June 2008 Sampler
Hi.  I am sorry that I have been so darn quiet lately, but I don't have much of a choice, as the monthly amount of patronage here isn't nearly enough to allow me to focus wholeheartedly on all of the work that I am best at doing, meaning that I am forced to spend most of my time and energy performing tasks that are wastes of my time and talents.  

If you wish to see plenty more good work from me, please enable me to do this full-time or almost full-time.  With enough patronage off of which to survive, I could produce so much more great work!

New Beginnings - New Hope

June 2008 was a memorable month in my life, the beginning of a radically joyous formative experience in the Northern Great Plains, an epic journey that started in the middle of the month and ended at the end of July.

Before that, though, on the first weekend of June, I did a little bit of appetizer traveling, as I attended what would be my last KCSHS convention - this one in Monroe - and saw Shawn Levy for what would be the final time.

While in the area, for the foaming, I caught eastbound Kansas City Southern Railway train SHNS at Simmsboro on the 7th.

When teaching students about the seasonal changes caused by the tilt of the Earth's axis in relation to its orbit around the sun, I would often use this picture, doing mental exercise to get students to think about the Earth, the seasons, lighting, and geometry.

For example, after I did drawings of the globe on the board and the patterns of sunlight, I would inform them that this picture was made in June and that the tracks were running almost due-east west, but I didn't tell them which direction the image was looking.  They had to guess that based on which side of the train was lit.

The view is looking west (as the train is moving east), and we know this because, in the late afternoons of spring and summer, the sun sets to the north of due west.  Were this image made in the fall or winter, the side of the train that you see in the image would not be illuminated as it is in this image.

Does this make sense?

The next day, after I left Monroe, I went east, and then I went north, where I saw this.

That is the H&W Cotton Warehouse north of Lake Providence, Louisiana.

A few days later, back at the crib in Mid-City in New Orleans, the neighbor's cat paid me a visit.

Ain't that cat precious?

Two days later, on the 12th, I was at the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad's France Yard and caught this action.

That's KCS's Shreveport-to-CSX-New-Orleans train crawling its way along France Road.

Three days later on the 15th, I am stopped at the Taco Bell in Boutte, and here comes the westbound Sunset Limited.

The next day, I am in the parking garage to go to the gym in Metairie, and I get this westward view of northeastern Metairie.

Then, less than two days later, it happened.  On the morning of the 18th, I began my Great Northward Pilgrimage, a monumental, life-changing experience.  The first day of the pilgrimage had me landing for the evening in Heavener, Oklahoma, and, on the way there, I got this image in DeQueen, Arkansas.

That is KCS train G-MXKCS, an empty northbound shuttle grain train coming out of Mexico after delivering some American grain (almost certainly corn) to some Mexican markets.

The next morning in Heavener, I got this image.

That is northbound KCS train H-SHKC, the "haulage" train from Shreveport to Kansas City; this train consists entirely of cars that originate or terminate between those two cities, which means that this train makes a few stops along the way to set out and pick up blocks of cars for local trains.

The next day, I am in Pittsburg, Kansas, a really neat place, and I photographed, from the overpass over the KCS terminal there, some hostling being done.

Please note that he is holding up two fingers.

The next day, the 21st, was a truly spiritual experience in eastern South Dakota.

I can't describe it.  I had so much hope in life back then.

The next morning, I got to chase a train on the Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad.

That is train M-CCHU, a Manifest train from Chicago, Ilinois, to Huron, South Dakota.

That afternoon, I arrived in Fargo, North Dakota, to spend a summer based there for a seminar that was one of the most awesome experiences of my life.

Two afternoons later, I got my first North Dakota train pictures.

The next morning, I was in Valley City, an interesting place, and I saw, among other things, this.

Yes, there are frogs in North Dakota!

The next day, the 26th, we were in Streeter at the grasslands center.

This is a beautiful place.  I wish that I could spend more time here.  I wish that you, too, could spend time here.

Finally, to end this set, here is a scene of the first Canadian Pacific Railway train that I ever photographed, a loaded westbound grain train climbing out of the valley at Valley City, presumably to Vancouver.

I was so curious about the places through which this train would travel.

Maybe that explains some of the fascination with trains, and I am sure that the stories of the lives of the farmers who made this grain and the human beings who would consume it (or the animals who eat the grain) are stories worthy of telling, too.

And storytelling is what I do and wish to continue to do.

Merci,

JBX


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