From a moving train

shoot-556There’s something about taking pictures from a train. You get to take shots you can not take any other way.

I always spend time looking at the window and shooting. West from Denver is the absolute best train ride in America. The tunnel district with thirty tunnels, leading to the seven mile long Moffat Tunnel. The Big Ten Curves climbing out of Denver. The steep granite sides of Glenwood Canyon. The vastness of the deserts of Utah and Nevada. There’s nothing like it I’ve ever seen. Only the trip to Machu Picchu on Peru Rail comes close.

shoot-555You pass through Ruby Canyon and see things you can only see from a train. You go through ghost towns like Cisco, Utah and Hazen, Nevada that you would probably never see otherwise. Small town America, rolling through back yards and road crossings and along rivers. It’s a part you can’t get to from the interstate off ramps, and it doesn’t even register from thirty thousand feet. These are opportunities you’d never know existed any other way.

shoot-553Oh sure, it has it’s faults. The windows are always dirty. The footing is never certain, and centrifugal force is always waiting to trip you up. Things are bouncing, rocking and rolling. The sun is always throwing reflection on the windows and trying to fool your meter in to a bad exposure. The deck is stacked against you, from the words “all aboard.”

shoot-554It’s always nice to get a shot when the deck is stacked against you. I never feel like I’ve won a confrontation or anything, I just feel like my skill has been tested and I was up to the task. It makes me smile. And the feeling of nailing the shot from a moving train just makes the discovery that much sweeter.

Photos taken on FPP Retrochrome in a Contax RTS II with a 45mm/f2.8 Tessar and Kodak Portra in an Olympus XA.

What you find

It’s interesting how when you aren’t really looking for new things, you find them. And then you also find yourself making plans because of what you find.

I found the Adventure Cycle map, and realized there are more routes than I thought there were. The overlay that shows you the Amtrak routes is especially good, as it gives me ideas on how to connect the dots with the train. With enough time, I could cover a serious amount of ground on a bicycle. I noted the Great Parks South route is entirely inside Colorado, and logistically the easiest to get to. Stephanie noted this also has many, many more mountains to climb. All of the routes that traverse the Rockies in Colorado use Monarch Pass. I don’t recall if I’ve ever been over Monarch. If I have I don’t remember what it’s like. I may have to go run some recon this winter before making any decisions about trying that route or not.

Stephanie has expressed a preference for the flatter, more eastern routes. I’m sure climbing the divide isn’t going to be easy, but I definitely know I do not want to ride any of the southern routes through Arizona. Walking to the car in 115 degree F was no fun. I can’t imagine exerting in that kind of weather.

shoot-499Although, I have a mind to spend a couple of weeks next winter in the Superstition Mountains. In February, when the high temps are low enough to be bearable. May even decide to take a group trip offered through REI.

I’ve started preparing for a new photography project as well, forcing myself to get some portraits done. I’ve tried them in the past, but I’ve never been happy with what I’ve managed to produce. This time, I’ll throw everything out and start from scratch and see what I can manage to do.

Plus, there will be a continuation of documentary photography in the west, but I feel that will be going on for years. There’s a lot left out there to find.


Here’s the Adventure Cycling Association Interactive Route Map

Today’s pictures taken with Analougue for iOS. An excellent brand new app for your phone. I’m still getting the hang of it, but it’s fun so far.