Sep 22, 2007

"Steamy Wet" : UPDATED!

Jaizus you people are horny. The search query that brings this page up the most? "Steamy wet." 29 queries. The one that people click through to my page the most from? "93qid" which is the radio station that I no longer listen to.

Sex. Music. Cripes you guys need a life! But so do I, so how about a tale of the Universe laughing at me?

Casual readers here may not know this, but regulars do--I'm not Xian. Religion makes me break out in hives and yell angry things at hypocrites. If I were pinned against a wall by a steamy wet (I'm going to see how many times I can use that term today) gangster with a Glock (held sideways, all cool-like) and threatened with certain Glock-inflicted death if I didn't tell him what I believed in, I might go so far as to say that I might could possibly find it in my heart to believe in the "Gawd As Clockmaker" theory. You know the one, where Gawd Hisself built this incredibly intricate, complex, mind-boggling big Universe, wound the little pewter key, pushed the pendulum once to get it swinging then put the whole thing up on the mantlepiece and is even now sitting in His big comfy wingback chair in front of a nice fire, His two favourite Borzoi sleeping by his feet, His pipe clenched in his teeth and a favourite book open in His big, careful watch-maker's hands, carefully ignoring the entire works.

And that's why it really bothers me when the Universe decides to mess with me; put things in my way, poke me in the back and run away giggling, hiding around the corner to trip me up.

See, a few days ago Fall arrived. I celebrated by taking part of my lunch break sitting in the shade on the sloped hillside of an interstate overpass. I know that sounds silly but there's an excellent view of the rails from there. And for forty minutes I didn't see a train but I had a sort of meditative experience. Cool breeze, shade, a beautiful day, and nothing nagging at me for over a half hour. Nothing. No phone, no filing, no computer. Just me and the bugs and the cars passing by, invisible behind me.

Well, that afternoon after work I figured I'd go sit a while longer and catch the train that I KNEW passes every afternoon around 5:30, and take some distance pictures. One can only take the standard 3/4 view from ground level shot of a train so many times before it becomes...the same. So, I'm branching out. Figured a lovely day like that, all clear sky and green grass and that cool uniformity of grey concrete deserved a photo with a train in it. Just one. Or a few. Four, no more. No chasing, just a nice landscape with train. And sure enough, there it came. Horns calling out behind the trees, crossing gates lowering, their lights blinking and bells ringing, and me ready with my camera, all settings go.

I had been mulling over the lack of difference out there just before I heard that horn; it being a UP line you see UP trains, and frankly it gets a little monotonous. That's why I was caught off-guard when I saw a splash of what looked like orange. For one moment I thought it was the lovely red and hunter green Ferromex engine that's been very good at evading me most of the time,

but then as it got fully across the intersection I saw it for what it really was--a Kansas City Southern "Retro Belle."

In brief, to celebrate some anniversary or other KCS painted about 100 of their newest engines in a red, black and yellow scheme to harken back to the KCS "Southern Belle" passenger trains of the mid 40's. I had heard about them, seen pictures by professional trainspotters in Dallas and New Orleans and all, but figured my chances of seeing one in the steel were slim at best. And there she was, to prove me wrong. The one day in hundreds I decide to sit on an interstate and wait the Universe, giggling, provides me with not only a gorgeous day but a beautifully painted, rare, CLEAN engine worth photographing.

Naturally, I gave chase, and caught her at no less than four different points along the tracks as she hastened on her way to wherever it was she was rushing to.

I caught her at one of my favourite crossings, as it's a major artery and the trains have to slow way down to cross.

I'm afraid I might have been giggling pretty wildly at this point, so pleased was I with my luck; the combination of cool weather, good sunlight, clear skies and such a beautiful lady as a subject.

I caught her at a new spot I've found about a mile shy of the yard, a big open spot near several overpasses that gives my steamy wet self (it's still fairly humid) good position with clear backgrounds and lots of sunlight.

And then my pride and joy photo of the forty or so I took. I went tearing up an overpass which just so happens to be right over the main lines leading into the UP yard. She wasn't slowing, so I was running like a madman, jacket flapping, camera bag banging into my side, struggling to get the Nikon out and turned on and aimed. I didn't notice until I got home and had downloaded the pictures that one of the crewmen was hanging out the side window giving me a huge grin and a thumb's up. Seems some people don't mind paparazzi, even the steamy wet, wild-eyed, giggling insanely in full sight of tons of speeding 5 o'clock traffic sort.

So that was the first jig in the ribs the Universe handed me.

The second is where I started getting spooked. The local train group on Yahoo emailed the daily digest the next morning as usual. There was only ONE email in there; very surprising, as it's usually six to twelve depending on the topics of conversation. This one email was from a very professional, very obsessive spotter from Dallas who had found and posted six pictures of....wait for it...a pair of Retro Belles. The funny thing? The two he saw were still in primer paint, so they were new but, well, quite frankly they were ugly. Flat greenish grey with black on the bottom. And so of course I was ready to show off my own handiwork, and replied with my photos.

I was a little worried at the sudden turn of coincidence, but it still hadn't sunk in. Two instances does not a laughing Universe prove.

Then the third came. After posting the photos I left for work, and had a nice surprise. Vulgar Wizard had brought in a photo album her grandfather had made for her from 1979, with her as very small girl. She had brought it in because there was a whole series of photos he had taken of her and him and her grandmother going to New Orleans, to catch an Amtrak train. She'd been telling me forever about this photo of her standing in the engine in front of the controls. He had even kept the train schedule. Neat stuff, indeed. The Universe had to butt in, though, laughing behind her hand the entire time.

I flipped one page over from the Amtrak stuff and there were photos and a postcard from some sort of monument park in Arkansas (I assumed that's where they had taken the train to.) The postcard photo was taken in front of an old restored steam locomotive. In front of the steam locomotive were tiny railroad tracks for one of those little micro-scale tour trains for kids, jam-packed with adults and their little charges, and I do mean packed. It was one of those tiny things into which adults can just about barely fit if they try; the "engineer" is stuffed into his tiny driver's seat like a sausage packed in it's casing.

Cue the Universe:

The colour scheme of the little engine? Circa 1940's KCS "Southern Belle" passenger train. Red, yellow and black.

UPDATE! VW scanned said postcard for me!


I nearly DIED. She hadn't seen my photos yet nor heard the story, so she had a hard time figuring out why I was laughing and crying at the same time. I'm just glad she didn't hear my confused mutterings about the Universe knowing Her place.


Nancy Dancehall said...

Sex music steamy wet. Sex music steamy wet. Sex music steamy wet.


Joan of Argghh! said...

Wonderful pics!

Do you have an email you can share?

Irrelephant said...

Nancy, you need to record that and see if you can sell it to some major record label! It's got a good beat, I can dance to it...

Joan, thank you! And as a matter of fact I just set one up, since there's been an overwhelming *cough* amount of requests *snort* for me to have some contact info. I can be emailed at irrelephant dot blog at gmail dot com because someone already gaffled *sigh*

Jean said...

ok... I hope I got this right.
This was a good day. ...a VERY good day, right?

Doing the steamy wet happy dance for you :)

Bob said...

I'm going to Kansas City for Christmas. I'll make a point of looking for KCS locomotives.

too bad the thumbs up engineer didn't toot his horn atcha. when I was a kid we'd wait by the tracks for the next train to try to get them to blow the horn.

Scott from Oregon said...

I can completely imagine you sitting in that last train, steamy wet and pulling on your horn...

Irrelephant said...

Jean, I know I was a little subtle with that post, but yes, you got it right. *grin*

"Steamy wet happy dance?" Wow!

Bob, you ought to look for the company's headquarters! *S* They run all over the central south, you ought to have an easy time spotting most any KCS, as well as UP and BNSF. Just watch those lines. *s*

And I think the only reason he didn't is that the area is residential...there's houses RIGHT UP against the right of way and no intersection there, so a 135db horn blast might anger the neighbors something fierce. I know in certain areas of New Orleans the trains aren't ALLOWED to sound their horns at crossings, because the well-to-do home owners don't like to hear them.

I love hearing reports of BMWs and Escalades smeared by trains in NO.

Scott, I don't know that I'm 100% comfortable with your imagination. *lmao*