Sunday, July 11, 2010

Trains & Such

With all the rain that we have received lately, I was hoping for the skies to clear, and that is exactly what happened overnight. I woke-up shortly before 5:00am and with a glance out the window, I was out of bed and 10 minutes later I was backing off of my drive-way. I wanted to stop for coffee, however I was pressed for time as the sun was due to rise within 15 minutes or so, giving me just enough time to clear the city limits. I figured that I could hit the drive-thru in Chestemere for a coffee. As I cleared the last light out of town on highway 1 east, there is a overpass that takes you over Stoney Trail, and as I crested the overpass, my breath was taken away as I got my first look at the country-side that lie before me. Stunning to say the least with beautiful scenes that included ground-fog around every corner. I was fortunate to get in and out of the drive-thru in Chestemere quickly, probably due to the fact that most everyone was still home in bed. How unfortunate for them but fortunate for me, I thought to myself as I enjoyed my coffee while driving east on the Inverlake road.

Upon reaching highway 9, I turned north and drove over to the junction of 9 and the 564 where I turned east once more. I had a destination in mind and that would happen quickly as I soon was running parallel to it. On past drives out this way, I had noticed what appeared to be a abandoned rail-line that you cross over when nearing highway 21 and again east of highway 21. I had been waiting for a morning such as this one to explore this abandoned rail-line with its still intact rails and telegraph line. I have fond memories of growing up in small town Saskatchewan at the end of a rail-line, that saw a train arrive once a week to maybe drop box-cars at the grain elevators located there, and then once this was done, the train would depart with loaded box-cars full of wheat. As kids probably did in every small town across the prairies, we spent a lot of time near the elevators and the tracks as we called the rail-line, and caught hell from the engineer on the locomotive when we were caught placing nails and what not on the rails. We would retrieve these nails once the engine with its box-cars ran over the nails sculpting them into interesting shapes.

As I drove along the 564, I was keeping a eye on my Garmin Navigator that was scrolling the various roads on the screen that dissected this abandoned rail-line. From time to time, I drove down to where one of these backroads crossed over the rail-line. I captured a number of interesting photos each time that I checked out one of these crossings. I finally arrived where highway 21 crosses over ServiceBerry creek and the abandoned rail-line. Pulling my truck off of the road and parked in the road-ditch, I grabbed my camera gear and hiked down the road to the overpass. I had only gone a few meters off of the road and I knew I was going to get wet, as the grass that was a meter high in places, was saturated with very heavy overnight dew. Upon reaching the railway right-of-way, I was greeted with Cliff Swallows who were very unhappy to see me. That was because they had built there mud-nests beneath the overpass and I was standing to near to them to suit the swallows. The swallows settled down after I trekked down the track a ways, putting some distance between us. It felt strange standing on this abandoned rail-line on this beautiful very still morning and wondering about the trains that had passed by this way in times past. As I shot photos in the early morning light, I was taken back to a much earlier time, and my thoughts were of memories that flooded through my head of the summers that I spent with my childhood friends messing about at the track. This morning I got to do that again, and I left a nail on the track just in-case the train-whistle that I thought I heard was not just my imagination.

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