Solar Eclipse
Custer State Park
Wind Cave National Park
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site
Badlands National Park

MTA’s Linden Yard

I took another fun, educational tour with the New York Transit Museum. This tour was of MTA’s Linden Yard where they rehabilitate and replace subway track and switch gear. I have been on several yard tours, and this one was very different. There were no cars being repaired. It was strictly rails. There are three types of rail areas: underground, aboveground on the surface, and aboveground on a structure (elevated). They repair and build rail differently depending on where it is.

In some areas, they can lay continuous welded rail, which speeds up replacement. They weld long lengths of rail together in the yard and then transport them to the location to be laid.

A continuous welded rail is laying on the ground in the middle next to the stacked rails

The continuous welded rail is transported in specialty rail cars that are joined together and can transport eight of these continuous welded rail.

Specialty rail car for laying continuous welded rail

Specialty rail car for laying continuous welded rail

They use thermite to weld lengths of rail together. The process is awesome to watch.

Using thermite to weld two pieces of rail together

Using thermite to weld two pieces of rail together. Molten metal is pouring out the sides.

They also rehabilitate frogs, aka rail switches.

Frog rehabilitation area

A “frog”, switching track so named because it is said to look like a frog laying down with limbs spread out

They build complete segments of rail attached to the ties. For curved sections of track, they have to rip the ties at precise angles to give the rail curve whatever angle it needs for the train to take the curve safely.

Stacked rails on ties. Note that some of the ties are cut at an angle to lay in track curves. The metal plates used to join the rail and ties have a rubber bottom to cushion the train and reduce noise.

They also build the more complicated rail junctions.

A rail switch or junction being built in the shop

Fully assembled track lifted by crane

Rubber plates used to hold rail to ties. Rubber reduces the noise of the train.

Rail being curved by mechanical force in this machine

They also repair the third rail. Third rails are not welded together but are joined using a very thick copper wire that is welded to each segment.

Copper wire being attached to two third rails with thermite

Newly attached copper wire to serve as junction between two third rails

CHIHULY at New York Botanical Gardens

I love glass, and I love plants, so a Chihuly exhibit at a botanical garden is definitely something I want to see. There is an exhibit of numerous Dale Chihuly works currently at the New York Botanical Gardens, and it is lovely. Below are photos I took over the course of two visits there.

Palazzo Ducale Tower

Sapphire Star

Sol del Citrón

Red Reeds on Logs

Koda Study #3 with Scarlet and Yellow Icicle Tower in the distance

Scarlet and Yellow Icicle Tower

Persian Pond and Fiori

Persian Pond

Fiori

White Tower with Pink Trumpets and Cobalt-Pink Spears

White Tower

Pink Trumpets and Cobalt-Pink Spears

Glasshouse Fiori

Glasshouse Fiori

Glasshouse Fiori

Glasshouse Fiori

Macchia Forest

Macchia Forest

Float Boat

Niijima Floats in Float Boat

Neon 206

Chicago

I’ve never been to Chicago before until I did extended layovers between train rides out west and back. Chicago is a pretty neat city. It has a nice mix of old and new buildings. At least one really neat park. [There are probably more, but I didn’t get to them.] It also has a really nice riverwalk along parts of the Chicago River. It is definitely a city that I need to get back to and explore more. Note to any engineers or geeks reading this: If you are in Chicago, go see the historic water tower. It is a gorgeous building that was built to house a standpipe. Across the street is a pumping station in an equally gorgeous building. You can actually go into the pumping station and walk along a small portion of a balcony to see the pipes and pumps.

Jay Pritzker Pavilion

The “L” goes by a downtown office building

Floating gardens on the river walk

On the river walk underneath a bridge

River walk

Historic water tower near the John Hancock Building

Historic water tower

Pumping station building across from the water tower

Inside the pumping station building

Oak Street Beach

Buckingham Fountain

Cloud Gate

I’m in Chicago on an extended layover between trains coming back from my trip out west. I spent the day wandering around Chicago, and one the sites on my must see list was Cloud Gate, known more informally as The Bean. This piece of art is lovely to look at, but it is just plain fun to photograph. Everyone there takes selfies of themselves, but really the way it reflects with so many different angles, it is just as fun to photograph everything else.

Cloud Gate (aka The Bean)

Cloud Gate (aka The Bean)

Cloud Gate (aka The Bean)

Cloud Gate (aka The Bean)

Cloud Gate (aka The Bean)

Under Cloud Gate (aka The Bean)

Under Cloud Gate (aka The Bean)

Prairie Dogs

I have visited a lot of parks on my trip out west, and in a lot of those parks were prairie dogs. A lot of prairie dogs were in those parks. I have to admit that I couldn’t get enough of them. They are just so cute. Here is a collection of photos of prairie dogs from several different parks.

Prairie dog

Prairie dog

Prairie dog

Prairie dogs

Prairie dogs

Prairie dogs

Prairie dog

Prairie dogs

Prairie dogs

Prairie dog

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

From the Black Hills area, I traveled north to North Dakota to go to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Theodore Roosevelt National Park is classic badlands. The coloration of the sedimentary layers are less colorful than Badlands National Park, but Theodore Roosevelt National Park has some unexpected beautiful green areas in the middle of it. It also has some gorgeous views of the Little Missouri River.

Theodore Roosevelt NP south unit

Theodore Roosevelt NP south unit

Theodore Roosevelt NP south unit

Theodore Roosevelt NP south unit

Theodore Roosevelt NP south unit

Theodore Roosevelt NP north unit

Theodore Roosevelt NP north unit

Theodore Roosevelt NP north unit

Theodore Roosevelt NP north unit

Theodore Roosevelt NP north unit

Rapid City

I spent a total of five days in the Rapid City area, but I barely spent any time in Rapid City itself. The last day I was there, I spent a little bit of time wandering around downtown Rapid City. It is a rather cute town. I have clear preferences in towns. I like towns that still have some of their old buildings, and Rapid City does. It also has some new art and a town square of sorts. On several street corners, there are statues of various Presidents, presumably with keeping with the theme set by Mt. Rushmore. Most unique, it has an art alley, where people can paint the backs of buildings and evidently everything else in the alley that doesn’t generally move. Permits are required for the painting, which is a rather interesting touch considering some of it looks like graffiti.

Downtown Rapid City

Downtown Rapid City

Downtown Rapid City

Town square of sorts that kids clearly like

Art Alley

Art Alley

Art Alley

Statues of Presidents on most corners

Black Hills

I have said it before, and I will say it again, the Black Hills are gorgeous. I have posted some of my photos in their respective blog posts: Custer State Park, Wind Cave National Park, 1880 Train ride, Crazy Horse and Mt. Rushmore, and Deadwood. Here are just a few more photos that didn’t fit anywhere because they weren’t in any particular park. Of particular note are three tunnels on US 16A that were made by tunneling straight through the rock for only the small amount needed for a (single) car to go through. That in itself is an engineering feat, considering when they were built, but also they were built to frame Mt. Rushmore. It is not easy to see in the photo, but with all three, depending on the direction you are driving, you can see Mt. Rushmore, and it is really neat. Consider also the crazy route that the road had to take to get to those exact angles to frame Mt. Rushmore.

Horse Thief Lake

US 16A, the scenic drive

Black Hills

Tunnel that frames Mt. Rushmore

Tunnel that frames Mt. Rushmore

Tunnel that frames Mt. Rushmore

Black Hills

Black Hills

Storms Over the Plains

As I was driving from the Rapid City area up to North Dakota, a storm was coming through. I was lucky in that I only went through a little bit of rain. I was also lucky because I had decided to take entirely back roads. (Of course in truth, almost all roads in the area I was in was a back road.) There was almost no one else on the road, so I could occasionally stop and take photos of the storms. I also lucked out because there were numerous sunflower farms, which made for very nice foregrounds. Anyway, here are a few of the photos.

Minuteman Missile National Historic Site Delta-09

Previously I visited the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site Delta-01 which was the launch control center as well as where the crew lived. Yesterday, I visited the Delta-09 site, which was where an actual missile was. The missile with the nuclear warhead has been removed, but there is an unarmed missile in it now, so visitors can see what it looked like. You can walk around the surface, which is a fairly small area, but you can see some of the support infrastructure like an antenna and manholes.

Missile in silo

Missile in silo with basket for a person to do maintenance

Antenna

Tracks to move cover

Missile silo is under glass room. Manholes for maintenance are on right.

Utility pole

In the photo above, you can see lines of vegetation. The entire area was mainly devoid of vegetation, but the vegetation it did have followed neat lines. I can’t figure out why, and I presume it has nothing to do with the site. I considered if the site had water pipes, perhaps if they were leaking, then vegetation might follow along the pipes, but I am fairly sure there are no water pipes. I know some plants develop root runners, but I have never seen any that are that linear. If anyone knows why plants would do this, I would love it if they would leave me a comment.