Well, I'm nestled into my hotel room in CB tonight so thought I'd share an update of my trip. Pics will have to wait until I'm home and able to upload them. Hopefully some turn out. haha
Yesterday and today can best be characterized as "disappointing" in a few respects. First, the weather, particularly today, has been pretty lousy, with lots of clouds and rain making picture taking or even scenery enjoyment somewhat muted. Still, I am used to rain so no big deal. lol I also have overbooked myself this trip. I'll probably end up putting 1400 miles on my rental car - that's a lot of driving. I'll remember that next time.
Yesterday morning I left Emporia and drove west to Florence before heading north to Herington. At Herington I was going to continue north to Junction City. At the last minute, I decided to head west through Hope and eventually Abilene. Unfortunately, I turned down a gravel road that soon turned into deep mud due to heavy rains. It took me a few moments to realize what was going on, but by then it was too late. Try as I might, I couldn't get any traction. I tried breaking off tree branches and stuffing them under my tires but that didn't work. Ultimately a guy had to come down from the Abilene area with a tractor to pull me out enough to drive away. That really got things off track and cost me a pretty penney unfortunately. However, once I got going the sun finally came out and I felt a lot better. I ran north to Enterpise, then to Abilene and Salina, before turning north to Fairmont NE (with a stop in Concordia to hose me and my car off), then west to Hastings, then north to Grand Island. Once checked into my hotal I ran west in the dark to Gibbon before calling it a night.
Today I got up early to find a dreary cloudy rainy day. I packed up and drove west to Kearney and spent a little time there before beginning my journey east to Council Bluffs. The first train heading out to Kearney was I believe a Frac Sand train with an Olympic Torth unit as second in consist. At Gibbon a WB empty coal train was just rolling onto the Overland Route with an ex-SOO SD60 as the second unit. I had planned to hang out near the flyover in Grand Island but the UP dried up and BNSF had a coal train parked on the bridge. So I continued east. I seemed to hit a real dead time for the UP, though down the line I found a Loram machine on Main 2 so that was obviously affecting things. In Central City I got a pic of a parked NCRC unit. I finally encountered an eastbound coal train which I had seen earlier. It had a patched SP unit as second in consist.
By the time I got to Fremont the sun had really started to come out and I was getting in a better mood. I enjoyed tootling around Fremont before deciding to head to Missouri Valley before Council Bluffs. I will say this: The Fremont to Missouri Valley segment of the UP is perhaps my favorite. I really loved the scenery through here as well as the overall feel of the area. I stopped at the Missouri River bridge and hung out for a while waiting for a train to come to no avail. As usually happens for me, I got in my car and drove less than 1/2 way up the side street before a stack train blasted by EB. As it turned out, I would catch this train at several spots as far east as Woodbine.
I turned back from Woodbine to Missouri Valley before heading south to Council Bluffs. A quick note was that at Missouri Valley that same coal train I'd seen in several spots earlier was just starting to pull onto the Overland Route from the Council Bluffs leg. There also looked to be a freight right behind it that I thought I also saw earlier near Grand Island. Would they have routed these Fremont-Omaha/CB-Missouri Valley, or was there another thing at play here?
Heading south I happened upon a very short CN freight heading towards Council Bluffs. I got off the freeway at Honey Creek and got a quick video of it. It had an SD70ACe and I think 9 cars, including 3 empty flats. Nice to see it. Now I'm at my hotel. My room looks right out onto the BNSF Bayard line. Doubt I'll see anything pass by in the next 12 hours but that's ok. I'm not expecting it.
Tomorrow I'll spend the day around teh area but I don't have any specific plan. After visiting KC, This area seems a bit easier to get around in so I hope to be able to check a few boxes off my list before flying out in the evening.