What a Joyful Beast....

What a Joyful Beast!

Each Year I take a photographic Trip. Last year on a lark my longest friend and I took the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad which is a living museum.  Meaning that the pieces in the Museum are still working.  The trains still run the tracks. The museum piece steam engines, built mostly in the 1920's continue to run and pull cars filled with gleeful passengers up the mountains into Colorado from Chama New Mexico.

The railroad line is named for the highest point (the Cumbres Pass at over 10,000 ft) and the lowest point (the Toltec Gorge at 8700 ft).  The ride takes a few hours, and you get a tasty lunch in the middle and are able to get off the train and walk around a place called Osier (a railroad stop with a few buildings but an incredible vista).  The folks who run the train, serve you drinks, and work anywhere with the Railroad are some of the friendliest folks in the world.  They are all proud of the trains and are filled with all sorts of stories and trivia.  

The train has been restored.  The rail cars are mostly 1980 models that have been rebuilt to look vintage and they did an amazing job.  You would swear they are right out of the old west.  The steam engines were actually built in the 1920's. I didn't realize the railroads in the 1920's were still running on steam.  These old trains were built to last, here they are nearly 100 years old and still plugging away.  Of course, it takes a big team of folks to keep this museum running and the trains on time.  And one thing about every one you will meet is they are railroad enthusiasts!

Pulling out of Chama, in middle October we were immediately greeted by pure gold.  The aspens are changing and much of the trek is unmolested land filled with forests.  Back in Texas we are still having 90-degree weather some days so to see the fall in full swing was such a treat.  If you look at the picture below, you will notice two kinds of emissions.  One is steam and one is smoke.  The old trains still run on coal.  But the steam engine has to let off steam (imagine that) so often you get a mix of white and dark.

The windows open fully so you can hang your camera out with nothing to impede your shot.  Here is my buddy getting ready for a photograph.

And let me tell you, if you are a photographer, you will not tire of aiming your camera and there is something every mile to take photos off.  The trees, the long views over valleys and mountain tops are non-stop.  The trees just blew me away and you pass through a lot of forest.  There is wildlife but that is mostly luck of the draw. We saw one lone buck

Talk about your rocky mountain high!

One the great treasure of any trip is the people you meet.  I have traveled all over North America and Central America and have found a smile and willingness to visit will make some lifetime friends.  This trip was no different.  We ate lunch with the Abbot from Monastery of the Holy Archangel Michael, a Greek Orthodox Monastery.  One of the funniest guys you will meet.  His brothers were on the train with him.  This trip was actually business for them as they had to pick up a pickup at Osier.  But it was a joy to meet them.  Here is the senior of the group.  I can only imagine the little boy wondering if he was walking near Santa Clause

But of course, we often get people staring at us too....  I wonder why?


If you get near Chama, New Mexico, take a trip, I promise you will love it!

If you want to see what it looks like in the car, we road in, check out this YouTube video on my YouTube Channel:  https://youtu.be/5pZdJmW6Hks