I Am Still Here

Okay I know I have not written anything for a while but this summer has not one I care to remember. Health issues have put a damper on a lot of my activities but everyday is better and thankful as it could have been a lot worse.

My bike riding and trail walking have been curtailed and for the first time in my life hot days have kept me inside but I have caught up on a lot of things I have been putting off.

Only have made two trips to the US and the second one almost did me in. The first was a trip to Ohio in April to my favourites spots. Spent 5 days chasing trains in Bellevue, Fostoria, Attica, Greenwich and Oak Harbor.

NS 2545 SD70 Bellevue Ohio April 11 2019

The second was in July to catch the Bog Boy Locomotive in Chicago and it was almost the last trip I made. My health was still an issue and being in the Sun or walking anywhere was impossible but it would be my only chance to see this monster.

Day started off fine at 5:30 am and headed to the border figuring I would be there in about 8 hours. One of the side effects of my medical treatments was I had to pee almost every hour so made for some anxious moments. I stopped in Durand Michigan for about 10 minutes to catch a train at the station then back on the road. CN 3138 Durand Michigan July 28 2019The miles clicked away and it seemed Chicago kept moving as I never seemed to get any closer. Ten hours went by and I was still about 50 miles from Chicago when traffic started getting slower and then almost came to a standstill. Took two hours to get across Chicago even on the thruways. Finally reached Blue Island which is on the west side of Chicago and did catch the first trains of the day. It was in the low 90’s with the humidity so only lasted about 30 minutes. Did catch 5 trains including Iowa Interstate which was pretty neat as only runs once a day in this area.

Iowa Interstate 714 and 506 Blue Island Junction Chicago Illinois July 28 2019

By this time I was wore out and checked the GPS for my motel and could not believe it was 40 miles away on the other side of Chicago. Ninety minutes later checked , had a shower and went to bed. Tomorrow was a big and a a close up meeting with the Big Boy locomotive. Up early and put the address of a road close to where is was on display and headed out as the motel was only 30 minutes from the UP Training Center.

After over an hour of driving I begin to think I was lost. Asked a telephone repair guy where the UP Center was and he kindly looked it up on his computer. It seems there were two streets with the same name and I had picked the Chicago one but the one I wanted was in a suburbs about 40 mile away. Another  90  minutes and finally arrived three  hours after I left the motel. By then there was no parking for miles around but after about 20 minutes waiting for somebody to leave I manged to squeeze in one. I knew I could not walk to far so had to find one fairly close in the Metra parking lot. Tried to walk over the bridge to get close but got too hot and had to go back and sit in the car with a/c until I cooled down. Then the monsoon rains came in waves and after getting soaked 3 times gave up and went back to the motel to take a nap. I did manage this shot from the Metra Station but was as close I was ever got.

Union Pacific Big Boy 4014 Chicago Illinois July 29 2019

Next day up early again and headed west out of Chicago and had scouted out a spot that looked good on Google to catch it leaving. Figure on an hour to get there but traffic again was terrible and it was getting very close to when I figured it would be going by  Panic was starting to set in  as I parked my car. Again place was crawling with people but decided to wait as everywhere were lined up to see this once in a lifetime chance to catch this beauty in action. I asked if it had been by yet and was told I had lots of time. It then hit me I had not realized I was in a different time zone and was over an hour early. It finally showed up about two hours later after I got there but was worth the wait. At least Metra commuter trains were zooming by so something to see while we waited.  It would be coming out of the Sun but at least not raining. Some computer magic and ended up with this shot.

Union Pacific Big Boy 4014 Old Kirk Road West Chicago July 30 2019

Chased it to Rochelle Illinois but again people everywhere so traffic was crazy. managed to get there but nowhere to park as place was crawling with people so headed west of the city. My Norfolk Southern engineer friend was going to be in the cab so could have got close up but it was impossible. I did catch him having the rid o f his lifetime in cab as it left Rochelle. He is the one in the white hat. In seconds it was gone but even with not feeling well, never getting near it and over 14 hours of driving it was worth it.  The video can be seen here https://youtu.be/xneTFD_w7M0

Union Pacific Big Boy 4101 Two Legends Rochelle Illinois July 30 2019

Next day headed east but ducked under Chicago and spent a quiet day and a half relaxing in Elkhart as no stress and good weather. Lots of trains, nice room and  time to recover. Next trip Sept 26 to Fostoria Ohio for their Train Festival but if feeling better may head they on the 15th to catch the NKP 765 steam locomotive.

BNSF 5300 BNSF 6600 BNSF 4825 Elkhart Indiana Aug 1 2019

More adventures, good and bad to come.

I’m Back

All those that thought I had died and gone to heaven, at least that is where I hope to go would have been mistaken. I just have been busy and my old brain did not think it had anything worth talking about and it may be right.

This spring and summer have been a disaster with nothing but wet and gloomy weather. This morning June 17th woke up to more clouds and a temp of 10C. Summer will be gone before it even gets here.


I have been keeping busy as I took over the OPAL Oxford People Against The Landfill web page and completely redesigned and rebuilt it. Now bright and cheery with tons of information and stuff to download. Still look after the Ontario Southland Railway, Fostoria RailPark and Oxford Trails Council as well as my own web page so keeps me busy. file29

Terry Parker, well know wildlife photographer also asked me to create a web page where he could showcase he great photos. Been working on it for the last couple of weeks and after some changes and redesign it is just about done. Take a few minutes and have a look at his great photos. It can be seen HERE.

I also have been slowed down by a health scare but by the end of July should be good to go and resume my regular activity. I look at it as a minor inconvenience and it could have been so much worse so am not complaining.

Still chasing trains, not catching many but enjoying photographing and doing videos. My YouTube channel now has over 4200 subscribers and 3000 videos. I enjoy doing them and trying to make each one better than the last one. My greb photo page has over 12,000 photos and is used by many when searching for photos. I have had a number published in magazines and other publication so I guess and doing something right. One might be blown up to 15 feet for the background of a display in a museum which I think is pretty cool. Southern Ontario Railway RLHH 2111 RLHH 2081 Clarence Street Brantford Ont Dec 6 2017

The greb site is hosted by a friend in North Carolina but have been unable to upload new images and unable to contact him to fix the problem. I have been using FB and other media to post them but they compress them so much I decided to build a new photo page. I have just started by posting photos taken in June and will add new pages each month.

Keeping busy is the secret to feeling young and makes life interesting. I hope all is well with you and life is good. Thanks for checking up on me.

They Found Me Again

Gremlins are out in full force today. I was at home and this bright lite started shining in my window so I quickly got dressed and by the time I drove to Ingersoll it had disappeared. No trains around except OSR so decided to video them from a distance. Turned on the camera and it said error battery could not be used even though it was just charged. Got the spare battery and this time said error restart camera. I quickly did that and it seemed to work but when I tried to turn it off only way I could was remove the battery.
Forgot about and headed to Woodstock. CN 331 was soon due so got set up with the camera and it did the same thing.

Lucky I had started the camera early so had time to restart after a number of errors. If that was not bad enough I got ready to take some still photos and up comes an error saying media full even though I had just formatted it the day before and very few photos on it. It is a 32 GB card so no way it was full. No pictures of CN 331 even though it had CN BCOL lashup.  VIA was right behind and the SLR worked fine this time but again the video camera would not turn off. nagryman

Headed to McDs for coffee and to see if I can figure out the problem. Manual says if error message keeps coming up it needs to be sent in for repair. Wonderful, barley over a year old.

I tried initializing it which resets it to the factory settings but no luck. I did charge both batteries last night so hoping something to do with them.

It seems they were not done with me as the video I though I was getting was nowhere to be found. Even though the record light was on nothing was being recorded.

Some days they seem to happen so often there is nothing I can do and I just laugh as it seems so hilarious it could be a sitcom script.

Gremlin Update Jan 9 2019

So many I had to either laugh or cry.

crying man

  1. Got up after letting an upload run all night and after 9 hours it had an error and had to upload again.
  2. Second try froze with 7 seconds left after 9 hours but after 20 minutes with everything crossed it completed.
  3. ATCS still not working after repeated tries today.
  4.  Headed out about 10:30 and plugged in the scanner, battery died
  5. Replaced battery with back up, it lasted 10 minutes.
  6. Spilled my coffee on me.
  7. Came home spent a hour learning some new software and saved the video but it is corrupt and can’t be played.
  8. OSR arrived and I was going to put the video camera in the window but saw the battery only had minutes left so had to rush to put in the backup.
  9. What next?

You Can Run But You Can’t Hide.

I am now home and the gremlins are working over time, The weather sucks with snow rain wind and just lousy conditions.winterjan5

Just after I got home the ATCS server I run stopped working and I spent about 2 hours trying to figure out why. Nothing I did worked so checked the ATCS Yahoo group and found out the server was offline and would be back up soon. Okay figured a simple reboot and everything would be fine. No way that would happen.atcs

Microsoft decided it was time for another update so took over the computer and I could really not do anything till it was done. I run the ATCS program on an older computer and it works fine but really dose not like windows updates. I fought with it some more but nothing so will have to delete everything and start over. It seems to happen every time Microsoft updates Windows.

I decided to update my Canadian Railway News and edit day two of my Erie trip. It took about 3 hours to do and then another 10 hours to process. Moved everything to my old computer as I can’t process on my new one as the lifetime license I bought only applies to the lifetime of the computer and can’t be moved without spending another $60 for a new license. Left it on and went to bed.

I figured it would all be done this morning but the gremlin fixed that. I was saving to a 33 MB flash drive and it seemed it was short by about 2 MB as it has some other data on it so the program stopped working. Dam now I have to do it all over again. file29

Started the program again and now decided to save to the hard drive instead. Go it all set to go and I moved the keyboard and everything went black. Nothing I could do would bring it back. Rebooted the computer and started over again. It show 11 hours until it is completed. I have the old compute running on WiFi but looks like I need to put it on the network for faster uploads.

Isn’t life grand?

Erie Trip Gremlins and Goblins – Part 4

Day 4 and time to head home. Of course the Sun came out after a cold snow pellet morning but very few train to be found anywhere. I guess the gremlins scared then away. I hung around until 2 pm and only caught 5 trains but what can you do?

Stopped in at the museum at North East PA but nobody around and snow pellets were coming down so headed home.

Stopped at my sisters in Welland for a visit and made it home in time the the last half of the NFL football game.2009 HHR

The weather is always the fly in the ointment as even when nice weather is forecast there is no guarantee it will show up.

I am sure gremlins are waiting to try my patience and nerves when I get home.

There is always the next trip for them to make life interesting 🙂

Erie Trip Gremlins and Goblins – Part 3

Day 3 and a gaggle of Gremlins got up early and as soon as the Sun woke up at about 8 am they dragged a huge gray low hanging misty cloud over the whole area. So much for 3 days of sunshine promised as I have not even had one and same forecast for tomorrow. Another group hid all the trains as very little action on either CXS or NS. Gremlin 1, 2 and 3.

It looked like it might be another rush hour like yesterday and decided to tough it out even with the weather not co-operating. A westbound CSX oil train at 8:42 then a eastbound long container train at 8:46 then the gremlins showed up. Nothing to be seen for over 2 1/2 hours except dull gray skies.

Changed location and caught a wb CSX mixed train at 11:29 while checking up GE but nothing happening there.

Headed to the west part of Erie and caught eb NS container train at 12:50  then another NS with a power move of 5 UP locomotives at 13:04. I knew they were heading to GE so moved to the drop off location and caught some of that move.  While there an wb CSX at 13:44 and a eb at 14:11 form the wrong side of the tracks.

Drove around some more and got gas at $2.33 a gallon so only cost me $26.11 to fill up. I guess the gremlins were sleeping on the job as the Sun pushed its way through the clouds at 15:00 and my spirits picked up so back to my morning spot. More stop lights and a wb long container train went by on CSX that I saw from a distance. Gremlin #4

Before they dragged the cloud cover back I manged a eb CSX mixed freight at 15:20, eb container train at 15:23 and a eb mixed CSX train at 15:36.

By then the clouds were back and it seemed the temp dropped so called it a day and headed to the motel to watch the two NFL playoff games.

I am hoping the weather people are wrong again and sunshine shows up and not the clouds they promised. Plan to head home and stop at the North East Train Museum and maybe Bort Road at the PA/NY border before heading to Welland. If the weather is good will stay a little longer and stay over at my sisters and head home Monday stopping in Hamilton to maybe see my other sister and drop by the CN yard and Bayview.

It could have been worse weather and I have learned to just make the best of it as there is nothing you can do about it.

Hopefully a Gremlin free day and a no hassle border crossing.

Erie Trip Gremlins and Goblins – Part 2

Day two and a new day for the gremlins to invade my life but I guess they had their fill with me and only showed up a couple of times.

Sunshine and warmer temps today for sure and 18 trains even though about 3 hours was spent hanging around the Erie GE plant hoping to catch some new units on the testing track but no luck.

I stated out at 8 am as AMTRAK was running about 40 minutes late so even though fairly dark  decided to try and catch it, I hit almost every light red, about 10 of them and missed it by about 5 minutes. cartoon-germs-21Gremlin #1. Then something I ate yesterday did not agree with me and headed back to the motel for a bit. Gremlin #2.  It was busy and but caught 6 trains even though I missed the AMTRAK at 8:07 but did catch trains at 8:20, 8:29, 8:59, 9:20, 9:32 and 9:50.

I had forgot to take my medications so figured I could take them while at the motel. I also saw that Red Roof offers a free breakfast of your choice at McDonalds which is next door so figured I could also get it. I went to the front desk at Red Roof to get a voucher but found out McDonalds only offered it to 10:30 and it was now 10:55. Gremlin #3

Last night has some legs craps due to maybe standing too much so loaded up on orange juice and bananas today so should be okay tonight,

Back to the trains and caught a NS at 12:52 and a CSX at 12:55. Decided to head back to my favorite place in Erie to spend the rest of the day. It did not disappoint as was busy again. Trains at 13:45, 13:58, 14:11, 14:52, 15:02, 15:38, 15:47, 15:55, 16:25 and 16:30.

Eighteen trains in about 6 hours so happy with the results. At least another half dozen or so I missed.   file94

Tomorrow heading to GE then North East PA again as well as Bort Road and another sunny day promised then catch 2 NFL games starting at 4 pm. Looks like weather changing for Sunday so might head home but planning on a stop at my sisters in Welland. If running late will stay there overnight.

I will still keep my guard up as those nasty gremlins can show up anytime.

Erie Trip Gremlins and Goblins – Part 1

I can’t believe I have not written anything in almost 6 months but my misadventures seem to happen everyday and are not earth shattering so have not shared with you. This trip has had it moments so far for sure.

I was itching to go south as I had not been there since last Sept and it was time to get away. I checked the weather and no snow or anything in the forecast and Sun promised Thursday afternoon, all day Friday and Saturday and most of Sunday so booked the motel, bought the insurance and looked forward to a nice trip with lots of Sun and trains.

As I was getting things ready to go last night I heard the snowplow go by and looked out the windows and there was a major snow event going on. I can’t believe those so called weather people could not have forecast this. So much for a nice drive in the morning on dry clean roads. Not much I could do but go anyway and hoped the plow boys had done their job.

Thursday morning awoke at 5:45 and looked outside to see how bad it was. Did not look too bad and I could hear the plow out their cleaning up the 3-4 cms that fell. Headed out the door and headed for the border. Everything went smooth as long as you stayed out of the way of the idiot drivers out there. Made the border by 9 am and had heard the wait was about 15 minutes. I did not know the bridge was under repair and only one lane open each way. To my surprise made it through in about 15 minutes and headed west to Erie. West right into snow streamers off the lake and strong winds. freezing man

First stop was Ripley NY and arrived there at 11 am but not a train in sight. Then after an hour headed to Bort Rd at the NY/PA border. Windy and cold and felt like -10C with off and on snow flurries. Heard K22 an eastbound NS was coming and RTC asked MOW boys to clear. Waited an hour and still nothing on CSX or NS. Headed to North East PA and spotted the MOW trucks parked by the tracks and a green signal.  Another 15 minutes and the NS train finally showed up, a very long intermodal train. First train 13:15

Nothing happening here so headed to the GE plant in Erie to see if any new locomotives around. Again I struck out as nothing to be found but as I was about to leave, a loaded oil train blew by on the CSX track heading east and caught it on video even thought it was two tracks over and behind some weeds. Time 14:40. So almost 4 hours and only two trains and it felt like I was still home.

Got something to eat and then drove to my favourite spot in Erie if anything would show up. Turned one street too soon and by the time I turned around and turned on the right street the gates came down and a long NS intermodal flew by as I sat in the car behind a truck and watched it go by.  Another hour with no trains and no Sun and was wondering if maybe this trip was not a good idea.

Finally after another hour the flood gates opened. Whatever the delay was now gone and a bit of a parade began.

CSX train at 16:19, 16:40, 16:49, NS at 17:02, CSX at 17:10, 17:23, 17:28 and 17:38 and the Sun came out so made up for the rest of the day. Trains were still coming but light was gone and time to warm up and relax.

Looking forward to a full day in bright sunshine tomorrow and Saturday.

smiling sun

Burning Love Part 3 & Hard Drives

I must be in the final stages as the burning pains have returned with a vengeance. Even the pain pills they gave me at emergency and some additional Tylenol done seem to chase them away. Another restless night but keep thinking it could be something worse and I will beat it soon.

Being home bound has given me some time to work on a 1 TB hard drive that failed. After much looking found some software that could recover most. I have now found over 45,000 files and at least 30,000 are photos.file29

The problem is it puts everything into file folders and renames all the files starting at 0001. Next step was to find some software that would put them into folders using the EXIF info on every digital photo. Once that was done no I will have to open each file and rename it or at least rename the folders indicating location.

One of the steps to recovering the files is you have to format the drive they are on. Now that step is always scaring as we all think once we format a hard drive or SD card everything is gone.harddrive Formatting a hard drive that is unreadable does delete the files and rebuilds the file structure so you can read but the files are still there. As long as you don’t overwrite the files they can be recovered. Remember that next time you sell or give away a hard drive. The only way to be safe is to use some software to overwrite every thing on the drive. If any sensitive material on it then the safe way is to drill a hole through it.

Another great day so get out and enjoy it.