  

It was probably autism that made all of that so challenging for me in the first place.

I am tired.

I hope that you liked the pictures and stories.

I am just awestruck today.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: