They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me
dr_phil_physics

Play Day

I've been meaning to do this for a couple of years. Catch some trains down Indiana way. Alas, last summer was a bust. And this summer has been filled -- and dwindling fast. But the other day it occurred to me that Tuesday this week was in between some doctor appointments, and while I could find some things to spend the time, I could play hookie and go adventuring. Even swing by Kalamazoo on the way back and stop long enough to pick up a Part-Time faculty WMU parking hang tag. Win. And one more thing I don't have to do at work Friday.

Also wanted to take the heavy pro Nikons out for a spin, which I haven't used much since I got the lightweight D100. They work better than the D100 and with rain forecast, have better water seals. Took the 5.7MP Nikon D1X and the 18-55mm f3.5-5.6G DX VR AF-S NIKKOR and the 70-300mm f4-5.6D ED AF NIKKOR, set at ISO 400 and 800 to keep the shutter speeds up at 300mm. Reset the 2.7MP Nikon D1H from B&W ISO 1600 to color ISO 200, and used it with the 24-120mm f3.5-5.6G ED-IF VR AF-S NIKKOR. The ultrawide 12-24mm f4G DX ED-IF AF-S NIKKOR stayed in the bag.

Michigan City IN has both Amtrak and South Shore passenger trains. Mrs. Dr. Phil has been dropped off and picked up at the Carroll Street South Shore station, but there's a second station in town. While the northwest corner of Indiana is Central Time, same as Chicago, and though any reasonable times meant I'd miss any Amtrak stops, there was a chance I might see two roll byes. Alas, didn't get out early enough. I heard the Pete Marquette heading from Grand Rapids/Holland passing through St. Joseph while in the stall at our usual restop at a Shell off I-94 Exit 23 at 10:09EDT/9:09CDT. The Blue Water from Flint also went through before I got there -- if not delayed by the rail construction.

I decided to get off I-94 at US-12 and drove through New Buffalo MI, as it got me near the waterfront and the Amtrak station. There's a single tall building south of there, which turned out to be the hotel for the Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City. I imagine the western rooms have a great Lake Michigan view. This was the only gleaming modern building I saw in Michigan City.


Michigan City IN Amtrak station. That's about half the platform. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


And this is the west end. The sign points out this is an unmanned stop and the only trains that stop are at these times. There is a depot, but it's a restaurant or something now. Hint of blue sky over the lake. Above and behind here it's high haze and brutal burning sun. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

I gave it about twenty minutes, in case the Blue Water was late. But was really worried about getting too much sun -- combination of my being a little mole person, easily burns and the doxycycline antibiotic is supposedly sun sensitive. Hot. Heard the South Shore 10:24 train a few blocks away at the 11th Street station. An older gentleman called to me from his pickup as I loaded my walker -- asked if the 11 o'clock train had stopped back. I pointed out that this was the Amtrak station and there was no stops scheduled. Did he mean the 11:01 South Shore? He never did answer me, just roared off, presumably to the other station.


Yes, this is a train station. On a sidewalk. On a street. 11th Street in Michigan City to be precise. You can just make out the nose of the Teal Machine on the far left. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


And the tracks run right down the middle of 11th Street. Just like the old time streetcars and interurbans -- which is where the South Shore comes from. Can you imagine turning a corner and realize there's a train in the middle of the street? As the 11:01 train to Chicago sauntered down the street, I saw a big sanitation truck on a side street decide to back off and not challenge it. Good call. Trains win. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


And arriving. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Looks like traffic might have a red light. The conductor made sure the road was safe before he gestured for the passengers to come out. Of course, most of these people have done it before and were already strolling into the street. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Getting ready to leave. These electric doubledecker cars have the cab on the upper level. The overhead wire is 1500 VDC. NICTD stands for Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District, I believe. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


There is a lot going on around this photo. First, the train stopped at the first red light. Presumably the greens are all synchronized. Second, gotta love the NO TRUCKS sign on a street with a train on it. Finally, just before the train moved into the frame where I wanted it, a squirrel had run into the middle of the empty street, flourished its tail a couple of times, then decided to yield. I took a gamble waiting for the train. Sometimes I forget that with a 2GB memory card, one doesn't have to worry about wasting or conserving film. Old habits die hard. So, no squirrel. Should've shot it anyway. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


And gone. The South Shore maintains a superb on-time record, easy to set your watch by. As a result, I wasn't out in the heat and vicious sun on this leg for more than five minutes. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Decided that since I missed Amtrak, I would wait an hour and a half to meet the 12:29 train at Carroll Street. Since I had time to kill, I drove down 10th, then another street back to US-12 and continued south. Around the entrance to the Dunes park, caught a short connector to US-20 and back up to East Michigan Street.

All this time it got darker and began to rain. As I turned up Carroll Street to the other station, above the trees was utter black. Started to rain hard. Found a handicapped parking spot right near the ramp to the platform.


Heard the horn of a diesel engine, but couldn't quite tell whether it was on the diamond crossing, and the big hulking SUV next to me blogged my view. Then the orange 2000hp EMD GP-38-2 appeared. I shot it through the wet windshield. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Put the key in the ignition and rolled down the right window. It's a pair of GP-38-2's switching. 4000hp is a little excessive for two cars. (grin) (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

At this point I decided I wasn't getting out with the walker -- I have to keep my foot dry -- and since I couldn't see to the left, I moved to a new spot at the end of the odd shaped parking lot.


Immediately rolled the driver's window, as I could see the distant headlight of the 12:29 train arriving early at 12:19. 300mm is 450mm equivalent on the D1X. It's tricky to get long shots on lines with overhead wire -- the support poles line up to block the view. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)


Managed to switch to the D1H to get the arriving train at the grade crossing before the rain got me too wet. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Then it was time to move on to Kalamazoo. On the way I passed a pair of huge wind turbine blades on I-94 in Michigan -- I love seeing them on the highway -- and tried to shoot the second blade. Alas, hit a bump in the road just as I shot -- the preview on the back LCD was badly crooked. Couldn't even call it artistic. So I got off at Exit 16 and looped around to let the blades added catch up with me.


Getting darker and darker as I tried to shoot around the wipers. Man, those things are BIG. (Click on photo for larger.)
©2014 Dr. Philip Edward Kaldon (All Rights Reserved)

Got to Western, where it was no longer raining and got my parking hang tag.

All together a fun filled day. And I scouted out the location of several train stations for future reference.

Dr. Phil
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