Today it rained / drizzled / poured and various combinations of the above all the way from Ashland to Charlottesville, to Lynchburg and our final destination, Roanoke Virginia.
The initial route had me a bit puzzled as Sally the Psychotic SATNAV had us taking some really odd back roads - click - it was still in "Avoid Highways" mode - my fault. I apologised to her and she promptly took me over to Interstate 64.
The first and only stop in Charlottesville was the Amtrak Station and the sight of people unloading bags from their cars was a good omen. About 20 minutes after our arrival, Amtrak's 'The Crescent' from New Orleans turned up. I got a good shot of its arrival and departure as it left for New York.
|The Crescent arriving at Charlottesville VA|
There's also a diamond here and I should have stopped and thought about this for a while and started listening to the scanner - as it may have hinted that there were two CSX freights sitting not far away waiting for The Crescent to depart. Lloyd was first to spot it, and I had the video camera set up in record time. I also managed to get a few stills off as well. In my haste to get back on the road, no sooner had we driven out of the carpark, another CSX freight turned up. Never mind. There will be more.
|A thumping Dash 8 at Charlottesville VA - beautiful sound.|
The drive from Charlottesville to Lynchburg was sensational. There was hardly anyone on the highway and a lot of it was unblemished concrete - none of the ka-thump ka-thump you get with the patched roads. Highway 29 was a dream drive.
This part of Virginia is totally encompassed in trees. We thought Maryland and Pennsylvania were green - this place - indescribable.
Lynchburg turned out to be a road works nightmare downtown, and it looks as if the city is trying to do something about it's old brick buildings - by converting them to apartments and tidying up the streets a bit.
|No prizes for guessing this was a flour mill - now an apartment block in Lynchburg VA|
Nothing worth mentioning about this place, other than we found a CSX GP40-2 switching some boxcars and that was it.
|CSX EMD GP40-2 - with an aircon unit and a dulux overhaul, this old girl will last forever.|
We sat and ate lunch beside the CSX main but nothing came through - the drizzle was starting to get heavier anyway.
In our quest to find lunch, we visited a convenience store that was advertising Hot dogs on the outside, and had a big banner inside advertising Hot dogs, but when Lloyd asked "Where are the Hot dogs?" the $@#%& behind the counter just smiled and said "Oh yeah, I should really take that sign down - we don't have them anymore".
We left Lynchburg with only a few photos on the memory card to take with us. The drive to Roanoke was in wet vertical rain, as opposed to the other 49 different types you can get over here. It looks like heavy drizzle, but 30 seconds outside and you're soaked.
Arrival at the mighty Days Inn at Roanoke - their computer had crashed so we had to wait a bit to check in - their PCs are still running Windows XP - I haven't heard those warning alarms in years !
We took a cruise around town in heavy vertical rain with a slightly cooling breeze and took in the sights from both ends of the yard, looking for a place to catch some action....even though it was raining, I was still looking. We opted not to go to the Transport Museum, but instead found an ideal location under an overpass, and right below us were the Norfolk Southern main lines to the Yard.
We could see some of the outside exhibits from Shenendoah Ave, so I stopped, ducked across the road in the heavy wet drizzle and snapped off some shots. Haven't been so excited to see a boxcar before, but when it's painted in RF&P colours, it really does trip your ground relay...to use a railroading term.
|Seeing this raised my heartbeat a tad. The RF&P has now been absorbed into CSX - odd that it's at a museum beside Norfolk Southern lines, CSX's competitor.|
The yard here is also used for the storage of lease engines - probably awaiting a tidy up, so there are some old SOO Line SD60s here - difficult to get a descent photo above the fence in the rain.
We'd already seen an intermodal depart and by sheer luck, as soon as we arrived, a Norfolk Southern manifest departed right on cue.
|Filthy weather, yet the camera did a reasonable job.|
Through sheer determination, we waited, and waited, and "Here comes one" - "Here comes another one".
Once again, I managed to have two trains turn up at exactly the same time from opposite directions, with one blocking the view of the other. This time I opted to pan with one loco and have the other loco appear in the shot later - the timing was near on perfect. Too busy to take photos.
Two cops turned up, but going by the amount of tyre marks in the gravel, this is what they did on a regular occasion, and they didn't even bat an eyelid as to what I was doing.
Another NS manifest turned up and by now, the wind was getting a real chill to it, so we opted to beat a hasty retreat, get dinner and settle in for the night.
|Friendly Conductor waited until I looked up from my video camera, then gave me a wave. Cool guy.|
"Y'all have a safe journey now..." - yes, a young lady did say that to me tonight. That's my first ya'll I've heard on this trip. Awesome !
She was helping Lloyd sort out the tricky lid that goes on the coffee cups - despite her efforts, he still couldn't get anything out of it. Putting two lids on the cup probably had something to do with it. He left with his tail between his legs muttering words that rhymed with "Heart Grass" and her having to talk to me.
Once again, I was asked "Where are you (ya'll) from?", and when I replied "New Zealand", once again I heard "Oh, I'd love to go to Australia!"
These people need some serious geography lessons....or maybe we should change our flag to have the words "Not Australia" written on it. This has happened so many times, it's no longer funny.
Lloyd's a bit geographically challenged too, and has a vague idea where he is in respect to other major cities and landmarks around us, so I've bought a Rand McNally Road Atlas and have been marking the roads we've driven on using a highlighter (finally, something that's got the same name in NZ). That should keep him happy.
Tomorrow we continue west and start crossing State borders again. Thanks for the wet weather, Virginia. No wonder it's so green here.