Monday, October 18, 2010

Freight Train Blues . . .

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The new photo in the blog header is from the recent trip to the USA, an abandoned car seen somewhere on a back road in Pennsylvania. I really liked the way she seems to be blushing almost, as though she's embarrassed about being seen in public with her rusty makeup running like that.
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It was wonderful to be out rambling, riding freight trains from one town to the next. Some of those coal trains going down Appalachian Mountain tracks are miles long. Just imagine how much coal one of those trains can carry. On the way to coal burning electricity plants. I wonder what we will do when the coal is gone. When the oil is gone. When the fish in the seas are gone. All plundered by our endless greed. Reminds me of that well known quote attributed to the Cree native American tribe :
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"Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money."
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And although it is hard to make out in the photo, at the far left there is a sign which says "Appalachian Trail, Maine to Georgia" on the bridge the train is going under. The Appalachian Trail goes over that spot. Would love to walk it all someday.
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The train seemed to stretch away into infinity at the vanishing point in the distance.
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Even when the rain came pouring down it didn't stop me from looking at what was going on in terms of light and color and distortions. And note the "ATM Inside" on a sign here which means there's an Automatic Teller Machine there for withdrawing cash. Later on I found a sign outside a church which also said "ATM Inside", but which then explained it meant "Atonement, Truth, and Mercy". Will post a photo of it soon. Cash or Mercy ? Truth or Consequences ?
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Saw an awful lot of corn out there . . . those amber waves of grain . . .
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Found myself dining in the finest of diners, the ones that have no name other than "Diner".
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Spending nights sleeping in some seedy motels in the yellow light of roadhouse lights.
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What matters is that at the end of the day you can honestly say you tried to do some good work. .
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And at the end of our travels we should all be so lucky as to end up in a cemetery named "Grand View". As if the view really matters at that point !
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24 comments:

Catherine said...

what a wonderful sequence of trains, travels and reflections - all very evocative of the time and place...Greetings from Mexico...where there is only one train ride left..

Stickup Artist said...

Love the new header and your verbal description. I love the seedy hotel room and the old diner too. And I especially love the wavy rain shot through the window. It's like you are Jack Kerouac out tramping! I think the rain adds to the ambiance terrifically. Rolling, rolling, rolling, keep them doggies rolling... Can't wait to see more!

Artscapes said...

I think the thing that hits me the most from your wonderful photos is what's behind them. People live their lives just outside the frames. This makes your photos that much more poignant to me. The images hold many levels of meaning. Your sensitive eyes reveal these to us. This is why I love visiting. :)
Have a lovely week Owen

Best from BC's west coast, Elizabeth

the fly in the web said...

Your post made recall my father singing to me when I was young

Down on the levee
The levee so low
Down on the levee
You hear the train blow....

I think it was a part of the song 'Birmingham Jail'..but a lot of what he imparted has become muddled over the years.

Gary said...

great, great, great :-)

...louciao... said...

I do like that new header! The perfect vehicle for heading off down Mr. Toad Road. Beep beep!

So much to take in on this particular ride:

Driving past trains dragging lifetimes of boxcars;
splashing through city streets slick with rain-bent neon;
finding refuge in mouldering motel rooms with flickering TVs;
Slipping into
or out of jackets
in anonymous diners
after a good day's work
to enjoy a salty corndog
with a rootbeer float,
served up by a waitress named Leslie,
with Tennessee Ernie Ford rumbling from the jukebox in the corner
as we admire the grand view
and ponder our fates.
{:->

Amy said...

I adore the new header.

It's too perfect that you are watching John Wayne in those hotel rooms. It looks like quite the trip and reminds me that it is a pity that I have yet to travel by train. I should really see to that.

pRiyA said...

Fabulous fotografs of trains and diners!

nathalie said...

Owen, that Distortions photo is a gem. I took the liberty to copy it into my "friends' best photos" file for the pleasure of looking at it from time to time. I love it!

TechnoBabe said...

I like that you gave the car in the header a gender, like a boat. And now I do see her blushing. Ha. The TV in the motel room looks like you are watching a John Wayne movie and also the reflection of the motel room.

Gwen Buchanan said...

The Native quote is so true.. sad but true.

Nevine said...

Owen, you have such a gift for finding lovely things to photograph. Either that or you have an eye for beauty in everything you see. I might just walk past some of these things you've paused to photograph without a second thought. But you... you do pause... and click.

I do love the photo in your new header... and the one of the diner. But that shimmery one with the golden arches just sent my mind in all sorts of weird places.

You are so talented... and... haven't I told you that before? ;-)

Nevine

mythopolis said...

Well, I think that old beauty is wearing rouge! I wouldn't worry too much about running out of oil or coal....we will drown before then in the icy waters of the polar ice caps we have melted! I love road trip photos and cheezy motels. Something about such a place makes you feel like you are in a low-budget movie! The people on the other side of the wall are yelling...through the other wall athere is a lot of moaning and the sound of a vibrating bed! Nice post...makes me wanna hit the road!

La Belle's said...

On the road again, again Mr Toad... those trains are beautiful memories of long trips and thank you for having them leading us to our last trip at the Grand View Cemetery !... bisous from Lebanon, a train free zone...! La Belle's

Le Journal de Chrys said...

J'aime particulièrement deux photographies: la pluie et Diner!!!!! Bon, je t'avoue, je n'ai pas lu ce que tu as écrit car je ne suis pas fortiche en anglais.....


Bonne soirée!

James said...

I love the trains and the diner is priceless!
You captured a very nice slice of Americana. I like the way you put together something that's fading away and almost intangible. I'm also a sucker for John Wayne movies.

ps. you have email.

ρομπερτ said...

Feeling currently as if such a train rides me, this escape was of much need. merci beaucoup. excuse these few words, and thank you very much for your visits as well.


daily athens

The Sagittarian said...

Oh to be a fly on your knapsack as you roam these places, I really love the rainy one - looks all crumpled and about to cry!

nouvelles couleurs - vienna atelier said...

I really love your photos

Alberto Oliver said...

Incredible!! The soul of the deepest America. 1000 nations within one and still a single identity. Quite illustrative series Owen. It must be pretty moving to get back to the roots for you, where the journey began once. And definetively, i love the new picture in the header, it says it all.
Keep well friend :)

Owen said...

Dear each and every one of you,
You continue to floor me with these comments... poems, warmth, sharp eyes, humour, you leave me smiling while pondering fates... for the time being my fate is to work, work, and work some more, those straightjackets just won't wait, orders are pouring in from all over the world, people are losing it right and left ! Stay sane please everybody, I don't need more work, really. Like the parrot says in Tom Robbins' book Fierce Invalids : "People of the world : Relax !"

La Belle's, so happy to read you here !!!

Chrys, bon, il va falloir que l'on travail sur cet anglais, cela pourrait être utile tu sais, bon, on va commencer avec les phrases les plus importantes :

Abandoned Car = Voiture Abandonnée
Abandoned House = Maison abandonnée
Abandoned Factory = Usine abandonnée

Dream House = maison de reve

Voilà, avec ces quelques phrases, tu pourrais déjà capter les trois quarts des écrits sur mes billets... bon courage, j'espère que ces greves ne te provoques pas trop de soucis.

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Myth ! My goodness, not sure I even want to know what was going on in those motel rooms around me... a steady stream of dubious looking people were coming in and out... poor me, I just wanted to sleep so as to get back out early on the road hunting photographs...

Karine A. said...

Un voyage en images que j'ai eu grand plaisir à faire avec toi...

Roxana said...

such a wonderful diary of a truly spectacular trip, Owen... light humour, wisdom, a bit of irony, sensitivity, all the ingredients needed to write the book of one's Journey.

making me think of Cavafy:
"Always keep Ithaca in your mind.
To arrive there is your ultimate goal.
But do not hurry the voyage at all.
It is better to let it last for many years;
and to anchor at the island when you are old,
rich with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches."

this simple truth resounding in me, while i keep watching your rain-distorted diary file...

Owen said...

Thank you Karine and Roxana !

A million times thank you...