Tuesday, December 31, 2013


I have spent the last couple of months with my coach parked at my daughter and son-in-law's place in Apple Valley, CA.  I was invited by my son-in-law, who is a Captain with the Apple Valley Fire Protection District, to do a "ride-along" with him and his crew that consisted of an Engineer and two Paramedic/Firefighters.  I, of course, could not turn down that kind of invitation, so on the morning of my visit, I took my camera and showed up at the station at the beginning of the duty shift.

 The day was two days after Christmas and their decorations were still on display.

One of the first things they do at the start of a shift is do a good work out in the exercise room.

Not long after their workout, Dispatch toned us for the first of three medical assistance calls that morning. In the engine we quickly climbed and we rolled out.

By the time we had returned from the third call, it was lunch time and they were watching something on interest on TV news as they quickly ate.

After lunch they washed and dried the water tender that was parked in the bay next to the engine.

 Station 2 paid us a visit with their engine to pick up supplies.

Late in the day, they got a call from 911 Dispatch of a motorhome and car on fire.



In less than ten minutes after we arrived, the flames were put out. There was not much left of the car or the Class C motorhome.

This brought to a close my interesting day with the VERY professional crew of Medic Engine 331. Last year, the three active Apple Valley Fire Protection District stations responded to a little over 10,500 calls. In the first part of this month, Engine 331 responded to three (3) major house fires. In one of those house fires, they found a dead body after the fire was out. An investigation showed that the person did not die as a result of the fire. You just never know what awaits firefighters when that alarm goes off in the station.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


When I met up with a small group of fellow Golden Spike members in Alamosa, Colorado, we enjoyed riding on three railroads in five days. One of those railroads was the Rio Grande Scenic Railroad. We left the Alamosa station on a clear sunny day and headed over La Veta Pass to the small town of La Veta.


This was a short train of only three cars, but very interesting cars they were. The last car is a complete restored lounge/observation car from the train City Of New Orleans.
We had full access to the train, but the car we spent most of our time in was the center car. This was a car built in 1952 for the Santa Fe Railroad as a dome/diner car. The dome went the full length of the top deck and the entire lower portion was the kitchen and dinning area.
The Rio Grande Scenic Railroad is not only a tourist railroad, but also an active freight railroad. There is a large agriculture industry in the Alamosa valley as well as a few industrial sites. They run freight at night and passenger traffic during the day. The freight cars go down to the main line of the BNSF Railroad to be taken to their destination. They also do a good business of buying obsolete passenger equipment and restoring them to "like new" condition and sell them to individuals and other tourist railroads. While the rest of our group were having a grand time in the dome car, I went back to the check out the City of New Orleans car. I had the whole car to myself. It was like brand new! The center portion of the car was a bar and had a short menu of food, but the rest of the car was set up with a few tables and many  comfortable chairs.

It was strange riding in a beautiful rail car with nobody else in it. It rode so quit and smooth that it gave the impression that the car was stationary and the scenery was moving by the windows. I took many photos through the center window at the back end of the car.

Here are a couple of views from that window. 
We kept gaining altitude until we reached around 9,000 feet. It was here that we were all served a delicious meal of baked salmon from the kitchen down below.
The train stopped to do a "run-by". We all got off the train and it backed up about half a mile and then came back up the hill at full speed, making with the smoke, and rolled by us as we took pictures.

  Then it was down hill all the way to the La Veta station.

They uncoupled the engine from the train. They put the engine on a Wye to turn it around.

On the way back to Alamosa, we stopped one more time
so the train could do another "run-by".

Then it was through the tunnel and on back to the Alamosa station.
It was a beautiful and pleasant 6-hr. train ride with friends that will
not soon be forgotten!
These were just some of over 200 photos that I took
 while on this ride.

Saturday, December 7, 2013


On my way from Oregon to Colorado this fall, I just happened to be in Reno on the weekend of their Balloon Festival. I arrived at the Balloon Park around 4:30 am to check out the festivities. Just after sunrise magic happened. The sky was filled with 100 of the most colorful balloons that I have ever seen.

There were about a dozen specialty balloons. People were able to walk around and watch them inflate these gigantic devices. There were many shapes and one balloon took up a couple and a minister and were married while floating above the park.

If you are ever in Reno around Labor Day, check out the Great Balloon Race