Thursday, October 12, 2006

Loaded and on the siding in La Junta, Chihuahua

This morning's drive was short but challenging -- the highway was under construction for a good part of the route, and dodging construction equipment, speeding oncoming traffic, and impatient Mexicans passing from behind required intense concentration.

After last night's excellent dinner, consisting of soup, pork chops, mashed potatoes, vegetables, and cupcakes, we had our loading briefing.  I suggested to the wagonmaster that we would like to load early, so that, if we had any difficulties, we would have plenty of time to resolve them.  By this morning, he had decided that we would be first on, ahead of his own rig.

When we arrived at the loading area, the train was not yet ready.  After a wait of about an hour, the loadmaster carefully directed us on to the train.  The train was divided up into three cuts of cars, consisting respectively of six, six, and eight cars.  We had to cross five cars before arriving on our assigned car, and Louise captured some video of Odyssey crossing the makeshift bridges between cars, which I am sure she will be posting shortly.  It turned out to be a good idea to load us early, as chaining Odyssey down to the flatcar proved quite a challenge, with our low clearance and dearth of attachment points.

We are now securely cabled and chocked on the flatcar, which will remain here on the siding in La Junta (map) until tomorrow morning's departure at 07:30.  After we were completely secured, we walked into town for a nice lunch.  It turns out there is a festival in town, celebrating some type of founder's day (October 12th).  We caught a glimpse of the parade as we arrived this morning, and, after lunch, we strolled the streets, which were jam-packed with vendor booths (reminiscent of the large, and mostly Hispanic, flea markets we remember from California) and carnival rides.

In about an hour we will walk back into town as a group, for the post-loading margarita party and dinner.

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