**WARNING: LOTS AND LOTS of pictures and videos in this post!**

While we were in Mississippi, Sam was able to actually drive a train. Knowing his obsession with trains, he was ridiculously excited about doing this. We had to keep it a secret for the longest time because we/I knew it would be ALL he would talk about until it happened. He is STILL talking about driving trains and blowing whistles- and he did this over a month ago!

First off, he was appropriately dressed as a conductor with the hat they gave him.

From October 2011


There’s our train- it was a freight train! (We call it a “stuff” train to help Sam differentiate it from an Amtrak- a “people” train)

From October 2011


All aboard!!

From October 2011


Once the train started moving, Sam immediately snapped into safety mode and felt that we needed to have the door closed. However, that was the only way for us to get a breeze and it was H-O-T so the door stayed open.

Then, it was his turn to drive! This is the lever that makes the train go either fast or slow.

From October 2011


From October 2011



My mom and I were just along for the ride…

From October 2011


I think we went out into the middle of nowhere…

From October 2011


But then we came upon a farm!

From October 2011


We crossed a few roads and therefore, the whistle had to be blown. I didn’t get a picture of Sam blowing the whistle but I did get a video!

It turned out to be an eventful trip- for our railroad working friends. Apparently, one of the CSX trains cars broke down and so there was a crew out there welding on one of the cars.

From October 2011


These cars were blocking the entrance so our shipment that we were coming to pick up was having to hang out in New Orleans until the car was fixed. We didn’t have anything else better to do, so we agreed to just hang out and wait on the cars. We were there for at least an hour but, we were able to easily keep ourselves entertained.

From October 2011


From October 2011


I was trying to get a picture of Sam and I sitting on the front of the train. However, unbeknownst to me, Sam burnt his little finger as he was sitting down- he grabbed the headlight to help ease him down. Therefore, he was not in the greatest mood for having a picture taken. Oops!

From October 2011


From October 2011


It must not have hurt too badly because he climbed back into the engine room (?) and enjoyed goofing off…

From October 2011


while I roamed and took random pictures…

From October 2011


From October 2011


From October 2011


From October 2011


From October 2011


Another shadow picture!!

From October 2011


From October 2011


It looks like they are having a spitting contest…

From October 2011


And, yes, we drove over a penny… a copper one at that! At first, the guys thought that since I had used a copper penny it had melted into the wheel because this is what we first saw…

From October 2011


Then we found prints on the track!

From October 2011


FINALLY, we found my penny and it was sitting exactly where it started out. So apparently, some of the copper melted out of it and made the prints on the wheel and track.

From October 2011


What impressed all of us was just how much space was required for the train wheel to make a complete rotation… (click on the picture below to watch the video- for some reason this video and another one further down, never made it to YouTube)

From October 2011


(sorry for the skinny video- my computer thinks it was recorded vertically and I am too lazy to flip it- HA!)
So, once the cars that we were waiting on arrived from New Orleans (just down the street from the seminary actually,) we then had to wait on the fixed cars to get moved out of the way. What ended up happening was that the engine that came from New Orleans disconnected from its train and connected to the fixed cars. Then they pushed those to another set of tracks, disconnected the engine and drove it back out, reconnected it to our cars, and pushed those down ANOTHER set of tracks so we could hook to them and push them back to where we were going. It was a bit confusing but really neat to watch.
Here come the fixed cars…

From October 2011


They link themselves automatically but then a RR guy has to hook the brakes up (that is the hose you see dangling down)…

From October 2011


From October 2011


In case you want to see it in action, we made a video… (again, click on the picture to watch the video)

From October 2011


The really scary thing is that when you see the train cars with boxes stacked on top of each other, they are only held in place by a metal stick in each corner. See…

From October 2011


Here are the cars we were waiting on. Some of them were empty (like the ones in the picture) but others actually had stuff in them.

From October 2011


During all of this, Sam decided it was time to take a nap…

From October 2011


Once the other engine was out of our way, we connected to the cars and headed back in. Our engine actually pushed the cars back and so a guy on the other end was riding on the front of a car and blowing the horn- we never heard it! Crazy!
Here is how hard the drive back was for our conductor…

From October 2011


The conductor was telling us that in the summer it would get over 120F in his cabin (?)! YIKES! They had coolers and BIG jugs of water all over the place- and I can see why. It is HOT working on a “stuff” train. 🙂

It was such a fun trip and I would love to do it again with Travis so he can experience it as well. However, with my dad retiring soon, I really think this was probably a once in a lifetime opportunity. If you made it this far in reading this post, thanks for the dedication and I promise that the next post won’t be nearly as long.

🙂
Steph

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