Gary Gardner (grgardner) wrote,
Gary Gardner

Boys and Trains

For as long as I can remember, I've been fascinated with big things that move -- trains, planes, cars, motorcycles etc.  I don't know if its the sight of big hunks of metal in motion, or the notion of going somewhere or getting away that appeals to me more.  I've been a railfan for as long as I can remember, and always enjoy watching a long freight or passenger train going by, and love riding on them.  I've been very envious of the European and British passenger train systems for some time, and wish we could have them here in the US.
My nephew Scotty is another young train buff.  He's six years old, and is a huge fan of the British "Thomas the Tank Engine" series, and he has quite the collection of Thomas trains.  He wanted to take me on the Utah Transit Authority "Front Runner" which is the new commuter rail service in Salt Lake City, so we made plans to do just that today.  Why in the world Seattle can't do something like this is beyond me - especially with the larger population base.  The Front Runner started earlier this year, and there is a train every thirty minutes making the 40 mile trip north to Ogden Utah, starting at 4am and going until midnight.  The pitiful Seattle "Sounder" service offers only 8 trains all day -- all in the rush hour.  Salt Lake also has a fantastic Light Rail system, and both Front Runner and the Light Rail are expanding.
I hopped on a North bound train in Salt Lake at 1027 this morning, and would meet up with Scotty and his family in Layton about half way to Ogden, and then we'd all ride to Ogden and then back to Layton where they'd get off and I'd go back down to Salt Lake.  The train pulled out silently and right on time (very much like a European train), and we headed North.  The view from a train is always interesting -- it's the "back yard" view.  You get to see peoples back yards, all messy and junky -- the back sides of warehouses and businesses and such, and the "wrong side of the tracks" part of town.  Soon enough we were zipping along the freeway and passing cars on I-15 and just 30 minutes later were pulling into Layton where Scotty, his Mom and Dad, and sister Shay were waiting on the platform.  Scotty was all excited and waved as the train pulled in and ran to me, grabbed my hand and bolted up the stairs to the upper level.  He and I both sat with our faces pressed to the glass watching other trains and the world go by until we got to Ogden and got out to stretch our legs.
We got off to inspect the train and I put Scotty on my shoulders.  It was at this point he noticed that I had no hair and exclaimed, "you have no hair", and proceeded to wrap his arms around my head to keep me warm as I carried him.  He broke off the ice on the locomotive and waved at the engineer and we walked the length of the train with his sister Shay.  The train doesn't turn around as there is a locomotove control in the end of the last car and it becomes a "push" train rather than a "pull" train and heads back to Salt Lake.

Our ten minutes on the platform came to an end and we hopped back on board for the ride home.  Scotty and I watched trains again and wished we could go further, and he gave me a big hug as the train pulled into Layton and they got off.  I bet in a few years I'll come back and he'll hop on the back of my motorcycle and we'll take a day to ride and watch trains again. 

I'm just wishing we had this kind of a system running between Seattle and Olympia.  


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