Yesterday we went for a 4 hour train ride from Alamosa to Antonito and back. The small San Luis and Rio Grande Scenic Railroad train was pulled by this oil-fired steam engine.
We had to be in Alamosa by 7:30 for the 8:15 departure, so we left Lathrop State Park at 6:15 am for the 70 mile drive. Most of southern Colorado has hazy skies from the forest fire burning near Los Alamos, NM. This was our first view of the San Luis Valley as we drove west.
Last year John won a photo contest with one of the pictures he took on the photographers special trip in August. His prize was a free pass on the SLRG and that is one of the reasons we are spending our summer here. I wrote two blogs about that trip, one on the photographers and the other about the trip
Our train car manager for yesterday's trip was Ted. We enjoyed meeting him.
The last car on the train was open and we could see back down the tracks during the trip to Antonito. This view reminded me of this stage of life. We can see back a long way and there are lots of good memories. But the further back we look, the more blurry the picture becomes.
Sometimes our path in life isn't entirely clear. I'm glad the engineer or brakeman and switchman knew which track we needed to go on yesterday.
These horses didn't like the noise of the train and galloped away.
In another field, the cattle were unconcerned as we went by.
Somebody went to a lot of work to build this elaborate gateway. But notice, it doesn't go anywhere--the road doesn't go through it.
We often see evidence of early recycling efforts. Abandoned railroad cars frequently show up in farm yards as ready-built storage sheds.
Silos provide a canvas for local artists.
This small ladder sure makes it easy to cross the barbed wire fence.
The San Luis Valley is an alpine valley covering approximately 8,000 square miles in Colorado and New Mexico. It provides excellent land for farming. A lot of hay is grown there.
But only if there is water. So we saw lots of irrigation canals and ditches.
And large sprinklers irrigating crops.
Some of the irrigation water comes from rivers and some from deep wells. In this arid place, it is easy to see where water flows or is close to the surface. Willows and cottonwood trees grow in abundance.
I'm not sure these corrals would hold cattle these days.
About half of the passengers on our train were going to Antonito to ride the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railway train over Cumbres Pass down into Chama, NM. This flag draped the rear platform on that train.
It was pulled by a coal-fired steam engine. Look at all that coal. I was glad I didn't have to shovel it.
But this guy did. By the way, when John can't sleep at night, he sometimes pictures himself shoveling coal into the fire box. Hard work, but boring I guess.