The Bug

Sometimes you’re the windshield
Sometimes you’re the bug
Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you’re just a fool in love

“The Bug”, Mary Chapin Carpenter

I really like the song “Passionate Kisses” by Mary Chapin Carpenter. It’s very catchy. I ended up buying her album “Come On Come On” and enjoying that too. There’s a lot of good songs on that album, but one of the more silly ones is “The Bug” (written by Mark Knopfler, of Dire Straits fame).

I like “The Bug” because it has a simple message – sometimes things go your way, and sometimes they don’t. It’s a good message for railfanning, because you never really know if things are going to go your way when you get trackside. You might end up driving around and seeing a lot of empty track, or you might get a great catch or a lucky fluke of sunlight on a dark day.

Meet Me at Makwa

Canadian Pacific tends to run a few trains early in the morning west of Winnipeg. If I’m heading west out of the city, I often will drive up to the northwest corner of the city and head west along the CP Carberry subdivision in the hope of catching one of those trains.

On July 11 I had a bit of luck early in the morning when I was heading west, out looking for canola. I spotted a headlight several kilometres to the west, so I set up at what CP calls “Makwa”, just west of the Perimeter Highway overpass. There’s a Viterra grain elevator here, with another under construction behind it.

I composed the shot to include the old and new elevators, and CP 8770 East came rolling into the frame.

CP 8770 East at Makwa
CP 8770 East at Makwa

There are two tracks between Makwa and the Winnipeg yard. The north track is the main line and the south track ends just west of the elevator, and it’s single track from there to Portage la Prairie. At one time I believe this was all double track but that was removed quite some time ago.

Anyway, I noticed that CP 8770 East was on the south track. I looked east, and in the distance I could see a headlight… a meet.

The timing worked out pretty well. The tail end of the eastbound train cleared in time for me to see the power on the westbound train.

CP 9701 on the tail end of the eastbound
CP 9701 on the tail end of the eastbound

The westbound power wasn’t anything unusual – CP 8840 and 8884 – and I elected to shoot it “going away” as the low sun really washed out any “coming” photos.

CP 8884 West at Makwa
CP 8884 West at Makwa

Here’s the video.

I quickly tossed my gear in the car and gave chase. I was heading west anyway, so why not?

The Race

It’s a race to overtake trains along highway 221 between Rosser and Marquette, because the track speed limit is 60 MPH and the highway speed limit is 100 km/hr (60 MPH). Fortunately I was able to overtake them near Marquette and have enough time to get on the “sun side” for a few shots.

CP 8840 near Marquette
CP 8840 near Marquette

For video, I’m using my daughter’s old iPhone SE as my video camera. Its video is better quality than the old Canon T1i DSLR I’ve been using, although the phone’s battery is terrible and doesn’t last long. What can I say – I’m cheap frugal.

iPhone on a tripod
iPhone on a tripod

Here’s the output from that iPhone.

Just miles of containers, double stacks of steel boxes moving back and forth across our great country. Commerce in a can.

CP 8954 mid-train
CP 8954 mid-train

On my way to Elie to see some canola, I spotted something odd flying in the air. It turned out to be this person, suspended beneath a parasail with a giant engine strapped to their butt.

Flying high
Flying high

Apparently these are called “paramotors“. They aren’t cheap – upwards of $10K! You won’t catch me with one of these things – I’m afraid of heights – but I can see that they could be fun for some people. Personally I will let my drone do the flying.

Just One More Thing

I’ve started working through The Creative Writing Workbook by Matthew Branton. You can guess what it’s about from the title. It features a lot of exercises that I will be doing, so you might see a few here on the site.

I still have the writing “bug” and I want to expand my horizons and try some new things, so I’m exploring creative writing. I think it’s valuable to keep learning, no matter what age you are.

5 thoughts on “The Bug”

  1. You may have written about this in a previous post, Steve, but do you know which grain company is building the new elevator at Makwa?

    Commerce in a can — you should trademark that slogan!

    • Hi Brian, it’s a Viterra elevator. Apparently they will keep the existing elevator for specialty crops and use the new one with the loop track for bulk crops like wheat.

  2. I agree with you about the old iPhone SE. I was shooting a video for my children’s school with a newer version of the iPhone and was shocked how glitchy the video function has become. It was a nightmare to work with, especially when editing, which means I too will be using an older iPhone when the school years rolls around.

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