Jan and I had learned from the MoW conference call last week that an Amtrak/BNSF inspection was to be done from Chicago to Denver on Thursday evening. We'd put it on the calendar as an excursion possibility.
Last weekend I'd done some experimenting with pictures taken under low light with my Olympus digital, and decided that I really wanted a more powerful flash for it. On Thursday afternoon, we went to H.B. Leiserowitz in Des Moines and I spent my birthday money. When I pulled out the digital camera, "Angelo" was called to help us. He pointed out that Olympus now makes an external flash for their digital cameras. I said that I'd checked their web site and learned that their flash was rated out to only 30 feet. Angelo asked how far I needed to reach and I said I was thinking more in the 50 foot range.
Angelo pulled out a large Vivitar unit and then went searching for the hardware to fasten it to the camera. When he returned, he wanted to know if I was planning to use this for something in particular soon. "Yeah, ten o'clock tonight.", I replied. Angelo said that I should not expect miracles and that it would require lots of practice to learn how the unit affected pictures. He made me promise to return the flash if I wasn't happy with the results. (I love this place!)
Just coincidentally, as we left the camera store in downtown Des Moines, we encountered IAIS 466 with a load of ties. They were hustling to get out of the way of both east and west bound trains that were going to meet in the city late this afternoon.
After supper we headed for Osceola, planning to make an evening of it and see what other traffic we could catch. On the way down we heard two eastbounds, one at 6:32 and another at 6:44, clear the Osceola detector. I was anxious to try out the new flash and started taking pictures of things like the depot and my roommate as soon as the sun had gone down.
Our first train arrived at 8:10, a westbound manifest with BNSF 4346 and two cabless units, BN 4066 and 4076. The detector reported 398 axles on this one. I tried a couple of panned shots of passing freight cars (40 mph or so?) to see how they would come out and am generally pretty pleased with the results.
The next train was also westbound, a coal empty with BN 9491 and 9556 pulling CIPX gons. They came through at 8:35. We figured this would probably be the last westbound ahead of No. 5, since no one would want to take a chance on delaying it tonight.
We saw two eastbound coal loads before Amtrak. At 9:28, BNSF 8926 and BN 9425 came by the depot with AEPX cars. This turned out to be a distributed power train with BNSF 9967 on the rear. I'd already walked back to the Jeep by the time the rear end arrived and didn't get a chance at a shot of the trailing unit. Close behind, at 9:40, were BN 9572, BNSF 9933 and BN 9238 with DETX, DEEX, GCCX and BN loads.
The Zephyr arrived right at 10:00, 13 minutes down. In the train tonight:
J.R. and Pat Green shepherded their passengers back across the mainlines and into the depot, well in the clear of an eastbound work train that had been waiting for Amtrak to depart. About this time I became aware that the NiCad's that I'd put in the new flash were giving up (about 40 shots). I considered running back to the Jeep for a reload, but the train was upon me and I managed to get one more picture. At 10:05 BN 7216 and 7800 came into town with BN ballast hoppers and track equipment on flatcars.